BC EDITION INTERVIEW
When NoMeansNo, the experimental jazz-punk band, started playing as the Hanson Brothers, they couldn’t wait to play a tour without intellectual intensity. As a jersey-clad Ramones-inspired pop punk act, they were the inverse of their primary band, spoofing DOA’s The Prisoner on the cover of Sudden Death, and Black Flag’s My War on the art for My Game.
And if you haven’t been reading carefully, you may wonder why the trio’s single ‘90s hit single, has been omitted.
“They (Hanson) were on Sony at the time, and somebody said we want to give you all this money to buy your name because it’s too confusing,” said singer and guitarist Tommy Hanson, “But we said no, we won’t accept anything. They can use it, but we’re going to too, and it was met with a tremendous amount of confusion. But we’re just going to keep calling ourselves the Hanson Brothers.”
Despite being named after the 1977 cult film Slapshot, Tommy isn’t hesitant to criticize the current state of the NHL and hockey fans. “Some people like the bread and circuses element, and the shootouts, but I hate it,” Tommy says, speaking as the wizened critic that he has become. “I haven’t followed the NHL for five or six seasons now. I love hockey, but the ownership and Gary Bettman can just fuck off.”
Both Hanson and John Hanson are debuting their home brews on this tour, but unfortunately MMM’Hops Pale Ale will not be available. “John’s an avid homebrewer. Le Trou du Diable brewery put out a recipe of his and it’s really good,” Tommy explains. “They said why don’t you guys do some shows, and we’ll promote it and help out with the tour costs and it will be really fun.” Johnny released a home brew how-to on VHS in 2000, and since then that tape has been found inspiring amateurs, including Le Trou du Diable brewery. “The guys at Le Trou du Diable bought Johnny’s video when they were kids, and got really in to brewing. So they made 10-15,000 litres of it, bottled it, and it’s great beer.”
The last time the Hanson Brothers got to play together was in June 2013, on tour to Germany. “It was a show on Frankfurt on Main,” Tommy says. “Don’t go to Frankfurt on Odor because that’s on the other side of the country and we made that mistake. And it’s a 12-hour drive if you go to the wrong spot.” Despite these warnings fans were delirious with excitement hearing a two-hour set of originals and covers.
The Hanson Brothers will be playing their newest songs at the Cobalt this month, a venue they’ve played through their career. “The Cobalt’s always a really good place to play, there’s no really heavy-handed security there. The people who used to do the shows were always very nice, but the basic maintenance was not always a priority. I think the beer taps weren’t always cleaned very often.”
They will also be previewing some unreleased tracks. “Before we release stuff, we’re going to play it live, because it’s always better after playing it live for a while,” recalls Tommy. “And six months down the road it’s really taken a life of its own.”
The Hanson Brothers open a bottle of Punk Rauch at the Cobalt (Vancouver) April 10.
By Mathieu Pierre Youdan
BREW BROTHERS IN ARMS
AB EDITION INTERVIEW
Few things go together better than hockey and a tall cold one, so it’s only fitting that Canada’s most distinguished puck-rock band should have a varietal of our other national pastime named in their honour. A dyed-in-the-denim Ramones tribute-band, The Hanson Brothers has been an ongoing side-project of notorious Victoria-born/Vancouver-based punk pundits, NoMeansNo, for the past three decades. And what better way to commemorate 30 years of dropping the gloves than by serving up 6.2% liquid courage to their fans across the country?
Newly uncasked in conjunction with Brasserie Le Trou Du Diable (trans: The Devil’s Hole Brewery), Johnny Hanson’s Punk Raunch beer follows in the foamy wake of a recent deluge of music/beverage industry crossovers. Successful forerunners include Iron Maiden vocalist and ale-enthusiast Bruce Dickinson’s own Trooper Premium British Beer and Primus frontman Les Claypool’s range of Pachyderm-themed vintages out of his Claypool Cellars winery nestled in California’s verdant Russian River Valley. According to Hanson Brothers guitarist Tommy Hanson (a.k.a. Tom Holliston) the relationship between their boisterous band and the Quebecois beer-crafters was a strange brew made in hockey heaven.
“John is a very good and avid home-brewer and we were looking for the perfect company to release one of his recipes,” Holliston recounts. “When we connected with the guys at Trou Du Diable in Shawinigan, we instantly knew we wanted them to work with us closely on our tour. They are such wonderful people and we share similar backgrounds when it comes to music and social ideas. The brewery has been very keen and has been a strong promotional presence at our shows. I can’t say how much we appreciate their involvement and offers of spiritual, emotional and financial support. The best thing we’ll take away from this experience is that we’ve forged new friendships with such passionate and hardworking people.”
A league legend when it comes to bruised heads and heady brews, lead singer Johnny Hanson (a.k.a. John Wright) co-produced his elixir with loving care. Pairing perfectly with headcheese, Johnny Hanson’s Punk Raunch tipple is touted as a Bavarian-smoked beer that tastes like a ham sandwich in a tankard. Not your typical cup o’ stadium draft, ubiquitously referred to as “heroin beer,” or “powdered-beer” south of the 49th parallel, Hanson’s bourbon barrel-aged gold medal run is an ideal half-time refresher for a band named for the fraternal goon-squad from the 1977 sport-cult classic film Slap Shot.
Often mis-Googled for the Tulsa teen-sensations that spawned “MMMBop” earworm, The Hanson Brothers of Canada have never played a defensive game when it comes to protecting their net interests. In fact, the punk stalwarts turned down a considerable copyright buy-out offer and told stakeholders it was “OK” if the other Hanson brothers used the name and released their own brand of beer. This game plan, of course, was completely baffling to their would-be sibling rivals.
“Back in their Virgin days, Sony came to us with something like $100,000 to sell them the rights to name because those boys wanted to call themselves Hanson Brothers. They found it very confusing that anyone would not be anal about a potential name change if they decided to comeback after all these years. What do we care? All the better if some of their fans say, ‘I wanna buy Hanson beer!’ and find themselves puzzling over the Punk Raunch label. People love this stuff!”
Incidentally, those Hansons went on to release their own Mmmhops in November of 2013 (no kidding).
Away-game ready and down for yet another run at the cup, The Hanson Brothers are spoiling to hitting the ice as a four-man squad featuring the hard-charging rhythms and blistering riffs of guitarist Tommy Hanson, bassist Robbie Hanson (a.k.a. Rob Wright), lead-vocalist Johnny, and guest drummer Byron Hanson (a.k.a. “Some Guy,” a.k.a. Byron Slack, of Vancouver punk outfit, The Invasives). Wiser for their scars, the total goombahs that brought you Gross Misconduct (1992), Sudden Death (1996) and My Game (2002) prefer to stay out of the penalty box when it comes to soaking up the suds.
“It’s funny that were doing a tour that is so closely connected with beer since we rarely drink before or during our shows – you owe it to the people who paid good coin to see you perform to give it your best shot. Being hung over and feeling crappy doesn’t cut it when your set is so bang, bang, bang,” Holliston coaches. “The Ramones’ sound is the foundation that gives us so much momentum, but the clowning is pure Hanson Brothers. We plow through 28 songs with as much energy as humanly possible from beginning to end. It’s not really a marathon, but it feels like it’s going 100 miles an hour!”
Catch the Hanson Brothers at Commonwealth (Calgary) on April 16 and at the Starlite Room (Edmonton) on April 18.
By Christine Leonard