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Ozzfest Special: Kerby's Exclusive Interview With Superjoint Ritual Bassist Hank III

By Jeff Kerby, Contributor
Monday, October 4, 2004 @ 4:25 PM

Thowiní It Down On The Thrash-

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The pervasive perception in many circles is that Superjoint Ritual basically consists of Phil Anselmo and a vapid supporting cast specifically designed to cater to the lead singerís every whim. The rest of the band is sort of viewed as white trash slaves obligated to stand on stage while their vocalist launches into yet another diatribe about how he personally could go to Iraq and whip the asses of a myriad of pitchfork-wielding terrorists or even better yet--single-handedly conquer an entire countryópresumably through the use of body odor alone. Itís called a bar of soap, PhilÖthe wet stuff is called water. When one is used in conjunction with the other, certain smells dissipate thereforeÖfuck it, soap must be an enemy too! That should be the topic of the next vitriolic speech Phil spews into the microphoneÖ

ďFuck you fuckers! Iím down with the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Fuck. I could go over there and kick all kinds of shit and tear it up. I donít fucking like soap you bitches. Soap is shitty. Fuck. I donít even like Cocoa Puffs. Mickey Mouse, Goofy and shit.Ē

Now, in all honesty, there are parts of this interview with Hank III (yes, the grandson of the original Hank and the son of Hank Williams Jr.) that would do little to dissuade someone of the persuasion that the rest of this group essentially consists of hired guns. Uh, itís probably his reference to Phil as ďbossĒ that would do the least to discredit that impression. Why would it surprise metal fans of any variety that Anselmo calls the shots in this group though? Think about itóif he wanted to be in a band with members who were on equal footing, or at least closer to being on equal footing, he could have just stayed in Pantera. The troubling part about Hank IIIís role in this melodrama is that heís capable of doing so much more than essentially being a touring bassist relegated to listening to nightly chapters of ďThe World According To Phil.Ē On the other hand, if it doesnít bother him and heís happy, well, what he chooses to do professionally is his business. That being said though, if you ever get a chance to see Hank III performing his solo show, what youíll witness is a talented performer who could revolutionize country and make it less of the shallow commercial hell that it currently is.

Either way though, itís all music, and if there is any accurate way to encapsulate the persona of Hank III, it is to say that he is all about the stage, the studio and the daily grind of the road.

KNAC.COM: What bands do you check out when you get a break during the Ozzfest shows?
HANK III: On the second stage, most of the bands Iíve been checking out are Lamb of God and Darkest Hour. Iíve only got to see Slipknot do their thing a couple of times because usually weíre close to going on by then. Those two bands have been throwing it down pretty intensely. Sharon Osbourne made them shut down the Wall of Death and all kinds of stuff. Theyíve been rocking hard.

KNAC.COM: Mike from Darkest Hour wanted me to ask me if you thought that bass players rank right below keyboardists when it comes to scoring chicksó
HANK III: IÖ probably. I dunno. I think thatís probably up to the individual and whether youíve got game or not. Thatís what that boils down to, but it just depends on the person more than anything else. Iím never playiní the game, so I wouldnít know if it was David Lee Roth syndrome or not.

KNAC.COM: He did add later though that you could be anyone and get chicks if you had any type of pass. It wouldnít matter how ugly you were. Then, when the girls get backstage, they wonder why nothing is going on.
HANK III: Yeah, there isnít really much to see besides semis.

KNAC.COM: Shocking. Some of you do actually have to work though, right?
HANK III: UhÖ yeah. Depending on how you look at it, there are some aspects of that going on for sure.

KNAC.COM: When youíre hanging out, do most of the bands seem to have a sense of camaraderie?
HANK III: Definitely. I mean, I know that over on the side stage itís just heavy metal boot camp. Itís just full on. I havenít heard about a fistfight or anything over there and everybodyís been getting along pretty good. At the beginning of the tour, they were raising quite a bit of hell, itís been good. Over on the main stage, itís what it is. Everything is just a little more sealed off and separated. People arenít hanging out as much because everyone has got their own bus and stuff. By that time, theyíre all sick of being around each other, so they all want to be separated. Itís awesome seeing it all go down and hearing Ozzy warming up. Sometimes he will start at two oíclock in the evening. Heíll be there already starting to warm up his voice and get ready because thatís how dedicated and into it he really is. He just wants to give his fans as much as he can give them, so heís doing laps and taking care of his voice.

KNAC.COM: I didnít even know he got the venue that early.
HANK III: Theyíve all been hanging out quite a bit, man. I donít know if the other day he was feeling a little under the weather, but by three oíclock he was in there with a piano doing his thing.

KNAC.COM: Have you ever run into him and just talked?
HANK III: No, I may pass him, and then itís just like, ďHey, Ozzy.Ē Heís always got like five big security guards with him. Seems like heís always on his way somewhere. The only guy Iíve gotten to casually talk to is the drummer, Bill Ward. Heís just as down to Earth as they get. Heís still hittiní emí hard and trying to have a good time.

KNAC.COM: How cool is it to be on a bill with Priest and Sabbath?
HANK III: Itís just really an energy thing. I always try to eat food and then watch Slayer. Then, I take a break before trying to catch some of Priest and some of Sabbath. I watch as much as the legs can handle really because by then Iíve been walking around and seeing everyone all day. It is amazing the consistencyóespecially Ozzy and Halfordótheyíve been nailing it down vocally every night. There may have been a little hoarseness in Denver, but thatís to be expected when youíre up in the Mile High City. For as long as theyíve been in the game, theyíre still giving the fans what they paid for.

KNAC.COM: How hard is it for you to play the main stage with Superjoint? Is there a part of you that would rather be on the second stage and closer to the audience?
HANK III: Well, Superjoint has always been about the underground, so Iíve always been a big fan of the second stage. Slipknot basically owns that slot, though. If we would have gotten where Hatebreed or Lamb of God was, that would have been nice, but things work out for a reason. I think Superjoint would have been a little more intense over there because you arenít as restricted over there. People arenít beating you down as much security-wise. Itís a little more to the street. Itís just one of those things though. Iíve always said that the real stuff is on the side stage. The main stage is mostly about people who have been there a long time and have paid their dues, and Phillip has. Where heís at, heís just a bit in the middle. Heís 36, and heís been in some pretty big bands, but he still wants to stay underground. Heís been in the amphitheatres, and all that did is move the crowd twenty-five feet away from him. Weíre doing basically what we could get. Basically everybody already had their bids in, and we just got in a little late. We are just happy to be playing with everyone on this bill though.

KNAC.COM: Is Superjoint going to continue to tour after Ozzfest?
HANK III: I think after Ozzfest that weíre finally going to take a break. Everybodyís been talking about taking a break after this, and if they do, Iíll just be going back out.

KNAC.COM: And doing the country-thrash show or are you going to record another album?
HANK III: The recording situation is still in court. It hasnít come to an end, but weíll see what happens with that.

KNAC.COM: For someone who is on the road as much as you are, how do you keep in perspective where home is?
HANK III: I have my dog and my girlfriend--who is basically my wifeóIíve been with her for five years. I have that element in my life, but I just havenít been there that much. I havenít seen her in four weeks. The last couple of days sheís been out though, and weíve been able to hang out a bit. Basically, Iíve got to try to nail the road down as much as I can until Iím about 50. Then Iíll really worry about the other side of life.

KNAC.COM: When you see Tom from Slayer bringing his family out on the road, does it make you think that maybe this can actually work?
HANK III: Yeah, I mean, he and Ozzy and all those guys are a certain few who can do this without losing their voice. I mean, look at Robert Plant from Led Zeppelin. Look at how drastic that was. Ozzy and Halford and Araya are of a select breed basically because they havenít lost it. That does give you hope. These guys havenít gotten thrown off at all. It is definitely weird seeing Slayer and then seeing him off with the wife and kids. Heís a pretty wise man. He seems to have the balance working.

KNAC.COM: The last time I spoke to you, it seemed like you were a little concerned that doing the metal vocals was going to keep you from being able to sing later in life. Is that a trade off youíre willing to live with?
HANK III: Yeah, I mean, I feel like Iíve already made that decision. Any guy who is up there banging as hard as you can is hurting themselves and thrashing around for music. It is a decision you make. Some of the consequences of that are good, but some unfortunately are bad too. Maybe, you know, Iíll still have the voice. Heck, Iím already warming up an hour and a half or two hours before the show. If it takes four hours like Ozzyís doing, then maybe Iíll have to do that. Itís hard to say where itís gonna go.

KNAC.COM: Do you have that much heart for country left?
HANK III: Definitely, for music, I do. The hardest thing is on the road and just trying to keep the anxiety down. I donít knowóover the years and years of doiní it, Iíve just developed like this pit in my chest thatís just starting to get to me a little bit.

KNAC.COM: Wouldnít you figure that it would be the opposite and that after all this time on the road that you would become more comfortable?
HANK III: I donít know. I wish. I donít know man, but people are starting to notice it, and Iím starting to notice it. Weíll see. Iíve got the fire for it, and Iíve got the songs for it, and I want to keep doing it as long as I can on the country side.

KNAC.COM: Surely if the relationship with Curb records hadnít taken such a turn for the worse, you would have probably already recorded new material, right?
HANK III: Definitely. You know, dad has out over sixty-eight records. Iíve been on this label seven years and only have out two, so that says it all. Everything happens for a reason, and I just want to be able to get some more stuff out there.

KNAC.COM: And basically say that you did everything you could do while you were able to do it.
HANK III: Whatís on tape will be around a lot longer than I am.

KNAC.COM: How different is it onstage when you are fronting your band versus when youíre onstage with Superjoint and Phil starts one of his infamous speeches? What do you think about?
HANK III: Iím payiní attention to what he has to sayóitís almost like Iím in class listening to the teacher. Thatís just part of Phillip thatís always been there, and as good or as bad as it may be, you could put fifty bands against each other, and there wonít be a guy with a presence like he has when heís onstage. Thatís just kind of his thing. On some nights Iíve seen him run it pretty quick, and on other nights he may talk for twenty minutes in between songs. It just depends. I may smoke a cigarette or something, but I ainít gonna go, ďCímon, letís go motherfucker.Ē The drummer and the guitar player are always the ones screaming at him.

KNAC.COM: So youíre just basically able to let it go?
HANK III: Hey, you know, when I came into this group, the boss is the boss. I know how it works all the way around, and heís the damn boss. I just kinda go by what he says. What he says is what we do. Thereís no way Iím gonna try to tell him what to do on his own damn stage.

KNAC.COM: Thatís interesting because you come from sort of a unique situation where you were the person calling all the shots, yet you seem totally comfortable in Superjoint and deferring to Phil.
HANK III: I just love doing any kind of music I can do. You know, this isnít gonna be my last project. There will be many others, and it has all worked out in a good way so far. I got kinda the best of both worlds going on, and Iím just trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

KNAC.COM: At one of your club shows, I saw a fan pass a couple of drinks to the stage. Your bassist, Joe Buck, drank one of them, but it didnít look like you were wanting any part of it. Whatís the rule with taking drinks from the audience?
HANK III: Yeah, I got dosed on the last tour, and some nights I wonít do it. Sometimes I forget though. In Vermont somebody put a bunch of acid in a drink, and it kept me up all night. Even with eight Xanax I couldnít come down. Then, the next day I was in New York City freaking out. Lately, Iíve been watching it. In almost ten years I never had a problem with it until that one time.

KNAC.COM: I would imagine once real bad for that type of thing would be enough though.
HANK III: Oh yeah. It was an ordeal. Thatís when that super anxiety feeliní Iíve been talking about and the caving in my chest started.

KNAC.COM: How do you guys deal with fan interaction on the road? Do you guys pretty much keep to yourselves? Are you wary of strangers?
HANK III: No, because when we did the Grand Olí Opry, we had an open house party. People from all over the country came to itÖ there were about 80 people over at the house. Weíre not hard to get in touch with or track down. If weíre hanginí out, weíll usually always talk to you. Itís pretty open. Weíve had a couple of weird people before where weíve had to go, ďIím sorry you think weíre this important, but this is determining life or death, and we canít be involved in your situation.Ē There were a couple of loons. There always is.

KNAC.COM: Do obsessive people ever cause you to look at your music differently or do you figure they would just latch onto something else if you werenít around?
HANK III: They might. I just never look at it that way. I only do this for myself. They either get it or they donít, and they can just take it or leave it. Thatís kind of the way I envision it.

KNAC.COM: If you were going to pick up a guitar right now and write a song, would it be a country song or a thrash song?
HANK III: If Iím playing, I always have kind of a nervous energy about me, so Iím usually playing something kind of fast. I do a lot of noodling on the guitar. For me to write country songs, I usually have to just be sitting with a microphone and push record and go back to what I like. I just let it flow. Sometimes Iíll go back and look at the lyrics.

KNAC.COM: Are the lyrics more difficult to come up with than the arrangements?
HANK III: Yeah. Definitely. Looking at it from a songwriterís point of view, Iím not very poetic or schooled in school. Iím not that great with words. I come more from the slacker side of things. Itís definitely tricky. I know Iím no Hank Williams as a songwriter, but I just do the best that I can, man.

KNAC.COM: Did it take awhile for you to come to that realization that it was ok if you werenít granddad? Are there people who still kind of bother you about it?
HANK III: No, there are always people. Iíll get shit about it forever. Itís just one of those things that is sort of a given. Even for Frank Sinatraís son or daughter or whatever, itís gonna be like that. The thing with me is though that Iíve got two people to deal with.

KNAC.COM: Do you ever think that you got the short end of the stick? I mean, you have to deal with who your family is, yet you didnít grow up privileged or anything like that.
HANK III: I donít know. Iíve always just sort of gotten used to being the underdog or lone wolf or whatever. I just think that kind of fuels the fire. The only way I look at it is that I wish I could look after my mother and my motherís side of the family a little bit before they pass on because theyíre still out there and working 9 to 5. Thatís the main thing that bothers me about it. The rest of it is just day-to-day.

KNAC.COM: How much would it have changed who you are to have had every need met? Is it possible to have feelings of genuine angst when you live in a four-story mansion?
HANK III: Yeah, Iíd definitely be a lot different if I didnít get to see what I saw growing up. I was mostly just playing drums and hanging out with guys who were in other bands. I also went to a lot of shows. Itís a small little family. I know I wouldnít be the same person.

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