While today’s country music can sometimes pass for pop music with a fiddle, Wayne “The Train” Hancock is a true throwback to the old days of country music — so much so that Hank Williams III said that Hancock, “has more Hank Sr. in him than either I or Hank Williams Jr.”
I talked to Wayne “The Train” Hancock this week about his new album, his tour stop in Harrisburg and what his plans are for the future.
Jeff: You’re often compared to Hank Williams in print — while that’s a pretty good comparison, how would you describe your sound to music fans not familiar with Wayne Hancock?
Wayne Hancock: I love Hank Sr. so yeah, that is a great compliment. I’m from Texas, and I think my music reflects that. I think of it as Texas Swing. It’s got swing, jazz, big band, and country influences. It’s dance music, Texas style.
You recently released your 8th album, Ride, at the end of February and you’ve been touring extensively since it came out. How have your fans responded to the new material? Do you have any particular favorite tracks on the new record?
Hard to pick a favorite. I’ll mention the title track, “Ride.” I’ve been through a lot of personal stuff lately. What has been constant is the music. The music comes to me when it comes and a lot of times I am driving somewhere when inspiration hits. I ride my Harley a lot. When I ride, I have to focus on the road. I have to forget about everything else. It feels great to be on the road on the bike. It helps to clear my head. Once my head clears, the inspiration is easier to grab. So, “Ride” kinda represents all that.
What would you consider your biggest musical accomplishment or favorite memory on the road to date?
That is hard to to say, to put down to a number one. I love music and have played music since I can remember. The playing, the songs, it comes from the heart. Nothing forced. The fact that I have been doing this for so long and folks still enjoy my music, that is the best. That is what I appreciate the most. Still standing and playing, that would be my biggest accomplishment. I loved it when we went out with Willie Nelson a ways back, and I loved when Big Sandy joined up onstage last December. We played for hours! That was fun. That is what it is all about.
Your songs are throwback, classic country music — not what today’s country music sounds like. Do you like the direction of today’s “country” genre? What artists are you listening to lately?
I listen to classics. Bob Wills, Hank Sr. Some big band stuff, swing music. As far as country music today – and I’ve said this before – it does not really exist for me. I think there has to be some genuine talent in country music, but the stuff on the radio doesn’t appeal to me. It doesn’t sound like someone making music. It’s more like a product, like someone else, or some corporation is telling them what to sing.
Have you ever played in Harrisburg before? And how would you describe a Wayne Hancock live show to someone planning to come out to see you at FED LIVE on April 1?
I’ve been just about everywhere, yeah. I would love to see some friends and new faces out. We put on one of the best shows out there. It is authentic, real music. We want people to be smiling and dancing, having fun with friends. We want to meet everyone after the show, say hello and make new friends. Expect a very good time. So be prepared to call off work on Tuesday.
Looking ahead, after the tour and this album — what are your plans?
We tour after we tour. We spend a lot of time on the road. I already have ideas for new music so I will do what the good Lord put me here to do — make music.
Lastly, how did you get the nickname “The Train?”
Oh man. I think it was someone who called me that one night, maybe a journalist who was referring to my voice. It just stuck. Sounded good!