Michelle LaRose talks with Bobby Ingram for Road To Jacksonville
Photographs by Michelle LaRose
Deriving their name from a 17th century axe murderess, Molly Hatchet does indeed know how to wield an axe, of the musical sort that is. Currently on tour promoting their latest album Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge, their axes seem sharper than ever in their full out assault of guitar driven, blues based rock and roll.
Having rose to fame in 1979 with Flirting With Disaster, Molly Hatchet has endured the test of time making their name synonymous with the label of southern rock. Molly Hatchet has seen their share of adversity with the deaths of original lead singer Danny Joe Brown and Bobby Ingram’s wife Stephanie along with a revolving door of member line-ups. With the release of their fifteenth album, they prove that they are unstoppable with the style and panache only Molly Hatchet can produce.
Molly Hatchet’s current line up consists of Bobby Ingram, Phil McCormack, Dave Hlubek, John Galvin, Tim Lindsey and Shawn Beamer. We were able to sit down with Bobby Ingram and find out more about the new album and the current tour.
RTJ: You have just returned from the Sweden Rock Festival in Solvesborg Sweden. How did southern rockers Molly Hatchet get lined up with the likes of Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, Obituary and Whitesnake?
Bobby: Well, we’ve been very, very fortunate to be embraced by the hard rock/heavy metal community over seas and actually here in the United States. Molly Hatchet has always been typically the hardest of the southern bands. So with that factor, we’ve been embraced! We love it! Those guys over there are so good to us. We do all our records in Germany and in Europe and we tour a lot over there. We’ve known Alice Cooper for many, many years. We’ve known the Whitesnake guys for many, many years. And Ted! We go back from the very first album with Tom Werman who produced the first Molly Hatchet album and Ted’s record. There are tie-ins all over the place! We’re just lucky almost thirty years down the line to still have that on our side.
RTJ: How was the festival? Do you have any notes of interest?
Bobby: Yeah. There were about 60,000 people there during the three-day event. It turned out really good. The show that we performed I think is probably one of our top five shows that we’ve ever put on. I really had a great time onstage. Everybody else did too. Alice Cooper, he was a great guy! We talked for a bit. He’s got a lot of things going on and he’s one heck of a golfer! I don’t know if you know that or not. He could be on the PGA tour! He’s that good! There were a lot of highlights. Another highlight was the press over there. I did a press conference and there were probably thirty magazines there that were being covered. Maybe more, forty. They asked some of the most human questions that I’ve heard from a group of people in the media. They were more concerned with, “How’s Bobby doing? How’s the band doing?” They asked some musical questions but they wanted to know how we were personally. It was very cool. So there were some highlights in those three areas.
RTJ: [Laughing] So how are you doing Bobby?
Bobby: You gotta’ ask them! [Laughing] I’m doing as good as I can possibly be doing. I’ve been through quite a bit over the past four years or so. Without going into too much detail on everything, I think pretty much everybody knows… Things are coming together quite well. I’ve concentrated fully on the music now. I was then but family came first. Family still comes first. I’m pretty much alone and it’s my animals and me now. I have three horses, five dogs, four cats and a big lonely house. I can’t say how much I miss Stephanie because she was a big part of the band. She was like the seventh member of Molly Hatchet. When she passed away I think a part of me died too that I’ll never be able to recover and I’m not looking to. I’m just looking to carry on and keep the music out there for everybody and do the best that I can possibly do. I’m being as honest as I can be! Seriously. I’m not sugar coating it. That’s the truth. I don’t think anybody that has been through what I’ve been through and suffered the loss of your entire family. Parents, Grandparents, Wife. No children. Wake up on Christmas morning and tell me how you feel. Seriously! Or Christmas Eve. Tell me how you feel when you’re going to sleep.
RTJ: That’s hard.
Bobby: I know the true feeling of loneliness. I get it from the music now and I get it from my friends and my fans that have been out there for many years that have stuck with me through all the generation changes, multiple generation changes. It hadn’t only been with Molly Hatchet. It’s been with a lot of bands. I can’t name too many of them that haven’t had any changes. I can’t name one. Can you? Can you name any band in the world that’s never had a member change?
RTJ: That’s a great question!
Bobby: I can’t name one. Can you name one?
RTJ: Not that I can think of off the top of my head.
Bobby: See! I think what it is, is the dedication to the music. The dedication to the fans because they’re dedicated to you and you want to reciprocate that back to them.
RTJ: For your French fans, when do you think you’ll be back to France to play?
Bobby: Well the sooner the better. I really like it over there. I know Paris was one of Stephanie any my favorite places to go. We’d walk up and down the Champs-Élysées every time we’d go there. We’ve probably been four or five times. Ironically enough, we’d always stay at the Paris Hilton. We would always stay there and we had a certain floor that we would stay on and we’d go to the Louvre. We’d go all around Paris and we’d see different things every time we’d go. She liked the Bastille area of Paris a lot and all the little shops and coffee shops outside. So there are some very good memories of France. Very good memories of the people there too.
RTJ: We have the inside scoop from Atlanta Rhythm Section that you will be in Daytona Beach July 8th to record a live DVD. How much of the new album will you be performing?
Bobby: You know, they’re exactly right! We are looking forward to it. It’s us, Blackfoot and Atlanta Rhythm Section. We’re going to perform as much material as we can possibly perform to get it on a DVD. It’s for a tribute to southern rock. We were asked to do this and I thought it was fitting that we should do this for the fans. So we’re looking forward to it.
RTJ: Will this be a performance DVD or will there be other material on it?
Bobby: I don’t know if I can say that yet.
Bobby: It’s the crossing over to the spiritual side of Heaven. What’s pretty ironic about this is… I finished the pre-production tracks; Stephanie and me would always sit there and listen to them. She would tell me what she thought, good, bad or indifferent. She was quite honest and she was quite right! A lot of the times she was pretty much right on the money. She was a big music person. She was a music person without being overwhelmed by the fame side of it. She didn’t care two hoots about that. She liked the band, she liked the music, and she liked what I did for a living. She liked what she did for a living. We were concentrating on getting the music to the people. She heard Rainbow Bridge before it was titled, she heard that track and then she passed away a few weeks after that. That was her favorite track on the record so it was fitting the way Phil put the lyrics to it, the way he told a story. That record right there was a very difficult, emotional album to do and it’s got a lot of emotions throughout the whole thing. It started out and she was still alive and it was mixed after her death. I had to produce the whole thing from beginning to end.
RTJ: It has to have special meaning to you.
Bobby: It always will. It always will. I don’t know how much more we could have put into an album at that time. Everybody was grieving after she died. It wasn’t just me, the entire band was. A lot of fans were. Everybody that knew her. She was so kind. She would give you the shirt off her back; she would do anything in the world for you. She never said a bad word about anybody. She was a lovely person. Tragedy struck so… The album was finished, it was completed and we have another album in the works. I think to have stopped Molly Hatchet, which I could have at the time would have been the most inappropriate thing to do because all of the time and work that she put in and we put in together would have been in vein. It would have been meaningless. She would have wanted the band to continue and I’m continuing this because of the fans and also to keep her legacy alive. She helped build this band. She was actually the longest female, active female, in the running history of the band. Twelve years.
RTJ: How is the writing process accomplished?
Bobby: Do you really want to know the truth? Honestly?
Bobby: You really, really, really want to know the truth?
RTJ: Yes! Really, really, really!
Bobby: O.k. I sit in front of a big screen TV. with a little tiny recorder, a micro-recorder. I turn the cell phones off and the ringers off on the phone. I turn the sound down on the TV. I have about thirty-five little micro-cassettes and I just play acoustic guitar and I’ll play electric guitar at a real low volume for three days. I’ll do nothing but eat, sleep and drink music. I wont go out of the house. I’m prepared to stay indoors for seventy-two hours and I don’t move. I play the guitar until I can’t play anymore. I go to sleep, I wake up, I don’t do anything else except pick up the guitar. Seventy-two hours. Three days! That’s it! Then I take those tapes and I go straight into pre-production. Five days. That’s it! Five days. No longer. Why Bobby?
RTJ: [Laughing] Why Bobby?
Bobby: Well I knew you were going to ask that! [Laughing] It’s because it’s going to’ get stale! You don’t want to pre-production it too much. If you do, it’s going to take the innocence out of the music when you first lay a track down. I never record lead breaks in pre-production. Ever! The lead breaks are always written in the studio after the vocals are performed because the lead break is a continuation of what the vocals are saying, what the vocals mean and what the track is doing to you. Intrinsically, internally, emotionally, all of the above. I don’t put the finishing touches with the guitar solos until after the vocals. That’s how the songs are written. I’ll take a lick and I’ll formulate a verse and a chorus and I’ll already have thought processes along with Phil. He does the lyrics, I do the music. We collaborate. That’s how we come up with the songs. I let him do the lyrics, he lets me do the music and that’s how we feel it. It’s not any magic. We don’t go,”Oh I’ve been writing this album for a year” stuff. Come on! Give me a break! I mean really! You know? I mean really! What we do is, we listen to people, we talk to people and we get their emotions and we remember. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. I can remember. I place musically what their triumphs, hardships, tragedies, wonderful things that happen to them in life, struggles that they have and I try to translate that musically. Phil does it the same way lyrically. That’s how we come up with the songs.
RTJ: So Warriors Of The Rainbow Bridge was the three-day deal?
Bobby: Yes it was.
RTJ & Bobby: [In unison] Three days.
RTJ: We see on your web site that you support PETA. What is your involvement with PETA?
Bobby: It’s People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. I got involved with that through Stephanie. She was one of the first members. She’s been involved with PETA for a long, long time. She was an animal lover. That’s how I was introduced and became an activist for PETA. I’m still very much involved with PETA. They’re a fantastic organization and they stand for very, very good things with the protection of animals. It’s not only just your pets. It the way humans do the treatment and delivery of product to the fast food industry, to the grocery stores.
RTJ: I’ve heard of the KFC [Kentucky Fried Chicken] thing.
Bobby: Yes! For instance, I know that is a very reputable company and I know they will do the right thing [glaring intently at the microphone]. Investigators for PETA have gone in… You can go to PETA.org, and you can look at some of the most obnoxious, horrible footage of animal abuse and cruelty that you’ll ever see in your life. Do it for thirty minutes and tell me how you’re going to feel.
RTJ: No thank you.
Bobby: Yeah, when you see them ripping skins off of cats in China and they’re alive and they sell that product to stores in America. Did you know this?
RTJ: No I didn’t.
Bobby: How many times have you put on gloves and you said to yourself, “Boy! The fur feels so good!” It’s a cat! They take the skins and they recondition the fur, they dye it. It’s cat. The L.L. Bean people are buying this fur from China. I won’t wear gloves that have fur in it or support any companies like that.
RTJ: You have been a professional musician most of your life. Why did you feel the need to earn a degree in Accounting, Marketing and Finance?
Bobby: Hmmm. Ha! Well my dad was an engineer he went to Alabama and he got his engineering degree and he worked for Southern Bell. He was a blueprint engineer. He would draw out these diagrams; he was one of their top five engineers. Very good with numbers, very good with math. My mother was retired from the IRS and I went to a private school, I was Vice President of my class. I started college when I was seventeen. I had my accounting degree when I was twenty-one. My dad really wanted me to pursue accounting. My mother really loved music. She’s the one that got me my first guitar. There was a bit of controversy at dinner at nights over this. Especially as my hair got longer and the headphones got louder. I finished the four years. Instead of getting my CPA license I went to CBS! [Laughing]
Bobby: It’s true! My dad went nuclear. My mom went nuclear too in a good way. My dad saw me play one time in my life, two months before he passed away. It was in California, it was in Hollywood at the Universal Amphitheater. After the second or third song he was in the front row, “That’s my son! That’s my son!” And then he said; “Well now I see why you did it.” So at least before his death, he saw me play once. My mom came to all the shows. She wore the backstage pass laminate around her neck all the time. She loved it!
RTJ: Thank you for taking the time to speak with Road To Jacksonville.
Bobby: Thank you so much!