Nearly 85 years after his great-grandfather Hank Williams made his musical debut, Coleman Williams (also known as IV) is continuing the legacy of country music’s most legendary family with his band IV AND THE STRANGE BAND.
“The song is kind of me making a joke at the way my family has been used over the years,” IV says, “and the commercial exploitation that downtown Nashville has turned into, where it was once for the music but now that is the last thing that matters.”
The only son of Hank Williams III, IV was raised by his mother in Nashville until his formative high school years, which were spent with his father at Hank3’s “haunted ranch,” going to punk and house shows, and being driven by the heavy tones and sounds of progressive vocal driven music while still retaining a love for the southern country and blues legends. After high school, IV travelled the country, which led to meeting more bands and expanding his musical tastes from country bands in Louisiana to doom metal bands in New Jersey.
But fulfilling a musical legacy is never what drove IV as a person. After traveling, IV returned to Nashville to attend college to study English and literature with dreams of being a writer. After college, IV began teaching but over time he realized he didn’t enjoy the education route and got into working in the liquor business instead to make ends meet. About this time, he became friends with local producer Jason Dietz, who became a friend and musical ally. Even though IV had been writing songs his entire life and had grown up singing, he had never had a project to express his true voice. Additionally, he had reservations about ever being like the rest of his family, wanting to forge his own path. He had even kept his family history on a need-to-know basis among friends. IV wanted to be in the backdrop of the music scene to take it all in.
IV’s friendship with Dietz and encouragement from country-punk icon Joe Buck led to meeting the group of musicians he needed for what is now dubbed IV AND THE STRANGE BAND. Lead guitar player David Talley and Jason Dietz on bass make up the core of IV AND THE STRANGE BAND, with Laura Beth Jewell on fiddle and Tylor Powell on drums. Starting from IV’s acoustic songs, the band and IV collaborated to create the sound now that has come to define the project: 100-watt amps blended with fiddle, drums, and powerful vocal driven country hooks combining many diverse influences including John Prine, Blaze Foley, The Jesus Lizard, The Replacements and The Melvins.
“Music is a way I can give someone my grit, my sweat, and my dreams all in one in-your-face expression of my view of this world,” he says. “And maybe just for a moment I can help someone out there that feels similarly in some way.”
While the Williams musical blood runs through IV, the journey to starting his own music career at 29 – the exact age his great grandfather Hank Sr.’s life ended – was necessary for him to fulfill his vision. Being handed a legacy is one thing to try, but IV is determined to earn it.
“My family legacy is something that I hold with utmost respect,” IV says. “I have worked my whole life to feel I have earned a right to add my chapter to the family. Not because of my blood, but because of my own personal journey of being a person that has something to say and believing in my message just like my forefathers have.”
IV AND THE STRANGE BAND online: