Hank Vegas

Hank Vegas

BandRockAmericana

“Hank Vegas now signifies one of indie rock’s most compelling new bands, known for literate, wistful-as-woodsmoke lyrics and vocals that are polychromatic to the point of iridescence.” – Candice Dyer, Georgia Music Magazine 2008

Biography

Even after you follow the instructions, a child’s toy dinosaur – one of those weird sponge things dropped in water and left overnight to swell – is still a dinosaur in the morning. It’s just a larger, wetter and more slippery dinosaur. Hank Vegas isn’t much different. Since its inception in Macon, GA, the band has grown larger, wetter and more slippery, but they’re still Hank Vegas, a group that’s had to carry around the “alt-country” albatross because the sound is Southern and the stories tainted with rural, gothic poetry. To be sure, they are Southerners – they dig fried foods, speak with accents, have bouts with whiskey and list tiny towns on their birth certificates. But… but they have been dumped into the world and left overnight to swell. Actually, they ran headlong into the world, turned its endless vats of experience up and drank. They’ve stayed out all-night and collapsed in the morning, waking in the afternoon ten times their original size. In other words, they aren’t just Southern and are more than just alt-country. Rife with their sundry influences, their debut CD, "The Things You Are", proves it.

Chad Evans, lead vocals and the chief songwriter, was living out of an RV in St. Simmons, GA, when he met Vic Stanley. Someone had taken Chad’s guitar into a bar there. Drunk but recognizing his guitar, Chad – almost inadvertently – got up to play some of his songs. Blown back, Vic was convinced the boy needed a band. The two clicked, and Hank Vegas was set in motion. Though each was essentially just a good ol’ boy, former high school athletes from the small parts of Georgia, each also had extensive book-learning: Chad graduated with a degree in Comparative Literature and Vic with a masters in Psychology. From the start, it was going to be a different animal.

Looking for greener pastures, they came to Macon and made them a band. The lineup changed here and there, went through shifts, but by 2005, brothers Justin and Josh Smith were holding down the rhythm section – bass and drums respectively. As Hank Vegas polished its sound – cutting demos and opening for acts like The B-52s, The Drive-By Truckers and Billy Joe Shaver – it also got stuck. They were bringing a new wave of alt-country and it was good, but it was still alt-country. Something about that wasn’t working; it felt limiting. Having gone briefly into the studio without Justin, Josh, Vic or Aaron Irons, who joined Vic on the guitar duties, it looked like the band had disbanded. Things were quiet and there were whispers that it was done.

In a basement, Hank Vegas came back to life, rising less like a phoenix and more like an old man with arthritis. Justin and Josh returned, and guitarist Rob Evans, owner of said basement and no blood relation to Chad, got on board. Stripped down some, the band went to work rearranging the arrangements, playing with the lyrics. By and large, it sounded a lot like the “old” Hank Vegas – still smart, catchy and intermittently gut-wrenching, but tighter and with some pop and rock thrown in for good measure. They played a few shows just to remind the people what they were missing. Then the band finally took celebrated producer David Barbe up on his invitation to record at his Chase Park Transduction studios.

Barbe has produced Son Volt, the Drive-By Truckers, and Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), and played in Sugar with Bob Mould, so he more than had the chops to get Hank Vegas to reach its potential. In fact, he’d ridden around listening to it for a long time, waiting to get his hands on it. Chad’s heartache-carved lyrics and his soft, salty vocals laid the foundation. Justin’s and Rob’s musical prowess and vision for the band’s sound meshed with Barbe’s own to craft a new direction, a deviation, while Josh held it all together with some remarkable work on the drums. Sage of the steel pedal John Neff (Star Room Boys, Drive-By Truckers) joined the band, lending every track a high-whining bit of honky tonk over every other style present, while backup vocalist Siobhan Glennon worked lilt and lament into every word she sang. Hank Vegas had finally found the bridge between its home down South and the world at large: "The Things You Are".

If REM had gone through a steel guitar phase with Gram Parsons on lead vocals, singing songs that Charles Bukowski had written with Bruce Springsteen in mind, then someone would’ve already come up with a genre for the music on "The Things You Are". But instead of thinking that this is Hank Vegas’s permanent sonic placement, think: a full and textured cross-country trip over several musical borders, a trip made solely to express itself in the now.
“Just by coincidence, on the day we went to the studio, it was announced that REM was entering the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame and that they would be recording in the next room beside us at Chase Park Transduction. You could hear Peter Buck tracking in the studio we weren’t allowed to enter,” Chad Evans says, “It (REM’s influence) wasn

Lyrics

Another Way to Lie

Written By: Hank Vegas

“things you they said about my family are probably all true, the things they said about me were never said about you i could’ve had so much more for less, but i drink ‘til i’m a mess, until I feel like i’m dying and the cheap hotels won’t ever ask you to leave and the wrong girls won’t ever cry on your sleeve i wished i’d never told you things that cracked your heart or wet your eye but if you take out my tongue, i’d just find another way to lie”

A Long Way Down

Written By: Hank Vegas

daddy was a boxer, i kissed him on his bloody lips everything with it’s just, what’s the word. . . emphasis his thin veins would swell, his thick elixirs were all stirred well i’ve held the chamber of his pistol warm, then his pistol hot i’ve seen the rain, bouncing off your evening coat the way you say your name (spell your name for me), the way you speak of angels and things perplexing, maybe, but not enough to warrant any grand design Hannah (what does that mean) would play this game with me first she’d frown and then she’d run away i was supposed to do something, i think I was supposed to follow

Bikini Summer

Written By: Hank Vegas

daddy’s little girl is such a mess, champagne stains her party dress local boys, hell yeahs and refugees dream of you like you think of me you can feel it in the weather, you’re back again seven miles of bikini summer i’ll probably wear these jeans til spring, i’ll wear these jeans then i’ll cut them off . . . the things you love, the things you are

Summer Frown

Written By: Hank Vegas

the rain came down, a summer frown this could last all summer like a broken arm it’s like we meet again, with swing set feet that touch the ground through portals in the human heart i knew you then, and i loved you then this i know, some things will never change

Crazy With Fever

Written By: Hank Vegas

i was crazy with fever and daddy sang hymns to calm me down the voices that through the orchard, now sound like mine and the ghost of saint peter he flew through the orchard (they seemed full of dead tractors, rotten fruit, snakes in the tires) his ghost flew into the house with the rattle of china and the screen doors flying wide and then I’d have the dreams, fever dreams (double pneumonia), i dreamed we’d got that old car running through the orchards, other men’s land and to whom i was always told to showed my manners and we drove that blue car into the river (every boy had there river, mine was the flint) and then the river drove me under and chained me to the bottom it’s was a fever dream, speaking in tongues and scratching yourself to breathe, i guess it was just a wild eyed dream and i remember that my brother was born at the time, too, and we honked the horn driving him home, down the interstate then through the peach fields and pecan groves and eventually to the house where my grandfather, too, had once lived the old folks would laugh and raise their glasses, that it was good to be alive is what i believed they were feeling and i remember that they all voted for jimmy carter in what seemed like the hottest, rainless year of my life the governor he was from not far from our little georgia town (they were all democrats, then) yellow dogs, i learned later that that was what you called people that voted that way, yellow dogs until the last one died

Motorcycles

Written By: Hank Vegas

motorcycles make good pets, you look at me liked i’ve burned you ( place the name of something that burns you here), stand in line for the big kiss-off, there’s really nothing here i think you’ll be missing, though, there’s really nothing here i believe you’ll really be missing but still, so you think i’m the one you love/so unique i’m the one you love/so you think or unique (what do you think) anyway I have a future of much more responsible pet care, but for now, let’s keep this simple ok? ok. let’s take a look at this, under a light, a fluorescent light, maybe so what do you think now? what do you really want to take care of now i agree a chrome bottle rocket of a machine (drop my elbow and life just begins again), a high speed, high test, electric socket, something someone might need to plug into to feel that thing, a white light or a black heart, nobody really thinks that they’re that bad a human being, do they? no commitment, no blame, right? i haven’t created as many bumper sticker’s as i’ve read. “nothing satisfies”, it’s just another rock ‘n roll theme. and this is our variation. the song, it’s as heartfelt as the some of the most honest things people can say to each other and it’s probably just as funny,

Motorcycles

Written By: Hank Vegas

motorcycles make good pets, you look at me liked i’ve burned you ( place the name of something that burns you here), stand in line for the big kiss-off, there’s really nothing here i think you’ll be missing, though, there’s really nothing here i believe you’ll really be missing but still, so you think i’m the one you love/so unique i’m the one you love/so you think or unique (what do you think) anyway I have a future of much more responsible pet care, but for now, let’s keep this simple ok? ok. let’s take a look at this, under a light, a fluorescent light, maybe so what do you think now? what do you really want to take care of now i agree a chrome bottle rocket of a machine (drop my elbow and life just begins again), a high speed, high test, electric socket, something someone might need to plug into to feel that thing, a white light or a black heart, nobody really thinks that they’re that bad a human being, do they? no commitment, no blame, right? i haven’t created as many bumper sticker’s as i’ve read. “nothing satisfies”, it’s just another rock ‘n roll theme. and this is our variation. the song, it’s as heartfelt as the some of the most honest things people can say to each other and it’s probably just as funny,

To Beam

Written By: Hank Vegas

too to beam like a light and shine in summer or lay like the moon around the legs of your lover in the sweetness and light how the night is so easy and to think you’re not happy is just not to feel this at all and what if there were two worlds, what is there were nothing at all there are parking lots boys with girls in the mirrors and pictures of baby’s all asleep and swelling and you’re like a friend and tonight you feel pretty enough for, maybe, someone to love and what if there were two world, what if there were two worlds, one in which we beam like a light one like this, but not like this one, not like this one at all. . .

Discography

Rife with their sundry influences, their debut CD, "The Things You Are", proves it. Produced by David Barbe producer of great artist like Son Volt, the Drive-By Truckers, and Amy Ray (Indigo Girls), and played in Sugar with Bob Mould.

Motorcycles, Another Way to Lie, Bikini Summer, Crazy with Fever, Long Way Down, Summer Frown, To Beam, Horoscopes, A Moment of your Time