First place, punk 

Hanson Brothers score with My Game

By Nancy Hyndman

Who: Hanson Brothers

Where: Boot Pub

When: Sunday, March 3

One look at their jerseys and you know these guys are serious.

"A lot of our songs continue to be about hockey, beer, and girls – the tongue is severely embedded in the cheek!" chuckles Johnny Hanson, one quarter of the Canadian punk rock quartet the Hanson Brothers and band member for No Means No.

"I don’t think there’s any man in the world that doesn’t think sports figures are highly overpaid," he adds.

Their gritty punk music is on display with new album My Game , a mixture of party tunes and commentary.

There couldn’t be a better time for hockey night in Whistler.

"They Gave Me Everything I Wanted is about the fat hockey contracts given out these days," says Hanson.

Too much excess for music that goes hard? Unlikely.

"This is balls to the walls punk rock!" he says "The album is still heavy on melody, great music to drink beer to and jump around. I’m 40, and it’s never really too old to do that," he laughs.

Robbie Hanson joins the band on bass, Tommy Hanson on guitar, and cousin Ernie on drums. Former drummer Kenny Hanson left the band to pursue a theatre production called The Houston 500.

"Generally when music gets more commonplace it gets more crappy, but a lot of young kids still like something in the spirit of rock ’n’ roll and punk," adds Hanson.

For him, Joey Ramone remains a late, great mentor.

"My alter ego (as a member of) No Means No is really more sophisticated music, and I’m hugely influenced by the Ramones, although I never got a chance to see them live. The Hanson Brothers is really in some ways a tribute band," he says.

No Means No, built an audience fan base for themselves while playing all ages shows through the ’70s and ’80s. A shrinking feature of modern music shows, Hanson Brothers contribute where possible.

"These days we play all ages (shows) when we can. During (that era) shows were huge, even though the music was somewhat underground. With No Means No we’ve been riding the wave of that scene we established then," he says.

"Often times when an ‘indie band,’ kind’ve an anomaly now, gets absorbed as mainstream music it loses its appeal. Some parts still remain though. I mean a band like Nirvana was able to bridge this gap between punk and mainstream," he says.

So punk may be experiencing a mild revival, thanks to underage adolescent energies.

"We’ve still got these guys coming out to shows with wacked out hair and leather jackets, more hardcore. Kids just want to rock," says Hanson.

"Punk music has that down and dirty allure, but I still see the spirit of rock ’n’ roll in it that harkens back to the ’50s, when that music was actually less mainstream," he says.

Venues keep popping up for shows, including Denman Island, Tofino and Canmore.

Hanson Brothers band members all grew up in Victoria, but are now based in Vancouver, in between tour circuits.

"Selling beer is what pays the bills, so a bar manager might take a chance just once," adds Hanson.

As for larger venues…

"There’s always one kid out there who can get his shit together in a town and rent a hall. That’s all you need," he says.

The Hanson Brothers have also toured Belgium, Norway, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

"In Europe the shows are so vibrant, because anyone can come in and check out the music," he adds.

The title track from My Game and an additional two songs will appear on the soundtrack by producers at Nelson’s Freeride film company. A second feature, as yet untitled to be shot by the same group in Oz, will also incorporate several tracks..

"Some of our stuff could be likened to more poppy melodic punk that’s popular in snowboarding videos, I’ve definitely seen it in some," he adds.

Sudden Death , their second album, was released on Virgin Canada, while the debut disc Gross Misconduct was produced with San Francisco’s Alternative Tentacles label with the Dead Kennedys’ Jello at the helm.

Their CD release party takes place this Saturday night at Vancouver’s Cobalt on Main Street, "one of the few venues left in the city to play punk music."


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