Hunt Sales on Get Your Shit Together
The rock ’n’ roll survivor opens up about his brutally honest solo debut.
Since beginning his career in the mid ‘60s with his brother Tony in the group Tony and the Tigers, and the Tigers, Hunt Sales has had a storied career, playing with the rock hitmaker Todd Rundgren (at fifteen years old), the punk icon Iggy Pop, and David Bowie’s experimental heavy rock outfit Tin Machine. Sales has also backed the blues artist Lowell Fulson, the funk legend Bootsy Collins, and the Tex-Mex group Los Super Seven. Now, at the age of sixty-four, under the banner of Hunt Sales Memorial, he’s released his debut solo LP, Get Your Shit Together, on Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum records.
Recorded at the Delta-Sonic Sound studio in Memphis, the aptly titled album could be seen as a fresh start for the drummer, who openly discusses his past drug addiction and newfound sobriety. “I mean, there was a history to me,” Sales admits. “But you know what? I’m into what I’m doing now. And really, all we have is right now. So it’s the record, my band, this tour coming up, and the single that’s out now. It’s what I’m doing now.”
The album, a mix of Southern, blues, and rock vibes, began life when Sales’ longtime friend, guitarist Will Sexton, introduced him to Big Legal Mess head and Fat Possum label executive Bruce Watson. According to Sales, “Bruce said, ‘Do you want to do some recording?’ It started as a singles deal, but then he said, ‘Forget it, I want you to do an album.’ So he basically got to know me and saw my work ethic, and he believes in me. And he’s there to put up the recording time, press the album, promote it—everything. There aren’t a lot of people at sixty-four getting record deals. Before I met Bruce, I was content to write music, do sessions, and whatever else.”
In addition to Sales’ signature driving grooves, his kit tones stand out throughout Get Your Shit Together, from the explosive bass drum and snare on opener “Here I Go Again” to the shimmering, snappy backbeat of the album’s first single, “One Day.”“Bruce has a album’s first single, “One Day.”“Bruce has a bunch of nice snares, and I brought my own, too,” Hunt says. “I have an old Ludwig that I bought in Germany when I was with Iggy on the Idiot tour. I didn’t have any drums, so I went to a music store in Berlin and bought a 6.5×14 chrome Ludwig snare. Now the chrome plating is falling off of it. But Jesus it sounds good.”
Surprisingly, Sales tells MD that he didn’t spend too much studio time getting tones dialed in. “We only used a couple of mics,” he explains. “And I like to just slam the stuff with leveling amps and compressors. And if you listen to my drums on the Tin Machine records, my new record, and whatever else I’ve played on, you can tell it’s me playing it. It’s like any great drummer: you listen to them and they sound consistent because they have their own sound. And I have my thing.
My snare tends to be a little bit crispier. If you want to compare, it’s like the sounds on the Motown records, where they’re kind of noisy. But once you start throwing more instruments in there, it compensates and fills up those holes. You have that noise, and I like that open sound—like those Riverside records with Art Blakey, which is a great drum sound. To me, sonically this record is like a cross between the Stax records and a Motörhead album.”
The Hunt Sales Memorial is planning an early 2019 tour in support of its debut release.
Hunt Sales plays Zildjian cymbals.