ASBO Meets: King Hannah

Photo: Sebastian Garraway

Liverpool-based duo King Hannah is a breath of fresh air to listeners with their blatantly honest lyrics and their raw sounding music production. Their latest release: ‘I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me’, continues the duo’s motto of being honest and authentic. Listing Bill Callahan and Courtney Barnett as core inspiration, it’s not surprising that King Hannah’s lyrics are infused with dark humour and heart.

ASBO sat down with King Hannah to find out the best setting to listen to their new album, about how they achieve their raw, vintage sound.

Firstly, talk to us about your new album’s title ‘I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me’.

So we took a while choosing it didn’t we? We wrote down loads of possible ones and that one stuck out. We knew we wanted it to be a lyric, because we liked doing that last time and we think it worked quite well. And it’s really a way of saying that this is us on the album and it’s open to conversation as well to the listener. Yeah.

The band came together quite organically with Craig seeing Hannah perform live in Liverpool and then working together at the same pub. How much does this contribute to the synergy you have as a band?

Yeah, it was nice. I saw Hannah– I must have been like 20 or something. And then a few years later started working at a bar and she was there. I obviously knew how good she was because she blew me away when I first saw her. Yeah, we just became friends didn’t we? Working in the bar was good because we became friends while we were making music and we found that we like similar things. And we wanted similar things from music and a band. It was all a very slow, natural process.

Why did you find it important to incorporate humour into your new album?

Well, I don’t think it’s something we do intentionally. It just you know, if it works at the time it works so you just keep it in you know? It’s not like, “Oh, I’m going to make this one funny.” I think, when you try ‘stream of consciousness’ things, it’s a writing style, try to, that’s sometimes lovely because you never know what’s gonna come out and then none of it is intentional. And if something comes out that might be– hilarious. [Laughing] Yeah, it wasn’t intentional.

I suppose it’s just a part of the band’s personality.

Yeah, and it’s also the music we listen to. We’re not super serious people are we? We do laugh sometimes. [Laughing] And the writers we love like Bill Callahan and Courtney Barnett, and David Berman, they have that humour in there. I mean, it’s like a dark humour or it helps to sort of lift the music a little bit. It makes it even more personal when you include little sort of jokes and weird little wordplay things.

What has caused you to laugh uncontrollably recently?

Yeah, the last thing was probably Parks and Recreation. When we watched it last night, yeah. That makes us laugh. We make eachother laugh don’t we?

Photo: Sebastian Garraway

You have said that you want your music to “sound raw and natural”; How do you achieve this?

We tried to do that by not producing the songs as much or by going overboard with it in the studio because obviously you can sort of time everything perfectly and fix everything. And we try to avoid that as much as we can. We recorded a lot of it live in just a room. And then that would be kind of like the skeleton of the song and then we’d add little weird sounds over that. But always on top of like a very, essentially a live performance. So that’s what we got slightly wrong in the past maybe. We want it to sound like people in a room making music.

I can imagine your latest release ‘Big Big Baby’ being played in an episode of Peaky Blinders, are there any shows you would like to perform music for?

It would be cool to be played over the opening credits – theme song – of a series. I think we’d kind of suit like a Twin Peaks kind of thing or True Detective. Ozark, something quite dark, like murder stuff. [Laughing] Yeah, anywhere where somebody gets brutally murdered. [Laughing] I always thought we would have been good on Luther. We always thought we’d be good on something like that or James Bond.

Which song on this album is the most important to the band and why?

I [Craig] think my favourite song is ‘Go-Kart Kid (Hell No!)’ because I think that kind of demonstrates a bit of everything that we like in music. It’s got the sort of quiet intimate part, it has the humour, it has Hannah telling a very personal story that you’re sort of with her for the whole thing. And then it also has the really loud, aggressive part– and it has the hypnotic thing, the rolling continuous sound. I [Hannah] really, I don’t know, I really love that song and then I also really love ‘A Well-Made Woman’. I know I say it every time but I really like that one. I love how it sounds because it sounds super raw and super 90s and, again, I love the hypnotic repeat-ey– that one line is throughout the whole thing which I love. I love how Craig’s guitar is just so messy and noisy and good. I love the weird drumbeat, it feels a bit chaotic.

What is your most memorable moment from the time you were putting this album together?

It’s one big blur. [Laughing] I don’t know if it’s the most memorable moment, but we recorded quite a lot of guitars and we used a couple of different amps and we couldn’t get the right amp. It’s probably very boring. [Laughing] But I ended up buying this little Fender Blues Junior and the second that I started playing through it I thought, “Oh, thank God, this is the amp.” And then all the guitars were recorded through that amp. I think just the relief of finding– because I was thinking, “Ah, the guitar’s just aren’t going to sound the way that I want them in this whole album.” Getting that was such a relief.

Which indie films influence your look and sound the most?

We watch a lot of coming-of-age films, don’t we? I wouldn’t say they influence our style. Those kinds of indie, coming-of-age, very warm kind of films that are centred on– very low budget as well. Yeah, very achievable kind of films. Romantic, yeah, very kind of character-driven things. And then a lot of films from the 70s like ‘Badlands’ and that kind of American wave of films. Because I think that’s the kind of thing that matches the music most. It’s kind of analogue and grainy and has a lot of heart. Yeah, So I think that’s what we hope the music has. That’s what we try to do. So we always want the images to match our music. Which is why I make them, even though I’m not a professional videographer or anything. We like to be in control of everything that goes with the music like the visuals and images which are so important.

Photo: Sebastian Garraway

How would you describe the music scene in Liverpool considering its legendary history?

Well, let’s be honest. It’s tricky, isn’t it? Because there isn’t much of a music scene in Liverpool. Not that we know of anyway, if there is one. We’ve never really felt a part of it. We always say that Liverpool sort of gets missed off because Manchester is a huge city for music and so many people– that’s where you’ll go to a gig. We go there for our gigs because no one comes here. So as far as we know, there isn’t an awfully big one.

Are you looking forward to performing your new album all over the world and which venue are you most excited to perform at?

We are excited. Just to tick off some of these cities is going to be mad. Playing in Paris is gonna be crazy. New York, obviously. Just all of them, isn’t it? It’s such a privilege to get to go to all these cities. To go there and it’s just your job to sort of play music. And the fact that the people who live there are going to come out and watch us play.

Check out King Hannah’s latest album, ‘I’m Not Sorry, I Was Just Being Me’ below!

Interview: Brandon Thomson

Photos: Sebastian Garraway