INTERVIEW: Hannan

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi, and thanks for the warm welcome. We have been absolutely fantastic and keeping really busy!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Break Me”? 

“Break Me” is the first single off of our new EP titled “Charm Offensive.” We chose to release this song for the fact that we felt it could really speak to everyone both lyrically and musically. We wanted to put something out that would appeal to more than just one type of listener. We wanted to release something for everyone from the rocker, to the pop fan to the younger generation of music listeners and to those who have been listening to music for decades. We are extremely proud of this single and we hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as we did creating it.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Honestly, it’s the culmination of a lifetime of events that inspired the lyrics to this song. They lyrics were written by our singer, Graham Hannan. We kind of smile a bit when we read the reviews on this track because of all the different ideas people have about what the song is about. Most listen to the lyrics and think it’s about a broken relationship, which we can definitely see, especially if you watch the video. We don’t like to give too much away about the deep stories of our lyrics because we like the listener to be able to relate to them in the way that they hear them but we will make a small exception in this case. Many listen to this track and go straight to broken relationships while some relate to it on a bigger social level about not letting life break them down. When Graham wrote the lyrics for this tune he was actually talking about living through the severe ups and downs of the music business. There were many times where he had considered leaving the industry for numerous reasons whether it be for how difficult it is to be successful, how trying it can be to be a musician or even how much money and time it takes to invest in a music career with minimum return. This track is about no matter how much the business takes from him he refuses to give up simply for his love and passion for music.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video? 

The filming for the “Break Me” couldn’t have been more enjoyable. We were extremely lucky that our locations “The Grand” in New Albany, IN and “Smash Lab” in Louisville, KY allowed us to shoot at no cost and were more than accommodating to our needs. Our filmographer and video producer, Joel Jackson is an amazing talent and fantastic to work with. We certainly have to give him credit for making the perfect video that really captured us in our element.  The star of the video is the wonderful and very talented Sandra Holliger who really took the character to another level. She was able to switch to her alter ego character with ease and it really shows on screen. The only issue we had was that she couldn’t swing the sledgehammer because it was so heavy (laughing) so anytime you things getting broken by the bat or the sledgehammer it’s actually our singer and sneaky bit of editing. On a side note, he was extremely happy to get to join in and break stuff!!

The single comes off your new album Charm Offensive – what’s the story behind the title? 

The album title came from our drummer Dean Dufresne. We were trying to come up with an album title that was something short and sweet, easy to remember and would stick in people’s brains. He just happened to be reading an article about a foreign leader visiting another country where the term “Charm Offensive” was used- then he thought, that’s it, that’s the album title and we all agreed. The title was also ambiguous enough to allow us to be creative with the album cover artwork. We had been throwing out the idea to use World War II era pinup art for some time and the title “Charm Offensive” fit perfectly.

How was the recording and writing process? 

We will address this one second question first. The writing process for this album was different than it had been before with HANNAN. On previous projects Graham would come up with the bones of an entire song and everyone would just add a part to it and the song would be done. We wanted to branch out more on this album and get everyone involved more in the writing process. Sometimes it worked really well and sometimes not as much. Anytime you have several artists working on the same canvas there will be difficulties and disagreements and other issues and we went through all of them. However, it was not in a bad way. Going through those growing pains allowed the best of all of us to be put into each song and we think it really shows on this album. By doing so, we got the great bass line on “Under the Gun” that our bass player Josh Smart wrote as well as a different lyrical aspect thanks to the contributions of drummer Dean Dufresne. The tasty licks on “I Am I” come compliments of our guitar players Houston Barnett and Ben Hurst and the end vision of “Inside Girl” was a complete band effort. We really believe that our approach to the writing of this record has really helped us mature as a band in terms of collaboration and not only that it has taken our performance to another level and has allowed to push each other as individual musicians.

Recording was another animal all together. This was our first time recording with a major producer and although we each had our own preconceived notions we really didn’t know what to expect not to mention that we were all a little taken aback recording in the private studio of 3 Doors Down. When you look on the walls and see multi-platinum albums on the walls and awards for multiple 500 million downloaded songs you can’t help but to feel like you better be on your A game (laughing).  With that being said, the experience was absolutely amazing. We learned a ton about the process and more importantly who we were as a band and as musicians. We were also surrounded by an amazing crew that included Marshall Bastin as our engineer, Sean Gassoway who mastered the album for us and of course Chet Roberts who was our producer.

What was it like to work with Chet Roberts and how did that relationship develop? 

For a rock star, Chet is the most laid back and awesome guy we have ever met in the music business. He guided us in the right direction, helped us make changes where they were needed and was extremely patient when he needed to be. Perhaps the best thing about Chet is that he is all in on the projects he works on. We could have gone in, laid down some tracks and left and that could have been that but not with Chet. As a great producer he helped us develop the layers that make a great album. If something wasn’t right we did it again….. over and over and over again (laughing) but that’s what it takes to make a great album. You don’t leave mistakes in the mix and you don’t leave ideas in the mind. We recorded tons of different ideas, some of which made it and some that didn’t and that was one of the best things about the experience is that no stone was left unturned.

How much did he get to influence the album? 

One of the greatest compliments that we have ever received was from Chet when said that we were the most prepared and ready to go band that he had ever recorded. However, he also said we were the worst rock band on the planet because we actually showed up on time for our sessions (laughing). For that reason Chet didn’t have a lot of influence on the initial writing but his influence in the studio was abundant. Both the intro on “Break Me” and “The Killing Man” were changed per Chet’s advice and he really had a hand in helping develop the songs sonically, building tiers between verse and chorus,  for example, allowing songs to explode at all the right points. Chet was also responsible for all the little things that many people might not even notice like call and response in the verse of “I Am I” and the echoes in “Realign.”  We were also lucky enough to have Chet perform on a few of the tracks as well including the guitar solo for “I Am I” and backing vocals on “Under the Gun” and “Inside Out Girl.” The most influence of all had to be in the overall production of the album. We essentially put it all in his hands. We gave him some examples of albums that had the production quality we liked and we let him run with it. Without his input we don’t think the album would be as well received as it has been. He genuinely helped us take our music to another level.

What role does Nashville play in your music? 

Oddly enough, although we recorded our album in Nashville, Music City hasn’t played a role in our music as of yet. We do hope that will change with time as we love the city and can’t wait to get down there and play some killer shows. Being that we are from Louisville, KY we are only a couple hours away so we definitely see it in our future.

Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics? 

We have covered “Break Me” already and a lot of the lyrics on the record come from the same sort of thing which would be personal experience and situations going on in the world around us. For example “Realign” and the “The Killing Man” are not directed at any political stance they definitely have been influenced by the political world around us while “Inside Out Girl” is about viewing, first hand the personal experiences of people we know dealing with severe anxiety and depression. Not only are these personal experiences and issues but they are also things that everyone can relate to, which is one of the reasons we feel that this album has been so well received. Everyone has a different take and stance on every topic and issue and we feel that our lyrics give listeners the opportunity to listen and find out what those lyrics mean to them and how they can relate to them.

Any plans to hit the road? 

Absolutely!! It will be sometime after the new year but we are working with some folks now to get some really good road trips in the works. We also, fingers crossed, have some things in the works for the summer…… but more on that later.

What else is happening next in Hannan’s world?

As we wind down the year and get prepared for the next we are hard at work writing and demoing new material. We are still  promoting the “Charm Offensive” album and playing shows but we want to make sure we are ready to go with plenty of new material so we can get back into the studio for a new album next year.

WATCH HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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