Photos courtesy of the J-Church website
Lance and Dave at the final show of the original Cringer lineup in 1986
Lance Hahn played in a few Hawaii punk bands in the 80s, including Scarred For Life, Hypo-Depression, Fuckher, and Cringer. One of the earliest outfits he was in was a New Wave cover band with classmates from Kamehameha Highschool in the early 80s. Around 1984, he hooked up with Ed and Rich Tarantino, two brothers who had been part of the San Francisco Bay Area punk scene and who were running a record store called "Thrash and Scratch" selling mostly early American hardcore vinyl out of the trunk of their car. Lance had been listening to the Clash, Crass, and hardcore stuff, as well as heavy metal and rock and roll, all of which could be heard in his guitar playing. He was recruited to replace the guitar player for the Tarantinos' band Scarred For Life. When this line up of SFL split up, Lance recruited Dave, Gardner, and Ed to form a band. They had all known each other from earlier gigs which was not surprising given that the core of the Hawaii scene was a couple of hundred people at most in 1985. The band was dubbed "Cringer" which was Dave's fault as he was more into He Man and the Masters of the Universe than Anarchism or Maximum Rock and Roll at the time. Maybe the fact that they were practicing at Dave's parents' house made Lance hesitant to challenge the idea, which he would be stuck with for years to come.
Lance had already made a lot of pen pals and connections with punks in the MRR scene and people and bands all over the world while he was still in Hawaii. In 1986 he moved to L.A. where a portion of the Hawaii scene had relocated. The AOK tape release label, which Lance had started with a handful of Hawaii punks like Francis Sippin of Free Will, and the Kroll brothers who went on to international success with Chokebore, now began putting out tapes from bands who were in contact with Lance as pen pals. These were truly international compilations, reflecting Lance's internationalist world view, which would soon become materially realized through touring Europe, Japan, the states, and elsewhere. He also kept putting out the zine version of AOK with the Hawaii crew in L.A. for a while. (The first two issues out of Hawaii can be read on this site.)
Lance's interest in activism and revolutionary politics have always been a major part of who he is. In Hawaii, he had been active with anti-military/anti-war activities in and around the RCP, although never a member of that group. Once in L.A., he worked for the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. This was the high point of the anti-nuclear movement in the mid 80s, and the group also lobbied and educated against Contra-aid, Reagan's death squad policy for Nicaragua. But niether of those groups really embody what Lance's more anarchist/Situationist based politics became.
He moved Cringer up to San Francisco by the late 80s, which was perfect because he was now closer to both Maximum Rock and Roll, for which he had become a "shitworker", and to Gilman Street Warehouse. The Bay Area Anarchist punk scene was exploding, much of the activity centering around Tim Yohanan's MRR. At this time Lance had taken over the vocal duties from Gardner who was now concentrating on bass. Derek Imose, from Hawaii was playing drums. Lance was now singing his own lyrics, bringing a much more personal delivery of his mix of political, personal, and sometimes impressionistic songs.
A while later, the third classic Cringer line up formed, with Kamala on drums, Harry on guitar, Lance on guitar and vocals, and Gardner on bass and occasional lead vocals. This is the line up that toured with Citizen Fish which was a major break through for the band. As Lance's connections and friendships mounted, Cringer was seemingly putting out a new 7" split, cd, or vinyl every other week. Lance's music picks were now appearing in the front section of MRR.
Lance has always read voraciously and his songs and album graphics frequently reflected his readings on anarchism, Situationist theory, feminism, anti-racism, class struggle, and generally the "revolution of every day life". The politics and music were and are inseparable, and the networks of zines, indy labels, venues, and people are part of a larger phenomenon of mutual aid and the DIY Do it yourself ethic that the hardcore scene of the 80s had embodied, as had many art, literature, music, and social movements before it. It is also often just people having fun and expressing themselves, with varying types and degrees of political consciousness being articulated.
Cringer was disbanded to dump the back catalog for live shows and make way for J-Church which was marked off from Cringer sonically, mainly by the more professional sounding drums. By the turn of the twenty first century, Gardner Pope, Lance's long time band mate had dropped out, perhaps marking some sort of milestone in that there were no more musicians who were tied to the Hawaii scene, or to Cringer which Lance had left home with.
A look at the J-Church website shows that Lance has ammassed a body of interesting writing on punk, movies, politics, and more, never in a stuffy academic vein. As of November 2005 Lance is working on the last chapters for his book _Let the Tribe Increase_which will be a history of "the UK anarcho punk scene from the late `70s to the end of the `80s" and should have some stuff on the US scene and elswhere. He's been featured in John Moritsugu's film "Scumrock", in the book _The Philosphy of Punk_, as a regular contributor to Maximum Rock and Roll, and even did a stint as the guitar player for Beck. He has also been putting out records and cds on his Honeybear record label.
J-Church Lance and Gardner ---mid 90s?
This page created 11/28/05