Today’s Feature – September 6-7: Kill Hannah

September 8, 2008 at 12:55 am (Today's Feature)

Kill Hannah, one of the best bands in the industry when it comes to combining genres across the board – elements of rock guitar, alternative whispers and electronica beats to boot – has been pushing fans along quite the rollercoaster ride for years; helping them get lost in lyrics from frontman Mat Devine, sensations from guitarists Jonathan Radtke and Dan Wiese, and rhythms from bass player Greg Corner and drummer Elias Mallin.

My favorite part about the band? The name itself. If you’re unfamiliar with Hannah, your first thoughts about a name like Kill Hannah might be, “That’s probably about an ex-girlfriend.” And it is. No punches pulled, no agendas hidden, Kill Hannah is completely upfront about their music. And sometimes I too… want to kill Hannah. If any newbies out there need an example tune, check out “Lips like Morphine” from their 2006 collection, “Until there’s Nothing Left of Us.” It’ll make everything clear to you.

Their recent work, the album “Hope for the Hopeless” is a bit different: a collection of b-sides and demos not available in stores. Wiese says “It’s for fans who want a different look at the band. I’m very proud of it though. It’s very honest.” We’d expect nothing else. The band just wrapped up their 2008 “Hope for the Hopeless” Tour across the US, swinging by 40 cities. Now the guys are off to Europe to continue their worldwide domination… sorry if you missed out on the state shows (don’t worry, they’ll be back). There’s more to learn in the XXQ’s, so get to it.

XXQs: Kill Hannah – Dan Wiese- Guitars, Background Vocals

PensEyeView.com (PEV): Having been involved in music for a very long time, how and when did Kill Hannah first form as a band? Was it an instant connection from day one?

Dan Wiese (DW): Mat started Kill Hannah when he was in school and there was a relatively short period of growing pains and lineup changes.  The early years are kind of a blur at this point.  But I wouldn’t use the word “instant” to describe anything we’ve ever done.

PEV: With such a diverse collection of musicians, what kind of music where you listening to growing up? Does the band all agree on the same tastes?

DW: I think that we all grew up on a healthy diet of “classic” alternative bands like U2, The Cure, Jane’s Addiction, Jesus and Mary Chain, etc.  So all of us appreciate those artists, but we all have our own personal leaning as well, which is what makes us sound unique.

PEV: When and where was your first live performance? How have you changed since that first one?

DW: My personal first live performance was in middle school.  It’s crazy to think about how nervous I was.  I guess everything has changed since then.  But once in awhile that feeling returns…  like a drug.

PEV: Your most recent smash hit, “Lips Like Morphine” off of your 2006 album “Until There’s Nothing Left of Us” has become been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube. Along with this, what can fans expect from the “Hope For the Hopeless” album, with the same name as your current tour?

DW: Well, the Hope for the Hopeless album is a completely different type of project and shouldn’t be compared to Until There’s Nothing Left of Us.  The Hope record is a collection of b-sides and demos and is not available in stores.  It’s for fans who want a different look at the band.  I’m very proud of it though.  It’s very honest.

PEV: How is this album different from other music out today?


DW: It’s a Kill Hannah record.  So it’s very different from other popular music today.
PEV: When you sit down to write music, what kind of environment do you surround yourselves in?

DW: I think that the best ideas are nourished and developed in a comfortable environment.  I don’t know how it is for other musicians, but pressure is not my friend, although it always exists to an extent.  I think that the best music writes itself and shouldn’t be forced.

PEV: What is your take on the current mainstream music scene today?

DW: Honestly, I’m pretty unaware of it.  Styles and trends seem to play themselves out, and l feel like that’s what’s currently happening.  I’m happy to stay out of it.  Everyone is imitating everyone else and people are starving for something new and creative.

PEV: How has your musical styling changed since your first years in music or over the years?

DW: Kill Hannah has simply gotten better and better.  Our aspirations are the same, but we’ve improved and developed on every level.

PEV: Tell us about the first time you stepped into a recording studio as a band. What was going through your head?

DW: It was probably three in the morning in Chicago with a friend who was willing to record us for free.  So I guess I was tired and excited.   Nowadays we’re able to operate in a much more comfortable way.  Nowadays we’re on a mission.

PEV: With your 2008 Hope For the Hopeless Tour, hitting 40 cities across the US (July and August), what is “road life” like for you? What are the best and worst parts?

DW: This is definitely the most luxurious tour we’ve done.  Having a bus and a driver and some free time is a nice change from the old days.  Road life gets to you though, and after this tour we head off to do it all over again in Europe.  But to answer your question, I’d say that the best part is showing up to a city and having fans that love the band waiting in line all day to get to the front of the crowd.  And the worst part is the smell in the back lounge of the bus.

PEV: In all your travels and having lived overseas, which city (International or US) do you think offers the best music scene?

DW: That’s a really tough question.  I’ll say that in general, the European audiences are much more excited to actually come out and see live shows, whereas a lot American fans like to sit in their rooms on MySpace to have their musical experience.  But there are so many bands doing interesting things in small cities that I couldn’t possibly say which is the best.  It’s always tough to beat Chicago though.
PEV: Who is currently in your CD player or on your iPod right now?

DW: Guided by Voices. New Kill Hannah demos and a band called the Holiday Costume…  At the moment.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band that you think we should all be listening to?

DW: I’m really excited that we have Innerpartysystem on this tour and I highly recommend checking them out live.

PEV: Having played with several elite artists in the business who would you wish to collaborate with that you have not had a chance to yet?

DW: I’d love to be produced by Daniel Lanois or Kevin Shields.

PEV: What do your friends and family think about your musical career?

DW: I think that they think it’s exciting… and I guess it is.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that most people don’t necessarily have the opportunities that we have, like waking up in a different country every day.

PEV: What has been the most memorable part of your career so far? Why?

DW: There are a lot of watershed moments, like hearing yourself for the first time on the radio or seeing yourself on TV, but ultimately I seem to take the entire experience as a whole… The Kill Hannah years – I like it that way.

PEV: What is one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of Kill Hannah?

DW: I think everyone in the band is very open, so what you see is what you get.  Although people probably don’t picture us having competitive tennis matches or fishing together, both of which we’ve recently done.

PEV: Where do you think the band will be in 20 years?

DW: That’s impossible to say.  I’d like to see us sitting on a porch somewhere drinking cheap beer and yelling at the little kids who step on the lawn.

PEV: What one word best describes Kill Hannah?

DW: “?.”  – That’s not really a word but it definitely describes us best.

PEV: So, what is next for Kill Hannah?

DW: Off to Europe, recording, and who knows?  The future is ours for the taking.

For more information on Kill Hannah, check out www.KillHannah.com

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