Madison's Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys put a new twist on nasty underground country. The title of their new album “Taking the “O” Out Of Country” may raise a few eyebrows, but the lyrics are what set them apart from the dreaded manufactured Nashville sound. Nellie and her band came of age playing in various punk bands and that DIY vibe comes through in their performance.
At the band's recent CD release party, Nellie dressed in a purple hoop skirt and freshly cut hairdo, using her sweet powerful voice to keep the audience transfixed, while the Hellbound Honeys kept the old-school country sound intact. A sonic combination that creates authenticity few Madison bands can muster.
If Tammy Wynette and GG Allin wrote lyrics together they might come up with songs like “This Pussy Ain’t Lickin’ Itself” and “Cunt of My Dreams.” The cover of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City” sets the mood for a night of good whiskey and cigarettes.
It’s not too often we get excited about a country band. Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys are unique in Madison as they’ve managed to combine real country chops with an anti-establishment attitude that has absolutely nothing to do with the crap you hear on the radio. We found the band on YouTube several months ago and we’re blown away by one of their originals called “Up, Down, Repeatedly,” a nice ditty about a woman knifing her boyfriend.
Somehow you just know by listening to them that their record collection contains Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson records along with The Clash and The Ramones. The band has only been together for a year and the future looks bright. If you get the chance, check them out before some cutting edge Nashville producer steals them away from Madison.
Nellie Wilson & the Hellbound Honeys are:
Nellie Wilson - Bass, Vocals
Dancin' Doc Franklin - Lead Guitar, Vocals
Rusty Shackleford - Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Jed - Drums
How did the band got together?
Nellie Wilson - Our old guitarist, Rusty Shackleford, and I started writing songs in November of 2009. We knew we wanted to do good country. Something along the lines of Hank Williams, Sr. but with a naughty twist to suit our personalities. We also knew we wanted to be in a band with like-minded people and set out to find them. Enter Dancin' Doc Franklin and Jed, two friends who we knew would be down for anything.
When was your first gig?
Dancin' Doc Franklin - Fri. Jan. 8th, 2010 at the High Noon Saloon with the Getaway Drivers.
Nellie - It was an early show which always gets me in trouble liquor-wise, but it was a good first show!
Someone must like Willie Nelson. How did you come up with the name Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys?
Nellie - I like Willie Nelson just fine and all, but I'm not a huge fan. I just came up with the name and loved it. Hellbound Honeys came later. We wanted to do something with Hellbent, but weren't sure what. Rusty liked Hellbound better and Honeys came because of my love of alliteration.
You just finished a small tour of the Midwest. What was the audience reaction to the new album?
Doc - Good, but its just as fun coming into a show where people know what to expect as it is to play a show to an innocent audience who a minute into the set get caught off guard by "cunt" and laugh and then get roped in.
Jed - I agree with Doc's answer here. I thought it went over pretty well at every show, but it was the first time I got a little nervous before shows in this band, being in front a new crowd in a new city not knowing how they would react. That went away pretty quickly once we started playing though.
Nellie - I think with "funny" music it's hard not to be a crowd pleaser. I mean, that's part of the reason we write funny songs. The funny draws them in and then if they buy the album and really listen to it they can appreciate the song-writing and our musical skills.
Lyrically the songs are like Tammy Wynette meets GG Allin. You must all have some kind of brush with punk bands in your past?
Doc - My first "band" was a punk duo and i've never left that entirely behind me.
Jed - Pretty much every other band i've been a part of until just recently has had major punk influences. Also, this is probably the most accurate description of our lyrical content I've heard.
Nellie - My first band outside of the family band was a pop-punk band and from there I spent five or six years in a grungy/punk girl band. We all definitely have our punk influences and are starting to embrace them a bit more in the band.
What are the band’s future plans?
Nellie - We're just taking things as they come. We started writing new songs while on tour so another album is definitely in our future. I personally want to take this band as far as it can go.
Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys - This Pussy Ain't Lickin' Itself
Nellie Wilson and the Hellbound Honeys - Fist City