Scraping Their Way to the Top, 100,000 Miles of Honky-Tonk Heaven

The Hackensaw Boys, that lean unit of hillbilly noisemakers loosely based in Charlottesville, VA, are nothing if not boisterous and fired up for their pre-Thanksgiving show at the State Theater in Falls Church.  After eighteen months of touring behind their album “Look Out!” the Hacks have knocked down 100,000 miles throughout the U.S. and Europe, they’ve played shows with a striptease act from Nashville in Bergen, Norway as John Paul Jones and Robyn Hitchcock looked on, and they’ve pondered the implications of having George Bush in the band, dubbed LD Hackensaw—lame duck or learning disabled…you make the call.  I prefer the thought of Kermit the Frog (TLC [tastes like chicken] Hackensaw)’s high lonesome tenor burning up the likes of their blistering cover of “Gospel Plow.”  Long on stories and short on space, Spits Hackensaw expressed their love for their loyal fans, talked about recording demos for their new album in living rooms and closed-on-Sunday restaurants, and their appreciation for what they do.  This rowdy troupe of carpenters and copy editors bring the noise.
Original e-mail from Ward…

howdy stuart.  we have yet to record the cd, though many of us have done rough and not so rough demos of the songs, and have been playing many of them out trying to tweak them here and there.  the end result will be a product of several sessions in several different studios (our living rooms, empty restaurants on sundays, etc) if we do any recording or mixing in a studio, it will be with bryan hoffa at sound of music in richmond VA.  i used to work there, we did the last record there, and it’s just a wonderful, comfortable facility owned and run by wonderful folks.

this record, therefore, will be more of a live record than the last couple.  on lookout, which was engineered by bryan hoffa, we recorded all the instruments live, then overdubbed the vocals, mostly gang style, all around one mic.  listening to it now, it sounds a little studio boxy to me, although i can’t speak for anyone else.  this time around we’re gonna set up the mics and start hacken’ and sawin’ and hollerin’ and see what sticks.  at least that’s the plan.  for the most part we’re a democratic band; however, we try to let whoever wrote the song lead the arrangement.
dream members?  without too much thought, how bout:
george bush – LD (lame duck, or learning disabled) hackensaw – for laughs
bob stinson (replacements)  – shakes hackensaw- also for laughs
kermit the frog – TLC (tastes like chicken) hackensaw – for, you get the idea
songwriting.  well, still kinda all over the map.  i’ve got a few heart-on-my-sleeve numbers this time.  but at least they’re honest.  ferd’s still got the rippin’ fiddle numbers like nobody else.  rob’s inimitable songs are intricate and quirky.  we’ve got a few old time covers that may show up. we’ll know what it is when we can step back and look at it as a whole.  hard to say now.
weirdest show this year?  too many to name, but certainly playing in bergen, norway in between a stripper burlesque troupe from nashville, tennessee 3 nights in a row with robyn hitchcock and john paul jones in the audience.  that was a singular experience.
dirty bird is in retirement.  we’ve put close to 100,000 road miles behind us this year, in our van, rental rvs, and “the lion” in europe (our goto rental in the netherlands)
for fun when we’re not playing music?  we all have jobs ranging from carpentry to restaurant work to copy editing.  see if you can match the monkey with the joe job.  most of us, when we’re not on tour, and not working, are playing in other musical outfits.  too numerous to count.
one thing i have to say on behalf of the band is this.  in an era when entertainment options have increased exponentially, and the economy seems to tanking in the other direction, we all know how lucky we are to be doing this. the folks that come to see us are awesome, fun, loyal folks.  we don’t make enough money to survive solely on the hackensaw boys, but it’s too much goddamn fun to quit now, ya know? {This was my favorite part of the whole e-mail. –SG}
how’d i do?  any thing else you can think of, lemme know.  i wasn’t being lazy in my brevity.  most pieces of this kind have a tendency to be a little fatty and grisly, and the hackensaw boys are nothing if not lean.
Originally printed in Playlist magazine, November 2008

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