Los Angeles by way of San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Hanni El Khatib really digs that good old sound and swagger of early rock n roll Americana. The self-professed life long skater kid has a knack for amping up doo-wop and spitting out chunky fuzzed up riffs about bad boys and alley fights. Live its just Khatib on guitar duties and his good bro Nicky Flemming beating the drums, allowing them to maintain a stripped down sort of aggressive freedom for the duo to rock as they please. With a classic cover of “You Rascal You” and more recent single “Build. Destroy. Rebuild” out and about, Hanni El Katib is now jockeying to release the debut Will The Guns Come Out on LA label Innovative Leisure later this year. Hanni El Katib exchanged a few questions with me about his artistic influences, experiences with touring, and straightened out an east coast preconception about west coast skater culture. Enjoy!
Your music is super influenced by the American 50’s and 60’s rock n roll era–was there a particular band or figure that really made you fall in love with that sound or is it one of those things that’s just always turned you on?
It’s mow about the idea and general sound of everything back then–recordings were different and the intent was different. If I had to choose something specific I think that the guitar tones in “Honey Hush” by Johnny Burnette was a turning point for me and the live performances of Gene Vincent were pretty sick!
I’ve read that you played and toured with Her Space Holiday, did that experience give you a little head start on the logistics of your own project as it started to gain interest?
Those tours just gave me a little taste of what it’s like to be on the road, good and bad. It also taught me some of the ins and outs of what needs to get done on tour beyond just playing a show.
Your debut Will The Guns Come Out is going to be dropping this year–is it tricky translating studio work to a live set with only guitar and drums? Did just you and Nicky play on the record or did you recruit other musicians?
I always wanted to create two different experiences with my music. One would be the recordings and the other would be live. It’s been fun playing live with Nicky. I wanted it to be stripped down and more organic and loose. It teaches you to not be so precious with the music. Nicky actually only got involved with my project after the bulk of record was finished; I played and recorded all the music with another friend Marc Bianchi [Her Space Holiday]. However, Nicky and I were playing so much that we recorded a couple more tracks to add to the record.
Your show with us at Glasslands is going to be during a summer tour with Florence and the Machine (with whom you also toured last fall) I’m guessing the first time around went well since you guys are pretty different acts! How did you get hooked up in the first place?
A mutual friend gave some of my music to her manager and she was super into it and ask us to play a few shows with Flo. We then all hung out and hit it off. we’ve since become real close with everyone in the band and I guess it’s just fitting that we tour and play music together again.
A nice portion of your press mentions that you’ve been skating since you were a kid–you’ve even worked for the skating brand HUF–but your music doesn’t really fit that California skater image. Do you feel influenced by skating culture at all or is it something you don’t really internalize?
I’ve always been influenced by skateboarding. The great thing about it is that the culture accepts everyone. It’s not bound to one specific idea. If you skate, then you’re part of it. I know tons of skaters that make an extremely wide range of music and art. Most skaters I’ve met are generally pretty creative.
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