And you too. I thank you so much for spending the time to do the interview. I know that it's a busy time for both of us and to do an interview in the middle of the week is a wonderful thing.
Your band is a legend. You guys have been around since 1978.
That was with CBS. That was the first album there. Then we did Flirtin' With Disaster in '79. Then Beatin' The Odds and there has been 15 of them all together. This is the 15th one, Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge.
Did you guys ever think you'd be around for nearly 30 years?
You know, I didn't think that. I didn't think that we'd be around that long. We've had so many generation changes and things like that. I think that's what's kept it alive too. Sticking to the roots. I think it's added some freshness to the group and we still write about truth, honesty, and friendship. But no, I didn't think that a quarter of a century later here we are.
I think the stuff you guys write about is very important and I think that's something that's lacking today. It's great that you guys are still around to remind people of those things.
It seems like there are so many trends that happen in the United States and all over the world and everybody comes back to southern rock and roll.
You guys were pioneers in that.
And we feel like we're the toughest of the southern acts. We've played pretty strong hard southern rock and we've been blessed to be embraced by the hard rock community over in Europe and really around the world. They gave us a second home. Not only the home of the southern rock but in hard rock. They're bringing their confederate flags and beer drinking on a Friday and Saturday night. We're all still flirting with disaster in some respects.
Absolutely. I did want to give you my condolences on the loss of Danny Joe and the loss of your wife.
I thank you very much. My wife passed away in the middle of the production of Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge. It was the hardest thing that there was to complete that album. It was a tragic shock to everybody. She did so many things behind the scenes that she never wanted to take credit for or even asked to take credit for. So many things that people never saw that she did that made Molly Hatchet tick. To have her not here is definitely a life altering experience. With Danny, I gave him his first singing job back before Molly Hatchet. We've been together now off and on for a long time. Since 1975 actually. We've been around quite a while. His loss is a great loss not only to the southern rock community but to the rock and roll genres of the world. He's offered so much to the fans and he was such a generous man. Our condolences, prayers, and thoughts go out to his family.
Your current lineup includes your guitarist of many years, Dave Hlubek and Tim Lindsey from Lynyrd Skynyrd. That's another classic band.
Yeah, Tim and I were talking for a couple of years before he joined the band and it was a natural choice to go ahead and get him. Actually what happened was I was at Wal-Mart about 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning and he was there with Billy Powell of Lynyrd Skynyrd. We all started talking and the next thing you know Tim is in the band. It was just all in the timing of it and Dave Hlubek, we've been brothers since way back. Way back in the '70s. We're from Jacksonville. We all knew each other and we shared the same rehearsal hall and played a lot of the same places. We all knew each other so it's now like a brother. Now I've been in the band for 20 years which is longer than anybody. Anybody that comes into the band. To have that to my credit, I feel pretty fortunate to be in here that long.
That's too funny. Run into somebody at Wal-Mart and he's in the band now.
Yeah, nothing like a good old Wal-Mart on every street corner.
I'm telling you. Wal-Mart doesn't know what kind of amazing things happen in their stores sometimes.
I can imagine. I can only imagine. I think it's wonderful.
There was a point between when you put out Lightning Strikes Twice and Silent Reign Of Heroes where you guys took a hiatus for a while. Why was that?
Well, we did Lightning Strikes Twice and then we did Devil's Canyon in '96. That was rated one of the top 10 records in Europe. I got Guitar Player of the Year on that album and then we came out with Silent Reign Of Heroes. There was a little break because Danny and I continued the band after Lightning Strikes Twice and we signed a deal with Reiner Hansel and CBH Records/SPV Records over in Europe. Pretty much from then on, everything took off. Germany became our second home and we do all the recordings over there now. There's nothing like the good old USA but to have friends around the world means a lot to us and we kind of shared that with the Locked And Loaded CD that we came out with on the 25th anniversary year. We did put two albums out in the same year. One was Locked And Loaded and the other was the 25th Anniversary Re-recorded. What we wanted to show on Locked And Loaded was there was a common bond and unity of brotherhood and a friendship for the passion of southern rock and roll throughout the world. We did live performances on that so that's a live CD and you can definitely tell that there's a love for southern rock and we did the 25th Anniversary edition and that was one hit off of each record through the history of the band up to 1990.
Tell me a little about Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge. I know your wife's passing inspired that.
Thank you. I appreciate you noticing that. It was a very difficult thing and I've got to tell you, this is something that gives me chills every time I talk about it. Stephanie and I had a family dog. We had it since we were together. We never lived together. We never had children. I've lost both my mother and father. It was pretty much me and Stephanie alone against the world. We had our family dog that passed away a year before Stephanie's death. She cried her eyes out for a weekend. Totally. It hurt her so bad that I think it hurt her for a long time after that. Our vet sent a poem called Rainbow Bridge and it was talking about animals but it was from an unknown author and an undisclosed person. It just said author unknown at the bottom of it. Little did either of us know that Rainbow Bridge would be the title of the album. The title track and the memorial of her death. She actually heard the memorial song while she was living. I don't see how much of a concept album people would want. The crossing at the Rainbow Bridge is from this band into Heaven and that's the other side of the rainbow. They say in the Bible that if the rainbow's ever broken because God always promised a rainbow, if the rainbow is broken that is the beginning of the end of the world. We feel that we're warriors of that. We've gone through a lot with the deaths of Danny and Stephanie. That's pretty much how the album came about.
I tell you what, it's stuff like that that really tests your mettle sometimes.
She actually heard the pre-production track of the album that she didn't know at the time was going to be for her. It's actually a tragedy. It's heartbreaking. It tears me up and it tears up a lot of fans around the world.
It's a beautiful album.
It means so much and we poured our heart and soul into this album. It was one of the hardest and one of the easiest albums I've ever had to record after her death. When I did the tail piece to Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge, I had everybody leave the studio and I put the computers and the tape machines on loop and I played for about an hour. I gave everything I could possibly give in an hour and they have 15 or so tracks or whatever and I said "guys, put it together because this is it. I can't do anymore." It came out to be this generation's "Layla".
Are there any particular tracks on this album that touch you the most?
Obviously "Rainbow Bridge" because of the emotional ties to that. "Son Of The South". It's an anthem that so many southern rockers around the world can relate to. Also "Moonlight Dancin' On The Bayou". Those tracks right there really are hard rocking. They have a good story line behind it. We're pretty happy with those three tracks right there.
That's one of the things I love about this album. The songs are so well written and a lot of them are so much fun. A lot of them are so touching. You don't get that a lot these days.
No you don't and we took special care because we knew that this was a very important album for the band. We didn't rush anything. We took our time and we really dove into personal emotions with it. I think that was translated quite well fro the CD to the people.
This CD reminds me so much of your earlier releases.
Yeah, it does. It's got that force. It's got that attitude. That energy level that was from the beginning days. We're really proud of that. This far down the line we can still recapture that.
Yeah, you sure can. You guys are going to head out on a major tour this summer.
We are. We've already started the European leg and the reviews coming back off the record are just absolutely 10 out of 10. There are fantastic reviews that are coming back and we're really, really thankful for the journalists who take the time to listen and to really comprehend what we're trying to get across. It means so much to us and we have had a very successful European leg and we're going back at the end of the year because we have a DVD that's coming out in the fall. Shot in front of 80,000 people. Charlie Daniels is narrating it. It's from the very beginning of the band even before Molly Hatchet when Danny and I were on stage together for the first time. Nobody's ever seen this footage. All the way up to the present and what we're going to be doing in the future.
That sounds absolutely awesome. I told someone I was interviewing Molly Hatchet and he was like "they're still around?" I told him he better open his eyes.
We're around all the time. Molly Hatchet is an American icon in southern rock and roll.
I'm a huge NASCAR and Jeff Gordon fan. One of my favorite commercials is when he's driving this really cool muscle car and it runs out of gas. His gasman is telling him that he's more of a Molly Hatchet fan. You guys are in NASCAR commercials.
Right, that's great. NASCAR commercials and also Nextel. We're in a Nextel commercial. We're in the movie Monster. We're working on a movie right now. I shouldn't say anything but I'm going to go on ahead and tell you. It looks like Dukes Of Hazzard might be doing something with us.
When I was a kid, that was one of my favorite shows on TV.,p> We're looking pretty good on all of this.
Sounds to me like you guys are pretty busy. Are there any other projects that you guys are working on or do you have your hands pretty full?
They're pretty full. We've got this tour, we've got the DVD coming out, we've got movies coming out, and we've got a lot of things happening. We're going back in January to start another studio album. We're pretty slammed up for the next two years.
Sounds like it. You're going to be out on the road a whole lot.
Yes, we are. I want you to come see us. We'll go to Cowboys. Me and you will sit down and I'll have a diet Coke and whatever you want to drink is fine. I'm a nondrinker and a nonsmoker.
I will drink and smoke enough for both of us.
All right, you got it. I surely thank you very much. What a wonderful interviewer you are. You've got a fabulous talent yourself.
Thank you. Any other thoughts or comments?
I just want to thank everybody in the Texas area and the Midwest for sticking with the band. Waving rebel flags. Beer drinking on a Friday and Saturday night. Bass fishing on a Sunday. Never forgetting the Lord above and still flirting with disaster.