The Flairs
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The Flairs

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The best kept secret in music


"The Flairs' Dawn Mandarino Doesn't Mind Being The Centre Of Attention"

Monday January 03, 2005 @ 04:00 PM
By: Staff

The Flairs
The girls (and boy) are back in town.
After making the jaunt all the way from British Columbia, The Flairs have made Toronto their temporary base of operations while touring Southern Ontario. One would think being so far from their native Vancouver would cause some homesickness, but according to lead guitarist Gillian Hanna, that’s far from the truth.
"The hardest part of this is trying to stay on the road!" she says with a laugh. "We want to tour as much as we possibly can, but it’s hard with our lack of funds and opportunities. We’re working on it, though."
Singer/guitarist Dawn Mandarino adds, "We’d probably stay on the road forever if we could."
The tour-loving band is comprised of Mandarino and Hanna plus bassist Ryan Hanna and drummer Jen Foster, with Mandarino and Foster being well-known refugees from goth-punk group Tuuli. Mandarino describes The Flairs experience as being "the complete opposite" from Tuuli, although the irrepressible chick-rawk vibe is similar — even in the face of an increasing "boys’ club" mentality in the music scene.
"I remember being in Tuuli and having people tell us, ‘We can’t play you on rock radio because rock radio isn’t playing female singers right now.’ We got that SO much," Mandarino recalls with a bit of frustration. "I think that’s something that, unfortunately, we don’t really have any control over. You just have to keep plugging away, doing what you do and eventually getting people to notice you." A sudden dangerous grin crosses her face. "And if people don’t like it, screw them."
It’s this remarkably punk attitude that gives The Flairs an edge in the realm of Canadian music, despite the relative newness of the band. Short as it’s been so far, they all admit that their time in The Flairs has already been a valuable learning experience.
"For me, I think I learned a lot really quickly," says Hanna. "I went from playing bars in Vancouver to jumping on board with the Bif Naked tour. Then I hooked up with these guys and we’ve been learning how to do everything ourselves. I’ve learned how to write songs with a full band."
Mandarino agrees. "I think all of our songwriting has matured, even just from starting this band. I think the songs we’re writing now are way more improved than our songs from the beginning." She pauses thoughtfully. "And as for me, I guess I had to learn how to become a frontperson."
So was becoming the center of attention difficult for her?
"No." Mandarino’s instantly deadpanned answer gets laughs from the entire group. She shrugs again before continuing, "Seriously though, we’re all in this because we love doing what we do — it’s our job, really, and we’re happy to have it. Nothing’s gonna stop us."
—Caitlin Hotchkiss
- Chart Attack - Jan 3/05

"New Music West Report"

NMW Report Day 3: J. Englishman Takes On Vancouver
Monday November 15, 2004 @ 03:30 PM
By: Staff

The Flairs' Gillian Hanna
ChartAttack has been covering every day of Vancouver's New Music West festival. Today J. Englishman lets us in on his adventures...
11 p.m. The Flairs, Buffalo Club
Former Tuuli member Dawn Kerns (wife of Todd) and her crew muscle their way through their own particular brand of intense '80s inspired glam metal for the 21st century. Dead is the cutsy poppy Tuuli girl of yesterday. In her place is a dangerous snarling demon diva that slithers and sneers it’s way menacingly across the stage. I can’t take my eyes off her. And it is fast becoming apparent that Ms. Naked’s Jam is the spot for the night. Ryan Dahle (Limblifter) Rich Priske, Gavin Brown, the members of Lucie Idlout’s band and the boys from Marble Index are all in attendance.
- Chart Attack - J. Englishman

"The Flairs Hit Ontario, Release EP"

Monday November 22, 2004 @ 04:30 PM
By: Staff

The Flairs
Vancouver’s newest Can-Rock export The Flairs are ready to kick Southern Ontario’s ass. The band will be playing several shows in the next few weeks to rally some attention around their new debut CD — a six-song EP, which is available through The Flairs website or at any of their live shows.
The band rose out of Toronto-based bubblegum-pop group Tuuli — with guitarist Dawn Mandarino and drummer Jen Foster leaving back in 2002, in favour of Vancouver's more temperate climes. They then hooked up with Bif Naked’s guitarist Gillian Hanna and brought her little bro Ryan on board to play bass. The Flairs’ creation has an adulterous edge to it, since the members met each other while touring with their "other bands."
Mandarino’s frequent tourmate and new hubby Todd Kerns (of Age Of Electric, Static In Stereo, and uh, Todd Kerns, solo artist) also brought his extensive experience to a producing role on The Flairs upcoming studio work, with an album expected to follow the EP in the new year.
Meantime, if you make a big stink over at MuchMusic, they might just spin the band’s first video, "Ready To Roll."
The Flairs tour dates:
• November 25 Toronto, ON @ Bovine Sex Club
• November 27 London, ON @ Call The Office (w/ Forgotten Rebels & 63 Monroe)
• November 29 Hamilton, ON @ Underground
• December 1 Kitchener, ON @ The Circus Room (w/ Mary 5e)
• December 2 Oshawa, ON @ The Dungeon (w/ Anti-Hero)
• December 4 Toronto, ON @ Lee’s Palace (w/ Robin Black)
• December 8 Vancouver, BC @ The Roxy
—David McDougall
- Chart Attack - David McDougall

"MUSIC NOTES - The Flairs"

A Flair for the dramatic The Flairs • With Todd Kerns • Victory Lounge • Sat, July 3 Combining the catchiness of pop with the power of rock in one hot little package, the Flairs are poised to explode on the scene from their Vancouver home. Singer/guitarist Dawn Mandarino and drummer Jen Foster were playing with pop darlings Tuuli when they met up with lead guitarist Gillian Hanna (Bif Naked) while touring around Canada and decided to hook up and form the Flairs. Foster and Mandarino quickly moved to Vancouver, joined Hanna’s brother Ryan on bass and immediately started gigging and recording. They quickly made a name for themselves around Vancouver before taking it out on the road last summer to try their luck at Toronto’s NXNE industry showcase. On the way back home the foursome wrangled several dates opening for “Diamond” David Lee Roth through Alberta and Washington. “It was really fun—he’s crazy,” Gillian says from home, waiting to head out on a short blitz to Alberta. “We didn’t really know what to expect, but he drew really well. The stage show was awesome, his players were awesome. He did all the Van Halen songs and he still does the kicks in his leather pants and brings a 40 of Jack Daniels out. The novelty was definitely there, but it was really entertaining.” While the band has several killer tracks up on their website ( they’re still waiting to put out a disc. There’s talk of one coming out on Bif Naked’s label Her Royal Majesty Records by next year, but in the meantime they’ve just finished shooting a video for “Ready to Roll” to help move things along. “We have a bunch of stuff recorded,” Gillian says. “We just have to figure out what we’re gonna do with it. Hopefully in the near future we’ll have something ready to go. It’s driving us all crazy, really.”
- The Vue Weekly, Edmonton, AB

"Such Flair"

Vancouver, B.C.

The Flairs are (from left) drummer Jen Foster, guitarist Gillian Hanna, her brother bassist Ryan Hanna, and singer Dawn Mandarino. The group formed when Foster and Mandarino moved to the Lower Mainland to form a group with Surrey's Gillian Hanna, and picked up Ryan Hanna to complete the band.
Photo/Brian Howell

Such Flair
Carolyn Cooke
Surrey's Gillian Hanna exudes flair with her wild red hair and rocking guitar licks, as anyone who was at the Ozone Nightclub Thursday night would have noticed.
The Flairs, an up-and-coming rock band featuring the talent not only of Gillian Hanna, but also her brother Ryan Hanna, Jen Foster and Dawn Mandarino, got things moving for the concert, headlined by Bif Naked.
The initial idea for The Flairs was born while Gillian Hanna was on tour with Bif Naked as her guitarist. Hanna met singer Mandarino and drummer Foster, who were then touring with a band called Tuuli. The three found they had much in common and thought it would be cool to play together - if ever the Tuuli members moved to the West Coast. Just over a year ago, Foster and Mandarino did pack up and head west, and it seems to be a smart move as The Flairs were formed and hit the ground running.
"We needed a change - musically and otherwise," Mandarino said.
The trio explored a heavier sound than any of them performed to that point, more reminiscent of '80s hard rock. When they realized they needed a bass player, Gillian Hanna volunteered her brother Ryan. Foster said she was a bit iffy about having a brother in the band, but it's all good.
"I'm normally a guitar player," said Ryan Hanna.
He said he and his sister grew up playing off each other playing guitar, since they started playing at the same time.
Not only does the brother and sister team get along well enough to work together, the entire band has a camaraderie that shows in how they write and shape their songs collaboratively. Their easy-going humour, talent and back-to-basics hard rock earns the musicians their moniker.
The Flairs are currently in the studio recording and hope to finish later this month. For more information on the band and upcoming concerts, see
- The Now Newspaper

"The Flairs"

Perhaps it was the Fickle Finger of Fate that brought Canadian guitarists Dawn Mandarino and Gillian Hanna together in the summer of 2002. The two happened to cross paths while touring with separate bands, and after successfully jamming together with drummer Jen Foster, the ladies added Hanna’s brother Ryan on bass to form the Flairs. The two guitarists’ playing is complimentary, with Mandarino concentrating mainly on rhythm, and Hanna covering riffs and solos. Celebrating the release of Shut Up and Drive [Pacific Music]—which the band describes as “a hodgepodge of rock, metal, punk, and pop”—Flair will be touring Canada and the U.S. throughout the summer (check out for news and updates).
Who are your influences? Hanna: I was influenced a lot by Slash. He was one of the reasons I picked up the guitar. I really dug his tone and style, and I wanted to play like that.
Mandarino: Seeing the Ramones performing “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” when I was really young inspired me to play punk rock. Their songs are clever in the sense that they’re so basic, and yet so powerful. I think they are the best songwriters of all time.
What gear do you use?
Hanna: I play left-handed, and I was lucky enough to find a black left-handed Les Paul Custom. But I also play a Minarik Goddess, and both guitars are strung with Ernie Ball Skinny Top/Heavy Bottoms Slinkys (.010-.052). My amp is a Marshall JCM-2000, and my effects are a Dunlop CryBaby and a Boss overdrive.
Hanna: I was influenced a lot by Slash. He was one of the reasons I picked up the guitar. I really dug his tone and style, and I wanted to play like that.
Mandarino: Seeing the Ramones performing “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” when I was really young inspired me to play punk rock. Their songs are clever in the sense that they’re so basic, and yet so powerful. I think they are the best songwriters of all time.
What gear do you use?
Hanna: I play left-handed, and I was lucky enough to find a black left-handed Les Paul Custom. But I also play a Minarik Goddess, and both guitars are strung with Ernie Ball Skinny Top/Heavy Bottoms Slinkys (.010-.052). My amp is a Marshall JCM-2000, and my effects are a Dunlop CryBaby and a Boss overdrive.
Mandarino: My favorite guitar is my Gibson SG-1, which only has one pickup, and I use Dean Marley LTHB strings (.010-.052). I play through a Marshall JCM-2000. I don’t use any pedals because I’m influenced by punk rock, and I like the simple Gibson through Marshall approach.
How does your new album differ from your previous EP?
Hanna: It’s a little heavier sounding.
Mandarino: We’ve grown a lot since then as songwriters. Now, we take the time to go through the songs and make sure they’re really how we want them to sound.
Do you have aspirations to get signed?
Hanna: Sure. I think we’ve done pretty well so far on our own, but if the time is right and the company is right, then who knows? It’s always nice to have money behind you.
Mandarino: If it happens, it happens. But, in the meantime, we’re having fun doing what we’re doing.
- Guitar Player - July 2006

"Vancouver Buzz: The Flairs Rock Indonesia"

In other news, I recently spoke to Flairs frontwoman Dawn Mandarino to find out what's been happening in camp Flairs. Not only have they been spreading their tunes across Canada, but they've been carrying their tunes to foreign shores.
"We just got back from a 13-week tour, including two weeks in Indonesia," explains Mandarino. "We played several massive festivals, one of which had INXS on the bill."
You can check out some photos here.
—Trevor Hargreaves
- Chart Attack - Sept 2006

"Shut Up and Drive Review"

The Flairs, who hail from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, are a standard guitar/bass/drums pop-punk quartet that writes and performs quick-tempo, guitar-driven rock tunes. In their publicity materials, they make a point of citing their affection for the Ramones, but on their debut full-length, Shut Up and Drive, they cover Skid Row's "18 & Life," which is perhaps more indicative of their sound. Of course, '70s punk rock and '80s hair metal were never really that far apart musically; it was more a matter of attitude (and wardrobe). Singer Dawn Mandarino presents lyrics that focus primarily on romantic scorn, which fits with the aggressive music. But she never loses her sense of melody, and the music, while propulsive, never gets really wild. That's the mark of pop-punk, and the Flairs do it quite well.

Recommended Tracks: 18 & Life, Ready to Roll, Destroyer
- Allmusic

"The Flairs Rock It Up"

The Flairs
Some bands take years to get out of the garage and into the clubs, and then there are bands like The Flairs. Only together since October they are already preparing to take over Canada as if their music careers were a game of Risk. Obviously not the slacker standard, The Flairs are somewhat of a Can-con uber-group. Dawn Mandarino and Jen Foster went awol from Tuuli and joined up with Bif Naked guitar player Gillian Hanna and her brother Ryan to create their ultimate dream project.

"We met up when our bands were touring together and eventually decided to take the plunge and get together" explained Mandarino. "We just felt like it was time to pursue something with a much harder sound."

Perhaps that’s why The Flairs play live with the desperation of fevered madmen. If Dawn and Jen’s time in Tuuli was pop incarceration, then The Flair years will be remembered as a time of rawk liberation.

What kind of sound does this diverse line-up create? Imagine Veruca Salt singing for help if they were stuck in a well. The bubblegum sound of Tuuli survives, but it’s far more snarled. The guitar amps are cranked and the riffs sound like outtakes from Appetite For Destruction. Jen’s drumming has meshed with Gillian’s Bif-inspired guitar to drive the band to a musical level Tuuli never came close to achieving. It’s great to see a band this talented stomp all over the local music scene.

"We are basically concentrating on playing around Vancouver right now and getting our name out there," said Foster. "We plan to hit the studio in March with Todd Kerns (Static In Stereo/Age Of Electric) producing, so we are all really excited. This will be a hard-rocking full-length album."

When asked about possible video ideas for the new material, the true vision of The Flairs was revealed: "I think it would be cool if we just had a big naked Todd Kerns chasing us around the way Pam Anderson chased Lit," said Jen with an evil grin. "As far as touring goes, we are hoping to cross Canada late spring or early summer. In the meantime, we are creating this cool feature on our website so that people can download clips of us playing live and get a feel for our shows." Check it out at

When asked if The Flairs have had many encounters with celebrity during their tenure in Vancouver, Dawn shared the following: "I saw Kurt Russel in a record store!" When queried as to what CDs he was purchasing, she claimed he was all over the rock section and grabbed quite an armload. Perhaps he purchased some Tuuli or Bif Naked? "Naw, that would just irritate Goldie!" Maybe so, but I bet she would be totally into The Flairs.

The Flairs play Vancouver this coming Thursday, February 6 at The Royal.

- Chart Attack - Trevor Hargreaves

"Shut Up and Drive Review"

The Flairs, 3/4ths female, are an edgy rock and roll band from Vancouver and when listening to their dense rock songs it’s hard not to think of the Donnas. The high energized spunk that radiates through their gritty hair metal influenced cuts is feminized rock and roll at its finest. But calling them a cheap rip off of the Donnas would be completely misleading and downplaying because The Flairs really expand on basic rock. The pop rock touches bust out beneath rough drum patches and the vocals shift from fiery curtness to slick melody enhancers. Punk trickles in for some action too at various times throughout the album.

On the second cut they nail a cover of Skid Row’s “18 and Life.” Ripping guitar and bass riffs really bring out the rough tinted vocals and give them time to shine. All the tracks are plastered with catchy choruses, like any good pop rock album should be. The power chording on “Sorry for Loving You” really taps into abrasive Ramones-like cohesiveness and plays on Bif Naked’s vocal arrangements.

I find the album title so contradicting. They tell you to “Shut Up and Drive,” yet if you really were in a car and popped in this disc, it would be hard to resist the urge to belt out the addictive chants. They throw you a romping rock record and expect you to keep your lips sealed? How dare they? But I guess that’s where irony comes is, and that sense of humor permeates the whole disk.

- Sari Delmar
- Tangible Sounds


Shut Up and Drive (Pacific/Warner/Burnside)
Release Date: June 13th across North America

The Flairs EP - Released November 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Flairs are a 21st century band ready to take the world by storm
with their catchy, hook-laden rock songs harkening back to the days of
'80's hard rock and punk, seasoned with a whole-lotta attitude!

Vancouver based band, The Flairs, created quite the buzz with their 2004 debut
EP, described as being a magical blend of youthful spirit and
undeniable talent by a group determined to unleash their vision on an
unsuspecting public. Those starving for real living, breathing punk-coloured
hard rock with smart pop sensibilities will eat this up for any meal.
The Flairs are on a kick ass mission to rock out even harder with
their new full length CD, 'Shut Up and Drive.' The first single and
video was a spin on Skid Row's "18 & Life", which
received airplay on rock radio stations across North America as well as
rotation on Much Music. Shortly after this, The Flairs embarked on an
intense 14 week summer tour, which took them across Canada, the US,
and impressively, Indonesia! The powerful presence of The Flairs once
again created a big enough buzz on MTV Asia, Indonesiar TV and the
Soundrenaline Festivals, where upwards of a whopping 90,000 people
attended. To date, The Flairs have released 4 other successful
videos from the cd 'Shut up and Drive' including 'Sorry For Lovin'
You', 'Falling Into Pieces', 'Ready to Roll', and most recently,

After virtually growing up in their previous pop/punk band Tuuli, and
opening for bands such as The Donnas, Disturbed and rock legends Cheap
Trick, Dawn Mandarino (vocals and guitar) and Jen Foster (drums and
vocals) decided it was time to form their own band. The Flairs story began in
the summer of 2002 when Dawn and Jen met Bif Naked's guitar slinger,
Gillian Hanna (lead guitar and vocals) as they played North American
outdoor festivals and concerts. All three found common ground, added
Gillian's brother Ryan Hanna (bass), and the band was officially born.
The Flairs attribute their unique sound to their individual
influences. Dawn's love for bands like the Ramones and Garbage, Jen's
ska-influenced punk in the vein of the Dance Hall Crashers, and the
Hanna's passion for heavy guitar rock groups like Metallica, Guns 'N
Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and Led Zeppelin. In the mix they have
created a sound The Flairs can truly hail as their own. The new album is
fast, loud, and extremely addictive, 'Shut Up and Drive' literally
kicks this band up a notch into overdrive and gives us a taste of what
The Flairs music is really about.

Having created such a raw, vibrant buzz across Canada, The Flairs
constant touring regimen has included a successful run with rock
legend David Lee Roth, highly praised performances at three
consecutive Vancouver's New Music West festival, and sold out shows at
Toronto's NXNE and Canadian Music Week. They have also showcased at
New York City's esteemed punk rock venues, Los Angeles' International
Pop Overthrow Festival and headlined the ROCKRGRL Music Conference in
Seattle. Most recently, The Flairs have just returned from their
1st, and very successful 2 week European tour in April 2008. This
took the band to a new level as they traveled across France and
Belgium sharing the stage with punk legends, The Buzzcocks. The Flairs
are a forceful live act that continue to
expand their already rabid fan base with passion, intensity and
a power that can melt faces! The Flairs are definitely a force to be
reckoned with!!