Raise the Question: HANK WILLIAMS III

HANK WILLIAMS III
TALKS ABOUT HIS BAND “ASSJACK”

(2009)

Q: How do you write songs for Assjack rather than your country projects?

“It’s more jamming than anything else.  It’s just turning up the electric guitar, hitting ‘record’ whenever there’s a riff and most of the time its just me jamming because I have to use drummers from everywhere else, but I just feel the riff and put it down and go with it man, trying to pick out some kind of a sound.  That’s kind of the process, nothing really that complicated, just feeling it hitting her chord and seeing if it’s worth a damn.

“The lyrics are the last thing. Guitar first, drums second, bass and then vocals.  That’s the way I stack it all up.  Playing all the instruments and being involved with it that way helps keep me on my toes.  One day it would be nice to have the band here in town where we can just jam, but most of my guys aren’t around, so I have to work harder.

“I’ve only worked with one producer, ever, but I know what I want to hear already and know what I’m going for.  One day, I might work with a producer again but all of the records have been producer-free, except for This Ain’t Country [unreleased country album] which might see the light of day in four or five years.”

Q: You’ve done the dual country/metal concert sets and some people were shocked by the second part of the set but more of them are staying for the whole show.  Why is that?

“Well, A: they’re either drunk and don’t want to go home or B: maybe the fan base is getting younger possibly.  We might be getting a few more metalheads with what I’ve done out there with Superjoint Ritual and playing in Arson Anthem.  That’s probably a factor also and maybe they just wanna get their money’s worth.  Hell, they spent $20 bucks for a ticket, why not see the whole show? It doesn’t matter if it’s five people or 500, they’re going to get the same show, same energy. Nothing will be different.  Every night when we do it, it’s a rollercoaster.  We say hello after the show…we try to take care of our fans, because they take care of us.”

You’ve had some harsh criticism/borderline violence from Country purists over the Assjack

“It’s pretty surprising how the power of music can piss some people off.  Growing up the way I had to, and some of the redneck bars I had to play in, they just think it’s complete disrespect to their establishment and to them–you know I can’t make everyone happy and it is what it is.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the redneck that gets upset and thinks I’m pissing Hank Williams off, or the young kid that thinks I’m selling out by playing hard rock, which is totally…if I was selling out, I would be doing what a producer tells me and dressing up all pretty and only be doing country music, that’s how to make money.  I just stuck with the hard road–that’s what makes us different and unique and gives the wide audience range from 14 to 80 out there…cowboys, punks, metalheads, jocks, grandmas and the average everyday person.  We bring them all together under the same roof.  That’s what makes us proud.  That’s what makes it worth it at the end of the day.”

Q: Do you think the forefathers of Country music would embrace the punk/death-metal aspects and/or the outlaw spirit of this music?

“It’s hard to say, there’s always that loner theme, standing on your own two feet.  Most country people are very religious people, and most death metal people are very satanic-oriented people, not all of them, but the majority of them, and that might be a little rift right there.  Nowadays, there’s a whole group of people that love Waylon and David Allen Coe, and love Pantera and Slayer…there’s a whole breed of them out there.  Bands like Lamb of God and all these other guys born in the South love different kinds of music.  It’s a hard call.  Some of those old Southern men are set in their ways and some of them are a little more open-minded.  Can’t please everybody, and Scientology is now on Music Row.  We’re moving on down the road now.”

Q: What do you do to mentally and/or physically to prepare the change-over from the Damn Band to Assjack between sets?

“Preparation goes into the show more before–that’s where all the mediation and breathing and stretching and getting prepared for the fight goes down.  It’s not like I can just walk out there and do my show.  I know guys that can do that but I’m not one of them.  During the break, usually I just kneel down, take as many deep breaths as I can, stretch the back out and get ready to go out there and see the blurry vision or see the bright light when you start hammering it down man.  It’s all just a natural progression, the whole show feels like the same kind of energy to me, it’s just with Assjack my vision gets a little more blurry and things get just a bit more intense.  The preparation is before the show.  That’s where it all goes down I’m already for all sides of it when I hit the stage.

“I always have to fight for my voice.  I had people, years ago, tell me “you’re not going to be able to do what you do and keep your voice.”  So out of that, I have to breathe steam for an hour, I have to make weird sounds for two hours, like monks going ‘eeeeeeeeeeowwwww’ and push it out as long as I can.  It’s just what I’ve gotta do.  I’ve been around Ozzy on Ozzfest and hear him do his vocal exercises.  Some of the guys care about doing a good show and want to have a good ‘head voice.’  That’s what I gotta do, man.  I wish I could just say, ‘I’m just going to hang out and chill and raise hell all day and just walk out on the stage.’  But it ain’t like that for me, it’s a total process. You can tell whenever I don’t have my time—the voice is just a lot more hoarse and sometimes it’s gone when I don’t get to try to wake it up.”

Q: If the Damn Band and Assjack got in a fight, who would win?

“The Damn Band would be five against two.  The only two guys in Assjack are Gary and my drummer, so the odds would probably be for the Damn band.  That’s the deal.”

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