What the World Needs Now is Inbred Octipi, Sweet Inbred Octipi
Unknown Hinson plays country music with grit and gusto. It’s not your typical, radio-mangled junk country, but honest to goodness party liquor-swiggin’, can-shootin’, woman-chasin’ music. Talking to Unknown Hinson is a balancing act between frustration and good humor. You want to laugh at the absurdity of his personality, but at the same time cannot get over his dogged dedication to maintaining his character throughout the interview.
When he is not playing music, he voices the lead character of Adult Swim’s “Squidbillies,” Early Cuyler. The Squidbillies describe themselves as a cartoon about “a family of inbred squids who tears the ass out of all creation in the North Georgia Mountains.” Early Cuyler is the epitome of the show’s stereotypical view of mountain people. I met Unknown Hinson just a few minutes before he took the stage at the V Club in Huntington to talk about the cartoon.
Graffiti: Do you have a personal favorite Squidbillies episode?
Hinson: My favorite — I reckon maybe the Chistmas episode is up their in the top five for me. I like that one. I like the one where we made pine cone liquor too. It’s pretty good.
Graffiti: If someone had never seen the show how would you describe it to them?
Hinson: Well, it’s a cartoon, but it ain’t for little youngerns, ya know. In fact it scares some kinds of adults away, but that’s the whole idea I think behind Adult Swim, it’s obviously for adults; I mean I ain’t heard no complaints ya know?
Graffiti: Were you approached to do the Squidbillies or was it something you came up with?
Hinson: They approached me, they heard a CD I had done, an EP. In between the songs I did some talkin’ and they heard me talkin’ and they kinda liked my voice, ya know? They got in touch with my management and they had me read for the part and I got it.
Graffiti: Do you play a role in the writing process?
Hinson: No, I have a script but they let me adlib-improvise a lot. Like they will say, “how would you say this,” ya know? Instead of what it is verbatim in the script, they say what would you add to or not say. They are real nice and easy people to work with.
Graffiti: Why did the creators of the show choose squids as the animal of choice for a hillbilly television show?
Hinson: I really don’t know, but the concept works as they say cause the octopus, the cephalod, you know, the ocean — it’s a fact the oceans receded from the continent millions of years ago, right? It is inevitable to me that some species would be left behind to the point they would mutate, and walk around and breathe air. That’s what the squids did, when the oceans receded millions of years ago in the North Georgia Mountains they were left behind. They learned to adapt human ways — you know walk and talk, drink, raise hell, shoot guns — you know hunt and fish.
Graffiti: What are the similarities between real life and your character, Early Cuyler?
Hinson: Well for me personally, me and my character Early Cuyler that I do the part for — share the same interests in things like shooting guns, drinking party liquor, and he loves to chase womern, you know, and he has a slight dental affliction, which I don’t know if you notice, but I do. So there are certain parallels, as you said.
Graffiti: What are the future plans for the Squidbillies?
Hinson: We just finished an all-new season. Last week I done finished up the last episode of a brand new season coming up.
Graffiti: Do you have a favorite from the new season?
Hinson: Well I like ‘em all. I am a big cartoon fan; I have been since I was a little boy. We didn’t have no television growing up, so I had to see them at the moving pictures.
Graffiti: Which cartoons were your favorites?
Hinson: When I was a boy? I liked that Top Cat, he was good. I seen him. I like that Wally Gator — he good. I like Huckleberry hound, mostly Top Cat.
Graffiti: How do you balance Squidbillies and your music career?
Hinson: There really isn’t that big of a problem. When I’m out on the road, I’m out on the road. We usually do it in a sound studio in Charlotte or Atlanta.
Graffiti: Do you think your music has gotten more attention since you began your work with the Squidbillies?
Hinson: Yeah, absolutely, people come to see me that didn’t know nothing about me being a musician or singer. They see my name associated with the cartoon so they may come out and see me because of that. I like to think that maybe some people, haven’t known me to begin with get exposed to the TV show by knowing my music.
Graffiti: How do you entertain yourself on the road?
Hinson: I don’t take much, because there is always something that awaits me.
Graffiti: What do you think of Huntington so far?
Hinson: I love this town, it’s a wonderful town, they are very cordial and it’s always a pleasure to come back. Thank you Huntington, love you!
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