Hank Williams III Straight to Hell

Hank Williams III Straight to Hell
Like most offspring of music legends, it hasn’t been easy for Shelton Hank Williams to establish his own identity. Because of a long estrangement from his father, Hank Jr., Hank III has always modelled himself on the granddaddy he never knew, but with whom he bears a striking resemblance in both looks and voice. However, his sideline work with hardcore bands has led to ongoing record company legal squabbles that have stifled his output since his 1999’s debut Rising Outlaw. For that reason alone, Straight to Hell is significant as another reminder that Hank III should rightfully be the leading figure in the current outlaw country scene. Thankfully, the music bears this out with a slew of redneck anthems, including "Pills I Took,” "My Drinking Problem” and "Not Everybody Likes Us” — all delivered with an authentic twang that would make Hank Sr. proud. More intriguing, though, is the second disc: a 45-minute sound collage anchored around Johnny Cash’s "Louisiana Stripes,” and other spooky solo performances, that drifts along like the soundtrack to a Deep South horror movie. It’s proof — as if any more was needed — that there’s more to Hank III than the name he bears, and it’s about time country fans of all denominations gave him his due.

It’s been nearly four years since your last country album. What’s been going on? I was trying to juggle touring a lot, and hooking up with Superjoint Ritual for a couple of tours. On top of that I was fighting a battle with the label. I’m still doing time with them, and we’re working on our relationship. They’re trying to understand me and not get in the way of all the different projects I want to do. All I’m concerned with is putting stuff out on a regular basis, and a rock record is what I want to do next.

Are these songs still a reflection of how you’re living? Yeah. We basically live in a bar, and most people who go to bars are looking to get drunk or get in trouble. I write songs about partying or being depressed. They’re either hillbilly, life-of-sin songs, or it’s the other side of that. I might be trying to tell some kind of a story, but they all go back to those topics: being sad, or trying to get happy by getting wasted.

Has your success brought you any closer to your father in recent years? Not really. I love him to death as a father and an entertainer, but he’s hanging out more with Kid Rock than he is with me, and that says a lot. If he came around more now, I wouldn’t be too impressed. (EMI)