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Interview with Hank Ray About Ants Invading the Bakersfield Sound
by psychologist, Dr Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr BLT

I've heard of retro 50-style horror flicks, but never one where the theme is a metaphor depicting the record industry as a predator with its aim being what remains of the legendary Bakersfield sound. In a minute, I'll ask all of you to pull up a chair and eavesdrop on my conversation with Hank Ray, one of the fastest rising stars associated with the next generation of Bakersfield sound, or what has become known as the "Nu Bako" movement or "KCCRocker" sound (KCCRocker standing for Kern County Country Rock). But first, since this project is so unique, I thought I'd let you all take a peak...

Hank's short film sneak preview

One of Kern County's finest Bakersfield-sound-grounded artists checked in to the BuckarooM for a rare interview concerning the short film he's been working on. But enough of the introductions, let's let the man speak for himself...

Dr BLT: Good evening, Hank. I caught a glimpse of your upcoming short film. For the benefit of our visitors, could you tell us what it's all about.

Ray: It's a movie about giant ants. Taking the classic truth-in-advertising approach to titles, itís called __Giant Ants Eat Bakersfield__. It will be about 30 minutes long and the director hopes that it will be available online after a run at the Kern Country film festival.

Dr BLT: Sounds awesome. Tell us a little more about the type of film this is.

Ray:  It's being billed as "the first country music horror film ever!" Itís a musical and it has giant ants eating Bakersfield.

Dr. BLT: Very intriguing, when did you start on this project?

Ray:  The filming began about a year ago. I filmed this all over Bakersfield. We almost got busted filming on the roof of the old BuckOwens recording studio.

Dr. BLT: You know, I did see a cop car parked in front with flashing lights. I didn't want to ask to many questions, because I was afraid it might be you. Is the film up and running yet?

Ray:  The film is not finished, and I sort of put it on the shelf. I have had some really good feedback lately so I will start on it again this weekend.

Dr. BLT: Now don't get me wrong, I love the whole concept of the retro horror flick with giant ants, but what do these ants actually represent in the film?

Ray:  The giant ants are a metaphor for the way the New Country music has come in and taken control of the Old. Now thatís a metaphor that hasnít been explored in giant monster films before this.

Dr. BLT: This is exciting, it makes a statement that hasn't been made in such a format before. Tell us a little more about the ants as a metaphor.

Ray: Bakersfield used to stand for an underground or rebellious response to Nashville country music. When Buck Owens passed away a while back, I went to his funeral. I later wrote some songs about that and one was called ďGiant Ants.Ē It was as though corporate music was giant ants that took over country music and Bakersfield was one of the things the corporate ants ate. I suppose I am a nut.

Here are the lyrics of Hankís song on the subject:

The Old Country Music is Gone

The old country music is gone
You know it never had a chance
The old country music is gone
Corporate music killed it just like giant ants.
Corporate music came to call
Like some giant ants they killed it all
Iíd like to hear more like Clarence and Hank
But big corporate music owns all the money in the bank
The old country music is gone
You know it never had a chance
The old country music is gone
Corporate music killed it just like giant ants
America has sold itís music out
They forgot what Bakersfield and Nashville was all about?
Watch Ďem on TV become a Nashville star
I canít believe itís gone this far.
The old country music is gone
You know it never had a chance
The old country music is gone
Corporate music killed it just like giant ants.

Dr BLT: I've heard the song, Hank, and I have to tell you, in all honesty, I love the song. Tell us more about the concept behind the movie, also reflected in this song.

Ray:  The film is meant to be a take-off of those really old B-monster movies where the monsters are so fake that they are cool. Like the tree monster and some of the ones on the old Star Trek.

Anyway, I went to Buck Owenís ranch and made a mini film of Buckís sonís band Buckshot for Brighthouse. It showed on cable. Thatís how it started. I have others that are helping.

You've helped with some of the music, and I also included and some local hot-rod club members. My friend Ron Ramos, who almost got pinched on the Buck Owenís studio roof, helped a lot.

The reason we had to get on the roof was, the studio had just sold, so we made a sign ó like the studio was still open and put it on the marquee .

Dr BLT: Ha! I love it. What about that giant ant, where did that come from?

Ray:  Well, we took a giant ant off an old pest control truck and painted it with rubberized undercoat, so it looked better. After that I bought some fake human skulls at the Halloween store in Bakersfield and some dry ice for smoke.

One night I was wrestling the ant under the giant Bakersfield Arch sign at Buck Owenís Chrystal Palace. It was so bizarre a sight that the 99 Freeway slowed to a crawl above the Palace.

Dr BLT: Cool. I wish I had been there. That must have created quite a scene.

Ray:  Oh yes, quite a scene all right. A lot of the film footage got ruined when I spilled beer on it at a local honky-tonk where Iíd been filming.

Dr. BLT: Classic!

Ray:  Ah, the unique difficulties that come with country music monsterdom!

Dr. BLT: Well stated, Hank, well that's about all the time we have today. I think this is a highly creative, unique and exciting project and I thank you for going underground and taking the time to give us this update on the film.


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