Interview with Mike Hansen of Pentimento

Posted: by Sean Gonzalez

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Pentimento is one of the best upcoming bands currently fighting wading through the sea of punk/indie acts. Not only do they provide honesty in their music, but the group is known for their transparency in interacting with their fans. They have had quite the ride in terms of being a band, having label issues and other things that plagued their past. Here we are now, on the verge of their outstanding new album I, No Longer being released to the public. The Alternative had the opportunity to chat with Mike, the drummer, of the Buffalo quartet. 

Pentimento, welcome to The Alternative, so stoked to have the opportunity for this, how are you?

Doing well, brother! Getting ready to leave for tour with Better Off, A Will Away, and Caleb & Carolyn tomorrow. It’s been a busy little while. 

Congratulations on the new album, I, No Longer, with only a few weeks left before release, what are you feeling?

Thanks dude! Honestly – while this answer seems entirely too obvious, the truth is that we’re all pretty scared. We are heavily relying on this record to help us push forward as a band. It’s a wild thing to think that this piece of art that we’ve worked on for over a year could be the thing that makes or breaks our band. Puts you beside yourself sometimes. At this point, i personally have been doing my best to take it all in stride and appreciate the fact that we even have a record to put out at all. The response has been awesome. Fingers crossed it’ll help us grow. That’s all we’re hoping for.

As a fan since the first EP, there’s no doubt that as a band you have grown sonically. Did the process for finding brighter melodies or stronger dynamics just come naturally? Especially in writing a song like ‘Got My Answer.’

The more I carry on as a “songwriter”, the more things I learn along the way – so that makes the water a little muddy for me when thinking about whether something is natural, or is a product of the tools you’ve picked up along the way – shaping your more crude ideas into things that are worth sharing with the world. The question ends up being – does picking up things along the way mean the end result comes out naturally? Who knows. I would like to imagine it’s a very organic process. But at the end of the day – while I am consciously working toward learning things about songwriting like melody, dynamics, vocal syncopation, harmony, etc etc etc. – I am also consciously working at opening myself up and being as honest as I can when I put pen to paper – because it has to be REAL first. Someone told me once that songwriting is like decorating a new house. You can put any kind of furniture in it that you’d like, but there has to be steel in the structure. I like to stick to that. 

It’s no secret that water is a big piece of imagery in your lyrics, can you shed some light on how you can keep finding comfort or even distress in it over and over? 

It’s a tough thing to quantify. There’s just a connection there for me. When I look at the water, things make sense. It’s not always in the form of lyrics, though. “My Solution Is In The Lake” was written in 3/4 at a particular BPM because I decided one day while at the lake by myself that I should write a song that “feels like” the way the waves move. The nature of dynamics in the song was totally based on what I saw the water do in those moments. You can now hear the end result. So – it’s an inspiring and powerful thing for me in a lot of ways. 

Your recent twitter discussion about honesty behind an artist was really interesting (and comical) to read, but their is a lot of truth in it. Your band has always been very transparent, care to explain more about it for those that might have missed it?

There’s really nothing to explain, other than that I just decided it would be fun to let people in on some of the weird shit that’s happened to us over the years. We have been so close to some really cool opportunities with labels or managers or whatever that have always backfired on us for some crazy reason such as “you’re too thankful on stage” or “your singer looks like someone i’d let my daughter date”. 

Which city are you most excited to be in this upcoming tour? Have you guys been to Canada before?

We’ve been through Canada a few times, luckily! Canada is always really good to us. I’m just very excited to get everywhere, man. Sometimes it feels like this is our last tour. I can’t really describe why, but there’s a vibe. Maybe I’m crazy. 

Speaking of that, I was just describing to my roommate the Taco Bell adventure we had in Iowa a few years ago. Still on the highlight reel of my life, Taco Bell Tuck forever.

Wish it was made into a feature length movie for literally all people of the world to watch. Would be insane. 

What album released this year has been on repeat for you?

Better Off – Milk

What is up for 2016, endless tours?

Fingers crossed for that. We haven’t landed anything yet but we’re hoping this record gives us a little steam for some support slots in the new year. 

Last Words?

I, No Longer is available on October 23rd from Bad Timing Records. Stay tucked. 

-Mike Hansen

  p.s. Mike, this was my background on my Phone for about three months last year, never give up. Much love - Sean

  p.s. Mike, this was my background on my Phone for about three months last year, never give up. Much love – Sean