Tommy HansonWrong Records
By Dustin Blumhagen on March 21, 2014 at Phone
After calling up Canadian punk rock legend Tom Holliston (NoMeansNo) and exchanging some polite formalities, he passed me on to his alter ego, Tommy Hanson, guitarist for hockey punks The Hanson Brothers. We had a candid conversation about hockey, baseball, hockey, punk rock and more hockey.
The group are currently heading out on a run of Canadian shows and have some exciting plans lined up for the future.
You’ve been with the Hanson Brothers for the majority of their existence, going on 25 years, which is long time for a punk band to be around. You guys are like the Gordie Howe’s of hockey punk. How does it feel to be gearing up and hitting the road again?
Well, it’s pretty good being the Gordie Howe’s of hockey punk, but we don’t have any boys name Mark or Monty. We can’t bring them with us cuz we don’t have them.
You guys have a kind of revolving door for drummers. It kind of reminds me of the Philadelphia Flyers elusive search for a great goalie that will fit in with their team.
Well, the Flyers made a big mistake when Ron Hextall retired. We are in a similar position. We don’t really have a revolving door cuz we always practice in a basement, so we had to get revolving steps, which is amazing and very expensive. There are so many drummers going up and down into the basement from other floors of the house that we ended up deciding on revolving steps and many drummers have walked up and down and some of the carpet rods have went missing.
You guys are playing a show in Coaldale, Alberta with Chixdiggit. Just that one off show. It’s in such a tiny town, how did that come about?
Well, we are playing in Edmonton and we are playing in Calgary and we are playing in Banff so the fourth show in Alberta is Coaldale. That happened because there used to be the Coaldale Motor Inn which was a really nice place to play. There was a very nice staff, which is vital. And there was even a stuffed wolf. We used to play Lethbridge, but it was always a different place. Then we met a guy and he said, just go to Coaldale.
That’s the only show with Chixdiggit. Why are they not playing their hometown (Calgary)? How did that fall into place?
Chixdiggit are cyphers, you just never know with those guys. They have a revolving staircase, but they practice in the attic, so that is why their career has so many more ups and downs.
There is a band who are also based out of Vancouver who are playing sports themed Ramones influenced punk rock. They have a baseball theme, The Isotopes. How do you feel about that?
I think it’s excellent. In these modern times, I think that it is important not to turn your back on the diamond. I think that baseball is one of the good games. They don’t have a shoot out. It’s a game where if it’s tied they don’t just have a home run hitting contest like the Gary Bettman fucked up the NHL with. I would go towards baseball. Go to baseball games and you’d be surprised.
How do you feel about the guys in DOA claiming to be the Kings of Punk Rock, Hockey and Beer? I feel like you guys kind of live that too.
Well, you know, that’s interesting, but I feel like they are the Bonnie Prince Charlie wannabe kings. They never actually got to the throne, well that’s not true, Joe (Keithley) spends a lot of time on the throne, if you know what I mean? They make claims to all sorts of things. I can tell you one thing that is guaranteed about DOA, they are like the North Saskatchewan River, you know, once a year the ice flow breaks up and then later it gets back together.
Who do you think is going to win the Stanley Cup this year?
Well, that’s a good question.
What do you think about the current push to make rules stricter in the NHL and move towards a much less physical type game?
I wanna clarify something. The NHL is not the sole source of hockey entertainment. Period. There are other ways to watch hockey other than watching the National Hockey League. I think maybe it’s time that people investigate that a little more. The players probably won’t do a splitter league because by three weeks after the playoffs have finished, they’ve spent all of their money and they have to get ready for the next season. Be that as it may, the NHL is not my sole source of hockey.
Perfect. I grew up here on the Prairies and loved watching Junior hockey, the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL were my favorites. I completely agree with the idea that the NHL is not the only hockey out there. Let’s get serious for a second… recently the body of OHL player Terry Trafford was found in what is apparently a suicide. This has created a lot of talk about the culture of hockey in Canada today and some of the topics include the high price which alienates many working class players, parent’s pushing their kids too hard and the tough guy mentality that creates a barrier for players who need mental help. How do you see the cult of hockey in Canada today?
It makes me very sad to hear that. Well, obviously there is nothing that you can do about it now, but you can look at future circumstances. I would say to anybody, remember if you get despondent, if you get down remember that there is a lot of good stuff around the corner. When you turn 28 you are not the person that you were at 18. There are a lot of new life experiences. There is so much to look forward to. It is a real shame in our society that someone is not allowed to make a mistake. Everybody fucks up at some time or other and they shouldn’t just be bounced off a team or thrown off a job for one or two things. Instead there should be counselling provided to them. Also, I think that there is a lot of parental pressure about what to do and what not to do. The parents should seriously consider having a close look at themselves. The kids that they have, as much as they love them, they must remember the child is not them, the child is an individual who is making his or her own way in the world.
Well said. Thank you. You guys are Canadian. We have a reputation out there are being extreme hockey fans. There are a lot of bands out there singing hockey songs, from Propagandhi to The Hip. Do you guys run into others in the scene who loves talking hockey with you guys?
Yes, many people. In fact, there are many people from all over the world. Canadians should remember that there people all over the world who are fans, particularly the people in Finland. They love hockey just as much as we do. They are very big on it. I like to talk about hockey sometimes, but not all the time. Sometimes I need rest.
It’s been a couple of years since you guys toured Europe, but how was the reception last time you were there?
We were worried how well we would be received because hockey was not that well known in some countries. But you know, I think that people like the music and they like the show and now we can go to some places where 10 years ago there wasn’t that much hockey. Now, they love it. The person that you have to credit it for that is the Michael Jordan of hockey, Kopitar. Now people in ex-Yugoslavia, many thousands of people are interested in hockey and it opened the door for other places as well.
Going along with the international theme, the Olympics just wrapped up. It brought a lot of attention on hockey in general, but women’s hockey specifically. It is still the US and Canada at the top, but there seems to be a strong improvement in the rest of the world. Are you interested in that at all?
Let me tell you, the Women’s hockey final in the Olympics is most likely going to be the United States against Canada. I think every four years that is one of the most exciting sporting events on the planet. The game is great. There is a lot more on the line. Those women are not going back to multi million dollar contracts when they get back to the shores of North America, that is it. There is a lot more finality to that game. It is really exciting, that is what a true rivalry is. There is always going to be a question in the men’s game with some players out of necessity having to hold back and go 95% because they still have 25 paying games left in the NHL. If they get seriously injured by going all out, that could be the end of their career. I think this might be the last time that you see NHL players in the Olympics. It made me really happy to see Hayley Wickenheiser who I have a great deal of respect for.
I agree, I’m here in Calgary and she has a great presence here. It was great to see. I have three kids and my youngest is a little girl. One of her brothers said one day, she can’t play hockey, she’s a girl and it really stuck with me, that sexist attitude coming from a 5 year old. It got me interested and I pay much more attention to the female game now. There seems to be a lot more passion involved in those games, they are fighting to prove that they can play the game too.
I think anyone can do anything. There is a good quote, some people say, if you want to do something you better do it well. I think that’s bullshit. I think if you want to do something, it doesn’t matter if you do it well, the point is to like it. Enjoy yourself while you are doing it.
Do you lace up anymore?
No, I don’t lace up anything. I wear velcro on my shoes. Maybe when it gets personal.
My first job out here on the prairies was driving Zamboni in my small town arena. Have you ever had the chance to drive a Zamboni?
No, I haven’t. I would sure like to. I knew a guy who drove Zamboni and he seemed as contented as anybody.
It was by far the best job I’ve ever had. My Game came out way back in 2002. We’ve seen a live album and an EP since then, but do the Hanson Brothers have any plans to record new material?
Do you have a timeline for that?
It remains to be seen. It kind of depends what everyone’s schedule looks like. Also, there are other projects going on musically. There are other things related to the music that may not be found within the grooves.
It gives a little hope to fans. You’re doing this Canadian tour right now. Do you have tour plans beyond that?
The summer months are going to be busy with family matters and other things, including the conception of new music, which I think is going to be groundbreaking music. In the fall and autumn we might go overseas one more time because John has some beer coming out. As everybody knows, this year is the 527th anniversary of the Bavarian purity laws for brewing beer. We are all very excited about that and we think we might be in Bavaria on that day rocking.
That’s all I have. Do you have anything to add?
I tell you what I’d like to add, some more money to my bank account!
Ok, thank you.
Ok Dustin, I’m gonna go sit down and do stuff.