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Legendary LA Band The Hangmen Releasing 'Stories To Tell'

August 22, 2023

The Hangmen set to release first album since 2019, 'Stories To Tell' on ACETATE Records

As musical trends come and go, The Hangmen have remained uncompromising since their formation in 1986. From big money major label deals to debilitating drug addiction, lead singer
Bryan Small has continued to charge forward with the headlong momentum of a runaway train.

Bridging the gap somewhere between The Gun Club and the Rolling Stones, the band’s latest offering, Stories To Tell smashes together Small's lurid love songs with unsparing, unsentimental blasts that shine a penetrating light into the dark and seedy corners of life. From the melodic “Midnight Riders” to the haunting “On The Outside,” Small delivers an album with a simplicity and depth of songwriting reminiscent of Neil Young and Tom Petty.

“Midnight Riders is a rite of passage song. It’s the way my friends and I lived in our early days navigating life, being in bands and coping with everything as kids in Hollywood. We didn’t have boundaries. We didn’t have mentors. We were notoriously fucked up geniuses in our eyes. I’m not surprised by the path we took for ourselves - some made it, some moved home and some died.” Small himself recently relocated after 38 years in Los Angeles to his hometown of Missoula, Montana, so his kids could grow up around family.

“We recorded in different studios over the course of about a year and a half, which is the way some of my favorite albums were made,” reveals Small, “This is the first record since Mike Ness (Social Distortion) produced In The City that I’ve kinda let go of the production and mixing to get a different view of these songs.”

Longtime Hangmen fan Rob Schnapf (Elliot Smith, Beck, X) also stepped in to produce two tracks on Stories: “On The Outside” and “Last Time I Saw You,” a tribute to “Rontrose” Heathman, the former Hangmen and Supersuckers guitar player who passed away in 2020.

Stories To Tell also includes a raucous cover of Credence Clearwater Revival’s “Sinister Purpose.” “CCR has always been a part of The Hangmen’s DNA to some extent. It was a bit of an overlooked song that spoke to us. Jimmy James (guitarist) brought it to the band and it was a natural fit.”

Formed in 1986, The Hangmen immediately caught the eye of Circle Jerks frontman Keith Morris, who began managing the band and produced the demos that landed them a deal with Capitol Records. In 1989 they released their self-titled debut produced by Vic Maile, (Motörhead, The Who “Live at Leeds”) before switching to the newly formed DGC Records whose roster included The Nymphs and Nirvana to name a few. That seemed like the perfect landing spot for the band, but unfortunately the Rob Younger (Radio Birdman) produced album Suicide Doors was never released and the band dissolved into addiction.

Not one to be down for long, a newly sober Small started writing again, the result was 2000’s Metallic I.O.U. released on the Los Angeles-based indie, Acetate Records. The Hangmen found a willing accomplice and partner in crime in label owner Rick Ballard, who produced their follow-up, We’ve Got Blood On The Toes Of Our Boots, a live recording of their OOP Capitol Records debut and 2019’s Cactusville. Tours with longtime fans Social Distortion and the Supersuckers followed. Mike Ness would later produce The Hangmen’s 2007 release In the City. “I totally feel like we're kindred spirits,” Small says looking back, adding that both bands emphasize “simplicity, and doing what you do and staying true to that.”

In 2010, the popular Finnish record label Hype Records released Lost Rocks, an eighteen-song Hangmen retrospective. Shortly thereafter, former Supersucker Ron Heathmen joined the band for 2012’s critically acclaimed East Of Western. 2019 marked the release of Cactusville as well as a performance on legendary European television show, Rockpalast.


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