Ah, man. You may've already heard, but Lance Hahn, longtime fixture on the pop-punk scene both in Austin and San Francisco, passed away this past Sunday after a long string of health problems. Hahn was one of those people who always made/make me feel inadequate just by the sheer amount of cool stuff they managed to fit into their day -- he was best known for the excellent J Church, but he also fronted Cringer and played solo as Cilantro, ran the Honey Bear Records label, wrote a ton of stuff for various zines, published his own zine, and was reportedly working on a book about anarchist punk bands when he died. phew. I can barely review a fuckin' CD a day, seriously; I feel like a big ol' loser by comparison.
I never met the guy, unfortunately, but he'd become something of a fixture in my life over the past few years. I've listened to J Church off and on since college ("Imaginary Friends," in particular, off One Mississippi, is a fine, fine track, and one that I've even subjected my wife to via a mix CD), and they are/were a great, smart band -- Hahn was one of the most genuinely bright punk songwriters I've ever run across, peppering his songs with literary references and cogent introspective bits -- but I have to admit that Honey Bear's why I'll remember him most.
We get a lot of CDs here at SCR HQ. Not as many as you might think, no, but enough to cover my desk and then some. We get about ten times that many emails from PR people, record labels, bands, and random weirdos; apologies if you've written & we didn't respond, but dangit, sometimes the Inbox just swallows us whole. So, given that, we end up just glancing at & then shuffling aside about 70% of the emails we get -- we have to do that, honestly, because there's just not enough space or time to cover everybody people tell us about. And after a while, we've gotten to know some of the label/PR folks, in particular, mostly in a strictly-online way and often just by reading what they send us. (Brian from Guerilla PR, for one, writes these long, involved emails that make me wonder how he gets anything else done in his day; keep 'em coming, yo...)
The emails we'd get in from Honey Bear, though (all penned by Lance), were something else. The first time I read through one, I distinctly remember thinking, "okay, who the fuck is this guy, and why do I give a shit about all this crap?" Unlike most label folk, Lance wasn't content just to say, "hey, here's our new records -- buy them! review them!" Instead, he'd briefly mention what was going on in the myriad worlds of J Church, Honey Bear, and then he'd go on to talk about movies he'd seen, books he'd read, and CDs/bands he'd heard, or ramble about Rolling Stones comps or assholes on airplanes. And it was pretty much always entertaining.
It got to the point, believe it or not, where I'd look forward to getting the next installment of what was essentially Lance's life. Despite never having met the guy, I've followed his life & the downward spiral of illness to which he's finally succumbed for the better part of five years. And damn, he had a lot to cope with -- in addition to all the band stuff and health stuff and whatnot, the label took what could've been a K.O. when Lance's apartment burned, wiping out tons of Honey Bear/J Church/etc. releases, vaporizing all his masters, and destroying most of his personal stuff, besides.
Anyway, I'm getting off the point (yeah, like that never happens), which is that it's a horrible, tragic thing that Lance is gone. More than that, it's a tragedy that he'll never know the impact his life and music and writing had on all the distant observers like yours truly, the people who weren't friends or anything but who loved what he was doing nonetheless. I'm not posting to say, "dude, I frickin' knew that guy!," 'cause I didn't. I'm just trying to say that even never having met Lance in person, I feel like a chunk's missing from at least the "digital" side of my life.
My heart goes out to all the folks who were close to Lance; I'm not big on the religion thing, but I think being friends with somebody like him is definitely a blessing. Maybe people who burn that brightly can't help but burn out sooner than the rest of us.
END NOTE: While Lance is gone, there's still a large pile of medical bills left to pay. If you're so inclined, you can donate $$$ to help with the bills and/or pay for a memorial service at the Website of his old day job, Vulcan Video.
(Big "thanks," by the way, to the Hands Up board for breaking the news...)
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