Top

Jon Hanson

jonhansen.jpg

Riverwest is home to old-timers, students and, of course, the artsy riffraff: hipsters, bohemians and musicians. At first glance, Jon Hanson could be pegged as any of those. He sets a meeting at Fuel. He is skinny and wears a band shirt. His hair is artfully disheveled when he pulls off his hat. He carries a Fleshies coffee mug. He is in five bands whose names he carefully writes down. Then, he lists his other hobbies: bicycling, kickball and cooking. First, the music. Hanson began playing the trombone in the fourth grade, got his first guitar at a flea market when he was 12 and took up drums at 16–“I sucked for a really long time.” These days, he likes “punk bands with a punk ideal.” He is a drummer for the Modern Machines, his main band, whose second album, “Taco Blessing,” is coming out in March. He is also in Bear-Proof Suit, Sludgy McStonerpants & the Bongriders (a “stoner rock band, intentionally having a really bad name”), Runesword! (a “Dungeons and Dragons nerd band,”) and has a solo acoustic project, Dingleberry Finn. He recently came back from a two-week Modern Machines tour. “I like that I don’t have to work [when touring],” says Hanson, who works at DTS Images, a printing company, by day. “It really is a vacation: live in a van, shower twice in two weeks, eat out of a can.” His ultimate goal is to live off the music without getting too big. The Modern Machines have played everywhere from basements to Onopa Brewery and Cactus Club. Hanson seems to have a lot of gig stories to tell, but declines to elaborate, besides mentioning with a laugh “that one show where the band played naked.” Hanson also likes to bike, though bicycling is more than a hobby. He doesn’t own a car and rides his bike everywhere from work to shows, even when the weather drops into the single digits. “When I was little, I wanted to get out and do stuff,” says Hanson, who grew up in Richfield and got tired of waiting for rides from his parents. “I came to realize that [bicycling] is practical, good for the environment and it’s free.” It takes less time to bike to work than to take the bus, he insists. A favorite bike ride includes a trip to Farwell Records or the South Side, preferably with a 24-bottle case of returnables strapped to the rack on the back of the bike. “You get people gawking at you,” he happily says. As for biking in the winter, “It’s kind of challenging sometimes,” he admits with a laugh. “I don’t obey too many traffic laws.” Still, he bikes because, “I don’t want to be an old guy too fat and weak to move around.” As for kickball… This brings us to Hanson’s residence in Riverwest. He lives near Kilbourn Park, where he likes to play everyone’s favorite gym game on the baseball diamond. Besides that, Riverwest is convenient, he says. Riverwest has an active music scene, the rent is cheaper and junk shops (where he bought his beloved $40 bike) are aplenty, he says. “I’ve always lived in Milwaukee. It’s a good culture. It’s walking distance. There’s basement shows and a lot of characters.” Lack of a late night food joint aside, he has no complaints about the neighborhood. “To a certain degree it’s like any other city,” Hanson says when asked about the perceived high crime rate. “It’s the price you pay for living in a cool neighborhood.” And finally, cooking. He likes making spicy stuff, he says, and adds that “bean spread should be on hand at all times.” As he prepares to leave, he notes that he is going to make salsa for the Superbowl. But, in the end, the conversation jumps back to music. One of his former bands, Fury of a Thousand Zeuses, once put out an album called “Habanero Enema,” he says. Then Hanson pull on his hat and parka and goes out the door.
jonhansen.jpg