After two brilliant new releases, the energetic "Drive," and the fun and captivating "Drama Queen", the rockers HANNAN are back with exciting news about their upcoming projects!
After listening to hundreds of rock bands, thousands of solo acts, and countless spotlight fairies, we have the pleasure of sharing with you a Band that stands out for its creativity, unique sound, brilliant songwriting, and artistic vision!
Today we had an inspiring and intriguing chat with the talented rockers HANNAN about their latest singles and upcoming projects so sit back and enjoy some of the best rock releases of 2023!
Hi guys, and thanks a lot for being with us today! 2023 is a great year that sees you coming back with two excellent singles, “Drive” and your latest “Drama Queen.” We are thrilled to know more about your artistic journey so, let’s start from the very beginning. How did HANNAN come to life?
It’s a great pleasure to be with you guys! It’s always interesting to look back at where we are now and how everything began. HANNAN, as an entity, has actually been around for longer than most people that know us think. Graham Hannan (me), actually began the group in Orlando Florida back in 2006. He was playing in another band at the time but had been working on a ton of songs that he wanted to get out. He released two independent records and made the decision that he wanted to put a group of guys together to play those songs live. After a while, there was more of a following to his music than he anticipated, and decided to put a full-time band together to showcase the music on the two solo albums and more. After putting together, a solid line up it was time for an actual band name. Who would have thought it would have been so difficult to come up with a cool name (chuckles)? After a few weeks and no success, guitar player at the time John Farrar said “That’s it, the name is HANNAN” and that was that.
Your sound is powerful, and engaging and incorporates Rock, Hard-Rock and Blues vibes in a very unique way. Can you tell us what your influences are?
I think we could probably write a coffee table book on all of our influences but I think the best way to answer this question would be about the diversity of influences that have led to our sound. It’s both a blessing and a curse that we all come from such different musical backgrounds and that we all contribute to the songwriting process. It takes a lot of trial and error to blend our sounds and types of music we like to listen to and play. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t and we have to know how to handle those situations and know how to make things work to make a great song. That being said, the great thing about it is that we all are shooting for the same goal. It’s also great to see how our influences have led to the creation of our own unique sound. Myself, (Graham Hannan lead vocals) and Dean Dufresne (drums) come from a very 80’s influenced background including the big harmonies of Def Leppard, the driving rhythms of Iron Maiden, and the catchy poppy hooks of just about any 80’s hairband. That gets blended with the 90’s influence of Dave Muscutt (guitar), who attributes a lot of his skills and writing to the likes of Alice in Chains. Josh Smart (bass) adds a lot of Tool influence to his playing and really enjoys bands like the Black Keys which he will tell you influences his songwriting heavily. Lastly, Kris Kerr (guitar) takes most of his influence from the master himself, Eddie Van Halen. He has a great mix though as he is a huge Black Crowes fan as well which is heard in a song like “Drive”. That Southern influence really shows up in a lot of his songwriting and blends really nicely with the hooks and harmonies we strive for. For us, it really is something special when we see the blend of all of these influences come to fruition into something that we can all be proud of, especially when the crowd agrees and gets the best of all of those worlds!
Your single “Drive” is such an energetic track, supported by a very captivating video! What’s the story behind this track?
So, I may answer this a little differently than the question was intended but I think it’s a better story about how the song was written as opposed to what the song is about. The reason I say that is I still believe everyone should be able to draw their own conclusions about what a song is and how it speaks to them. I’m still pretty sure what I think the song is about and what other members think are completely different. I’m glad you asked about this one because it really gives you an insight into our songwriting process. Kris came up with the original riff for this song including the slide guitar. If I’m being honest, I wasn’t a big fan of the riff to begin with because I couldn’t wrap my head around how it was going to work the way that it was. Josh and Kris had a jam session one night and Josh had this idea to make the riff as straightforward as possible and put a bass line behind it like AC/DC and produce it like Mutt Lang. They came back for the next jam session and played it for the rest of us and I was like, wow we have something here. Kris had some unfinished lyrics for it that I filled in for it and we were off and rolling but it still needed something. We started to demo the song and I kept hearing this melody in my head which later became the “Takes a little bit, just a little bit”. The guys will still tell you they hate me for that as they can’t stop singing it in the shower, haha!
As far as the video goes, I actually took the reins on this one and took my first stab at directing a music video. I had this vision for it from the beginning and with the help from 4SakeMedia in Louisville we made it happen. We are 80’s and 90’s fans so what would we want in a video? Pretty girls and a fast car of course. We also wanted to show appreciation to our fans out there so we invited anyone that could make it to be in the crowd for the private party section of the video. We even got a cameo from my mom and her dog, who stole the show by the way. We wanted to show the escapism of rock music with this video. The girl running out from the oppressive mom to go to the rock show and have a good time which goes hand in hand with “just get behind that wheel and drive”. I’ve always been a believer that music can transcend you to another place and that’s what we wanted to do with this song and with this video. We are letting everyone know that rock music isn’t dead and can still do what I believe it was always intended to do.
Strong songwriting skills, brilliant arrangements, and a unique sound are some of the pillars that support the message within your lyrics. How important is it to you to write music that reaches the listeners not only from a musical perspective but also from a narrative point of view?
I think this question right here pinpoints the most difficult aspect of writing good music. We often ask ourselves, “Are we writing music for us or are we writing music for fans”? The reason behind this question, and this is not a knock on everyday listeners by any means, but musicians tend to look at music a bit differently. As a Berklee College of Music grad, I was taught the ins and outs of music theory, how to master an instrument, and how to play some of the most difficult things in music. Most people say that’s fantastic but the problem is that most everyday music fans don’t understand all that stuff and often times you can overwrite or overplay as you try to challenge yourself as a musician. I think the same goes with all of us in the group. We love to show our musicianship but we also have to find a way to do that and hook the listener as well. We always find ourselves looking for a way to challenge ourselves while creating something that is engaging to our fans. How can we throw our knowledge and skill into our music that doesn’t lose our listeners or just look like we are trying to show off. Music isn’t just an art for the musician. I believe that is equally if not more so an art for the listener. The true magic is when you can convey your message through your talents but the listener understands completely.
As far as a narrative standpoint there are several takes on it. Some people, when they write a song, want to be very specific on the picture they are trying to paint. They say exactly what they mean using very definitive language and being very direct. I think this is great for certain artists but for us, it seems to be a little different. As I mentioned previously, I love for the listener to be able to give their own meaning to a song. Now, often times we will set a scene and paint with a broad stroke but it’s up to the audience to decide how they can relate to what they are hearing whether it be in the melody or the lyrics themselves. It again shows how tricky it can be in the writing process as we are constantly trying to write songs that we enjoy playing as well as songs that engage our audience. When we find that perfect sweet spot it really is a magical experience.
Can you reveal what your creative process is? How does your music come to life?
I know we have delved into this a bit in previous questions but I will go a little further into it here. In this band, we have 5 creative minds that all write. When it comes to me, I will generally plot out what I like to call the bones of a song from start to finish. I will demo them out and send the tracks to the guys and they will start to add parts and put meat on the bone so to speak. A lot of times, the other guys will have ideas and they will have branch-out jam sessions to work out riff and song structure before bringing it to the rest of the group. I also do a lot of one-offs with Dave and we structure songs together. At that point, we will demo the track again with everyone playing their parts. Some general lyrics will then be put on top of the demo and then we will revisit what we have created. At that time, we start to make any changes we feel are necessary, including any lyric additions or subtractions. If we are planning to record an album, we will then take a vote on which songs will make the album and we will dive into rehearsing and fine-tuning those songs. With the upcoming “Last Disguise” record, after the vote, we sent our demos over to Chet Roberts (our producer and 3 Doors Down lead guitar player) to give them a good listen and recommend any changes. Once everything has been tweaked to that point it’s time to hit the main studio for full recording. Believe it or not, the process doesn’t end there. More times than not, songs are still being changed in the studio until they get where we really think they should be. It’s a long and tedious process. Lots of sweat, fun, disagreements, and late nights but in the end it’s all worth it when we hear the finished product.
Your latest single “Drama Queen” is such an ironic, fun, and engaging track that captivates from the first note to the last! What’s the story behind this song?
I think you already hit the nail on the head in your question. This song is our nod to all the fun songs of the 80’s with a little Buckcherry thrown in there and a video inspired by Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” We just wanted a tune that everyone could dance and sing too and have a good laugh at the same time. This song is so much fun because it is very audience engaging and you don’t even have to know the song to pick up the words and sing it with it. I mean, who doesn’t know a “Drama Queen” right?
Will this release be part of a full-length album?
Indeed it will! These are the first two singles off the album “Last Disguise” that will be out this winter it looks like. We had originally wanted to release the album back in the spring but the music industry has really changed. Full-length albums aren’t released like they used to be and we realized it would be best for us to get a few singles out before the full release. If anyone has been looking for it, I promise it’s coming. It’s complete and ready to go! We can’t wait to get it out to everyone and we are super proud of what we have created. We wanted to make sure that we were able to get every single the attention that we think they deserve and for that reason, we are doing a slow release.
Are you planning any gigs in support of the new singles?
We have actually been playing out over the spring and summer in support of the singles, even playing them before release to get a feel for how people were liking them and the response has been phenomenal. We are planning a few runs over the winter months and are expecting to really hit the promotion trail after the first of the year into the spring with some tour runs and then on to some larger festivals over the spring and summer months of 2024.
If you could collaborate with one of the artists who inspired your artistic journey, who would you like to share the stage or a song with?
I can only speak for myself on this question but I have actually been lucky enough to collaborate with that very person on this album. When I started my musical journey, I was a huge “Savatage” fan which later became the “Trans-Siberian Orchestra”. I had always wanted to work with their lead singer, Zak Stevens” During the covid years I was lucky enough to get to meet and do some work with Zak and he agreed to appear on our track “No Reason Why”. He sings backup during the chorus and does an amazing counterpoint vocal at the end of the song over a beautiful solo by Chet Roberts. I also have to thank Katherine Trussell for writing a beautiful lyric and vocal melody for that counterpoint. Working with them was absolutely amazing and they truly made that song something special.
What are your plans for the future?
I feel like I should quote Pinky and the Brain here. “Try to take over the world”. Ha, not really but we are definitely a reach-for-the-stars kind of group. The entire band has worked ferociously on a tough road and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. We’ve come this far, might as well see what’s down the road right?
Guys, it was such a pleasure having you with us today! Is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
A big thank you to you as well and a huge thank you to all of your readers. If you haven’t already please check out all the new stuff on all streaming platforms and social media.
If you like what you see please let us know and please hit that share button! It only takes a second but it really does mean the world to us. Also, please keep checking out new music including local bands. Without local music, there is no national music. They are where it all begins. One last big thank you to you all, without you guys, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
So if you want to support these great guys, share some love by checking the links below, discover more about HANNAN and their music, and remember to upload your music to your favorite playlists!