Haniwa is an indie rock band from Oklahoma City, OK. The band recently released their self-titled debut album via BandCamp.
This interview was conducted via email December 9-24, 2014.
For more information on Haniwa please check out their BandCamp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Last.fm pages.
Dave: How did the band get together?
Shawn: I grew up with Tyco and he grew up with Dylan so I knew Dylan, but we really didn’t meet until we became “grown-ups”. We all knew that each other played music. Tyco had played in a band with Dylan for a while and I had played in a few bands with Tyco when we were younger. My name must have come up and I went to jam with them at Tyco’s apartment. We played a bare bones version of what would later become Archipelago with a guitar, a keyboard, and a uke. A few months down the line we start writing and practicing together with Dylan and Tyco as well as Shirley and Allan.
Dylan: What Shawn said basically. Allan, Tyco, and I were in a band called La Folle for a couple of years prior to Haniwa. Shawn, Tyco, and I spent some time after La Folle ended drinking Sangria and playing music into the late hours. I knew at that point that I wanted to be in a band with Shawn. Also, Allan Pellegrin was with us for a long time but decided to relocate his life to New Mexico. Although we don't play together anymore we're still great friends and keep in touch.
Dave: What’s the story behind the name Haniwa?
Dylan: Our band went without a name for quite some time in the early days. Eventually, as we started getting more and more serious, we decided that we should just keep it democratic and vote on our favorite names. I presented the name Haniwa, which are old Japanese terracotta sculptures that were buried with the dead. I've always found our music to be pretty and strange on the outside with undertones of darkness and moroseness, In that way I thought "Haniwa" was a good conceptual fit.
Shawn: So a “Haniwa” is a statue from Japanese antiquity that was used at funerals. They look like un-glazed clay and have large black circles for their eyes and mouth. We got the name by everyone suggesting a name, then we all voted.
Dave: For those who have never heard the band, how do you describe your music?
Shirley: Honest and unique.
Dylan: It's moody alt rock with computers.
Shawn: A bit of salt and a lot of love.
Dave: You recently released your self-titled full-length debut. What's the story behind the record? Why did you decide to go the self-release route instead of working with a traditional record label?
Shirley: Because we had enough experience between the four/five of us to do it on our own. We also enjoy creative control.
Dylan: Just to add on to what Shirley said, we didn't want to compromise what we believed to be a good thing. You know what they say about too many cooks-
Dave: Do you have plans to tour in support of the new record? What are some of your favorite places to play?
Shirley: We would love to tour! Our next step is to start expanding into surrounding states.
Dylan: Favorite places to play currently- probably the 51st street Speakeasy and Back Alley Gallery.
Shawn: I have loved everywhere we have played, my two favorite shows so far have been at The Speakeasy and The Back Alley Gallery.
Dave: Do you have any specific type of songwriting process?
Dylan: We're extremely democratic. Generally someone will come up with a skeleton of a song and we all get our hands on it and it turns into something were all proud of. I think because of how collaborative our creative process is we all feel a sense of ownership over each song.
Dave: What are your thoughts on the music scene in Oklahoma?
Shirley: Oklahoma’s art culture is in the middle of a growth spurt. It’s a wonderful place for any type of artist! You can find your niche and your people, no matter what you’re in to or what you create. That being said, I feel like the new kid in class, still trying to find who you sit with at lunch. Will anyone play with me at recess? Who’s going to laugh at my jokes?
Dave: This is a High Fidelity inspired question. What are your top five favorite bands, albums, movies, television programs, books/authors?
All: Radiohead - In Rainbows
Tyco: Grizzly Bear - Yellow House
Dylan: The Notwist - Neon Golden
Shawn: Boris - Smile
Shirley: Wild Nothing - Gemini
Shirley: Moulin Rouge
Count of Monty Cristo
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Shawn: La Haine
Shirley: 30 Rock
Will and Grace
Shawn: Brooklyn 99
Dylan: The Wire
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Dylan: Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughter House V
Frank Herbert - Dune
Jonathan Safran Foer - Everything Is Illuminated
Craig Thompson - Blankets
Alan Moore - Watchmen
Shawn: Murakami - After Dark
Camus - L’étranger
William Gibson - Neuromancer
Dave: What’s next for the band?
Shirley: We haven’t stopped writing since we met each other, and we are almost done writing the next album. It’s very science inspired and explores so many different fields - I love it! So, that’s something we’re looking forward to next.
Dave: Any final thoughts?
Tyco: Electro pop lock and drop it, Haniwa brings exciting melodies and intriguing lyrics into a harmonious broth, which will not soon spoil. These young upstarts have landed blow after blow on the permanently worn face of the music world, Mike Tyson would envy the belly-fire shown here. To further emphasize the unique characteristics presented by Haniwa we must consider the content, with a terminally ill drummer Haniwa have carved quite the groove sporting only a robot beat box and 4 gifted youngsters.
Oklahoma City has been pulsating and writhing at it's music cultures core long enough, it's time to burst forth the new alien breed and destroy Sigourney Weaver once and for all.