Perfect Sound Forever

Wayne Hancock

Interview by Diane Roka
(November 2004)

Wayne "The Train" Hancock is one of the most successful musicians on this earth, yet he's almost never played on the radio, and most people don't know his name. But there are different ways to measure success in this life: one form is having everything you want, and being surrounded by everything you love.

Wayne loves driving, juke joints, big blue skies, fresh baked bread, down-to-earth people, thunderstorms, cars built before 1968, neon hotels, hep vintage clothes, Route 66, racing trains, women, his band, Lloyd Maines, honky-tonks and music – writing and playing his own "Juke Joint Swing," and listening to music not heard on the dial, like Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills and Hank Williams. And let's not forget making records – making them fast, hard and tight. Hancock's records sound like a live show because they're recorded live in the studio, recorded quickly, to keep the energy high and the cost low.

It's why Wayne Hancock is one of the most successful musicians I know: he plays great music the way he wants it played, without worrying about airplay. He doesn't aspire to play big stadiums, earn big paychecks and stay at big, fancy hotels, so he isn't in debt (monetarily, emotionally, or spiritually) to some big label. He may be wild and maybe even reckless, but Wayne Hancock is wise and most definitely free.

In a strange (and heartbreaking) twist of fate, I worked for American Music Theater Festival in Philadelphia as a grant writer in 1995, one year after Wayne, Jo Carol Pierce, Terry Allen, Butch Hancock (no relation), Robert Earl Keen, Jo Harvey Allen and Joe Ely came there to perform Chippy. As a big fan of their music, I was devastated to learn that not only had I missed a terrific show, I had missed hanging out with the cast after rehearsals to "go for beers." Chippy was one of the first things I wanted to know about when I called Wayne for our phone interview.

Perfect Sound Forever: I wanted to ask how you got involved with Chippy.

Wayne Hancock: Well, it was just sorta one of them things that I kinda lucked into, because when I first got to Austin I met Joe Ely at a hamburger stand out here, and I happened to have my guitar. And Joe sat down and showed me some songs on it, you know – I didn't know who Joe was at that time – [but] through my association with him, Jimmie Dale Gilmore was supposed to be in this play, and he was up for a Grammy. So Jimmie had to skip out to Nashville, [and] I took his place.

PSF: What was the experience like?

WH: It was fun. I don't think I've ever done anything quite as…crazy as that. 'Cause there was a lot of – there was more profanity used in that, in that play than in any other play I've ever been in.

PSF: Is that something you might do again – some sort of theater?

WH: I would love to do it again. I don't know if they'll ever get it together again to do it. But yeah, I'd do it again. (Laughs) I love theater, and I like acting, all that stuff like that, you know. 'Cause acting's nothing more than just pretending, anyway. Memorizin' lines, that's easy.

PSF: It sounded like you had a real presence, too. I can remember in Rolling Stone they cited you as being a standout. Are you still in touch with the Lubbock people, the Lubbock Mafia (Laughs), I guess now the Austin Mafia?

WH: I see 'em from time to time. I haven't seen Terry Allen in a while. I haven't seen Butch Hancock in three years. But I'm still in contact with all those guys. Jo Carol Pierce, I'm in touch with her a lot.

PSF: Tell me about your new album. What was behind your writing?

WH: I just wanted to put out an album that was as close to a…I wanted to give everybody the experience of something that not everybody could get, which is going to a live show. That's sort of the…I mean, really the inspiration behind the music is that there needs to be more good music! (Laughter) I'm one of those guys, when I buy a record, I like every song to jump. But I like it to be a variety, they all can't sound the same.

PSF: What comes to mind, albums that are like that for you?

WH: Well, Big Sandy's pretty good at that.

PSF: Big Sandy and The Fly-Rite Boys?

WH: Yeah.

PSF: What do you think of the Derailers? Have you heard them?

WH: I don't know what to say about the Derailers. I haven't seen them play in quite some time, and I guess they're with Sire. But Sire's been running them so hard that I don't know how it's affecting them as a band, you know. I like their music.

PSF: I read an interview you gave around the time of That's What Daddy Wants, and you were talking about coming back home and going down Route 66. I didn't know if that was the first time you had planned to do it, but it did seem like this album had a lot of that sort of imagery in it. Have you gone on Route 66 often?

WH: Actually, I spent a lot of time on it when I was a kid.

PSF: Before all the changes?

WH: Yeah, before they discontinued it in '71 or '72. I don't remember, it might have been in '74; I can't remember. But we used to do a lot of travelin'. My dad took '66 quite a bit, 'cause it was, you know, a nice scenic route. You could take your kids down '66 and it was still a lot of fun.

PSF: Do they still have the big dinosaurs and stuff?

WH: Yeah. The whole '66 thing, traveling, you know, getting in your car and cruising, that's just my whole thing. I love doing that. Some people, obviously – you've got people that drive the trucks, and buses and stuff like that – but for somebody, just like, a regular person, I do it all the time, but I used to do it before I was getting paid to do this, you know. I used to get in my car, like on the weekend, I'd get out of work and I'd get in my car and just go drive a thousand miles.

You can pick your route. And then set your own music – the radio that you're into – or, I always bring tapes, and, I mean, it's a totally controlled environment, so, if you wanna take someone with you, you take them with you and put a cooler in the back of the seat, you know. Just go out and see America.

PSF: Do the songs come to you when you're driving? Do you have to pull over real quick and write stuff down?

WH: Well, actually my band does not let me drive. (Laughs) It's real easy to write, because – for instance, have you heard the album yet?

PSF: Yeah.

WH: The song "Flatland Boogie" was written on 87 Northbound just south of Lubbock somewhere. Or near Lubbock. We were on 87 headin' north. And I know I got an old song called "87 Southbound" (Laughs), and this was the same highway but headin' north and we were – you know the verse in the song that says "racin' trains down the rural route"? Well, down there on Highway 87, the tracks run parallel to the highway. It's like a two lane highway. So you'll be going down that road about 60 miles an hour, man, you'll look over to your right hand side. There will be some Superchief chuggin' through there, man – (Laughs) – doin' about 60, 65 miles an hour. You'll be neck and neck, and there's like no one else on the highway, it's out in the middle of nowhere, you know?

PSF: Wow.

WH: Yeah, that's just – I mean, there's no cops. There are cops, but I ain't never seen none out there. I don't know how many cars come through there a day, forty? (Laughs

It's okay to be American, you know? You go out to see the towns. Otherwise, how can I write my music? You know, if I don't…my feet been itchin' all my life anyway, so I have to get out in my car even when I'm not on the road and go out and just see everything.

PSF: Were there any towns in all of your travels that really inspired you, their imagery?

WH: Well, Garita, New Mexico was beautiful.

PSF: I was actually just out there this spring! What you were just saying about driving on the roads and nobody being on them, I took so many pictures out my car window and they're just of roads. I thought they were beautiful. And people looking at my pictures were just so bored.

WH: I've got pictures of just the roads from different places, and I can tell you just where every one of 'em is from, just by the way the road looks. Taos is real pretty. Tulsa, Oklahoma, of course, that's where Cain's Ballroom is, where Bob Wills did all his shows at. That place is like beaucoup famous, you know. Very, very cool place. Well, everybody played there, from Glen Miller, to, you name it.

PSF: What in your mind makes your new album different then Daddy or Thunderstorms?

WH: Well, I would say first of all, the energy. And then secondly, I would say the players. Certainly, I didn't have the fiddle and the trombone. And I added another guitar player that I hadn't used in the past. You know the first one, Thunderstorms and Neon Signs, when I recorded that I had laryngitis.

PSF: Really?

WH: And I took, I was on like steroids and these super throat drugs, so I could sing. But if you listen really close, if you ever thought, "Well, his voice sure sounds—" I guess people used to say my voice sounded thin, it used to really piss me off! I always had a really loud thick voice.

On my records it's not thick and it's not loud. The first album I had laryngitis, so, I still pulled it off – you know, studios are great, you can turn microphones up and make somebody sound like they had a loud voice. Still, the continuity's not there, you know? But they can kinda, and if you never seen me play, you wouldn't know, you know?

And so the first album, I was supposed to have another steel player on it, and got all mad because he wasn't on it (Laughs). And I had to scramble for players that I didn't otherwise have. And I also had to explain to Lloyd Maines, who produced the album –who's done a great, Lloyd's like a big brother, like one of those guys who knows all of the answers. If we weren't (joking), "If we weren't both musicians, we probably wouldn't like each other," because he's such a straight guy and I'm kinda kooky, ya know? But, do you have all of my albums, or…?

PSF: I actually—

WH: That sounds so big-headed. (Goofy voice) "Don'cha have all my records?"

PSF: (Laughs) Well, I have Daddy. And I have your latest 'cause they [ARK 21] sent it out, but I couldn't find Thunderstorm in my local store. I did hear the title song just on the Chippy tape that I have…

WH: That was also a live one. That was a second take recording right there.

PSF: It was a great tape.

WH: The one on Chippy was released, and then Thunderstorms was released, and now Hank Williams III is I guess doing "Thunderstorms" on his album.

PSF: Really!

WH: Yeah, that's, that's what he told me he was gonna do.

PSF: In an interview that I read on the Internet from two years ago, you were saying that in a few years he'd be doing his own stuff. And I guess he is, huh?

WH: Well, I don't mind writing for the guy. He really needs to get away from Nashville – he's got to get away from that whole scene.

PSF: Is that where he is now, or is he out in Austin?

WH: Yeah, he's in Nashville. He's living under the, um, very oppressive thumb of his father, I would think. He's not living under it, but his dad has a lot to do with what goes on in his life over in that town. That's a very depressing thing, I guess. (Laughter) 'Cause I really like Hank. But, uh, he'll be alright.

But anyway, back to Lloyd. I recorded this song called "Locomotive Joe," and when I had originally written this song, I had this four track and all this stuff and I did all the parts myself, you know, just me on the guitar and a little lap steel. And then I laid this recorder by the tracks and I got one of them Amtrak trains comin' through. You know, the ones that go "Bwaa! Bwaa!" (Laughs) And this all related into the deal, so when I did the music again it was hard not telling the guy, "Okay, first of all, I don't want to record in tracks. And I don't want to start with my bass player, and then my next guy, then my next guy, next guy. I want to put all my guys in the room at the same time." And this guy's goin', "I don't know if we can do this." I guess they're trained to tell you that, you know? (Laughs) And we don't know if we can do this recording or not because it's so unconventional to do it this way. But with Lloyd it was easy, you know. And he knew exactly what to do. He knew where to put the, how to mike the things. Ya know, it's so easy to record an album like this.

PSF: Well, it sounds like if you've got your act together, and if everybody really knows each other and trusts each other, then I don't see why it wouldn't happen.

WH: Yeah, it's more like most people don't know any better. And they just, all they want to do is be a star. Or, you know, like Alan Jackson says, they're chasin' that neon rainbow. That's funny, takin' a quote from that guy. But, that's true, though, you know, a lot of people are chasin' the dream, and like, "I don't care – just as long as I can be singin'." Well, you don't care right now, you're startin' out, but ten years down the road from now, when you're really startin' to feel your oats (Laughs) and you've been doin' this a really long time, you might want to start thinkin' about something, ya know?

And so many people don't know that there's other ways to record, you know? They sign a deal, and then that's it, their record company tells them everything. And if they have a manager, then he tells them everything. And I don't think they really have any artistic freedom. I think they're – one time I saw this guy Rhett Atkins, you ever heard of him, Rhett Atkins?

PSF: No. I've heard of Chet Atkins, but, not Rhett.

WH: Yeah, this guy was Rhett. He was just sort of a John Michael Montgomery type guy. But he got off his bus, and I opened for him at the Wild Horse Saloon in Nashville, this was three or four years ago. And, uh, that was a really funny gig. (Laughs) Anyway, this guy comes walkin' down, and he had bodyguards on both sides of him. And he was almost afraid to look at me. You know, it was so weird. I was thinkin' to myself, "Is this guy – will he not acknowledge my presence because he thinks he's better than me? Or will he not acknowledge my presence because he's just so fuckin' freaked out already by the business that he's not even gonna…and, I mean, that was it, man, he went back to his tour bus.

I've done some touring with some pretty successful bands. I've been on the road with BR5-49 and those guys. But, man, for all those guys' success, I would not trade with them for anything, because those guys are…hey man, I don't care how much money they're makin' and all the cars they got and all that stuff. But, you know man, if it's against, if it ain't your deal, if it's somebody else's deal, then all the money doesn't really seem to get it, ya know?

PSF: It's true. I think it's why you see a lot of unhappy people in the business.

WH: I was watchin' a show last night about this actor that did a sitcom, and he didn't like it. And it was a very successful show, but he didn't like it and he died a very unhappy guy. He made millions of dollars, ya know?

PSF: Which actor was that?

WH: Um, that was the guy that played that, um, Mike Brady. Bob Reed. He didn't – he was a Shakespearean actor, he felt that he was a true actor. And they offered him the money and he was just in a really tight spot, he couldn't make ends meet, and so he took the job. And of course they paid him shitloads of money, and the lines were terrible and it was real corny and it broke the guy. It broke his spirit. And, of course, they kept him on the show all that time, which to me, I don't know why they didn't just let him go.

PSF: It seems like if you learn how to live really simple – like if you've been real poor at different times in your life – then you have a certain amount of freedom. But I guess that is hard, for people that have tasted that kind of money and got used to it.

WH: Yeah, once you get a taste of success, then it's very hard to go back to the other. I've had a taste of success, but, you know – this is funny. I don't want to say this, it sounds so funny, because I never thought I'd say it, (Laughs) but money is a tool, you know? And here I have this band, and I've got another guitar now and I'm startin' to get a little bit of, startin' to get a reputation and all this stuff, but I could care less about money. Money's great. You can stick it in my bank, and leave it there. If I need some of it, I'm gonna get it. But it's not worth, man, it just ain't worth it. At this point where I'm at in my career, I cannot go – I told my friend that the other day, "You can't go into the Top 40," you know? This friend of mine, he's into all that. He doesn't really understand Garth Brooks, but he's into the big, the Top 40 stations. He doesn't understand why I won't, you know, why I won't go sell out, ya know? And I can't. Sell out. (Laughs)

If I sell out, or if I sign with – say I sign with Arista. I might have one – okay, who wants to bet that I have one good album. One. I bet the first one would still be good, but I bet it would be different.

PSF: How is it working with Miles {Copeland}? It seems like he respects the artists.

WH: Miles? Love Miles.

PSF: He seems like a visionary.

WH: Miles is one cool cat.

PSF: Did you ever get involved in that songwriting retreat he has? Or have you thought about that?

WH: I went to the Gavin thing. Never did the songwriter retreat thing.

PSF:That sounded really interesting to me, the idea of putting people together in a room and just having them do something and not be so concerned with the end product, but just the process. For a little while, you know, forgetting their fears of collaboration.

WH: Yeah, it's funny, man, I try to write, some people I write songs with 'em and it come out good, you know? 'Cause you can put words and phrases together. Sometimes you're – the way I write my music, I do all the lyrics and all the music at the same time, so…

PSF: So, do you hear the melody…?

WH: I can't write music, but yeah, I hear the melody and a lot of songwriters, they just write words.

PSF: (Laughs) That's what I do. I got no melody in my head at all. I'll send you some of 'em. You do the music for 'em.

WH: People do that all the time. And, it's like, I can't, you know. It's too hard to put a melody down. Terry Allen did it to me with "Back to Black." He gave me the words and said, "Here!"

PSF: Really? What do you think of his new album? Have you heard it yet?

WH: I haven't heard it. That's the one where he has – is that the one where he does this song about all of his friends being dead, and he does a Daffy Duck, Donald Duck voice?

PSF: (Laughs) Yeah. It's neat.

WH: Yeah, Lloyd told me about that. He said that Terry was doing the song with a regular voice and he said, "This just doesn't sound right, ya know?" For some reason, there's something's missing. So he started livin' it up with his Donald Duck voice and he said all of a sudden, when you listen to it, when you get past how funny it is, it really sounds eerie.

PSF: Yeah, that's what I like about his stuff. I mean, it's funny and it's light but it's dark too.

WH: Yeah (Laughs), he's another guy that sort of, I guess I drew a – everybody you meet you draw something from. Or at least I do. With Terry Allen he's got the extremely dark side, you know, like on – of course, "Highway 54" was writ before I met Terry Allen, but it's the same kind of song, you know?

PSF: A lot of those guys, I really could understand why they would go that theater route. Because the songs have humor in them, but there's the dark side, and there's a story to be told. And the really good country music, the stuff that started country – all that music really had a lot of great stories in it.

WH: Yeah, there's much more to country than drinkin' and boozin' – there's so much more – (Laughs) there's that, and then there's all those variations of that, but then there's also reality. It seems like there's a lot of music on that's not reality. It's like, okay man, it's reality, but it's teenybopper reality. Everybody's doin' love songs where "I lost her" and okay guys, fine. When I was a kid, I was already tired of that music. I guess that's probably why I do music the way I do, you know (Laughs), all weird.

PSF: Do you ever get inspired by – not just other music and musicians, but also movies and things like that? 'Cause some of the stuff on Daddy – especially with that Hawaiian-sounding guitar – it reminded me of some of the Elvis movies, the ones where it was real lively.

WH: Well, I did, I was into movies. But I was into, like, Rogers and Hammerstein.

PSF: Oh really?

WH: Yeah, and now what's the other one? Yeah, Rogers and Hammerstein, when they were doin' Oklahoma!. And I used to watch Victory at Sea, I got all that weird music, you know, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, The King and I. The song on Wild, Free & Reckless, "That's Why I Ride," the very end of it, that's one of those songs. I wrote the song when I was walking home from my car, okay? So I wrote it as if I was – if you were in a musical, that's how you would do it. You would be walking down the road (sings)"Doo-doo doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doo". And then you go (belts it out, Broadway style) "Got no change, in my jeans." You'd be walkin' in the road, you know? That was the way that…by the time that you got to (belts) "Hey brother, that's why I ride!" And you hold your arms open, you know – that's the big showstoppin' finish.

PSF: (Laughs) I remember reading somewhere that your parents were from the '40s, and mine are too, and really into musicals, so I can understand that. That was a big thing in our house too.

WH: Yeah – were your parents from the '40s too?

PSF: My parent ares, yeah.

WH: How old are you?

PSF: Thirty-two.

WH: Ah, you're a youngster!

PSF: Well, thank you. (Laughs) I don't always feel like a youngster.

WH: You're a youngster all the way 'til you're seventy. And then you're middle-aged. (Laugther)

PSF: I'm big for the '40s stuff.

WH: You know, man, there's a word for this, and people been calling it "retro." That's not the word for it. The word for it that we need to use from now on is "American."

PSF: I like that!

WH: Uh huh! Yeah, the '40s stuff, I love all that stuff. And my dad used to talk about – my dad was in World War II, he was up there when they blew the bomb off, that's what [eventually] killed him. He died last year, but, all the stuff, all the traveling, Route 66, you know, and people going back to the old diners. People aren't being retro, they're being American. That's what it is, it's American.

People need to know that's not retro, that's American, man. We didn't change from that until we started – remember when Japan started coming out with everything, and all of the foreign objects (Laughs) started coming into the U.S.? Which is cool, man, they make some great stuff over there, you know? But that's American to get out in your car and drive. Why? Because we can do it over here, you can drive from Texas all the way to Seattle and back and never have to pay a border guard or bribe somebody or worry about going to jail or anything. You can't do that in those other countries.

PSF: Some of the English musicians that I've talked to and interviewed, they love that. And like you said, they call it American. They come over here and they go on these Blues tours of the country and they don't think of it as just going back in time. To them, John Wayne and the '40s Westerns – that's America, perpetually.

WH: That's it, man. And since my dad was from that era, that's pretty much how I was raised, so I grew up digging John Wayne. None of those other guys could hold a candle to John Wayne, man (Laughs).

PSF: How was it to be in the Marines? Were you still writing music in your head, or…?

WH: Well, I was writing when I was like eleven. And I joined the Corp when I was eighteen. And, uh, I joined the Marines 'cause they're the toughest and the baddest. That's what they told me, anyway (Laughter). I assume they're right, 'cause they're pretty hardcore.

PSF: It seems like you have a lot of discipline and leadership, you know, you're the leader of your band, you're getting the records together, you're managing yourself. Do you think that came from the training?

WH: Yeah, definitely. It…definitely had everything to do with that.

PSF: You just seem like you've been a "grown up" for a long time.

WH: I don't know, if I hadn't joined the Marines when I got out of high school, if I would be where I am now. I kind of think not, because I think that I would have gotten taken for a ride pretty good. And, you know, I've been through a few of them anyway, but maybe I might not have survived, you know?

But I did the Marines. That was 24-7 for four years active; I did two in Reserve, I was in six all together, and when I got out of there, I didn't amount to much at home, so I just kind of drifted around. I did the street thing quite big, I had a pickup truck and a guitar that my dad got me. I'd drive right around to the corner bar, supporting my habit, you know, through whatever means I could get to support it; my habit being alcohol – big, big time alcoholic.

And, I was up in Nashville for a while, and I drank there for about a year. And I never really got off the drag, 'cause I was told by all of the so-called people at the big hang-outs that I was, that I should just forget about singin'. Maybe I would be a good back-up singer, is what I was told by somebody. I'm sure there are some big stars out there, and I've met a few of 'em, that are damn good people. Everybody I met, though, they were just down on me, ya know, where, like, they were lookin' down on you, and I left. It ruined it for me, man – I quit playin' for two years. I guess this is what I'm supposed to be doing [though], that God delivered me. (Laughs) All I had was a suitcase and a guitar. Or, a seabag, is all I had. And I went from living in garages to where I'm at now.

So the selling out thing, about wealth, if I ever had it, well, I didn't. I came into this world with nothing, and I expect I'll leave with nothing. So it doesn't bother me. My father, his family was dirt poor during the Depression. I've never missed a meal, but I've never really been one of the guys where I could just go out and buy something every week, who had a great job.

I know what happens when you sign with a big label, I heard a story about some artist – I don't want to name his name because if it's not true, I don't want it to be a false story. But I heard that some artist was recordin' in Nashville and they told him that if he didn't use their session players, that he could pay for it himself. And he's a big star down here in Texas, and I think, I don't know what he did, but you really can't blame him if he had to do the other, ya know? 'Cause they got him, ya know? That's what happens. I don't want to be got. (Laughs)

PSF: It sounds like if they know that you really want to have a quality product, then they will say something like that to you. Like, "Oh, well, you foot the bill!" And they know that you probably will. That you'll work your tail off to make sure it's done right.

WH: I don't know what I'm going to do – I think I'm gonna stay with ARK 21 as long as they'll have me. They're not the greatest, they're not the greatest damn record company in the world, but they're a damn cry from the ones I've been with.

PSF: Yeah.

WH: Miles is a – I'll tell ya about Miles. He's a millionaire, and a lot of people there kiss his ass. And they should, because he's the head guy. But he's a decent guy and he's never lied to me.

There's a lot of stuff about this business that I don't know. I'm still learning it. Like when you do an album, you can't just put it in an order where you expect it to happen. You have to shuffle paperwork back and forth for three to six months in advance. That's why this record's so great, 'cause everything was taken care of ahead of time. So all the players don't worry about, you know, cashing checks that might bounce. In the past I've had a couple of problems with that.

And, just for the books, I got rid of my management. That had everything to do with that album soundin' good.

PSF: Yeah, that was in the press release. I was going to ask you about that. 'Cause that impressed me, the fact that you're handling that too.

WH: Yeah, those guys, they're tryin' to put a lawsuit on me but they don't have anything (Laughs). It's funny. But yeah, I just uh, I got those guys out of the picture, man. I wrote all the checks and everybody got paid. I don't like to mess with it. I don't like doing paperwork, or math, I'm really, really awful at math ad accounting and all that. I have to have guys help me with my road sheets 'cause I just can't get it sometimes. I wish I had at least one tenth of the smarts in business that I have in music.

There are a lot of people who don't have any education but they've been playing all their lives and everybody's been tellin' them all their lives they're outstanding, and they get up there and they just get ripped to pieces. Then there's all these other people that, like, I won't hold back saying it, I don't care about this guy – Garth Brook, the man that sold out whatever was left of Nashville. Those guys are business majors. That's how they make their living, through business. And it's obvious, it shows. (Laughs) And those are the guys that make the money. Reba, Alan Jackson, Travis Tritt, all those guys have something those other guys don't: college. They've got college, they've got an education. If you can prove to those guys [labels] that you're an asset, that you can generate income on your own, they'll take you. But then, you'll also have to deal with the whole system.

I guess Steve Earle did that. It's been said that if Nashville was run by Steve Earle, it would be perfect. I think he probably tried.

PSF: He amazes me, with all of the stuff that he's done on his own.

WH: He's an incredible, incredible cat. He'll probably be the new director of wherever the new scene's gonna be at…

But, there's something that's been lost in music. When they formulated it and made it artificial, the soul and the spirit went out of it. That's a very important thing. And that's why when I record, I record live. My first record took approximately a week. My second album took three days. This one took two days. It was two eight hour sessions in the studio and everybody was done. God has blessed me and my crew that we could pull it off that way. If we tried to do it any other way, I think it would just ruin it, you know.

PSF: Yeah, I mean, it comes across.

WH: It's easy to formulate music, you know, but then it's no longer really the artist. The artistic [part] then falls into the hands of whoever's running the board. All you gotta do is stand there and make the right sounds. And, yeah, I did it once. I recorded for Elektra one time on a demo, and it was just, it was ridiculous. It was beyond ridiculous. It took me three days to vocally cut "Poor Boy Blues."

PSF: By that time you lose all the fun. You lose all the spirit.

WH: This way, I'll stay happy and I'm gonna make myself a pretty good fortune. But I'm gonna do it the way it was meant to be done. And in return, you, everybody, will always get this good music, because it's always gonna be on Gavin. Gavin, man, Gavin – they play everybody. They're not gonna drop somebody because they don't "fit in" with Nashville. They don't care.

My whole philosophy is, I'll just stay down here on the mid-ranks on the independent radio. With ARK 21, I have a great label, and they're not gonna let me go, they're very happy with me. I mean, gosh, it takes me two days to record an album! (Laughs) It was $17,000 for that album right there.

PSF: Wow.

WH: Yeah, two days – sixteen hours in the studio – and then two more days mixing. Completely fast.

PSF: And it sounds like your musicians are happy too.

WH: Yeah, well I…you've got to take good care of 'em. Pay my guys seven bills a week. All bills paid.

PSF: That's nice, 'cause that's the last thing that people should have to worry about, whether or not they're going to get paid.

WH: They gotta be. Well, to get somebody coming on the road and to leave whatever jobs they had in Austin, because you can make a killing in Austin, just playing around here, you gotta be making it better than everybody else. I carry a four piece band, including myself, so I pay out about $2,100 a week. When we eat, we just all go out as one group and I pay for everything. You want it, you order it.

PSF: That's nice.

WH: We, like, go to steakhouses, and then we also do the, we go to wildlife parks, like, when we make that California trip, I like to take tents sometimes, 'cause it's free down there too. And if we go up through 66, we'll go through the Grand Canyon, you know, through there, and stay at all the great neon hotels out there. And, you know, go to the Petrified Forest.

But, I've got to do this while I'm, you know, while I'm able to do this because someday I won't be able to. I don't know when that'll be, but you know you can get to where you can't do it any more with this business, or you've got kids, or whatever the deal is. So I might as well go ahead. I want to go out and discover the America that my father and my mother told me about, in the late '40s and '50s, when we were a proud country.

I know there's some great, beautiful sites on the East coast. Upstate New York, and even, for what it's worth, even Manhattan, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago. Chicago's one of my favorite towns. Very, very big, and very, very mean, until you get past all the meanness. And then you find out it's really just a bunch of wonderful people, you know? I was kind of na• ve when I first went there because everybody down here is real happy and we all say hello to each other all the time. And over there, everybody's not that happy to be there all the time (Laughs).

Also see Wayne Hancock's official website

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