~A chat with Hank III art talent, Keith Neltner~

November 01, 2002
Via electronic transmission

Wow. If you've ever seen one of Hank III's "Assjack" bootleg (can you really call it that?) CD projects or show posters, you might have noticed some pretty wild stuff, depending on which items you saw. Keith Neltner is responsible for the art on such pieces as "Bootleg 2" and the "Hell's House Band" posters that were sold at various live shows and/or on Hank III's official online merchandise retail outlet, "3-bay." I recently had a chance to pick Keith's brain regarding his affiliation with the Hank III camp, and here's what I learned...

How did you get involved with Hank Williams III?

It's kind of a long story, but the short version is I went to a show in '99 blindly and saw an incredible 2-1/2 hour set that tore up---it was inspiring.

What is your primary role within the Hank Williams III organization?

Art/Design stuff.

Is your work commissioned, or do you generally just create something and submit it to III?

Both really. Some of the earlier work was just inspired and III dug it. The mule piece was his concept that I brought to life. It's pretty loose.

What medium is your work generally done in (oil, pastel, ink, computer. etc.)

I do a lot of ink linework, then take it to computer and do a lot of layering, distorting and scratching. anything to make it look weathered...leave parts of it outside, whatever.

How long have you been doing this sort of thing?

Since I could hold a pencil, I guess. But seriously for about six years.

What pieces have you created for III that we might be familiar with?

Bloodline Gone Bad, Hell has no Asylum, Hell's House Band, fliers, the bootlegs and various T's.

When did you create the "Bootleg 2" artwork, and what inspired it?

I guess that's been close to two years ago...some of my illustrative influences are people like Kent Williams, James O'barr and John Mueller (Oink: Heaven's Butcher)...but the biggest obviously is III and the music. If you've ever noticed when Shelton's playing guitar he kind of leans forward over his guitar-it looks like he's ready to pounce on the crowd. That gave me the vision of the devil's tail and the implied fire horns...and I was watching Silence of the Lambs at the time:-)

When did you create the "Hell's House Band" artwork and what inspired it?

That piece took awhile...I started it last October. Shelton had sent me the concept and I worked closely w/him to create the finished artwork you see.

What can you tell me about the "Bloodline Gone Bad" artwork?

It was designed to look like an old concert poster from the 50's, country western style, but if you look closer it has some darker undertones. "Bloodline Gone Bad" sort of says it all.

Do you plan on continuing to provide III with this sort of thing in the future?

Most definitely, as long as there is a need for my talents...on top of the creative element it's a great group of people to work with and hopefully in some ways it helps get the word out and piques people's interest.

What other bands or organizations have you provided artwork for (SJR, etc.)?

I've done work with Superjoint Ritual, some local bands, and various non-music work with design studios, small businesses, etc.

Is this a full-time job for you, or a sideline?

Full time.

Are you formally trained in any way, or have you just exploited a natural talent?

I've had some formal training, but have been influenced by experiences, people and things around me. I've doodled for as long as I can remember.

Do you have any original artwork for sale, including but not limited to the Hank III items?

Not at the moment.

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