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"It was a stepping stone — just like going to school — but it was a little tough," he adds. "People [were] going to sleep right there in front of me and all."
Nobody falls asleep at a Hank 3 show these days. He typically opens the show with a more country-leaning set, mixing classic honky-tonk with more raucous hellbilly numbers. He plays the country set first because, despite his fervent hardcore following, his core fan base comes from the country side, including some old-timers still curious about this youngster who's a dead ringer for his granddaddy — in both looks and voice.
"They'll always be there, and I still have to deal with some of the ones saying, 'Well, you're your grandfather,'" Hank 3 says. "Well, no, I'm not. There's only one Hank Williams, and he came and left and no one will ever do him justice. I have to stand by my guns and say I'm Hank 3, whether you like that or not. I've stood on my own two feet, carved my own niche, and you might not understand it, but it's what I do."
And Hank 3, as always, does what he wants. Finally free of the constricting and controlling Curb Records, his former label, Williams no longer has to fight about album content. The emotional separation was enough to inspire the four-album outburst in just a few months.
"I've been held back for so many years [that] I think a lot of it was being excited, being on a roll, and just keeping it going. Since I had such a great group of musicians around with me on some of these projects, it warmed the fire a little more," Hank 3 concludes. "The reason I got into music is to be creative myself, not have some fucker be creative for me. I am getting to do it the way I want to do it."