Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Josh Hann

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Josh HannBoy, do I love a good singer/songwriter. There are so many guys (and gals) that fit this mold, but I enjoy each and every one of them. They are all unique and have their own sound, offer their own perspective on the world, and all have something interesting to say in their lyrics. The power and the passion that a good singer/songwriter puts in night after night is something that I have come to respect over the years. I don’t have an ounce of musical talent, which is why I write so much on the current state of the industry, but I know a good tune when I hear it. The guy that is sitting with me today is one of those performers. He isn’t doing this for the money. He’s doing it for the music. I sat with this man one night and chatted about his past as a musician, what it’s like traveling the county playing sold out shows, and where he sees himself in the next five years. It was great to learn more about this man. It is my pleasure to introduce you to national recording artist Josh Hann.

What is your first memory of the guitar?

I was eighteen years old. I had wanted a guitar for years. My brother was stationed down in Fort Campbell, and we were there to celebrate Christmas. We were actually at his house on Christmas morning. That year, he bought a $60 guitar form a pawnshop. I was stoked silly about it. We got back into town; I started lessons the next week, and my guitar teacher told me to get a new guitar. He said that below the bridge, it was dipping. That’s not a good sign for a guitar. My first guitar lasted a week before I got my second one.

So who is the Treeman?

That is my lead guitar player. His last name is Lantry, and if you were to see him… he is big tall, and looks like he lives in a tree. I have been calling him that since high school. It caught on and now everyone calls him that. I introduce him as Treeman.

You are involved with the Acoustic Showcase coming up this spring. How did you get involved with that?

Rob (the guy that puts it on) saw me at a show at the Tip Top Tavern. He’s just like you, Ricky! He is always trying to help everyone out and asked if I would be interested in playing at Slamology. As a matter of fact, because of that event, his name has grown quite a bit. He did the acoustic showcase last year. This is the 4th year in a row for that event. I have actually done a few shows with the lady that won last year. I thought it would be fun, more up my alley than other opportunities that come along.

It’s acoustic raw; it’s me. I think Rob is with SEG Productions now.

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

I have played a couple shows with Lounge Soundsystem at the Monkey’s Tale. We have a lot of luck pulling a lot of people there. Last year, during the AFC championship game, we booked a show for some reason. We talked the owner into letting us wait until after the Colts game. There were about seven or eight people there until the game was over. Once the Colts won the game, the place just packed out. The crowd was stoked because of the Colts win. That was a good night.

The smallest?

That was at the Hawthorne Theater in Portland, Oregon. I was on a trip out there, and I tried to book a show with little notice). They let me play on a Sunday afternoon at 4:30. There were probably eight people there, including my brother and his wife. The other guys were musicians; we talked during the show, real cool venue. It was probably the best show I have ever played.

Where are you originally from?

I am from southwest, Iowa. It’s a small town called Braddyville that sits on the Iowa border. People here talk about small towns, and they don’t have small towns. There were two hundred kids in the school I went two. Three different towns sent their kids to this one school.

I have been in Indianapolis since 1992. We got here because of my dad’s work, and I grew up in Whiteland. Went to Whiteland High School. It was a big change for our whole family to move from a small town to a big city. It was tough on the whole family.

What’s the best concert you have ever been to?

Atmosphere wise, I would have to say a Linkin Park show two years ago. If we were talking sheer enjoyment, I would have to say the Jack Johnson concert this past year. It was the simplest show I have ever seen. It was brilliant. I loved it. It’s always about the music with him.

Do you prefer playing solo or with a full band?

The full band is not really fully built yet. We have yet to have a keyboard player or a drummer sign on. The three-piece thing has been an interesting, what’s the word I am looking for, a trio maybe. For pure feel I like playing by myself. I can get more emotional about it. If someone messes up, it’s me. I don’t have to worry about someone else making me look bad.

Do you write all of your own lyrics?

Oh yes. I don’t know that I could sing someone else’s lyric and call it my own. I have been in a writing drought for over a year now. If it’s not my heart, it’s not my soul. I am not sure I could sing someone else’s lyrics and call them my own.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

Actually, that’s a pretty interesting question. I am not one that can just sit down and write a song about this or that. The originals that I do have just came out of me. Hey, here is a song titled Whirlwind. I start playing a riff, and then try to sing it. It just comes out of me. It’s pretty amazing how it comes out that way. It’s amazing to me. I think it’s hard to understand unless you have it happen to me. I have had a couple of other artists tell me they write that way. I feel blessed that it has happened to me that way. I wish I could get a couple more that way.

Do you have a job outside of music?

Yeah, I started anew job in November. I am an inventory manager at a called Material Handling Exchange. We are the biggest distributor in the US of uprights and beams; like shelving units. Keeps me busy.

If you could only perform one song for the rest of your career, which song would you pick?

(Thinks) I would say Sweet Serenity. I wrote that song about my wife. When I first wrote it she didn’t quite get the message I was trying to convey. She wasn’t a big fan of it. But over the years she has grown to love it. That’s what you have to do when you are married. Trust me, that’s what you do. It’s the only song I have that is actually about someone that I can pin point.

What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?

I don’t like how record companies are so bullish. They take 90% of everything from artist. People think these artists are rich out of their minds. There some that are very well off, but there are some that don’t make anything. If you go on tour, you usually lose money. I wish there was a way for music to be spread, better, across the country and across the word without a label.

There are so many talented people. I know so many guys that should be signed that will never get looked at. They will never get the chance. There is just so much talent there. I wish there was a better front for talent to shine.

You play a lot around the Midwest. What’s your draw like outside of the greater Indianapolis area?

I don’t really draw outside of Indy. Being a solo act, I haven’t had a manager that has helped me push stuff along. I haunt really followed the rules, the guidelines that are set forth by the music industry. I don’t want to play covers, and I know you have to get fans on your side. They don’t care about your stuff. I would rather have the people there willing to listen to my work. I have been to Chicago, and it’s not about pulling out fans. I like playing for new people at every show.

I like sharing my music. My heart. My soul.

The show I played in Portland was for all new people. It’s cool to play for people that have never seen me play before.

What’s a typical Friday night look like for you.

Music wise or life? Sitting at home with my wife, having a nice dinner and playing with our three ferrets and our pet skunk. His name is Skeeter. He’s brown. I got burnt out on the bar scene about three months after I turned 21. If I have a show, or I have some buddies that have a show ill go out. But I am usually home by 12 or 1 and in bed. We have turned into old people. Not the partying type of people at all.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Like any artist, I’d like to be making my living on music. I am also realistic and knowing that there are five million others out there just as talented as me or even more so and a small percentage that will happen for. I won’t stop playing. I’m having fun. I don’t play for money. I don’t accept money. It’s not my income. It’s a hobby. Until I can make enough money that it’s my job, I don’t want it to feel like another job.

I just want to go out and have fun.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is said and done?

That’s a pretty deep question. Just to be remembered for a fun, down to earth dude. I’m not willing to get into confrontations with anyone. I’m pretty mellow and want to leave a happy trail wherever I have been. It doesn’t matter if my music is ever remembered or not, but I’m having fun I’m not he next John Lennon. I am going to have just as much fun as they did, and enjoy myself.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

My stomach hurts really badly right now. (Josh was sick during the entire interview by the way.)

Just support local music. There is so much good talent in Indy. Indy is just looked at a horrible place for music. There is so much talent, and it’s hard to get people to come out. Music can’t progress if its not supported. The fans are just as much of a part of it. Go out and see a new band. You never know what you might come across.