Web exclusive: Interview with Hellbilly Hank 

Hank Williams III talks about drugs, Dimebag Darrell and two new albums

WHAT: Hank III with Assjack, Big Red Goad and Power of Country
WHERE: The Vogue, Indianapolis
WHEN: Sunday, Aug. 12, 7 p.m., $18, 21+

Click here to read the preview for this show.

NUVO: How’s the tour so far?

Hank: It’s been a great tour; can’t complain. [There’s a] lot of insane energy from the people, and uh, it’s been good, man. [There’s] a lot of diversity all throughout the U.S. just in the fans themselves. It’s been good.

NUVO: You’ve been very vocal for the legalization of marijuana. I just want to chime in on your thoughts as to why you believe it should be legal?

Hank: We’ll, let’s see. It’s almost like tobacco. Look how damaging tobacco is ... But it’s the crop, and I also look at it from a farmer’s point of view and keeping America green, or the world green, so to speak. If marijuana was legal, that would help about at least 60 percent of the farmers [to] be able to have a crop that makes money to keep the farm going, a lot more so then what’s going on nowadays. Ya’ know, it’s getting harder and harder to be a farmer, and most farmers I know have to grow pot on the side to keep food on the table. It will never go away; each state has it. [If you] put 30 alcoholics in a room, who’s going to come out the soberest after six hours? Pot smokers will. … It’s simplicity, and it’s being real, and I guess there’s a lot of people who just can’t be real. It’s just simplicity, man. You’re never going to dominate it. You’re never going to win it.

NUVO: And it’s almost become a part of American culture at this point.

Hank: Yes, absolutely. Besides all the medical stuff, we’re not even talking about that. That it helps, but, ya’ know man — it’s just, it is what it is, and it ain’t that bad compared to ya’ know. You can still go out and hook up some crack or heroin on most street corners. They need to pour all their money into harder drugs that destroy people. Speed is killing America, not pot. And ya’ know, it’s … being real man. It’s a shame that some of those politicians can’t step up for it, but maybe one day we might see it change. Ya’ know, there is at least one spot in America where it’s legal to possess marijuana and smoke it at the shows, and if you have a medical card, you’re all OK. You can carry it around.

NUVO: Are you referring to California or Denver, Colo.?

Hank: … I guess Eureka, Calif. … I didn’t know that passed in Denver.

NUVO: Yes, actually I believe two years ago, they legalized possession of up to an ounce for personal consumption in Denver, Colo. — not the entire state of Colorado, just Denver.

Hank: Well, we played there last night, and I will say hardly anyone smoked up. … It might be legal in spots, but it’s just different, man. California is like the Amsterdam of over here, as far as the family, the kids, the mothers, the whole family being around it. It’s different man; it’s a different way of life there.

NUVO: I saw recently that you had painted a tribute to Dimebag Darrell’s guitar.

Hank: Yes! Curse from Pigface put that whole thing together. We’re doing what we can for that cause, man. Actually, that guitar came out to a show in Seattle the other night. … It’s a shame that had to happen. Dime was always in the highest regards in our camp. He was always good to us. It hit us hard when that sent down, man. Yeah, we definitely miss him. In music history, it’s one of the worst.

NUVO: You were actually friends on a personal basis with Dimebag, correct?

Hank: Yeah, I was lucky enough to know the Pantera crew from 1992 on. Darrell and Vinnie’s [Paul — former Pantera drummer] dad had a recording studio in Nashville, and they were hanging out there a lot. Phillip [Anselmo — former Pantera vocalist] used to come to our shows, and Dimebag and Vinnie were running around. I always got to see Vin a little bit and got to record at Dime’s place … with him and David Allen Coe. Got to meet him on, ya know, on that shit, man, or hang out on his turf on his terms. He’s just a full-on good guy [who] liked to have a good time, liked to play pranks on his friends, have fun, always had a smile on his face [and] raise hell.
(Brief pause)

Hank: It’s just a complete shock, man. Still to this day. Every night, every night I play, I always meet someone paying respects to Dime, whether it’s a tattoo or just sayin’ ‘We miss him,’ or something.

NUVO: I think it is something the rock community will never really get over.

Hank: No, not at all man.

NUVO: What’s going on with Arson Anthem with Mike Williams [Eyehategod] and Phil Anselmo?

Hank: … It was supposed to come out this year, but since the new Down record is coming out, they pushed it back. They don’t want them coming out at the same time, but it should hopefully be coming out in January or February [2008]. It’s pretty raw, ya’ know. It’s not like a Superjoint [Ritual] record. It’s not like this big production, man. As Phillip would say, “It sounds like 1985.” And it’s a pretty short CD [with] a lot of energy. It sounds like Mike or Philip jammin’ on the guitar, jammin’ his riffs on the guitar or just having fun, man. I brought my little $400 recorder and just set up in the jam room and ya’ know, we laid down. I think we got eight songs for the first EP release — trying to get it out there, man. Actually, I just saw the bass player of Arson Anthem last night. He was in Denver. He came out and said hello. But, Mike is doing good, and next year is Eyehategod’s 20 years for them being a band.

Hank: Ya’ know, a lot of times when musicians do a record, it’s a long drawn-out, almost painful kind of process, but we did that within two days, man, and it will hopefully be out soon.

NUVO: Do you have any plans for recording a new album for yourself?

Hank: I’ve already done that. It should be out in January [2008]. It’s called “Damn Right and Rebel Proud” on the country record, and I’ve been working on the rock record also. ... We will definitely have a release in January for the country album, and I’ll be fighting in the meantime trying to get the rock record out there.

NUVO: Has it been a problem — specifically when dealing with record labels — to get the heavier stuff out?

Hank: It’s a legal matter, pretty much. I got three to four rock records that are just sitting there and gathering dust. I’ve sold as many as I can, but I’ve been legally stopped from selling myself. It’ll be comin’ out soon, man. It’s supposed to be a country release and then the rock record. And I just now got new management and got the right guys behind me to follow through and officially get it out there. If people really look and hackers look and people [who] are Internet friendly, they can find the rock stuff online, man. It’s out there. All of them. “This Ain’t Country,” Boot I, II and III [“Official Bootleg Vol. I, II, III”). They’re all out there.

NUVO: I just have one last question for you. What would be your favorite aspect of playing live?

Hank: It’s gotta be the energy from the fans. The roller coaster ride. It’s always up and down — seeing everyone coming together. The diversity. For instance, when we played Portland, it rained … beer for most of the set. Literally. Probably 70 beer cans [were] thrown on stage. Half of them out of hate, half of them out of love. It’s just real chaotic, man, seein’ all the kids move. The biggest payoff … when you come and see us, it’s really all about the energy that we’re trying to put off. That’s the biggest thing, man. I’m just carving my niche and doing what we do. We definitely have a unique show out there if the fan sticks around for the whole thing. I’m playing as long as we can for as cheap as we can. I try to keep the ticket prices as low as possible. That’s the highlight of it — seein’ people getting’ off to it or hatin’ it. One of the two. Not everybody gets it, man.

NUVO: I can only imagine that you get a lot of fans that were fans of your grandfather or your dad, thinking that it’s going to be that kind of show and not really knowing fully what to expect. Then come to find out it’s really not the same.

Hank: Yeah. Now, some will stick around, like last night, there [were] a couple of old folks that stuck through the whole damn show, and I was saying, “I’m surprised you’re still here,” but they made it through, man. [There’s] a lot of diversity out there from young to old. We’re proud to have it.

NUVO: I would like to say on behalf of the fans here in Indy, we are looking forward to your show on Aug. 12 at the Vogue.

Hank: All right man, we’ll be looking forward to being back.

NUVO: Do you have anything else you would like to say?

Hank: The real big thing, man: I’m trying to get Hank Williams reinstated back into the Grand Ol’ Opry. I need people to sign the petition, and it’s at www.myspace.com/reinstatehankwilliams. I need the people’s voice on this one, man. That’s the big thing. Even Jello Biafra from the Dead Kennedys is writing a big piece on it.

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