Moody, Moog-y Youth: Adam Hanney & Co. Mixes Retro Gear with Synth and Smarts for Perfect Contradiction

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Adam Hanney

Manitoba Music has teamed up with Fresh Radio for a new monthly spotlight on local music, dubbed Manitoba Fresh to introduce audiences to a stellar slate of buzzworthy local artists emerging on the Canadian music scene. Featuring on-air segments and online performances via Fresh Radio, and in-depth band profiles right here on, Manitoba Fresh continues this month with indie rock outfit Adam Hanney & Co. Tune in to 99.1 Fresh Radio and stay tuned for so much more... 

By Jillian Groening

How do you make something that is at the same instant timeless and relevant? This perennial concept was been Adam Hanney’s struggle as he composed his debut LP, 12/12.

Born from the exercise of writing and recording one song each month for a whole year, 12/12 is contemplative while still rocking out, grounded by intent yet wild and upbeat. And the contrasts don’t end there. Recorded at the now-obsolete Gateway Recording Co., a tiny 1970’s suburbia-style bungalow in Winnipeg’s Windsor Park neighbourhood, 12/12 features a vast array of beautiful vintage instruments. Crammed into the wood-panelled basement studio, guitarist and vocalist Hanney along with drummer Mike Dunn and bassist/keyboard player Jordan Cayer had the enviable opportunity of messing around with guitars, amps, keyboards, drums, and pedals dating from the 1950s to modern day.

“It was a hilarious juxtaposition,” Hanney recalls. “This young, low-key house with a constantly rotating cast of amazing vintage instruments. The gaudy space probably had about $100 000 worth of gear in it at any given time.”

Recorded in the volatile time between the ages of 19 and 21, 12/12 captured a point in Hanney’s career where he was growing and changing as both a person and an artist. Produced and mixed by Anthony Cenerini, the album was able to play with Hanney’s fluctuating influences while having the constant of finely-crafted songs, tracks that had been in Hanney’s mind since the fuzzy green beginnings of teen-dom. Having this fluid moment of youth caught on the record allows for the catchy tunes to be young and energetic while still being weighted and aware of itself. 

“We tried not to fall into current trends,” Hanney says. “We used the word 'timeless' a lot in the studio to describe our goals but it’s incredibly hard to balance that with aiming to make a relevant record.”

Well, it seems to have worked. Fuelled by the urge to learn and create, Hanney went into the recording process having an idea of what he wanted the sound to be like and left leaving with a changed view of instrumentation and songwriting. From developing a knowledge of vintage guitars to thinking about frequencies during live sets, Hanney has a deeper understanding of his sonic craft. “It’s changed me as a writer and a performer,” Hanney explains.

The guys, who look like they just stepped out of a retro, sea foam green tour bus with neatly coifed hair and squeaky leather jackets, are building just the right amount of hype en lieu of their big debut. From touring in 2015 to taking part in the Uniter Fiver to playing raucous crowds at Festival du Voyageur, Hanney and the band know a thing or two about timing. Having released their very first recordings on cassette tape, the group was able to get their synth-y hits into car stereos across the city. Treating it like a super-cool business card, Hanney & Co. let the pocket-size introduction serve as hype for future projects and shows.

The release for 12/12 will be held at The Good Will on March 3 and will have local indie group Heartbeat City and up-and-comers Paisley. Following the album release, the nerd-rock group is booked to play a showcase at Canadian Music Week in Toronto with a tour across the country coming up next.

Wherever the new record takes Adam Hanney & Co., one thing is certain. The ephemeral empowerment involved in performing and in listening will forever be timeless and relevant.

“My love of making music comes from the idea of creating something out of nothing,” Hanney explains. “One moment it doesn't exist and the next moment it does. It’s a pretty remarkable thing.”

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