One year since the release their latest tasty LP “Powiedz mi, że to przetrwasz” (“Tell you’ll live through this”), Warsaw based noisy punks HANAKO are in their mid-way of current European tour, and we took this chance to eagerly encourage you to give this still fresh offering a listen and, drop by for a show if you’re near Enschede, Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Utrecht, or Leipzig, and learn more about the story of a young, passionate band from the capital of Poland. Loads of other bands recommendations included. Go for it!
Hanako is a Warsaw band whose work combines influences of noise rock, screamo, post-hardcore and indie rock. The band is named after the elephant, who died in 2016 after years of suffering, left on a tiny concrete catwalk. Despite the appeals of several hundred thousand people, the authorities of the Tokyo Zoo refused to move her to the sanctuary for the last years of her life. In the band’s lyrics, the tragedies of the world around us, from elephant history through exploitation and social injustice to global warming, are intertwined with personal tragedies, a sense of frustration, emptiness, loneliness and burnout.
Words by Mateusz Romanowski:
Our band was formed in 2016 by me, Bibi, Oles (from we watch clouds) and Yurii (from Bastard Disco). At that time we used to spend a lot of time together – mainly by going to gigs etc. Our idea was to play music that included screaming vocals as my main inspirations were ihatesex and La Luna. But my roots are rather in indie rock and noise rock, so from the beginning it was clear that we won’t be playing ‘pure’ screamo. With that lineup we played some gigs and recorded two EP-s (the first one, ‘s-t’, was published by Emocat Records and LE BLAST Records on tapes). In 2017 due the lack of time and some vision-related differences Yurii and Oles left the band. Since then we play in our current lineup. In the past I was in a band called This Modern Cults with Paweł Kowalewicz. We played only one show, but I love him as a friend and drummer, so the choice was simple. I didn’t have a clue, who could play bass, but then I saw the first show of Krzysztof Sarosiek’s band called Zwidy and I was impressed with his skills. Both of them knew and liked Hanako before, so they said “yes”. Our first track was ‘Mars’ published by Marderschaden DIY on a split with Кальк, Jigglypuff and Diarrhea Disco. For two years we were playing gigs and writing songs for our LP. It was finally recorded in during the summer of 2018 and in February 2019 it was released by Trzy Szóstki on CD and later on LP by Trzy Szóstki, DIY Koło Records, Extincion Records and Wydawnictwo Ten Moment. Last year we went on a two week tour in Poland, Germany and Denmark and played a few weekend-shows (with Neighbours Burning Neighbours and August Landmesser) and single gigs. We’re glad that we can express ourselves in hc/punk shows as well as more indie oriented events.
The most important people behind our story are Łukasz Ciszak (who recorded and produced all our published material), Michał Pielak (who let us use his photos on all of our covers), Maciek Misiewicz (who published our LP, did our tour posters and the cover for his limited LP edition), Kuba Kunysz (who booked an amazing Czech tour for us), Fillip and Anna from Кальк, Adrian from Chuck Bass, people from Neighbours Burning Neighbours (who invited us to our upcoming tour), Agata Hudomięt (who shot our industrial photo session) and all the labels mentioned above and last but not least: Kat Górzyńska, Łukasz Trzaskowski and Robert (from Protein and Easy, and the creator of Idealny Moment zine) – our most lovely and always ready-to-go-on-tour drivers. But we meet new amazing people all the time at our shows.
As I mentioned earlier ‘Powiedz mi, że to przetrwasz’ was recorded and produced by Łukasz Ciszak, who’s known or unknown as an amazing producer and musician (Guiding Lights, ex- Test Prints and solo stuff) and mastered by Haldor Grunberg (Satanic Audio). The material was recorded at Hanako’s and Guding Lights’ rehearsal rooms at Studio Wieloślad in Warsaw. We were preparing for the recording process for a long time, so I can’t really recall any funny or exciting situations connected to that. But high five for Grzegorz Wiernicki (Wild Books, Wiry, Wow) and Grzegorz Zieliński (The Spouds, Spirits Of The Air) for letting us use some extra guitars and amps for the recordings.
Track by track commentary:
Working title: Hot Cross. One of the songs that we worked on for quite a long time because of that irregular rhythm at the end.
Working title: The Hidden Life Of Trees. This is the oldest one. I wrote it before we even started to play in the current lineup. I was strongly influenced by IDLES ‘Brutalism’ then. Lyrics are about the alienation at the working place, but using plants as the metaphor.
Bibi’s lyrics are about destruction of the environment. It’s probably the only song, that I recorded, that could fit into Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtrack. Also, one of my favorites.
My lyrics for this track are the dark paraphrase of two famous Polish songs, ‘Przemoknięte Serca Miast’ by Edyta Bartosiewicz and ‘Kroplą Deszczu’ by Gabriel Fleszar. By the way, I strongly recommend early records of Edyta Bartosiewicz – they have a really cool Afghan Whigs’ vibe.
The lyrics for this track are inspired by the story of Ewa Hołuszko, an activist of Solidarność – the famous Polish workers union. In 2014 her house was attacked by transphobes and nationalists. It was the first single of our LP. We published it few days after Paweł Adamowicz, liberal president of Gdańsk was killed during a Polish charity action, WOŚP. Also, last year a trans man called Milo Mazurkiewicz killed himself, because he could no longer stand the hate towards LGBT community in the Polish society. It’s a nightmare, but there are some parts of Poland that are called “anti-LGBT territories”.
It’s just a song about loneliness. Can’t tell much more. In some of my lyrics I like to show, how I feel by showing pictures open for many kinds of interpretation.
This track is about the feeling of hopelessness. We wanted to make the end of this track as massive as possible. I recorded 3 tracks of vocals and 4 tracks of guitars. I wanted to achieve a mantra-like effect, where every second is more intense than the previous one.
I wrote the lyrics to this song at a very hard period of my life, when some of my relationships were put to a test. This is a song about feeling so much mess, that all you can expect is the end of your personal world. This song was my wish to survive for everyone, who struggled.
In the beginning some of us didn’t want to play this song, because first riff sounds a bit too close to my other band, The Spouds (fun fact: the working title was Spouds-metal), but finally it was saved by Paweł’s blasts. This song is about feeling lost and guilty.
Other projects feat. members of HANAKO:
Mateusz: The Spouds, ⅔ soli // past bands: Melisa, Brooks Was Here, Sklepy Cynamonowe, Sing Nie Zagra W Kazachstanie, Lora Lie and more. Bibi: Deadly Firend, Bibi & The Wave, Evvolves // past bands: Sting Nie Zagra W Kazachstanie, Nevada. Paweł: Spirits Of The Air, Native Lungs // past bands: Karate Free Stylers. Krzysztof: Zwidy, Future
Apart from music Krzysztof books shows as Undertone Bookings and writes about music for the Undertone blog. Paweł and Krzysztof are also members of the SAD Sessions team, that releases live band recordings. All of us are also involved in an initiative called Noise For Refugees, that helps sufferers of the refugees crisis.
Warsaw alt punk and rock scene:
Is hard to answer this question. We play with very different bands. Some say, that we sound like a band that’s hardcore punk and indie at the same time, and we’re ok with this definition. From my point of view the turnout at gigs is much better, than a few years ago. On the other hand, the older I am, the less I know what the ‘scene’ really is. I think that it’s a social construct to judge if people are cool enough to be or not to be a part of the ‘scene’. I am loosing too much energy on judging myself, so I’m not really into judging anyone else. As far as I’m concerned – as long as you try to be a good person, you can be a part of the ‘scene’. When we do some gigs with Noise For Refugees, bands playing various kinds of music share the same stage to do something good.
I see that some indie acts like Krzysiek’s Zwidy, Syndrom Paryski or daysdaysdays have got quite good audience without any major label or media support. I think it’s cool. I see a lot of loss in their lyrics, but a lot of distance at the same time. A lot of one-liners that you can post on Instagram. There is a bunch of interesting labels, independent radio auditions and promoters. When you’re interested in any kind of music you have a lot of options to discover new, interesting stuff.
HANAKO in 2020:
We’re playing 9 shows in Poland, Czech Republic, Germany and Netherlands on our current tour. We’re super excited, because we love playing live, meeting new people and meeting old friends again.
Couple rehearsals ago we started to work on a new material, but it’s on a really early stage, we have 2 new songs and 2 sketches at the moment. Some of these new songs I composed and sent to the rest of the band in May of 2019, but they evolved since then as when we arrange it with the whole band there are always some new ideas.
We try new things. In music and in vocals. Don’t know yet what will happen, but I expect that our second LP will have much more colours and emotions.
Other artists worth a check:
My top favourites of the last couple of weeks are:
drasa – Open Your Hand – Beautiful, experimental ambient album. I was listening to it a lot, while I read ‘A Little Life’ by Hanya Yanagihara. It was the perfect soundtrack.
Joseph Shabason – Anne EP
Obest – Paradise
Wacław Zimpel – Massive Oscillations
Lafemmebear – Blaq: The Story of Me
Destroyer – How We Met
I would also like to recommend ‘Podium Nie Ma’ by our rehearsal room mates from daysdaysdays and a single called ‘Zima’, written by amazingly talented young musicians from Zawody. But I listen to a lot of music and each week this list could look different. Recently I also saw an amazing group from Canada called Deliluh. If you have an opportunity to go to their gig, do it.