Hank and Lily
By Nick Lyons
If anomaly ever became incarnate as a musical duo, it would look a lot like Hank Pine and Lily Fawn. For the past decade, Hank and Lily have created a multifarious and elaborate mythology with their albums, comic books, and stage shows. Theirs is a world busting at the seams with deer women, outlaws, ladycops, weasels and yes, David Hasselhoff himself, Hank and Lily are vast — they contain multitudes.
Stylistically, Hank and Lily’s music betrays their eclectic musical tastes. Their albums, seven in all, cover an immense expanse of our modern musical landscape from familiar radio friendly pop hits to the dusty, cobweb-covered corners of the avant-garde. Sometimes, this dynamic duo even wanders into previously un-tread territory. Hank and Lily revolve around a star of their own devise, and this is the time for their strange star to rise.
On a realistic plane, Hank and Lily first met when they were both recruited to play in local legend David P. Smith’s backup band. As Pine explains, their meeting made a profound impact on his own mortal soul.
“So, we played in David P.’s back up band: we were called ‘The Whelps.’ I played cello, Lily played saw and drums. David P. Smith is kinda like our musical godfather … Before that, Lily was really new to playing music; she’d played with Blue Pine, which was Carey Mercer’s first band … but she was still learning. When we stopped playing music with David P. I got blood poisoning. I was unconscious for two weeks and when I finally came to, my only thought was that I needed to start a band with Lily. It’s turned into a 10 year musical odyssey.”
The mythological counterpart to Hank and Lily’s fateful crossing of paths also happens within the context of tragedy. In the comic books, we first meet Hank, who carries the body of his deceased girlfriend across the plains, desperately trying to reach New Orleans, the under-sea-(level)-city where he plans to lay her to rest. As Lily explains, the mythic meeting is an encounter, most fortuitous.
“The beginning of this story launches a larger story-arc. Hank’s trying to bury his girlfriend, and I am trying to find my mom: we’re both heading toward New Orleans, an imagined city (neither have previously been there, after all) unites us. Every one of our albums, up to this point, represents a story along the long road to New Orleans. We plan to tie the big story up two albums from now ’cuz we went to New Orleans last year and all our dreams came true … when it’s done, we’ll move to other things.”
The most recent installment of the Hank and Lily’s story, Crank City, borrows its name from a city which inhabits an entirely different time and space. Crank City is Hank and Lily’s most radical departure to date, straddling genres as diverse as pop music, in its most sugary form, to a breed of hip hop which rivals A Tribe Called Quest in terms of authentic danceability. Hank and Lily pull it off: they own sugar and they own hip hop. They are the only band I’d compare to Christina Aguilera, Wu-Tang Clan, and Hank Williams. Listen to Crank City, read the comic and you’ll understand — in more ways than one. M
Hank and Lily
CD Release Party
Sat., Dec. 8 at 10pm
Sunset Room (401 Herald)
$15 at Ditch Records
Ride the Cyclone
Ride the Cylcone -The latest incarnation of Atomic Vaudeville’s award winning musical. Cyclone is a comedy, a tragedy and a musical ride telling the story of a teenage chamber choir from Saskatchewan that dies in a roller coaster accident at a traveling fair. Karnack, a mechanized fortune-telling machine, feels responsible for the young choir’s demise and gives the teens a chance to express themselves to the world after death. Preview TUESDAY at 8pm ($20), plays WEDNESDAY to SATURDAY at 8pm, 2pm matinee Dec. 15. At UVic’s Roger Bishop Theatre (Phoenix Theatre). Tickets are $35/28 at 250-721-8000
The Banquo Folk Ensemble Yuletide concert and CD release party “So Gracious is the Time,” playing early folk from the 12th century to present day. Think medieval and renaissance music that is not classical. Drinking tunes and alba songs in English and Breton French, Latin and Irish on instruments like hurdy-gurdy, hammered dulcimer, small pipes, cittern, recorders and more. Sun., Dec. 9 at 3pm at James Bay United Church (511 Michigan). $15.