Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
photos by Aaron Brown of Aaron Brown Photography
"I think there is kind of like a little bit of a toughness and a bit of a chip on your shoulder being from P.A. So you might not back down as much when you're trying to get something you want. A lot of the times when you're facing the hurdles of the music industry, you need to have that gumption to move forward," guitarist and part owner of The Capitol Music Club tells NSMZ when referring to his upbringing in Prince Albert.
In 2002, he left his hometown of Prince Albert in favour of the "City of Bridges" aka Saskatoon, joined The Sheepdogs, toured the world and lived the dream, left the Sheepdogs and then, along with a few friends, opened up The Capitol Music club. Always moving forward with that P.A. gumption, rolling with those industry punches and sometimes making lemonade out of the lemons, Hanson, with a generous scoop of clarity seems to be "accentuating the positives" in this life. It's been nine years since The Cap opened its doors. During that time he largely focused on the daily operations of the venue; especially in terms of the booking of bands and artists. He saw the venue as a one that would be artist friendly. The positivity shines through.
"I think when we first started.... I was in charge of that whole side of the business. I kinda built that side. I was very pro artist. I remember the days when I was playing for nothing, touring tirelessly and not getting the chances and not getting money. I just want to help artists out any way I can," Hanson explains of his work at The Cap, "I just think any little bit helps: giving a little money, a little beer, a recommendation of the hotel to sleep at, giving them a place to play that night or trying to set them up as a support band for someone that's big that's coming through at some point. These grass roots bands need those opportunities and they need that for morale as well."
In terms of those "grass roots bands" of which he speaks, always willing to lend a hand, even musically, he's worked with a number of them that are local to Saskatoon. He's played in a few. There's been production, writing and arranging but, in all that time, Hanson has not released any solo material. That is until now. He’s been writing all along looking for the right moment. That moment came about three weeks ago on March 31st with the release of his "Son of Han" record.
“I think that while I was working with all these other bands I had these songs. I was always just kind of writing with bands and I would bring something and sometimes it just wouldn't quite fit with whoever I was working with…. So I kind of just threw it aside. Not threw it away but aside,” explains Hanson
“I would come back to (these song ideas) and think it was still pretty cool. I wouldn't know what to do with them but I would think they were kind of neat. So eventually I had all these little ideas. Some were partially finished, some half baked or songs on the back burner and at some point I figured why don't I just start banging these around.”
“I had too many ideas with songs to not do something with them.”
In order to fulfill his creative vision, Hanson and good friend Aspen Beveridge of Skullcreek Studios, who is listed as a co-producer on the album, started going through the collection of song ideas. Hanson had riffs and voice memos that had been stockpiling over time. Throughout that journey, Beveridge acted as a sounding board for the ideas and musical whims Hanson was bringing to the table.
"He was definitely a voice of reason at some points absolutely. If I was getting a little too crazy or two far in one direction he would reel me back in a bit which was definitely necessary at some points. Actually I don't know where the record would be without Aspen," confides Hanson.
Once the two had settled on a fixed amount of material for a full length, they started deciding on who would be singing on the record as Hanson did not feel comfortable handling the vocal duties himself.
“I'm not really a singer. I probably could be but I'm pretty rough around the edges. I'm pretty P.A. when it comes to singing (laughs) but fortunately I have a lot of musician friends that are great at singing,” Hanson chuckles.
There’s also other guest musicians of note like Wintersleep’s Tim D’eon who plays on the song “All Your love”. As it turns out, D’eon and Hanson go way back. Their camaraderie is apparent and palpable on “All Your Love”.
(*note: a full list of all the musicians who played on the record will be provided at the end of this feature.)
“Tim came in and I told him to just go through the track to see if he wanted to put some leads in there. Within two passes he had this really cool lead line that happens within about ten seconds into the song. It opens with this really cool double lead guitar line. It didn't take him that long at all and I was like ‘That's it for sure.’,” recounts Hanson.
The end result of the entire process behind the Son of Han debut is an eclectic affair. There’s the hard driving neo-grunge of “Slaves and Rage”, the sassy “Arrows”, the classic rock riffage of “Gonna Lose”. There’s really a lot to sink your teeth into with Son of Han and, of course, the whole thing is backstopped by the Leot Hanson sound - whatever that is. He just does what he does. He’s content and that’s what matters. But, if you're a fan of his work you know... At the end of the day, Hanson has zero regrets and a lot of great music in his life whether it comes from bands he's booked, bands he's played in, or bands that he's produced or wrote for.
"I'd like to see myself as a song-crafter (first) and a producer (second) and a musician third, maybe. I'm more into honouring the song, crafting the song, composing and arranging. That's what excites me more than touring and all that other kind of stuff; the fame and all that bullshit because at the end of the day, song is king.”
Son of Han’s album release show is set for May 26th at the Capitol Music Club. It will be a double album release alongside Sheepdogs’ drummer Sam Corbett’s solo project: Nutana. Both records are brilliant. This show is going to be an event not to be missed. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased here.
Also, to coincide with the venue's ninth anniversary several shows have been announced. You can check out all the up and coming events that the Cap has to offer here.
Son of Han record Produced by Aspen Beveridge & Leot Hanson
Son of Han guest musicians include: Micah Braun (of the band Wonder) -sings on Arrows, Dem Boyz, Gonna Lose
Kory Istace (of the band Kory Istace VS the TIme Pirates) - sings on Slave & Rage, The Strangler
Aspen Beveridge (of League of Wolves / Haunt Era) sings on "All Your Love", "Youve Gotta Choose"
Billy Tataryn (of Castle River, Parkland) - sings on Buy Me Time
Brad Heck (Drummer of Pistol Whips / I'll Creatura) -Drums
Kit Langfield (Of Cadillac / Kit Langfield) Sings on "Dreme"
Tim D'eon (of Wintersleep) Guitars on "All Your Love"
Grieg Beveridge (Drummer of League of Wolves ) - Drums