THAT’S THE WAY THE NEWS GOES

PRO­PA­GANDHI HAVE AL­WAYS BEEN SO­CIALLY CON­SCIOUS, BUT THERE ARE PAR­TIC­U­LAR TIMES WHEN THEIR LYRI­CAL AND PHILO­SOPH­I­CAL PER­SPEC­TIVE RE­ALLY DOVE­TAILS WITH THE HEAD­LINES.

Australian Guitar - - Final Note - BY PETER HODG­SON

Pro­pa­gandhi have al­ways drawn lyri­cal in­spi­ra­tion from the world around them, and a lot of the time, that en­tails things like so­cial in­jus­tices, abuses of power and the re­stric­tion of free­dom. So, uh, the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate feels built for their par­tic­u­lar brand of com­men­tary. How­ever, “I think there’s never any­thing con­scious about our song­writ­ing process,” front­man Chris Han­nah says of new al­bum, Vic­to­ryLap. “We don’t aim to specif­i­cally cover cer­tain top­ics or cur­rent events. We’re lit­er­ally just a band mak­ing ob­ser­va­tions of the world around us, and those ob­ser­va­tions are seen through the lens of the world around us. But the cur­rent tra­jec­tory of the planet helps lend it­self to maybe mak­ing this record seem a lit­tle more cur­rent-event-ish.”

Aside from the chang­ing po­lit­i­cal cli­mate, this al­bum was also writ­ten and recorded amidst a pretty sub­stan­tial lineup change – gui­tarist David Guil­las re­cently left the band af­ter a decade. “He be­came a teacher,” Han­nah says. “He got smart and started fol­low­ing a prac­ti­cal ca­reer path, and he had a child – so we were look­ing for some­one to re­place him. Over the course of a few months and prob­a­bly 500 sub­mis­sions from dif­fer­ent play­ers, we found Su­lynn Hago. She’s from Florida and she just re­ally fit in from the get-go.

“I was play­ing a Gib­son SG with a Bare Knuckle Nail­bomb in the bridge, and we man­aged to bor­row a friend’s Fried­man BE-100 amp. I in­ten­tion­ally tried to stay away from my usual Boo­gie Rec­ti­fier cabi­net with V30s, and in­stead try a bouncier Mar­shall sound with Green­backs. That was a dif­fer­ent sound to what we usu­ally work with, but I think it re­ally worked on the record.

“You know what’s crazy? I’ve been play­ing for so long and I’d never even con­sid­ered the speak­ers. In all the years of play­ing in a pro­fes­sional band, I never knew what speaker I was plug­ging into. I would just plug in and think, ‘How come I don’t sound as good as Gary Holt from Ex­o­dus?’ And then about ten years ago, some­one told me I was plug­ging into V30s and I was like ‘Okay, I like those.’ And it was ac­tu­ally the ad­vent of the Axe-Fx, where I was go­ing through all the set­tings and try­ing dif­fer­ent speak­ers with dif­fer­ent mics. I kept go­ing from the V30s to the Green­backs and back, and I won­dered: if I like it so much on here, will I like it that much in real life? They’ve done such an amaz­ing job of im­pulse-re­spon­s­ing those cab­i­nets that it’s a great way of au­di­tion­ing cab­i­nets you’d never be able to take to your prac­tise space other­wise.”

Hago is also an SG player – or, at least in Pro­pa­gandhi. “She’s very much into ef­fects and cre­at­ing depth and di­men­sion, which is good be­cause I have no nat­u­ral in­stinct for that kind of stuff,” Han­nah says. “I love it but I don’t know how to set a re­verb pedal! At home Su­lynn plays a num­ber of dif­fer­ent gui­tars, like a Jazzmas­ter and a Stra­to­caster. She’s a gui­tar teacher and she has a num­ber of weapons in her ar­se­nal, but I steered her to play­ing an SG with us just for that ex­tra thump.”

For the first 20 years of the band, Han­nah was the sole gui­tarist, bring­ing in Guil­las in 2006 to try to lighten the load. “When our pre­vi­ous gui­tar player joined the band, it was a rev­e­la­tion,” he says. “Like, ‘Why hadn’t we done this be­fore?’ With what we were try­ing to do as a three-piece, it added so much more di­men­sion and depth to have a gui­tar player who didn’t have to be con­cerned about singing. The one sur­prise was that it didn’t ac­tu­ally make the play­ing eas­ier for me! It sounded bet­ter, but it wasn’t eas­ier be­cause I had to play bet­ter to stay in lock­step with the other gui­tar player! So that was kind of de­press­ing, to re­alise I had to work even harder!”

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