This article was first published by Monday Magazine.
If anomaly ever became incarnate as a musical duo, it would look a lot like Hank Pine and Lily Fawn. For the past decade, Hank and Lily have created a multifarious and elaborate mythology with their albums, comic books, and stage shows. Theirs is a world busting at the seams with deer women, outlaws, ladycops, weasels and yes, David Hasselhoff himself: Hank and Lily are vast, they contain multitudes.
Stylistically, Hank and Lily’s music betrays their eclectic musical tastes. Their albums, seven in all, cover an immense expanse of our modern musical landscape from familiar radio friendly pop hits to the dusty, cobwebbed covered corners of the avant-garde. Sometimes, this dynamic duo even wanders into previously un-tread territory, challenging the Preacher’s notion that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’. Hank and Lily revolve around a star of their own devise, and this is the time for their strange star to rise.
On a realistic plane, Hank and Lily first met when they were both recruited to play in local legend David P, Smith’s backup band. As Pine explains, their meeting made a profound impact on his own mortal soul:
“So, we played in David P.’s back up band: we were called ‘The Whelps’. I played cello, Lily played saw and drums; that’s how we met. David P. Smith is kinda like our musical godfather. He brought Lily and I together. Before that, Lily was really new to playing music; she’d played with Blue Pine, which was Carey Mercer’s first band…but she was still learning. When we stopped playing music with David P. I got blood poisoning. I was unconscious for two weeks and when I finally came to, my only thought was that I needed to start a band with Lily. It’s turned into a ten year musical odyssey.”
The mythological counterpart to Hank and Lily’s fateful crossing of paths also happens within the context of tragedy. In the comic books, we first meet Hank, who carries the body of his deceased girlfriend across the plains, desperately trying to reach New Orleans, the under-sea-(level)-city where he plans to lay her to rest. As Lily explains, the mythic meeting is an encounter, most fortuitous.
“The beginning of this story launches a larger story-arc. Hank’s trying to bury his girlfriend, and I am trying to find my mom: we’re both heading toward New Orleans, an imagined city (neither have previously been there, after all) unites us. Every one of our albums, up to this point, represents a story along the long road to New Orleans. We plan to tie the big story up two albums from now ‘cuz we went to New Orleans last year and all our dreams came true… when it’s done, we’ll move to other things…”
The most recent installment of the Hank and Lily’s story, “Crank City”, borrows its name from a city which inhabits an entirely different time and space, “Crank City” is Hank and Lily’s most radical departure to date, straddling genres as diverse as pop music, in its most sugary form, to a breed of hip hop which rivals Tribe Called Quest in terms of authentic danceability. Hank and Lily pull it off: they own sugar and they own hip hop. They are the only band I’d compare to Christina Aguilera, Wu-Tang Clan…. and Hank Williams. Listen to Crank City, read the comic and you will understand, in more ways than one.