Chip Hanna & The Berlin Three - Bluegrass ís punkrock
Some time ago I visited a concert by Chip Hanna, a punk rock drummer, now reformed to a country musician. I really started to like his music when I had to review both of his albums, so when I was asked to do an interview at the show I attended, I thought what the hell, why not. I entered the smallest back-stage I’ve ever seen where it immediately smelled like home (read pot), and I sat down for a quick chat with ol’ Chippy.
For those not familiar with Chip Hanna and his Berlin Three, could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
‘I’m Chip Hanna, from Pride, Louisiana. And I’m trying to play some country music my own way, the way I like it. Or the way I think it should have evolved. The mainstream country music didn’t do it for me, it totally lost all soul and feeling. So I got together with these guys to play country music the way we like it. I used to be in a bluegrass band, and I realized that the bluegrass beat, is actually a punk beat. And I’m a drummer, sometimes. Bluegrass can be fast, there is one song that is the fastest piece of music I’ve ever heard. Faster than your speed metal or whatever. So I thought bluegrass is fast, why don’t I try to make something of it my own way.’
So why did you decide to bring in Mad Sin to play the rest of the instruments?
‘We met on a tour in 2005 and we became really good friends. And I brought my guitar along so we played some after show parties, and it evolved from there. In the Summer of 2006 I was touring by myself with The Real McKenzies and I had time off in Berlin after the tour, so we recorded the first album.’
Why did you decide to switch from punk to country?
‘Uhm, I didn’t. To me this is punk, from a drumming point of view. I still think as a drummer, with every song I listen to the first thing I hear is still the drums. So it’s still the same, I’m just standing out singing now. But I’m still thinking as a drummer. So to me there is no real switch from punk to country.’
Why did you decide to move from the U.S. to Berlin, Germany then?
‘I came over here because my wife has a job here. She came over here last July, so my band is here, my wife is here, I’m not just gonna sit over there and fiddle my thumbs. Not gonna do that. So my wife was sort of the main motivation to move over to Berlin, and the fact that I could do this music was the icing on the cake.’
Do you ride horses?
‘I have rode a horse. It’s been a while, back since I was a kid I used to ride my brother’s horse. And we used to have a horse, named Smokey Joe. I was too little when we had that horse, but I remember my brother riding it. It’s been a long time. I’d love to ride one again, to have one, and to have the means to take care of one. You need a lot of money, stables, stuff like that. Quite expensive.’
Another bullshit question. In movies, who do you prefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone?
‘Woah. Early Stallone. First Blood and Rocky were excellent. Those are great movies man.’
Name one Western movie in which you would like a song of yours.
‘We watched it today. Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Dean Martin and Rick Nelson. I’d like the song Gunfighter’s Blood in that, from the new record. ‘
Final question; what’s Jesus doing in jail? What did he do?
‘Well, actuall Jesus was not incarcerated, but the singer in the song found salvation, he saved himself when he was in jail. But when he got out, it was all back to the same thing. You know, Jesus ain’t gone, he’s just in jail. He got down on his knees and begged for forgiveness when he was in jail, but when he got out he didn’t need him anymore.’
All right, do you have anything to add to this interview?