Nashville’s Hans Condor is back.

Photo: Geddi Monroe

Get Paid is the first full-length album released by Nashville punk-rock band Hans Condor since 2010, though versions of it have been sitting on the shelf for quite some time. There were a few splits, but not a full-length.

It didn’t seem like the band would get back to the music, but the pandemic gave them all a reason to pick up their instruments again. Now, they have a new lineup, and they already have a followup for Get Paid ready to go. I talked to frontman Charles Castor about how all of that unfolded.

What’s been going on in the meantime? Did you split up at some point?

We were touring all over the States. We went to Canada. We played Japan. We were hitting it hard for quite some time. We could never really find a lot of help putting out records or recording until we did these recordings back in 2016. We did those recordings and we had a big tour of the U.S. with Guitar Wolf and our drummer at the time – we got three shows into the tour, his girlfriend at the time was pregnant and he had to go back home. Our bass player at the time was doing sound for Guitar Wolf, and when he found out that our drummer was leaving, he learned all of the songs on one of our five hour drives. He ended up playing drums for the rest of the tour.

But after that, we didn’t really know what to do with the band. Erik [Holcombe} – our bass player – was having some issues of his own. I had a kid, so there were issues with the touring and my family. We disbanded for a while, and in the meantime, Erik took his life in 2018.

We did the first half of the record in RCA Studios, and we did the last half of the record in a tiny shed in Eliot’s [Virula] back yard. These are [Holcombe’s] last recordings.

During the pandemic, Roger [Holcombe, original drummer and Erik’s brother] and Eliot and I were doing some song swaps but we couldn’t ever get anything right, so he says, “How about you just come down to Nashville and we’ll record some stuff in the studio?”

So I came down for a weekend. We recorded four or five songs. I thought, “Well, we pretty much have an EP together. We can do that. What are we gonna call this thing?” And Roger says, “Let’s just call it Hans Condor.”

So there you go. The band has reformed.

And this record also includes that session?

No, that session is a new record. We’ll record it in December and it’ll hopefully be out next year.

How did Matt [Patton] and Bronson [Tew] get these songs? What moved you to put out this collection of songs that you have been sitting on for five years out now?

When Erik was alive, we had these tracks and we went down to Water Valley – just him and I, just to have it mixed and mastered. We did some touch-up recording stuff, and then he mixed it.

That relationship began with Matt Patton. We’ve known Patton for a long time. We played with his other bands like Model Citizen. We played with the Dexateens. We did a reunion show down at The Nick. We’ve known him for years. We’ve known Sweetdog for a long time, so we go into that whole circle of friends.

Cornelius Chapel Records was originally gonna put it out. We were sitting on the recordings. We had it all done. After Erik died, Cornelius Chapel was gonna put it out as a gesture. Their label took a different direction when the pandemic hit, and the next thing I know, Patton’s getting ahold of me saying, “We have got to put this [expletive] record out. It’s time.”

We kind of gave everything over to them. Patton would send us artwork and we’d approve it. He remastered it. Bronson re-ordered the songs, mixed it and mastered it again. We approved that and next thing you know, we’re putting this record out. It happened slow, but fast. We didn’t hear anything for a long time, then all of a sudden, Patton got ahold of it and bada-bing, bada-boom we’ve got a record.

How did that session at RCA come about?

At that point in time, we had a manager, Chris Sunday – we were kind of a side project thing him. He got us some interviews here and there, but one thing he did was he put us into this Converse Rubber Tracks contest. So they picked a group of bands from a pool of bands that they liked, and you could get eight hours of free studio time at RCA Studios.

We won. We were one of eight bands or ten bands or something like that. I don’t know what the other bands were like, but I have a feeling we were a breath of fresh air. We were completely different. Most of our gear is half-broken, speakers and cabinets are crackling, input jacks are failing left and right. We showed up an hour late, half-drunk with a case of PBR. We loaded in all of our crappy gear, set it up – we told them what we wanted. We just wanted to track everything live. We didn’t want to be isolated. If we can’t get the song in two or three takes, we’ll skip it. Try to do no overdubs if possible. I know the engineer at first was like, “Oh my God, who are these crusty dudes?” But once we started going, I think he was pleasantly surprised. He hit record and we banged it out. We’d go listen to it and he’d say, “What do you think? Want to do it again?” And we’re like, “Nope. That was fine.” He’d be like, “Really?”

Is it difficult finding a punk community in Nashville?

Yeah, it is. A lot of bands in Nashville have something to lose, and we have nothing to lose. So it’s really hard to find people that haven’t been spoiled by the town yet. Nashville crowds are notoriously tough. They don’t move. It’s mostly just standing there looking cool as opposed to having a good time. But you go to a place like Birmingham and the whole crowd is raging, you know?

But we’re on the not-give-a-[expletive] train. We do what we do and people seem to like it and if you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. I know we can rub some folks the wrong way, but we’re all nice dudes. We get along with everybody.

Hans Condor returns to The Nick on Friday.

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