To say Hanni El Khatib is a throwback will not do him justice. Hanni El Khatib is a San Francisco cat that has been making his moves under the perpetual radar and now has been picked up and ready to transmit his rock-n-roll-soul music to anyone that can respect a good knife fight and a cold beer. It would be easy to say that Hanni is carrying on the tradition of rockabilly but like I said it wouldn’t do any justice to the slick sounds that are emitting from his guitar and cadence. There’s a kind of energy that builds up in you listening to some of his tracks, the kind that makes you either want to fuck someone up that needs to be fucked up or the kind of energy that drives you to kick it to that fine honey everyone else is scared of…
You’re being compared to a lot of old school styles, but the thing is right now in music there aren’t many cats that are doing what you do. How do you keep your sound distinctive from what you’re being compared to?
I try not to be bound completely to what inspires me. I take certain aspects of things that I like and try to blend them all together and make something that feels fresh and current to me somehow. And if the essence of a past era makes its way into my sound, then so be it. I love the way music sounded back then, there was a certain soul in it that’s just undeniable.
In the same vein, who/what were the musical influences that gave you the drive to do what you do?
I like a lot of music, everyone from Sam Cooke to The Sonics to Danzig. For me, it’s about playing live music and personal life experiences that drive me to write and record songs.
You grew up in a Palestinian & Filipino household, and are the first American born in your family – I’m first generation born in (North) America also, what was it like growing up in a multi-cultural household and embracing American culture for you?
Yeah, I’m the first American born on my side of the family. My parents met in San Francisco and that’s where I was born and raised. Since they both came from different cultures, we became an English speaking household. I think my parents were trying to embrace the American culture and in the process they raised me in that manner too. I had a pretty normal childhood. I grew skateboarding and watching cartoons.
Time and time again, artists have changed their birth name(s) to pursue their careers – assuming you haven’t – keeping your Arabic name is a bold statement in many senses, especially in today’s state of affairs. Can you talk a little about that decision?
I mean, it wasn’t a thought out decision at all. I had written and recorded all this music (w/ some help from my friend, Marc Bianchi in the studio) and when it was all said and done, the recorded stuff was more of a solo project then a band thing. So I ended up just going with my name instead of coming up with some sort of an alias.
Tell us a little about the album, what can we look forward to?
The album is called “Will The Guns Come Out”. It has a pretty varied sound from song to song, but I guess it’s all strung together by similar themes and concepts. There’s this underlying tension that seems to run through the record which I guess helps give the record it’s vibe. I was kind of experimenting with recording during that time, so I was constantly trying different things during the process. I’m stoked on how it turned out.
Finally what do you currently have on rotation in the music department?
I guess I don’t have much new new music that I’m listening to right now, but you can always count The Cramps, The Shirelles, Black Sabbath, and a new favorite Don Cavalli.
Check for Hanni here