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MOLLY HATCHET


Molly Hatchet - Warrior's Spirit


By Dr. Abner Mality

The steamy swamps of Florida have been haunted for years by the roar of a bull gator. This tough old cuss, with his gnarly hide and toothy grin, has been cruising the dank waters for over 25 years now and nobody has been able to put a leash on him yet. Sometimes he's had to lay low in the deep, but he doesn't stay there for long. He's the king of the swamp and you can hear his throaty roar not only down Jacksonville way but all the way to New York, Chicago, London, Hamburg, even Tokyo. Some say you can see the Confederate flag tied to his tail.

I did a little gator hunting recently and came up with Mr. Bobby Ingram, who really embodies the grit and Southern soul of this tough old beast named Molly Hatchet. Molly has endured great tragedy recently and no one has felt it more keenly than Mr. Ingram, as you will learn. But the band clenches their jaw and wades right through the tough times. The result? Molly Hatchet is on a roll, with a very strong and meaningful album called "Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge", a busy touring schedule and lots of new opportunities to spread the Southern rock gospel into a new century.

I crossed the Rainbow Bridge and dove into the mouth of the gator to learn just what it is that keeps Molly Hatchet rolling down the highway all these years...


BOBBY INGRAM: Is this the Good Doctor?

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Yes sir, it certainly is!

BI: Hey, Dr., this is Bobby Ingram from Molly Hatchet! How you doin', man?

WC: Well, right now it's a balmy 94 degrees in the shade where I am.

BI: (laughs) Where are ya?

WC: I'm in Rockford, Illinois...

BI: That's not too far away. I'm in Vernon Hills right now. We got a show here tonight.

WC: Then you know what it's like.

BI: Yeah, I been feelin' it all day.


WC: Must bring back some memories of "Gator Country".

BI: It does feel a little bit like Florida. Florida's a little bit wetter.

WC: This has been a heck of a busy year for Molly Hatchet. How have you been holding up through all the events, good and bad?

BI: Well, you know, last year during the production of "Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge", I lost my wife Stephanie. That was the most tragic thing that has ever happened to me. I lost my parents 10 years ago, both of them. All my grandparents are gone. But that was uncomparable to losing your wife.

WC: She left before her time.

BI: You know, you never question God because there's a reason for everything. I got to the point where you either toughen up or give up. It didn't only effect me, there were a lot of people who knew her and loved her, in the band and around the world. She did so many things that nobody ever saw. From contracts to publishing to record company stuff to interview coordination. Keeping the books and records. The stuff you never see that makes a show happen. She'd cook for the band before we go on tour, she'd be cooking all day.

WC: You can't replace somebody like that.

BI: She was irreplaceable. And I wouldn't even try. Steph was my first and only wife and as far as I'm concerned, my last. I have no children. I guess my kid right now is Molly Hatchet. You know what's so funny, and me and Stephanie would used to laugh about it, is when people would ask "how does your wife feel about Molly Hatchet?" Well, we worked together 24/7 on the band and she really enjoyed what I did. She never was one to ask for any credit or wanted to be recognized. She just enjoyed it. We would always say that Stephanie comes first for me, but Molly Hatchet was my mistress. It's pretty much all Molly Hatchet, now.

WC: How important has the music been in coping with this situation?

BI: What has happened, and what is so ironic, is that when we finished pre-production on "Warriors", I came through the door at 3 in the morning and put on the pre-production tapes. She actually heard the song "Rainbow Bridge" before the lyrics were written. Little did both of us know that that was the track that was going to be dedicated to her after her death, as this whole album and whole tour is dedicated to her honor. I guess the reflection on the music has made us tougher. This is a very emotional record that the band has put out. It's a very true to life album. It's really gotten to the point that when we play these songs on stage, the meaning comes across so strongly. You can see the people in the crowd, you can see it in their eyes. That's something I haven't experienced in a long, long time. The crowd knows what's happened. They know she isn't with us anymore, physically. But she's on stage with us every night, she's in the hearts of a lot of people.

WC: That's got to be one of the best and most lasting tributes you can come up with, as opposed to something merely physical. Maybe people listening to that will relate to something in their own life.

BI: A lot of people will ask "what does Rainbow Bridge mean?" In the Bible, God said He created the Rainbow after the Deluge of 40 days and 40 nights. After the Deluge, there was a Rainbow, which signified the crossing over from this side to the other, to Heaven. In medieval times, they said if the Rainbow was ever broken, it was the beginning of the end of the world.(In Norse mythology, the Rainbow Bridge led to Asgard, home of the Gods...All-father Mality) We came up with the title "Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge" and it fit. Paul E. McGregory did the artwork for it and we discussed the concept in detail.

WC: The art certainly fits the tradition of Molly Hatchet cover art.

BI: Yeah, Frank Frazetta did the first two, Boris (Vallejo) did a couple of them, Ezra Tucker did a couple. But Paul McGregory out of Studio 54 in London, England has been our artist for the last 10 years and is absolutely fantastic. He gets involved in the music, he gets involved with the concept of the album. It's not just an album cover and we stick a CD in it, it's not that at all. The music, the songs, the feeling, the cover are all tied together.

WC: You guys are the embodiment of the Southern rock band, but you covers reflect this kind of Viking heritage thing. What's the connection?

BI: Molly Hatchet's always been the toughest of the Southern rock bands. It's been like a warrior. That's turned into a trademark of the band. It's always had that warrior impression about it. Stick to your guns, stick to what you believe in. No matter what trends come up, stay true to form, stay true to your friends. The formula we've stuck with from the beginning, and we carry on the spirit and legacy of that tradition to this day, we're very proud of it. In 1996, we got back to recording on a global level. Not just in the United States, we're distributed on every continent now, which is a wonderful thing and a very difficult thing to pull off. It doesn't happen all the time.

WC: You played quite a few dates over in Europe earlier this year. You seem to have a connection to Germany. What's the reception like over there and how does it differ from the American response?

BI: Our parent company is out of Hamburg, Germany. It's SPV. You know, there's really no difference, a Southern rock fan is a Southern rock fan no matter where ya go. The 25th anniversary year 2003, we put out "Locked and Loaded" and we wanted to show everybody all around the world, not only in the US and the Southern part of the US, that there's a common bond, a unity and a friendship between all Southern rock and rollers. We've been fortunate enough to be embraced by the hard rock community and it's been a blessing to the band. There is a common denominator. It doesn't matter if you're from Jacksonville, Florida or Jackson Hole, Wyoming...

WC: Yokohama, Japan...


BI: (laughter) Yamahamaramadama! It doesn't matter where you're at. As long as you're having fun and you're stompin' your foot and raisin' hell and forgetting your troubles and you're wavin' that Confederate flag and supporting the American flag, you're with us. That's what Molly Hatchet is all about. Bass fishin' and beer drinkin' on a Friday or Saturday night, pickup trucks and makin' people happy. And we are still flirtin' with disaster after all these years!

WC: You've said Southern rock is not just a kind of music but a lifestyle.

BI: It is a lifestyle. I was born in Jacksonville so I was kinda brought up that way. It's stickin' to your guns, fighting for what you believe in. A lot of people bend in certain ways. We don't do that. We stay true to what we believe in our hearts.

WC: It seems we are living in an age where things become homogenized. Parts of the country are not as distinct as they once were. Big box stores and mass culture coming through computers and cable TV have made everything seem the same.

BI: We've seen some change in over 25 years. It has become homogenized and it's really trendy. People will follow one thing for a second and then they'll get real fickle and follow something else. It seems they always come back to Southern rock and roll, though...that's what's kept us out here for 27 years. It's kept Skynyrd out there and .38 Special. We're not a flash in the pan, that's an absolute truth. We stay focused and keep our blinders on and we keep goin' straight ahead, no matter what's happening trend-wise.

WC: A lot of new bands seem to be picking up on this tradition. There's a band called Kings of Leon that seems to have that Southern rock flavor. The Drive-by Truckers...

BI: Nashville Pussy!

WC: Yeah, I'm gonna see 'em next week!

BI: You gonna get a little pussy? (That'll be the day!--Mality)(raucous laughter) I'll tell you what, and this is absolutely true, we've been talking about putting a package together with Nashville Pussy.

WC: I think that would go down a storm.

BI: We're with the same record company, y' know? Nashville Pussy and Molly Hatchet are both on SPV and we're gonna go out and do a little pussy huntin', y' know? I gotta tell ya, I really like the band a lot. They've got a strong attitude and a good style.

WC: And like you, they don't seem to care too much what the prevailing wind is...

BI: That's the truth. I don't give a shit what MTV is doing. They can play all that hip-hop boom shaka-laka stuff they want, I'm not into that. I'm a Southern rock and roller and so is Nashville Pussy and God bless 'em all. There is a market for what they're doing and there's a strong market for what we're doing,too!

WC: There's sort of a trap for veteran bands these days. Classic rock stations will only play your old material, even though you keep coming out with new stuff, and if you bring that new stuff to the modern rock radio stations, they'll say "take it to the classic rock station." How frustrating is this kind of situation, because the market is there but the powers that be don't want to tap into it?


BI: We've gotten to the point where we're going to television right now. We've got the new "Dukes of Hazzard" movie coming out that we're on the soundtrack of, we've got that new Howard Stern thing that's coming out, we've got some television shows that are happening and we're going to VH-1 on a lot of stuff. God bless classic radio, though, but they won't play the new stuff in solid rotation.

WC: I've seen so many other bands fall into this trap. I just saw Deep Purple a couple weeks ago. They put new material out steadily, almost every 18 months, but whenever you turn on the radio, it's "Smoke on the Water", "Highway Star" and not much else.

BI: We are still a viable recording act. We're coming out with product all the time, we've got a new DVD coming out soon with Charlie Daniels guesting on it. narrating it, and we shot it in front of 80,000 people at the International Harley Davidson Festival. That's a pretty big show. It kind of ties into the "Lock and Loaded" thing because there's a lot of interest in Southern rock all around the world. We don't want to disappoint our fanbase because they've been behind us all these years. But with radio, there is a problem with getting the new stuff aired on a regular basis. We've gotten to the point where, hey, radio's plays the classic stuff and that's great, but we've got new stuff out and we're going to television with it. That doesn't make anybody mad and we hit the same demographics.

WC: Do you see a lot of second-generation Molly Hatchet fans?

BI: Yeah, and that's great! Some people think we are second generation Molly Hatchet, but a lot of people don't understand, I gave Danny Joe Brown his first singing job before Molly Hatchet in a band called Rum Creek. Speaking of Danny, all of our condolences, prayers and thoughts go out to his family and children because he just passed away on the 10th of March. He gave so much to the world of rock and roll that he was just irreplaceble.

WC: That voice pretty much embodied Southern rock.

BI: Well, I handed him the microphone to do that. I'm the guy and that's the truth, I'm the guy! I remember to this day where it was...it was in the afternoon, it was in the living room of our drummer's house. I handed him the microphone and asked him "can ya sing?" He said, I think so. I said, can you front a band? He says, what does that mean?(laughter) It was the funniest thing and we always laughed about it. God bless him, we miss him, he's dear to our hearts and he always will be, that's just the way that it is. But a lot of people don't understand that after 20 years of living this lifestyle, it takes a lot of focus. There's a lot of people that will pull you this way, pull you that way. We just stick to our guns. They call us second generation Hatchet. Good! Let's have a third, fourth, fifth generation Hatchet. Hallelujah! We're not a flash in the pan!

WC: There's gotta be a lot of satisfaction in that.

BI: There's a lot of satisfaction in that. We are seeing second and even third generation Molly Hatchet fans that are coming to the shows and supporting the group. We're having a great time right now, with what we're doing.

WC: Danny Joe departed this year, but you've had some returns,too. How much has it energized the band having Dave Hlubek back in the band?

BI: We're playin' together again and it's like brothers coming back together. We've known each other for 35 years. It was just natural, it was the right time, the right place, and he showed a lot of interest in coming back to the band. So we got together and it's been going great, it's been absolutely superb.

WC: Did he just snap right back into it, like he hadn't been away?

BI: Yeah! We didn't even rehearse, we just started playing!

WC: You've got a new bassist in the band, a fellow named Tim Lindsay, who played with Lynyrd Skynyrd. What's he bring to the table for Molly Hatchet?

BI: He's absolutely the best bass player I've ever played with, he's fantastic. His personality is incredible. He's a serious, serious bassplayer, with southern Jacksonville roots all the way. So he brings this thing back home. It's about a southern grits-eatin', barbecue sauce eatin' thing. We're a blue collar group that plays the people's music for the people.

WC: Do you feel that right now you have the best line-up ever for Molly Hatchet?

BI: I do. You know, we still have John Galvin on keyboards,who has been with us a long time. This thing is kickin' ass, I'm tellin' ya! There's a lot of stuff happenin', we've got movie stuff happenin', we got commercials, we're working with Hershey Chocolate and Coca-Cola Europe. There's so many things goin' right now in the past six months that it equals the last 15 years!


WC: If you had to pick one track as the definitive Molly Hatchet track, what would it be?

BI: Well, it's like trying to choose your favorite kid. All of the songs to me have meaning and depth and we stand behind every one of them. I think there's a group of songs that stand out, like "Devil's Canyon", "Journey". The top song for me is "Rainbow Bridge" for personal reasons, of course. "Flirtin' with Disaster", "Dreams I'll Never See", "Gator Country"...

WC: "Fall of the Peacemakers"...

BI: Definitely...

WC: What's the last CD or record you picked up just for yourself?

BI: Ummm...you know, it's been a while since I really listened to other music. I like older Eagles stuff...

WC: Before "Hotel California"?

BI: Yeah, but including "Hotel California",too. Been listening to a lot of Pink Floyd recently.

WC: What was the last concert you saw just for yourself?

BI: I think it was Journey.

WC: In the long history of Molly Hatchet, is there any Spinal Tap moment you care to share with the fans?

BI: I'll tell you the most embarassing thing ever to happen to me. We were on tour with Blackfoot during their "Strikes" tour. A big sold out concert. The road crew for Blackfoot put some wings on the side of the stage and they weren't tacked down all the way. I ran out there full tilt and it looked like I jumped right into the audience. From far away, it looked like I fell through the center of the stage. I landed right on my feet and the guitar goes "BRRRANNNGGGG!" (laughter) I lifted my hands up and they pulled me back on the stage. People went nuts! We got more response from that incident than anything else on the tour. Somebody come up to me about five years after that and says "hey dude, you're the one who started moshing!" I said, what are you talking about? He comes back, "when you jumped into the audience in Fayetteville". I didn't jump into the audience, I fell off the stage!


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