There are few things more synonymous with Canada than hockey and beer. Thus, how fitting is it for a Canadian band to brew its own beer and pay homage to the Hanson brothers (everyone’s favorite violent but lovable cinematic hockey goons).
Consisting of Robbie and Johnny Hanson (brothers Rob and John Wright), Tommy Hanson (Tom Holliston) and ‘Some Guy’ Hanson, The Hanson Brothers hail from Vancouver and are a side project of veteran punk rock band NoMeansNo. Writing about topics that should make any self-respecting Canadian stand up and salute, The Hanson’s try to bring a good time with them everywhere they go (as well as beer, lots of beer).
Now, with NoMeansNo taking a year-long break, The Hanson’s are doing a short tour across Canada to coincide with the NHL playoffs.
We recently had a chat with Tommy Hanson about the music, the beer and, even, his baseball pool draft (which he had just finished the night before).
The Revue: First, we have to ask – who did you draft in your baseball pool?
Tommy Hanson: My wife is from Minnesota so I drafted Joe Mauer.
The Revue: Where did the idea of doing the Hanson Brothers side project come from?
Tommy Hanson: It didn’t begin as ‘let’s get together and start a band and be beholden to the music industry’. That’s not what it was about.
It was a reason to very occasionally play shows doing cover songs and being advertised as such – it was being different than NoMeansNo but not completely so.
There were times we’d do a show as NoMeansNo and come back for an encore as the Hanson brothers and then in 1991, the label said ‘Why don’t you do a Hanson brothers album, people in California might not be as familiar as Canadians with [the movie] Slap Shot.” We did and it took off and then we kept doing it.
The Revue: How are you different than NoMeansNo?
Tommy Hanson: The Hanson Brothers, musically, are probably a cross between The Ramones and, leaning a bit more towards, The Undertones. The songs are shorter and there is a strong humor quotient.
NoMeansNo sounds like NoMeansNo. There’s also a strong humor quotient but it’s more subtle and darker.
The Revue: What can we expect from a Hanson Brothers show?
Tommy Hanson: It’s a show with much more bang, bang, bang energy. NoMeansNo works well as a live show because there is a dynamic shift – there are peaks and valleys with how the show is presented. For that, we need to concentrate a lot more.
Whereas with The Hanson Brothers, if people get on stage and bump into John when he’s singing, it’s just funny. Fortunately it’s never morphed into heavy frat boy moshing – keep the elbows down but have fun.
The shows also, occasionally, have elements of The Three Stooges that creep in. Not too much but some. I have a soft spot in my heart for dummies flying out of the window into a fountain.
The Revue: If you could have any band in history open for you, who would it be?
Tommy Hanson: There’s a band I’ve loved for years and years called The Morells, from Springfield, Missouri. They put out a record in about 1980-81 [Shake and Push] that we all became huge fans of. They made one video [“Reds” from 1982], about a drive-in in Missouri where you could go and eat hamburgers and they have one of the best guitarists I’ve ever heard. They’re just these guys who live in Missouri and play sometimes.
My all-time favorite live bands that I got to play with were Alice Donut and another band from Vancouver called The Invasives. Their guitar player is actually drumming with us on this tour. He’s some guy and he earned that moniker honestly.
The Revue: Tell us about the beer!
Tommy Hanson: My dad used to make beers with John. My dad was very interested in chemistry which got him interested in brewing and then John gradually got into all grain brewing and using his own mashes and getting away from using brew kits [Authors note: Johnny Hanson’s Punk Rauch is now available at many quality liquor stores and ale houses in Canada].
Many nights when everyone’s ready to go home, or wherever they sleep, John has to be pulled away because he was in deep discussion with somebody about beer.
He has another one going with a brewery in Germany and they’re releasing a beer of his in the fall. We might go to Germany for a month in the fall to co-promote with the brewery.
The Revue: And you’re preferences?
Tommy Hanson: I like a good Czech pilsner at the end of the day. John’s managed to get a hold of some very good grains and has made some fine pilsner’s.
I’m not into the super-hoppy beers that seem to be popping up right now and right now everybody is in this terrible race to find out how much hops they can put in their beer.
The Hansons Brothers play at Mavericks in Ottawa on March 26, 2014. For tour dates go to: http://www.nomeanswhatever.com/tour.html.
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