Bob Wayne is the leader of Bob Wayne and The Carnies, a group of highly talented musicians that have played with Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Hank Williams III. Wayne is intimately familiar with that last artist — he used to be Hank III’s guitar tech on the road. Wayne’s new album, Outlaw Carnie, offers an intriguing blend of country, punk and soul. We talked to the Seattle native about Townes Van Zandt, modern country music, and keeping your guitar in tune.
Where does your music fit in the country music spectrum?
I would say in the same category that Hank III, Scott Biram, and .357 String Band. It almost fits more in the punk category if you ask me.
What are your thoughts on mainstream country music?
Really sucks. Sometimes when I hear it, it makes me physically ill.
What’s it like working for Hank III as a guitar tech?
Funny you ask this I just had a dream last night I was guitar teaching again. I really love Hank’s music so it was an honor to help out in any way that I could. I mainly just changed his strings and set up his stuff and sound checked every day and I got paid to watch a living legend every night! Not bad!
Any advice for keeping guitars in tune?
Stretch the shit out of them for a couple hours before you play than just play it for a while and keep tuning it.
Who are some of the main influences on your songwriting?
Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash, Waylon, all three Hanks. They all have great lyrics and amazing music backing them up. I really enjoy that kind of stuff.
What’s a song on the new record you’re really proud of?
I would say “Everything’s Legal In Alabama” I’m pretty proud of. It features a good friend of mine Wayne Hancock singing with me.
What’s a lyric you’re particularly proud of on the album?
“All my friends are family, my family is my life”
Are there any words you love, or hate?
I love ’em all. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t put em on there!
How do you typically write songs? Words first, or melody?
The guitar comes first, then melody, then the words. It’s almost always this way in that order.
Do you find yourself revising a lot, or do you like to write automatically?
It really comes automatically after a song is written. I rarely change anything.
Who’s an underrated songwriter, in your opinion?
Townes Van Zandt. In my opinion he is one of the greatest songwriters to walk the earth yet he’s not really a household name like Willie Nelson, or Johnny Cash.
What’s a song you wish you’d written?
“Rake,” by Townes Van Zandt.