Our pal Anna Leocha over at HUM JOURNAL did an in-depth interview with friend of the Hassle and mind-blowing force of the Boston underground arts scene SIMON HANES. Known for bringing a compelling aggression to his instrument (and occasionally his own body) in GUERILLA TOSS, Simon also explores the repressed in a multitude of other projects. From the surf-rock trips of TSONS OF TSUNAMI to his one-man performances as COMBMAN, the dude is always pushing himself and his audiences.
Recently Simon has been leading a 13 piece group of very talented, young musicians from the Boston area through the powdered blue, paisley covered and blood-stained shmaltz and shmooze of Italian pop composing under the moniker TREDICI BACCI. Our Burlington buds NNA TAPES put out the first TREDICI BACCI release this year, ‘The Thirteen Kisses Cassette,’ and the group will be taking the stage (fake mustaches and all!) on Friday at the Great Scott. Below is an excerpt from Anna and Simon’s conversation.
HUM JOURNAL: What is Tsons of Tsunami?
SIMON HANES: Well, Tsons of Tsunami is the part of me that grew up listening to rock and roll where it’s all about flaming guitar solos and stuff. I get to fill this role in that band of being the person who plays all of the melodies. I get to play as loud and as ugly as I want. The songs are all these funny, stupid surf songs. That is kind of an egotistical one. It’s all about being macho and being silly. The guitar is kind of a macho thing. I don’t really subscribe to the belief that all guitar has to be macho but that is definitely like a weird, macho, rock and roll band.
HJ: What about Simon Says Smut?
SH: That’s just about being a pervert.
HJ: Okay, good. That’s done. What about Combman?
SH: Combman is also about being a pervert. Combman is a highly repressed freak who has one obsession. It’s a representation of the part of me that is kind of obsessive. About girls. Mostly about being obsessive about women.
HJ: So, you’re a hair man.
SH: Is that a thing? A hair guy?
HJ: Some guys are boob guys.
SH: Yeah, but that’s different because boobs are kind of erogenous zones. But hair is not really like: “Wow! Look at that girl’s hair!” Oh, well, actually, when I put it that way… The Combman thing, it’s basic. He’s obsessed with hair and he’s made of combs. It’s about trying to exercise some obsessive qualities and also the feeling of not being able to interact with people in a way that’s right or it’s about feeling socially weird or hopeless. But mostly just the obsessive thing.
HJ: And Tredici Bacci?
SH: Tredici Bacci is …. I wish I was in my 20s in the 70s. I wish I had existed then. I think I would have done a better job at existing. Based on the movies that I watch, you know? It seems like the 60s was this period of sexual liberation and kind of what happened was that in the 70s people realized that they could capitalize on the fact that women’s sexuality had been liberated. People were much more open about things. It seems like it was a lot easier to be a sleaze ball in the 70s than it is now. And again, growing up a man, you get to make a choice about how sleazy you want to be. We know that it’s wrong to be sleazy but still there’s something that is so attractive about that idea of being this gross, overdone, over-the-top, deep-voiced, very sexy — just like Serge Gainsbourg.
HJ: But you don’t want to be this way in your real life? You perform these characters?
SH: Exactly. I mean, I don’t think that I am. I don’t think I am that way in my life.
HJ: So, you’re kind of an actor? Or a performance artist?
SH: Yeah. It’s just a role. It’s just a fun idea. To be mad Freudian, Luxardo [the character Simon plays in Tredici Bacci] doesn’t have any problems talking to women. He doesn’t have any self esteem issues. He knows he’s a fucking badass and it doesn’t matter. He’s interested in what he’s interested in. And, uh, that’s a nice thing to do.
HJ: What inspired Tredici Bacci?
SH: It’s about a couple of things. The short and sincere answer is that there is a sort of moment in Italian film in the late 60s, 70s, early 80s where just everything about these certain movies that would come out had all the qualities that for some reason I am interested in or inspired by. I think it comes from a juvenile boy place. These movies are full of nudity, and violence, and bad dialogue. When I watch Italian Giallo movies – Giallo is an Italian genre of slasher movie – there’s some bad guy who is killing a bunch of people, usually he is killing women. He waits ‘till girls get naked in their rooms and he kills them in violent ways, usually mysterious ways, and then some girl or guy has to figure it out. Scenes happen in fashion places, fashion photography places, high class clothing stores, galleries, all these schmaltzy places. I watch these movies and always, the thing that gives me the ultimate boner is always the set and the colors. It’s always secondary to what’s going on in the movies. It’s just unbelievable. Everything is garish, and bright, and colorful, over the top, schmaltzy, weird. For some reason – I don’t know why – I identify with that on a kind of stomach level. That’s kind of the sincere answer.
HJ: Do you think your Tredici Bacci music is some sort of materialization of that visual world?
SH: Yeah, totally. Really, the only things that are important in those movies are the music and the sets. Just from a musical perspective, the music has always spoken to me because it doesn’t sound like music that came before it or music that has come after it. Ennio Morricone… arguably one of the greatest composers of all time…a guy who wrote a lot of Giallo film scores and also those spaghetti westerns and stuff…His music doesn’t sound like a lot of other music to me. It’s pop music on a certain level but it also has roots in a lot of avant-garde classical music. It’s very evocative. It’s very sexy. For whatever reason, the first Ennio Morricone music I ever heard, I sort of latched onto it. I was like: “Oh! This is really fuckin’ awesome!”
Don’t miss your opportunity to catch some smooth compositions from TREDICI BACCI this Friday at the Great Scott!