With Doug Hoyer
Thursday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m.
Dinwoodie Lounge (SUB)
$22.75 at primeboxoffice.com
Christian Hansen is returning to where it all began, though things have definitely changed for the man and his band since their Edmonton beginnings.
After relocating to Toronto, dropping “The Autistics” from their name and recruiting two new members, Hansen is the first to admit the band has seen a whirlwind of changes over the last two years. But as a U of A Bachelor of Fine Arts alumni, he says that returning to former stomping grounds in Edmonton like the U of A allows the band to take a nostalgic look back on where they used to be before all the upheaval.
“The U of A is where Molly (Flood) and I met. That’s where we really discovered who we were as people,” Hansen reminisces. “Getting the drama and theatre training that teaches you to follow your impulses and not question yourself — that’s definitely why The Autistics even happened.
“It holds a special spot in our hearts as the place where everything started.”
Edmonton is where the band first gained widespread attention for their signature dance sound, though even that has changed now. C’Mon Arizona, Hansen’s second full-length studio album since 2009’s Power Leopard, sees Christian Hansen’s signature synth-pop — a fixture on their first album — take a back seat in favour of more simplified, traditional rock. The change of sound wasn’t a conscious decision according to Hansen, but rather a combination of life events and personal preferences.
“Something inside of me just changed,” Hansen says of the band’s different sound. “I hadn’t really sat down and written stuff on guitar for years, and then I got the urge to just start playing guitar again.”
“Growing up in my teenage years, I listened to a lot of rock and punk, so I think that stuff is coming home to roost right now. That’s where that came from; it just kind of crept in there and the dance stuff just kind of crept out.”
While their new sound is a departure from their old work, C’mon Arizona’s eclectic, often dark subject matter is true to the Christian Hansen style. Relationships, death, cults, drug addictions and miscarriages are just some of the topics explored on the new album — a handful of which are drawn from Hansen’s own personal experiences and interests. But despite the sometimes grim lyrics, Hansen presents the difficult themes of his songs with upbeat tempos and danceable rhythms, giving the perfect amount of contrast.
“It’s not a rule, but you want the lyrics to be really interesting. And for me, the most interesting lyrics usually deal with some kind of pain or conflict. But then if the whole song is dreary, it’s kind of boring,” Hansen explains. “This is kind of cheesy, but for every dark side, there’s a light side. Each song for me is kind of like a snapshot — an encapsulation of life.”
One of the biggest changes to affect Hansen is the recent move he made to Toronto with Molly Flood, his bandmate and wife. Although Christian Hansen is something of a household name in Edmonton, he admits building a name for his band in the considerably larger Toronto music scene has been a challenge.
“It’s like night and day in terms of playing. But the difference is that we’re building our fanbase (in Toronto) — we’re still really, really new,” Hansen says. “A couple of weekends ago, we played a show and there were 25 people there — which is fine. We knew things were going to be like that when we came down here, but it toughens you up a little bit. And we don’t take anything for granted, but being in this position makes us realize how lucky we’ve been and how important supporting local music is no matter where you are.”
But despite the difficulty of uprooting and moving across Canada while simultaneously trying to make a name for the band, Christian Hansen hasn’t let it affect their live performances. Hansen maintains that the band’s top priority is maintaining their name as high-energy performers — After all, the audience can’t have fun unless the people onstage are fostering the right environment for it.
“That’s something that we would always say in The Autistics. If we give 150 per cent, then hopefully the audience will be at 80 per cent,” Hansen explains.
“We set the bar. We get onstage and say, ‘This is what it’s going to be. If you want to come with us, that’s awesome.’ ”
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