Eric Hanke

Eric Hanke

 Austin, Texas, USA

Eric Hanke's "Factory Man" is a Texas-fueled journey through Americana, country, blues, and rock n' roll. Featuring some of Austin, Texas' finest players & home spun original songwriting. These songs fly through electric skies, down acoustic valleys, & home again.


Eric Hanke is the kind of guy who naturally stands out in a crowd. For one thing, he’s usually the tallest one in it, unless it’s a gathering of hoops players. But he also stands out among his singer-songwriters peers in Austin and elsewhere — not only because of his resolute refusal to follow Texas or Nashville trends, but for his way with a lyric, his ability to move easily among multiple musical styles, the respect he’s earned from players he counts as influences and mentors.

With his second release, “Factory Man,” Hanke proves the praise he drew for his maiden outing, 2006’s “Autumn Blues” — including comparisons to Texas’ finest songsmiths and a top 10 of the year pronunciation by the Austin American-Statesman’s Michael Corcoran, the dean of Austin music critics — was well justified.

Both were produced by Hanke’s friend and bandmate, Merel Bregante, who gained fame drumming for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Loggins & Messina. The players include Bregante’s wife, singer Sarah Pierce; guitarist Kenny Grimes; keyboardist Riley Osbourn; steel player Cindy Cashdollar … names that resonate far beyond Austin’s borders. But for Hanke, it’s not about pedigree, it’s about honesty. Soul. Feeling. It’s about appreciating Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt but loving classic rock, too, and knowing that songs about beer and trucks might sell records, but that doesn’t mean they’re good. Even if they are by fellow Texans.

“Factory Man,” on Hanke’s own Ten Foot Texan Records label, is filled with songs borne of experience, populated by real people. Hanke adheres to the “write what you know” school; for him, BS just won’t fly. The best grooves come from what you know, too, and this album is a great blend of a little bit ’o soul, some blues, some country, rock, folk … etc. Americana. It’s more electric than “Autumn Blues,” but it’s not ragged, in-your-face rawk. It’s cool, yet warm — and that’s not a contradiction. With Hanke’s high tenor (which sounds not unlike that of his neighbor, Slaid Cleaves) supported by just-right harmonies and instrumentation throughout, it’s a natural progression for an artist who’s not afraid of taking his time to get it right.

He spent half of the time between albums living on South Padre Island, learning to play electric guitar, gigging in bars and hanging out on the beach. Hurricane Ike motivated him to head back to Austin with his trusty dog, Waylon, and record again.

Born in Michigan and raised in Dallas, Hanke likes to say he attended the Merel Bregante school of sensitivity and artist development. Actually, he’s got a bachelor’s degree in German and international studies, but even PhDs know most of the important stuff isn’t learned in classrooms. Musicians tend to start their lessons with somebody else’s record collection; Hanke had his dad’s. But his very first album was a Willie Nelson disc that accompanied the record player his grandparents gave him when he was 3.

He didn’t get serious about his own playing till his late teens, but when the bug took hold, it bit hard. He started delving more deeply into the work of artists he admired, and learning the craft of writing, though the skill clearly comes naturally to him. Hanke etches vivid details into each story he tells on “Factory Man,” starting with the slightly countryish, mandolin-laden title song.

“It’s a workingman’s tune,” Hanke says. “On the back of the album, there’s a picture of my grandfather when he was 17 years old in Germany, when he got his apprenticeship as a tool-and-die maker.” His grandfather emigrated to the states and, like so many of his generation, spent almost his entire adult life working at one plant.

“That song is about when that place, after so many years, was closing down and outsourcing all of the jobs to China and Brazil,” Hanke explains. “At the time, I wrote it about that once place in particular [well before Detroit’s meltdown], but it became about unemployment in general and the hard economic times people are going through.”

Turning a singular subject into one with a universal connection is another measure of a true songwriter. But there’s something else that separates Hanke from the pack: his Midwestern-born work ethic.

“You have to treat being a musician like a job,” he says. “If you’re not doing shit, it won’t get done. If you wanna drop acid and start a drum circle in South Austin, go do it. But it’s not going to get you anywhere.”

That’s why Hanke recently went to Nashville to pair up with other writers in the Carnival Music Publishing stable. (Carnival, it should be noted, is owned by Frank Liddell, Miranda Lambert’s producer and Lee Ann Womack’s husband.) He’s not sure whether more sessions will follow, but in the meantime, he’s got two collaborations on this album: one with Pierce (“Burn It Down,” inspired, he says, by the small-mindedness in the Texas town his girlfriend’s from) and one with George Ensle.

“He’s one of the top tr


Smoke Through The old Screen

Written By: Eric Hanke

I swear that you bring the rain with you
You come round every time I’m feeling blue
I can feel it seepin’ in my shoes
Yeah your feet get wet and there’s nothing that you
can do

You went through my life like smoke through an old
screen door
I’m alone here tonight and I’m wondering what for
Well I guess that’s life and I guess she’s right I won’t
never ever see her no more
Its just like smoke through the old screen door

Why did you one day disappear?
The reasons that you gave me were unclear
And now you’ve shown up here today
To tell me that you’ve thrown it all away


You have visions dancing all around
And you had to leave this crazy town
I learned a lesson thanks to you
Don’t ever gamble more than you can lose

Hope Your Dreams Come True

Written By: Eric Hanke/George Ensle

Had an old ball glove that my daddy gave to me
Spent our days playing at the old school yard
I was Mickey Mantle workin' on a sandlot dream
My dad told me son, you're gonna be a star

I hope your dreams come true
I surely hope they do
Long before you're through
I hope your dreams come true

Used to cruise these streets in the cool night air
Chasin' bowling alley queens and debutantes
I was James Dean in a 56' red bel air
My brother left me before he went to Vietnam

Son I'm gonna give you this ball and glove
And some day these bel air keys
Hope you find your one true love
Like your mama's been to me
You can be Mickey Mantle, or you can be James Dean
You can be anything you want, just dont forget to dream

It Ain't Really Love

Written By: Eric Hanke

Sunday come a runnin’ with the whiskey on my breath
Daylight come a creepin’ on a day as cold as death
There’s nothin’ like the present to let the past be known
It ain’t really love babe, you just hate to be alone

Darkness down the hallway, and there’s quiet in our room
A broken hearted lover that won’t chase after you
I’ve run all out of reasons when you let your feelings show
‘Cause it ain’t really love babe you just hate to be alone

It ain’t really love babe you just hate to be alone
You don’t want forever you just fear an empty home
How can you say “I love you,” and pack your things to go
Well it aint really love babe you just hate to be alone

By now you’ve found another to keep you warm at night
But words can’t hide the secret buried deep inside
Birds are gonna fly, baby, fly the same way that they’ve flown
And it ain’t really love babe, you just hate to be alone

Factory Man

Written By: Eric Hanke

My grandfather worked all his life, at the allied factory site
Making disc brakes for a GM car, Lord he’d come home late at night
And it’s a damned old shame, was all I said, the day he got the news
They’re closing down the allied plant and I’m singing on the blues

So have mercy on me, dear Uncle Sam,
I’m just trying to do the very best I can
I make an honest wage, working with my hands
So have mercy on me, ‘cause I’m a factory man

They told our union local 383 there was no way to compete
And we can make some cheaper breaks if we build ‘em overseas
I’ve got two young babies and a wife to feed, and I’m livin’ day to day
‘Cause folks in China will work my job for barely half the pay

John Henry beat that old machine when they laid that hammer down
But there’s no more hammer swingers and no jobs left in this town
The market gained a couple points, but the trading sure was light
And there’s a few less in this town of ours sleeping good tonight

Never Gonna Leave You Now

Written By: Eric Hanke

I struggled so hard when I was on my own, and it’s enough to bleed me dry,
It’s enough to bleed me dry. I can understand why a man gets stoned, and it’s enough to make him die, It’s enough to make him die

I work so hard till the sun comes up, you know I’m gonna see it go down, I packed my bags when I’d had enough, but I’m never gonna leave you now. Never gonna leave you now

You call me up on the telephone, figured that it was time,
figured that it was time
The stars won’t shine and you’re all alone, starin’ at an empty sky,
starin’ at an empty sky

Don’t take nothing when you go, my son, and you won’t leave nothing behind, You won’t feel nothing when the cold wind blows, if you trade it all for a rhyme,
Trade it all for a rhyme


"Factory Man"-2010
"Autumn Blues"-2006

Set List

Lonely Road
Autumn Blues
The War
Ride Away
Smoke Through Screen Door
Where You Goin in Eb
Cryin' Over You
Broken Dreams
Suns Gonna Shine
Been Knocked Down
S.P.I. Time
Mr. Slim's Blues
Factory Man
Never Gonna Leave U Now
Keep My Love
East Side Blues
Hope Your Dreams Come True
Gotta Little
It Aint Really Love
No More Tears
I Saw Her Standing There
One After 909
Tupelo County Jail
I Fought The Law
That'll Be The Day
The Last Time
The Apartment Song
Under Your Spell
Steve's Last Ramble
White Freightliner