Nada Mucho

Henry Hanks Are NOT An Alt.Country Band

Posted by May 11th, 2005 No Comments »

The members of Henry Hanks, shortly after disposing of the body.NadaMucho.com Interview – Henry Hanks
Q & A with Pat Kearney
Interview by Matt Ashworth

Henry Hanks, a Seattle four-piece that features former members of local noise rockers Juno and Automaton, is clearly one of the most exciting local bands to emerge in early 2005. The band’s 5-song demo CD and excellent live shows have built them a quick buzz, garnering comparisons to fellow countrified indie rockers like Neil Young and the Palace Brothers.

Henry Hanks will bring their dusty, intricate alt-rock to the Sunset Tavern May 12. In preview of the show, we spoke with frontman Pat Kearney.

NadaMucho.com: Hey, how’s it going?
Pat Kearney: Good thanks.

NM: So who exactly is this Henry Hanks guy?
PK: The name is taken from a comic book character I invented awhile back. It’s about an isolated boy whose parents and everyone he knows are addicted to a TV show called “The Fuzz” that’s nothing but white noise.

The members of Henry Hanks, shortly after disposing of the body.NadaMucho.com Interview – Henry Hanks
Q & A with Pat Kearney
Interview by Matt Ashworth

Henry Hanks, a Seattle four-piece that features former members of local noise rockers Juno and Automaton, is clearly one of the most exciting local bands to emerge in early 2005. The band’s 5-song demo CD and excellent live shows have built them a quick buzz, garnering comparisons to fellow countrified indie rockers like Neil Young and the Palace Brothers.

Henry Hanks will bring their dusty, intricate alt-rock to the Sunset Tavern May 12. In preview of the show, we spoke with frontman Pat Kearney.

NadaMucho.com: Hey, how’s it going?
Pat Kearney: Good thanks.

NM: So who exactly is this Henry Hanks guy?
PK: The name is taken from a comic book character I invented awhile back. It’s about an isolated boy whose parents and everyone he knows are addicted to a TV show called “The Fuzz” that’s nothing but white noise.

NM: Neat! Is he related to academy award winner Tom Hanks by any chance?
PK: No, I wish, maybe we would get some money to record more songs.

NM: You and Chris used to be in Automaton. Jason and Greg used to be in Juno. Both were very loud noise rock bands. Why the stylistic change?
PK: I’ve always played these kinds of songs in my apartment, even during the Automaton days. Back then I was really pissed off and wanted to smash everything. Now, I want to smash things more selectively, so maybe the music reflects that. Also, I think I’ve gotten much more into the idea of songs as stories, or mini-films, or whatever analogy you want to use. With Automaton, it was much more about trying new things and bashing peoples heads in for arts sake-Henry Hanks uses more of a traditional form I think, so the words and vocals carry the weight of the song a bit more…you know, bringing people closer and plotting together how to make things better.

NM: Between the four of you, you’ve got like 6 albums and 14 national tours under your belt. What did you learn in your previous projects that you will do differently with the Hanks?
PK: That the friendship between the band members and love of playing music comes first, above anything else. I think in our earlier bands we forgot that sometimes, we got carried away about the trajectory of the band as opposed to just enjoying the moment and each other’s company.

NM: Chris splits time in Hanks and RazRez, another local outfit making waves in just a short time together. Does that detract from your ability to practice, play shows, etc?
PK: Yes, but Chris is worth it. In my opinion he’s one of the best bass players in town, as well as being a great friend, so we’re willing to put up with some of the scheduling and time conflicts.

NM: You’ve gotten some great exposure for a band who just finished their first demo. To what to you attribute this early success?
PK: I don’t know, I think we play pretty honest music – we put our shit out there whether people like it or not. So maybe folks respond to that.

NM: People aptly compare your sound to Smog and Will Oldham. Are they big influences? Who else influences what you do?
PK: Do they? Cool, I love those bands. They are influences, but I think those two bands are much mellower, less rock than we are, though maybe they inhabit a similar space as we do. I think we’ve all gotten much more into old 60’s stuff, like the psychedelic compilations Nuggets, and then of course Dylan, Haggard, Son House, etc….that music was so much more honest to me, less “glossied up” if you will. It seems like tastes in art changes for everyone over time though, ours happens to be on this track for now.

NM: You told me early-on that, despite the obvious country tinge to some of your songs, that you’re trying not to get pigeonholed in the “Alt.Country” scene. Why?
PK: Cuz most of Alt country sucks I think and like most bands, we don’t want to be pigeonholed into anything. Some songs we play are country, some are punk, and some are just straight up pop. I think we’re more psych-pop than country anyway, and I think most people would agree after seeing us play.

NM: What’s your take on the current state of country music?
PK: Oh man, don’t get me started. It’s terrible. I think of country music, real country music, as almost like early punk rock or folk – very heartfelt stories about people and events that mean something. Most country acts today sound like Karoke bands singing about nonsense and every love and whisky song you’ve heard a million times. Same with rockabilly. I hate that stuff because its become so devoid of meaning that it’s a waste of time listening to it.

NM: Name the five Seattle bands you’d most like to share the stage with?
PK: The Lights, Jessie Sykes, Band of Horses (a new Sub-Pop band), Sleater-Kinney (my former bosses), and any band John Atkins plays in.

NM: Name three local bands who suck ass and don’t deserve the success they’ve had.
PK: I can’t think of any specifically but any bands who disrespect their audience for “entertainment” value-I hate that.


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