Hank3: Doing it His Way by Blending Heavy Metal and Country Music
Hank3, the son of Hank Williams, Jr. and the grandson of Hank Williams, has country music in his DNA. He can’t escape it, by virtue of the name on his birth certificate and his family legacy. But that doesn’t stop him from being a bit of an outlaw and a rebel, incorporating heavy metal into his musical repertoire. On the surface, metal and country are strange bedfellows, but not for Hank3.
Showing off his punk rock spirit, Williams recently released four studio albums in one fell swoop. ‘Ghost to a Ghost/Guttertown,’ is a double-album country collection, flavored with Hank3′s trademark hellbilly sound. ‘Attention Deficit Domination’ and ’3 Bar Ranch Cattle Callin,’ are intensely metal-driven records on which Hank3 plays all of the instruments.
Noisecreep nabbed some time with the polite country boy cum metalhead, and he spoke about trafficking in two unique genres.
So, who exactly is a Hank3 fan?
It’s definitely a mix. Our crowd is from 18 to 80, and it’s a diverse crowd. Over the years, people have helped break down those barriers, like Willie Nelson, David Allen Coe, Les Claypool, Henry Rollins, attracting different people with different styles. That’s what we do. The first hour is country part of the show, and I want to make sure my fans get their money’s worth, by offering up the longest show for the cheapest ticket price.
Can you draw the simplest of parallels between country and metal/hard rock?
Country is for the working man and woman. I have always liked rock, since day one of doing the hillbilly sound, then the doom metal and heavier stuff. I always liked rock. I’d be running around when Elvis Presley or Ted Nugent would come on the radio. That got me excited; being a drummer, the beats felt natural to me. I had a good time with it. If I was just a country singer, I don’t think it would be as unique as what I do now. I don’t think I’d have the respect from my fans or my heroes. I am multi-genre.
Watch Hank3 Perform ‘Holy Mountain’
You have country music flowing through your veins, with that legacy, family and name!
It’s natural. Those two have covered it in the country world, so for me to find my niche, it’s hard to do going up against those two. I hung in there the best I could.
Country music sometimes seems so different than metal, but not always, right?
Everyone is a working man or woman right now. Metal is done for love of music. Very few make a living at it like Slayer, Mastodon, Lamb of God do. Most of those guys who play it listen to different stuff. I found out by hanging with those folks and saw that music breaks down barriers. Some fans are really hardcore and diehard, and all they want is metal and nothing else.
Have you turned country fans onto metal? I have turned country folks into metal and metal folks into country?
I’ve done both. I hear that a lot. After my show, I kneel down and say hello to everybody. I am a well-rounded. For not understanding music theory, I am a well-rounded musician. I can play most instruments and it depends on the voice. If there is no voice, it’s all hard to do. If there is a great voice, it all feels amazing. At the end of the day, I sit down and like playing guitar. If I was to do something aside from music, I’d end up in front of guitar or behind drums, natural thing to me. In metal and country, the writing is different. With country, you tell more of a story. Metal is more about the beat or the riff. Country is acoustic and you do the vocals first, where in rock, the vocals go last, worrying about the riffs and beats.
What else do we need to know about Hank3 that isn’t music-related?
I work a lot with rescue animals and no kill shelters and I do benefit shows. I do give people hope, if something happens in their youth, offer inspiration.
Watch ‘Hank3 on Saving Animals’ Video
Does your dad like your metal side?
He’s never been that into it. But I am the reason that Fishbone and Suicidal Tendencies were in his video back in the day and the reason that he got introduced to Van Halen. I turn him onto all kinds of band. Older folks aren’t supposed to understand that, right? [Laughs] It’s natural that he pokes fun a little, but all in all, he knows, I did it my way, as did Frank Sinatra or Sid Vicious.
What can we expect from your upcoming shows?
There is no opening band so show up on time. It’s a long show. Don’t wear open-toed shows, lades, since it’s a rowdy environment and a moshpit most of the time. Buy my records straight from me or my mom. Go to Hank3.com, she’ll pack it up.
Any advice for aspiring artists, regardless of genre?
There is great technology out there. Record in a jam room. Try turning knobs. No one will like your music more than you, so be part of it, behind-the-scenes, and not just on the instruments.
All four new Hank3 albums are out now via Megaforce Records. Catch Hank3 out on tour:
3/2 Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm & Brews
3/3 Montgomery, AL @ Rock Bottom
3/4 Mobile, AL @ Soul Kitchen
3/6 Orlando, FL @ Plaza Theatre
3/7 Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Culture Room
3/9 Melbourne, FL @ Levelz
3/11 Jacksonville, FL @ Brewsters
3/13 Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre
3/14 Norfolk, VA @ Norva
3/15 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
3/16 Philadelphia, PA @ Trocadero
3/19 Morgantown, WV @ 123 Pleasant St
3/20 Indianapolis, IN @ Vouge
3/21 St. Louis, MO (Sauget, IL) @ Pop’s