MEB contributing writer M.J. Rawls caught up with singer/drummer Hanna Brewer of Texas punk rock band, Purple to talk about her start in music, what it means to be a “lady dude”, and Purple’s recording process.
MEB: How did you get into singing and playing drums? I know that you starting singing first and then playing drums came right after?
Hanna Brewer: I just starting playing a little guitar and singing. We had different drummers in our band, but it wasn’t what we really wanted, so I started playing. Then we looked at it like we already wrote all these songs where I was singing, so we have to figure out a way.
MEB: I always wondered how the preparation is with drummers/singers because I could imagine that would be tough doing both keeping in rhythm and singing.
HB: Yeah, it took a while. I would say it took a year until I was really good at it. Now it just comes natural. One of the things I do is jog and try to sing.
MEB: When you were growing up, who were your favorite musicians that got you into music?
HB: I really like Karen O from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. She’s crazy. I listen to a lot more rap than rock. That’s how I practice drums.
MEB: What are some of your favorite rap artists right now?
HB: I know this is going to kinda sound funny, but I like Trina. She’s tough man! Paul Wall, Slim Thug. UGK is really badass.
MEB: I read somewhere that you used to be in a Mormon band…can you explain a little more about that?
HB: There weren’t many musicians where I played. I lived right near the Mormon church right next to the country. All those kids could play instruments. They were just good at everything. Just started hanging out with them. There was this kid who played bass for a jazz band and I was like “Hey, you wanna jam?” Little sister played drums and I played guitar. I don’t know, we wrote a few songs and played covers from The Red Hot Chili Peppers and read sheet music because they did everything by the book. It was cool and a good learning experience.
MEB: From there, how did meet Taylor and Joe from Purple?
HB: Me and my little band went to go check out a band in Beaumont. There I met Taylor who was a guitarist for a reggae band. I had never seen reggae live. I was from the country. I hardly knew who Bob Marley was. I saw Taylor play and was like, “Oh this music is pretty badass, he sings so cool.” I asked him if he wanted to jam with me and we started playing. We had a bass player jam with us for a really long time, but he didn’t like the touring. We put out an ad for a bass player and Joe called us up.
MEB: With 409, it sounds like you guys got into a room and jammed and had fun with that. All the songs have that feeling. Was the recording process that organic?
HB: We wrote those songs over a few years hanging out. We weren’t really taking it seriously until we did a battle of the bands. That’s how we met our producer Chris “Frenchie” Smith. He really helped us a lot with notes. It was a lot of random ideas that we had and he helped us organize everything and making more songs.
MEB: For this album, did you guys record in analog?
HB: When we were in London, we had a few days off on our tour. We went to Toe-Rag studios to get some ideas down. It’s all analog and tape. No computers there at all. That was really weird because you can only do one or two takes and then you’re done.
MEB: Have you guys just finished recording a new album or in the process?
HB: Yes! We actually just finished recording and the album should be out in the fall.
MEB: You guys recorded this with Rich Parker who’s done stuff with Kill Radio and Dandy Warhols. How was the recording process with him?
HB: It was really awesome. He was all about going with the vibe and would be down to record whenever we were ready to record. There was no set schedule. It was kind of like we were hanging out and then a record happened.
MEB: You guys actually announced more tour dates and will be coming around New York which is my neck of the woods at Webster Hall. I know you guys have Summerfest as well. What’s on tap for the rest of 2015?
HB: We are going to do a few more dates in Europe to keep promoting 409. Eventually, later on in the year, we want to promote our second album.
MEB: Are you guys going to play any new songs on this upcoming tour run?
HB: We’ve actually started playing a couple new songs. We usually stick to the 409 set, but we’ve been adding two to three new ones in there.
MEB: Before we go, explain the concept of being a “lady dude”?
HB: I’m always the only girl and guys don’t get how it is being an emotional chick. It’s all about being a woman that can hang with the dudes, you know? It’s a good balance. You don’t want to be too mainly, but you don’t want to be a whiny girl either. That’s what it is to me. It’s about how you live. I guess it effects how I write because I’ll end up writing these tough lyrics and stuff. It’s basically a lifestyle.