Disco, gangsta rap, vaudeville and klezmer. If there’s a sensible through-line that connects together these myriad musical styles, I’m not aware of it.
But after talking to local musicians Hank Pine and Lily Fawn, I’m not against the suggestion that one could potentially exist. “I have sort of modelled our entire career after Ween,” Pine said of the famously eccentric, gonzo rock duo from Pennsylvania.
“If there’s a band that represents our band, it would be them.”
The once-rootsy Hank and Lily — or H&L, the moniker they have been performing under of late — have taken yet another left turn, a directional shift which has placed them within urban music territory. The group (which got it start as the Whelps, the backing band for local artist David P. Smith) is now nestled somewhere between electro-pop and gangsta rap, complete with robot costumes and joint-busting dance moves.
There is a degree of secrecy surrounding the two group leaders, who both use stage names in their professional capacities. Pine took it one step further a few years back and legally changed his birth certificate to Henry Pine. Fawn is hoping to do the same, though she is leaving the door open for a marriage proposal to accelerate the name change.
She calls Pine her “husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/band guy,” though she would rather not address the issue of their marital status. “We like to say we’re an incestuous brother-sister act.”
The music is played with complete sincerity. With a combined background that includes membership in some of the city’s finest groups, including Daddy’s Hands, Atlas Strategic, Blue Pine and Chet, among others, Pine and Fawn are nothing if not expert performers.
As such, they are capable of playing a range of venues, from Lucky Bar and Logan’s Pub to Soprano’s and the Copper Owl. Crank City, their fifth and latest recording, is being celebrated this week with a performance Friday at Rehab Nightclub.
Where were you born and raised?
Hank: I was born in Victoria. I spent my formative years wandering around cul-de-sacs in Gordon Head.
Lily: I’m a native of Victoria. I never left.
Was there a point where you imagined the city was not for you in the long term?
Hank: From about 17 until 30, I moved around Montreal, Toronto and Seattle. When I came back here, I stayed.
Lily: When I was 12 or 13 I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of here. But those were growing pains. I just needed to move to a different neighbourhood, not out of the town.
What is your favourite thing about Victoria?
Hank: There’s a sensibility to art in this town. Our music and our art and our plays are a little more wacked than they are in other places. That’s something to be proud of, for sure.
Lily: It’s like somebody took a black and white photo and coloured it. It’s gorgeous. The petting zoo has a big place in my heart, and we’re surrounded by water. As soon as I get on the Island, I’m like, “Yay!”
What is your greatest accomplishment as a person/professional?
Hank: I’ve been getting sent pictures of people dressed like me in my costume, that they’ve handmade themselves. It’s one of my favourite things. I don’t know why I find that so satisfying, but I love it.
Lily: One of my greatest accomplishments was getting on stage. I was really shy, but I was comfortable playing drums. Being on stage playing music is probably the best feeling in the world.
First album you purchased?
Hank: I was given a copy of Nirvana’s Bleach, and I hated it. I remember the evolution of hating it, then thinking it was the best sh-- I ever heard.
Lily: Quiet Riot, Mental Health. I was also a big fan of Mini Pops.
Hank: I’ll go with my favourite album right now, and it’s a toss up. GodWeenSatan: The Oneness by Ween, or Silent Shout by the Knife.
Lily: Björk’s first solo album, Debut, made me go bonkers. She said everything right, and I loved her for it.
First concert you attended?
Hank: Metallica and Suicidal Tendencies in 1994 at Vancouver’s Thunderbird Stadium. It wasn’t the first time I got drunk, but it was the first time I got really drunk.
Lily: 7 Year Bitch and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Vancouver. I dyed my hair green, put on my kilt and my big boots and had a really great time. I got pepper- sprayed in the face — it was the best thing ever.
Favourite concert you attended?
Hank: Ween. I have seen them five times, so I would pick one from somewhere in the middle. I saw Marilyn Manson many times. One of those times was amazing.
Lily: The Dirty Three right here in Victoria wase pretty great. Godspeed You! Black Emperor blew my mind.
If you had one motto, or rule to abide by, what would it be?
Hank: We’re entertainers first and foremost. Evenif we’re not feeling it, we’ll go balls-out every single time.
Lily: We have a million of them, and all of them were learned through Carolyn Mark. She basically taught us everything we know. I have one — get out of the bar before the ugly lights come on — but Carolyn didn’t teach me that. That’s my rule.