Hank III senses that he's finally on the proper path, but he feels slightly pressured as the odometer spins on his life and his career. "I just pissed because I'm already 29 now, and time is ticking away," he says impatiently. "I should have already had three rock albums and five country albums out by now."
If the timeline isn't quite moving at the right speed, Hank III can be happy with the scope of his accomplishments. He does have two stellar country albums to his credit, his current shows offer a 75-minute set of country music followed by an hour or so of rock, his rock album (credited as a band to Assjack and titled "This Ain't Country" to avoid any possible confusion by country fans who don't necessarily want to experience the many sides of Hank III's talents) quivers on the edge of release, and March will see Hank III's contribution to a country tribute to Z.Z. Top (he does "Fearless Boogie" at the request of Billy Gibbons, who supplied some flashy guitar work on "Lovesick, Broke & Driftin'") as well as the debut release from Superjoint Ritual, a metal band fronted by Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo featuring Hank III on bass along with members of Eye Hate God and Crowbar.
"No one else can go from honky tonk to speed metal," says Hank III with a grin. "I just wish I could get it tapped into a little more."
Around the time of "Risin' Outlaw's" release, Hank III was branching off into another odd corner of his career with planned appearances in a couple of independent films. The first, originally titled "Recycler," has since undergone some alterations.
The second, an indie appropriately christened 'Honky Tonk' and directed by an unnamed former porn star trying to break into legitimate film, has been shelved indefinitely.
While Hank keeps the idea of a film career in his back pocket, he doesn't consider it too seriously as a definite option.
"'Recycler' got changed to 'Southlander,' but it's still in that same 'independent-film-not-too-big-not-too-small' thing and it's coming out," he says. "'Honky Tonk' ran into some budget problems, so they never got to do that. They tried, but they never officially got in there. The only other part that's come up...it would have been real cool. I was supposed to be a dealer selling to David Allan Coe and Billy Joe Shaver. But that was supposed to be two weeks ago, so I guess I didn't get the part. It takes a lot to act, man. It's just not me. I can be one of those guys that's in for a couple of minutes, and that's it."
With Hank III's musical versatility, he's also wide open to the prospect of soundtrack work. If 'Southlander' ever hits the screens, and warrants a soundtrack release, Hank's placed a couple of tracks there, and he's ready for anything else that comes along in that regard.
"We got on the 'Driven' soundtrack, and country-wise or rock-wise, we could do either," he says. "That's real easy to do. Sometimes they're pretty demanding on what they want, but I would love to try it. We've got to do it a couple times, and that's it. It's crazy. One of the songs from the rock album is on the 'Driven' soundtrack, and we can't get the rock album out."
With all of these irons in the fire, it's no wonder that Hank III feels the slightest bit antsy about the passage of time and has an innate need to accomplish more in his career.
Maybe it's a function of his incredible versatility as a musician, excelling in a number of disparate genres, and maybe it's the fact that he just turned 29 in December, the same age that his iconic grandfather was when he checked out of this life in the back seat of a Cadillac after having done nothing less than change the face of country music for all eternity.
That's a powerful example to live up to for a rising star who is inexplicably forced to fight the industry system just to get his albums made and released. It's enough to drive a lesser man to the drinking and drugging and despair that snuffed out the life of the father of country music. It's a cautionary tale that Hank III continues to heed as he begins in earnest to pursue his music career at the age that his grandfather's life ended.
Hank III ponders the fact that he's outlived his legendary grandfather and sighs with the realization that living longer doesn't necessarily mean that he will ever completely escape the long and dark shadow of Hank Williams Sr. He merely notes the most significant point of departure between himself and his impossibly lionized grandfather.
"I don't have a death wish, I'm just trying to have a good time," says Hank III with a weary finality. "I'm just trying to keep busy and leave my little mark."