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Culture Shock

No Frequency Exclusive Interview with Mike Hansen of Pentimento

With the Oct. 22 release of Inside the Sea EP, Buffalo's Pentimento has been touring relentlessly in efforts to raise awareness of their sound and of their words. As one of the most promising up-and-coming bands in the punk scene, the quartet has been turning heads with their relatable lyrics, merciless live shows, and comedic relief of their social media usage.

Here is a music video for "Almost Atlantic," off of their first full-length release, Pentimento:

Mike Hansen, the drummer, lyricist, and background vocalist of the band was able to take some time and answer some of my questions that I asked him about what it is like to be in a nationally touring band, among other things about the band.

TJ - As a band that has been blowing up pretty quickly in your scene, you guys have been on a handful of supporting slots in recent tours (Less Than Jake, Real Friends, Reggie and the Full Effect). Are there any plans for a headlining tour coming up?

Mike - We've definitely talked about it, but we're not sure if the time is right just yet. Truthfully, we're still an extremely small band - and I'm not sure we're at the point where a headliner would make sense yet. We'd like to dedicate our time on the road to as many solid support slots as we can land. But it's not entirely out of the question.

TJ - A very striking feature of the band is the amount of honesty and passion that you put into the lyrics. Who does the majority of the songwriting, and how difficult is it to come up with these lyrics that so many of your listeners connect to?

Mike - Thank you so very much. So far, I've written all the lyrics on our releases. It's something I put a lot of effort into, because I believe that the message of the song is what carries the entire band. The point of putting words on a page (for myself at least) is to try and achieve a moment of clarity, or to be as honest as possible, even if only for a moment, in a way that may not be possible for me otherwise. As far as the difficulty goes, that's hard to say. Some songs take months to feel complete, others are out in 10 minutes, others simply never feel right. It's all about getting to a place where you can be totally transparent with yourself, and that alone will carry over to those who are kind enough to listen. If you're telling the truth, people will pick up on it. Part of the craft that I try to apply to my writing style is saying things in a way that can be applied to any situation, or any person at any given time. It's a line you have to walk between making an actual point and just being vague. It's important to me to try and connect with others and share the thoughts or feelings I have because I believe that's what being human is all about.

TJ - Another question about songwriting, what do the songs do for you as individuals? In other words, how do the words make you feel, and do the songs have an almost healing power for you guys?

Mike - They're all very cathartic for us as individuals. We all have to believe in it in order to put it on a record, or go on stage and play the songs every night for however many weeks at a time on tour. It's very important that we all connect in our own ways personally to these songs just as well.

TJ - For social media, you guys are one of the hardest working bands and most dedicated to your fanbase. You almost always respond to everyone that talks to you guys on Twitter. How difficult has that become to keep up with, and what kind of satisfaction do you guys get out of it?

Mike - As the band grows, it becomes more to keep up with. But by the same time, it literally takes no time in the grand scheme of things to spend a little while responding or joking around to the people who are cool enough to give us the time of day. It's literally the very least we could do. People really appreciate us making the effort, and what we get out of it is the satisfaction of knowing that we have one more avenue to meet and talk to people who care about us. Building those relationships is great because it translates very well organically - which we feel is the best way to push the band forward. Every night, kids come up to us and talk about our interactions with them on social media. It may seem silly, but what it means is that they came to the show. That's why it's so fulfilling. It ends up meaning that one more person shows up in support of Pentimento, and even though it may be because of twitter or tumblr or whatever, the point is that they're there - and now we've made a real human connection that transcends how bullshit social media platforms can be.

TJ - Your most recent EP Inside the Sea contains four of the best songs that you guys have written. Stylistically, though, it wasn't much different from your self-titled release. Are there any plans to record in the near future, and if so, are you guys going to try to evolve and mess around with your sound?

Mike - Glad you think so! That's tough to say. We are still working to find our sound as a band. It's important for us to maintain the things we really enjoy about the band while at the same time improving on the things that we feel we could do better. Hopefully the next batch of songs shows a progression while still staying true to the style we've worked to come up with.

TJ - I promised that I would talk to you guys about Waffle House. There is an evident sense of humor in the band from your Twitter page along with interviews and other videos online. Is that sense of humor something you all share and bond with?

Mike - Of course. None of us take ourselves very seriously at all. Having fun is what this is all about at the end of the day.

TJ - You guys were recently announced to be playing Bled Fest in Howell, MI this summer. After having to drop from the show last summer due to the Less Than Jake tour, how do you plan to make it up to everyone that was hoping to see you last year?

Mike - We actually had to drop because of a short run we got to take with Boysetsfire and No Trigger, which was incredible. Those bands influenced me a ton and still do to this day. It feels so great to get back and play Bled Fest after having to miss it last year. The first year we got to play, the atmosphere was unreal. This year's line up is the coolest that it's ever been - so there's no doubt that it's gonna be amazing.

TJ - The band has had some issues in the past with different record labels fighting over you guys. Despite the romantic triangle that has formed, has everything been resolved, and do you have any future plans with Paper + Plastick, or any other labels?

Mike - All that stuff was just part of the learning process when growing up as a band. It's far behind us now. Right now, we're working with P+P on a repress of our self titled LP, and soon another pressing of Inside The Sea.

TJ - As one of the hardest-working bands in the pop-punk/punk/emo scene right now, do you have any advice to smaller bands that strive to reach the level that you guys have reached?

Mike - All you need is three chords and the truth.

TJ - And beyond that, what do you guys strive for? Either as a whole band, or as individuals, or both.

Mike - We strive to make the human experience something special. Life is a beautiful thing if you let it be. We do our best to never stop working on ourselves and allowing that to translate to how we treat the experience of the band. It affords us the chance to keep it real, appreciate every moment of our opportunity, and do whatever it is we do to the best of our ability. We have no illusions about who we are or the size of our band or anything like that. We're just here to give back to the community or scene and all the people inside of it who have done so much for us over the years by teaching and influencing us on what it means to be a human being.


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