Y’all know that Hank Williams, Jr. is coming to Bangor, Maine’s Cross Insurance Center on October 12, 2013, right? It’s a Saturday night, and there is still time to get your tickets to see Bocephus Live!
Maine Music News jumped at the chance to ask Hank Jr. a few questions. Here is what we learned.
I would like to start by saying that I am a Hank Jr. fan and have been since I was old enough to slide a cassette into the Jeep stereo and head out looking for a night of rowdy. If they ever make a movie of my life, Hank Jr. is on the soundtrack. I am looking forward to finally seeing you live when you come back to Maine and play at Bangor’s Cross InsuranceCenter. I believe you will be the inaugural entertainer to grace the stage with a live concert. I hope that means we have a long history of wild nights in the new venue.
Thanks. I have not been in Maine for a show in think over 20 years so it will be a good time for all.
Thank you in advance for taking the time to work with us. I’ve honed down my list of questions to the absolute few I’d want to ask if we sat down over a beer.
Right to the obvious, you are back on the road supporting a new release, Old School, New Rules, created for your own label. How different was this experience from previous recordings now that you are the CEO? Now I mean really different – you’ve always been a man to make your own way, do your own thing – how was this release and the process in the studio special and different for you?
Well, I was with Curb Records for years and we had great success, but it was time for a change. Those folks over there were good to me in the height of my career, but radio success was harder to achieve as time went on. So my manager Ken Levitan said, “Well, it’s time to start your own label and you can own the master” so that is exactly what we did. I launched Bocephus Records and did a distribution deal with Blaster Entertainment and Warner Bros Records, and we have sold over 120,000 albums so far. We are making money and the fans are getting new music. I have always been an artist to speak my mind and do the songs that I wanted to do. Not do those songs that they say ‘oh boy Hank, if you do this one we can get you another hit’ so I just have fun and do what is fun for me.
Your songs are not just songs, in many cases they are anthems. “A Country Boy Can Survive” sums up an entire belief system and stirs the emotions down to the core of many Americans. Looking back to writing that song and all the years you’ve been performing it, can you share how it feels to have created a song with such power and ability to connect to people?
I think that song touches the American people. When I wrote the song, it just came to me. It is what everyone was thinking and everyone wanted to hear. But when you write a song like that, you don’t know if people will appreciate it or like it because it comes from a creative place. Not every song that I have recorded or wrote are ones that everyone can relate to. That song is special though.
Your lyrics are wonderful bits of clever combinations of language and stories and emotion. I have always wondered how that language comes about, and I truly enjoy listening to your lyrics. What is your lyric writing process and how do those words and images and sentiment, both comical and serious, flow through you to the paper? Please do not tell me that it is genetics.
Ha! Not genetic, but I write differently than most today. I hear writers say they have a writing appointment at 2 pm or 4 pm and I think why are you making an appointment to be creative? For years I had a piece of paper and pencil all over the house in the bathroom and even by the bed so when I got a thought, I could write it down. Some songs come naturally in minutes while others are bits and pieces of ideas that come to you over time. Now I have my iPad and write on it a lot so I don’t have to chase down those little pieces of paper.
As a 5 time Entertainer of the Year, a multi-platinum selling artist, and a legend, you know that country styles ebb and flow. What are your thoughts on contemporary country music? Is the current “soundbyte” style much different than the country productions in the 1980s?
County music evolves over time and it will be around forever. I think that when I started people were shocked and not thinking my loud rowdy sound would resonate with the country fan, but it did. I think things change all the time and we have to adapt to what is the new thing. I had Eric Church open some shows a few years back and we really hit it off. I like his sound and what he is doing. I think that some people want a traditional sound and some want a more pop and edgy sound to country music. No matter what, as long as you like it…then it is good for you. If you don’t like it, then change the station.
Where does Hank Jr. have left to go musically or as an industry executive? You don’t have anything left to prove, but what do you have left to conquer?
I have never been into proving anything. I enjoy what I do. I love seeing people smile. I enjoy taking that little boy or girl to get their first turkey or fish. I am in a good place. My children are growing up, Holly is making music and loves it. Hilary is still recovering from the horrible accident several years ago, Shelton (Hank III) is making music, and the young ones, well not so young anymore, Katie is in college and Sam is finishing high school. So times are good for Bocephus.
Thank you for your wonderful answers and insight. All our best to you and your family. Maine loves its country music, and the Hank Jr. fans will be out loud and rowdy and strong for your show!