In Memorial: Hunt Sales
The 64-year Old Musician is Very Much Alive & Finally Getting His Sh*t Together

By Lee Valentine Smith

He's got a list of credits most musicians would kill for, but the most important thing on Hunt Sales' mind right now is The Hunt Sales Memorial. It's his official debut recording as a front-man and songwriter, after decades of classic collaborations with some of the rock's most elite players.

His drum intro on Iggy Pop's "Lust For Life" has been heard in on records, ads and films and continues to influence new generations of listeners. Likewise, his early-'70s work with Todd Rundgren in Runt and Utopia remain classic performances. His most recent high-profile accomplishment was with old friend David Bowie in the supergroup Tin Machine in the early '90s.

In the meantime, the son of late comedian Soupy Sales has lived a wildly mercurial life, fighting long-term bouts with substance abuse as he continued to hone his craft in rock and soul bands across the country.

Now based in Austin, the heavily-tatted multi-instrumentalist is especially excited about the January release of Get Your Sh*t Together (Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum), a decidedly raucous collection of raw and mostly upbeat songs.
Sales, planning a national tour for later this year, spoke with INsite by phone from his Texas home.

You've certainly selected an interesting band name.

A friend of mine died, right? Nobody would go out to see him when he was alive, but I'd go out to see him. Then he died and all these people finally showed up. It really pissed me off. So that's where I got the name from. I figured, let's have the memorial now before I'm dead!

And here you are at 64 with a very strong debut album. The great thing about it is some people may know your history, but to a lot of people, you'll be a brand-new artist.

Exactly! You said that perfectly. I'm old, I've been around forever and yeah, some people may know who I am, but there's basically more people who have no idea who I am. If they do, they may think I just play drums and all I've done was play on "Lust For Life." I've done a lot more than that. Someone said, 'Well who sings on the record?' I'm like, 'ME!' 'Oh, You sing?' 'Well, I try to.' But you're right, I'm an old act. I mean, with Tin Machine being the last major thing I've done, and that was 1990, '91! There's people that were just born then.

Still this must be an exciting time for you. A new record, a new year. A new beginning in many ways .

I really feel grateful to have a shot at it at this late stage in the game. I was given the opportunity to do the record and I sat down and wrote almost all new songs.

At your age, a lot of artists might make a sensitive singer-songwriter record, but I knew you wouldn't go that route.

I just did stuff that I really like. I don't think my tastes are much different than most people. I thought if I liked it, there'd be a few people who'd get it and like it. The last few shows I've been to, like rock and roll shows, the audience seems to be older. A lot of the younger people are into hip-hop and trap house and all that. But back in the day, rock and roll was everything. But now the demographics, as they say, have changed.

Having grown up with classic rock when it was new, a lot of modern music sounds like a car commercial.

Yeah! I have an 11-year old and I've tried to play her some of the older stuff. It's weird. She'll like Chuck Berry, but mostly it's the trap house stuff. She doesn't know everything they're talking about, but she likes the beat. When I was 11 years old, I was into Sam and Dave and Otis Redding and jazz. But I wasn't the usual 11-year old.

But it's not just kids who get into disposable music. Adults get drawn into it, too.

Yeah, I ran into this guy a month or so ago. He was maybe 21 or so. I always start talking about music and I asked him if he was familiar with Sam Cooke. He didn't know who he was and I played him that song "A Change Is Gonna Come." I almost cried listening to it, it was so soulful. He said are you familiar with so-and-so, I went, 'No, what is it?' I pull it up on You Tube and basically this guy is rapping a how-to manual of how to make crack. I was like, 'Great, we've gone from Sam Cooke to how to cook rock.'

So where do you fit in now? At least you didn't go the Americana route.

Exactly. There's a time and place for that, but I don't know what time that would be. There ain't nothin' original anymore, except in presentation anyway, you dig? I'm a product of what I've done and listened to, ever since I was a little boy.

You can speak with authority because you were exposed to the founders of rock and jazz when you were just a kid - originally thanks to your dad.

We did have a lot of cool music around the house. It resonated with me and I started playing drums at like six or seven years old. The time I came up in, most of the great drummers were still with us. So I was lucky enough to hang out with and see Art Blakey, Buddy Rich, Shelly Manne, Elvin Jones. The great ones. Then when I was around 16, I started hittin' the road. I quit school and started touring. I knew I wasn't gonna be a doctor or laywer; what did I need school for, you know?

By that time, you'd already had an intense musical education.

Yeah and I went and studied drums because I knew I wanted to get my sh*t together. I was very lucky because timing is everything. I managed to be at a lot of the right places at the right times. If you want to be an artist, there ain't no guarantees. I saw my dad go through some rough spells, but he was always working. And that's what I've always done, too. I've been in limos and toured in learjets but I've toured in station wagons, too. From the top to the bottom. The one thing that's been constant is playing. Whether it's in a club for 20 people or doing 15,000 seaters. To me, if I was playing, I was playing. I could say I was a rock star, but you know what I really am? I'm my kids' parent. I play music for a living.

Your resume is incredible. Looking back, what has been your favorite moment so far?

You know, I spend very little time in my past. I do have some accomplishments and that's good. There are people I miss who are gone, that's for sure. But I don't listen to my old stuff. I'm more excited about a song I'm working on now, the one that isn't done. That's where I'm at.

Get Your Sh*t Together is available from most music retailers and through biglegalmessrecords.com.

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