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Hank Williams III stays busy with recording, touring

By Bill Lynch, Staff writer

Hank Williams III can’t say how long he can keep up the pace he’s on, but certainly, it won’t be forever.

It’s not the drinking, but the shows, the alt-country singer/songwriter said. Hank III shows go on for four hours each night. It’s the kind of endurance race that wears almost everybody down.

“I’m not getting any younger,” he said. “It would be nice to make it to 50. Then when I make it to 50, I’ll have to see if I’m able to put on the show I want to put on.”

He added, “If not, I may do what Kris Kristofferson has done, what Willie Nelson has done — get a little more into the family circuit.”

Which could mean going out on tour with his father, country icon Hank Williams Jr., or maybe his half-sister, singer/songwriter Holly Williams. But that’s something to consider later.

In the meantime, the 41-year-old will be performing Friday night with his band at The V Club in Huntington. It’s the kind of place Williams said he preferred to keep his shows — in the bars, on the street level with the people who’ve always supported him.

Some people, he said, have tried to get him to only play larger venues, where he would make more money.

“I’m not doing that,” he said.

Williams acknowledged that he has different kinds of fans. In the past, he’s tried to reach as many of them as he can in every show by playing more traditional country toward the beginning of the evening, the alternative country and Americana toward the middle and the heavier stuff like punk and doom metal at the end.

It’s not unusual for the audience to thin out over the course of the evening.

“We get started early,” he said. “Some people got to get to work in the morning, and we recognize that.”

Williams, however, likes creative variety. What kind of record he makes at a particular time is often dictated by a mood or feeling, which he follows for months until he’s almost completely worn out on playing a particular type of music.

His two most recent albums, both released in 2013, were the alt-country record “Brothers of the 4x4” and the punk album “A Fiendish Threat.” He loves them both.

“Brothers of the 4 x 4” features special guest Leroy Troy, a clawhammer banjo player, on a song “Possum in a Tree,” which Williams wrote specifically for Troy.

“It’s always an honor when you write a song for somebody, and they agree to sing it. It’s cool,” he said.

The punk record is an homage to some of Williams’ musical influences, which include The Misfits, Minor Threat, Janes Addiction and The Ramones — most of which he discovered in his teens.

“In general, the record collection around the house, there was always a lot of Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings,” he said. “There was all kinds of Hank Senior records, but also some bluegrass, a little ZZ Top, Ted Nugent and Queen.”

After he got a drum set, Williams said he listened to a lot of movie soundtracks, including a Disney Haunted House record, and then classic rock. When he was about 12, he moved to Atlanta and discovered the local college and public radio stations.

“That opened up a lot of new music,” he said.

This past winter, Williams found himself working on another record. It hadn’t been something he planned on doing.

“I thought I’d just be doing leatherwork all winter,” he said.

It’s a hobby.

Instead, he said he spent four months writing and recording the album, the details of which he’s keeping under wraps. The plan is to probably release it sometime in 2015, though he’s thinking about it too much.

Williams is in road mode for the next several months.

“I’m just trying to make it to November,” he said. “Once we break even, I might go and work on another country record or make more metal stuff.”

Reach Bill Lynch at lynch@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5195.


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