’Just Killing Time’
Kill Hannah now appears to be ready for the proverbial “big time.” As exciting as the Ziggy Stardust days of David Bowie, Kill Hannah has, by word of mouth, amassed a legion of loyal fans who view their live shows as the social event of the month – buying every shirt or CD available, and often stopping traffic for an hour afterwards as they wait for autographs!
As headliners, the band consistently fills to capacity bi-monthly performances at Chicago’s renowned Metro club, forging the same path as previous local legends like The Smashing Pumpkins, Urge Overkill, Veruca Salt and Local H. (Additionally the band has opened for several major touring acts including Stabbing Westward, The Goo Goo Dolls, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult, Placebo and Space).
Tireless self-promoters, Kill Hannah are considered by some to be the hardest working band in the city. What began as two kids standing out in the rain, handing flyers to strangers outside record stores has translated over time to a monstrous fan base, 4000 CDs sold, a website with over 6000 hits per week and a very un-midwestern kind of local celebrity status.
Formed in 1995 by singer Mat Devine, Kill Hannah features a powerful combination of killer power chords, catchy electronic laden loops and keyboard licks, anthem-like boy-girl vocals, bombastic drum work and an uncanny knack for big radio hooks. Think Smashing Pumpkins meets Garbage. Not only a treat for the ears, but visually appealing as well, these sonic giants are poised to take over both radio and television.
Chatting one-on-one with lead singer and band creator Mat Devine, I first wondered just how much self-promotion the band had really put into themselves and to what degree of exhaustive lengths did they actually go to? ”In truth, more than any other band I've ever met. Exhaustive is the perfect word to describe handing out flyers to total strangers in the Chicago winter and staying up till 4am licking stamps to send postcards to our mailing list! Oh yeah, did I mention the $30k debt?”
Where does the band's name originate and what other names could it have so easily been? ”Hannah is an ex-girl of mine and no, it couldn’t have been anyone else. No one since then has combined such striking good looks with such insanity!”
Why name the album For Never & Ever and what's your favorite song off the CD - and why? ”I had a lyric in an old song: ‘for never and ever’ and it was about the futility of love and it was pretty dark. But the double meaning refers to the fact that this record came SO close to NEVER materializing. This was our dream since 1996 and it was so hopeless at times. My favorite track is 'Race The Dream' cos it's the newest!”
Explain the cover art - who's that girl?! ”The cover is pretty sexy, but I won’t tell you who the model is, because I don’t trust you!”
Very wise! So, the Chicago Sun once called you the "cutest band in Chicago" - is that true and is that a banner under which you still wish to seriously fly as a band?! ”True or not, I'm sure we lost some 'cred' with some snobs somewhere as soon as it was published. I really don’t care. I think what it suggested is fine, even though it's totally taboo in Chicago - that we actually might give a shit what we look like.”
Sum up what was going through your head when you were creating these songs:
’Kennedy’ - ”I was literally walking down the street (Michigan Ave. downtown)! Cliché, but true.”
’Race The Dream’ - ”I had a synth line for a ballad, and I was bored so I
started f**king with the tempo wheel. It went from 90 bpm to 180 bpm and the rest wrote itself.”
’They Can’t Save Us Now’ - ”I was in a real Bowie fix at the time!”
On tour, which band member has got the most annoying habit - and what is it?! ”Greg. He picks the knuckles on his thumbs. Don’t ask, just thank God you aren’t in our van! I'm getting hot and annoyed thinking about it!”
What's something interesting to know about you (or the band) that perhaps the general public wouldn't know ... or expect!? ”That we aren't gay?!”
Describe your sound in just three words ”Romance, Tragedy, and Triumph.”
Finally, if you were locked into a studio and told to make music with three artists (thinking of their instruments, etc.), which three would it be (no one from your band) - and what would be the name of the song?! ”Told to make music? What is this, Nazi Germany?! I'd love to huff spray paint and make some sort of avant garde soundscape with Bowie, Eno and Lanois.”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
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