ABOUT THE FILM
MAD HANNANS tells the compelling and inspiring story of two brothers reconnecting musically and personally after a decade-long hiatus.
In mid-2012 filmmaker Martin Shore set out to document the reunion of brothers Jerry and Sean Hannan as they began to rebuild what had been, over the years, a tumultuous relationship -- but one that had led to sheer musical genius. No one could imagine the life-and-death challenges they would face.
From a family of six children, Jerry (No. 4) and Sean (No. 6) formed the MAD HANNANS in 1996. Playing shows in the US, the UK and Ireland, the group quickly developed a devoted fan base enthralled with the Hannans' unbridled and exuberant performances.
For various reasons the band broke up and the brothers went their separate ways in 2001, only to spend a decade missing the electrifying bond that was forged when they collaborated musically. In 2011 they decided to reunite, rekindle that bond, and recapture the magic. With cameras rolling, the brothers entered Tarpan Studios to record a new album and a 12 minute short film.
The exciting feel and momentum took a critical turn when Sean was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer. It started with a tumor in his toe. After several surgeries, his foot was amputated in November 2012, just one week before a celebratory Mad Hannan Reunion Show. Sean and Jerry played the show and continued with the project - Sean recording and drumming with only one foot.
Unfortunately Sean's diagnosis turned out to be much worse as the cancer spread to other parts of his body. At this point, it was all hope and courage. The immense love Sean felt for his family and friends far surpassed whatever fear and concern he had about his own death. In his final weeks and days, it was his positive attitude and indomitable spirit that triumphed. The way he met death head-on with courage and consideration for those around him continues to amaze and inspire.
MAD HANNANS is a film about music, redemption, hope, family, and brothers. It is a true story of life's joys, trials, devastating losses and the unbreakable bonds that hold them all together.
THE MAD HANNANS is a multifaceted multimedia project in need of many different elements coming together to create the finished product.
What began as a planned 12 minute short film blossomed into a full length feature shaped by the Hannans' Music, a fly on the wall look at the recording process, interviews, and an unflinching first hand experience of Sean's battle.
With ongoing filming almost complete, the project is poised for intensive post-production. Hundreds of hours of footage and archival photos need editing to create the final narrative. Finishing the record that Sean and Jerry started to record after reuniting in 2012 is also an integral part of the project.
The funds raised from this Kickstarter campaign will help bring this truly inspiring story to life and pay tribute to a remarkable bond between two brothers.
THE MAD HANNANS
Here come the Mad Hannans
By Paul Liberatore, Marin IJ, April 1997
Wandering along Fourth Street in San Rafael the other night in search of nothing in particular, I was suddenly stopped in my tracks by the unmistakable, happy sound of live music coming from...where? The Royal Ground coffee house?
Sure enough, three musicians were set up on the floor by the front window. Acoustic guitar, funky little drum kit, acoustic bass, a bit of harmonica. The singer was singing a song about...Am I hearing this right? Auto detailing?
The song wasn't the only odd thing about this scene. A handful of people were sitting around sipping lattes and actually LISTENING.
I stood out on the sidewalk for a minute, but the music was so irresistible that it drew me in. Pretty soon I was tapping my foot, grinning crookedly, feeling like I'd stumbled upon something special. But what?
I laughed out loud at an outrageously politically incorrect song about the dire fate of a woman who fails to recycle.
In the singer's clear, high voice I thought I detected shades of Dylan, John Prine, Van Morrison, Elton John, even Willie Nelson. The music was rootsy, unadorned folk-rock. Very American but with a faint Irish lilt with influences from the Chieftains.
A poster announced that these were the Mad Hannans. Almost as a warning, it said, "The Mad Hannans are coming!"
It turns out that the Mad Hannans are 34-year-old singer-songwriter-guitarist Jerry Hannan and his younger brother, Sean 29, who also writes songs and plays drums.
Their irreverent, sometimes twisted style has been described as "in your face living room music." The songs are smart, often funny, sardonic in a good-natured way, dealing with life issues like ecology, friendship, love, work, public drunkenness.
More importantly in the arena of mainstream success, their tunes have irrepressible melodies with the kind of Velcro-catchy pop hooks that can make a working stiff like Jerry Hannan into a rock star overnight. The next Beck.
"He doesn't know how good he is," says record producer Jim Reitzel, whose fledgling San Rafael independent label released the Hannans' debut CD, "Madly in Love With You."
"He doesn't have an attitude," Reitzel says. "It's like he's at the tip of his own iceberg."
Jerry Hannan lives in a duplex in Sausalito and details cars for a living, which explains that song I heard that night. Hannan calls it "Truck."
A verse: "My name is Auto Detailer with a capital A / I like to play all night / I got to work all day / I guess I'm happy in my own little ignorant way / I'm just a hokey Joe."
Hannan may be a hokey Joe, but he's an intelligent and talented one. He comes from a first-generation Irish family that settled in San Rafael and raised six kids.
He and his two brothers and three sisters grew up listening to jigs and ballads in the Bay Area's Irish community.
As youngsters, Jerry and Sean took accordion and violin lessons, switching to guitar and drums in high school and playing in rock'n roll bands. Jerry went to St. Raphael's and Marin Catholic and was a member of the popular Marin rock band, the Kynd, in the 80s.
After high school, he studied business and music at Dominican College before dropping out just short of graduation and moving to Southern California for two years, where he struck up a friendship with Steve Poltz of the Rugburns, a rising alternative band from San Diego.
The Mad Hannans will get their first big break on April 11 when they appear at a showcase concert in San Diego with the Rugburns and Jewel that will be attended by representatives from major record labels.
"It's all happening so fast," Jerry Hannan says.
Hannan is as surprised as anyone by all of this, which came about virtually by accident after he and his brother booked time at Jim Reitzel's studio in San Rafael to record a couple of original songs they'd written.
"We went into the studio, expecting to pay to have our songs recorded." he says.
But Reitzel, a seasoned industry pro who has worked with Wyndham Hill Records and performed for years with the Marin band About Face, had other ideas
He tok one listen to a loping, countryish Hannan song called "Clear Headed" - about kicking drugs and alcohol - and was instantly knocked out.
"When I heard that song, I said, 'I'm gonna cut a deal with these guys,'" Reitzel says. "I was surprised and impressed."
Reitzel decided to produce and release the Hannan debut CD and brought in top drawer Marin musicians, including guitarists Lyle Workman, Eric Schramm and Chris Michie to punch up Hannan songs like "The Good Life," which kind of sums up what's happening to the Hannans at this nascent point in their musical career.
It goes: "Well I once had the good life / As good as life could be / Once had a happy home in ol' Marin County / Then a voice came down and opened up my soul / So I threw it away for rock'n roll."
This past September, the Hannans performed on a two-week mini-tour of Ireland arranged by some Irish fans who heard them at a gig in San Francisco and invited them over.
"It was a blast," Hannan says, "We were very well received. Fans were following us around from gig to gig. We were getting a big following. Well, as big as you can get in two weeks."
Hannan seems to sense that there could be changes on the horizon for him and his brother. He's thinking about buying a camper-van and plans to hit the road to promote what he hopes will be a new album, the one that will break the Mad Hannans out of Marin and expose them to a national audience.
With any luck, auto detailing soon may be a quaint footnote on his bio.
As he says in his song, "Blind Man," - "I'm lookin' so hard to find my means / Then, when I'm not even lookin' it comes to me / It comes to me."
A genuine songwriter and performer to boot. Recently, Hannan recorded his own song, ‘Society’ with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, which is featured in Sean Penn’s film “Into the Wild”. “I Thought I Was You”, written by Jerry and brother Sean Hannan also plays in “Into the Wild.” In 2003, Jerry recorded his second CD "Sounds Like a Story". A new song "DaDaDa" from the CD was featured in the film "The Pledge" (Jack Nicholson). He performed in Sam Shepard's play, "The Late Henry Moss," at San Francisco's Theatre on the Square (along with Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Cheech Marin and Woody Harrelson). He also appeared as a raucous singer who offsets a romantic conversation between Harry Connick Jr and Sarah Jessica Parker in Sony Picture's "Life Without Dick".
Described as "shades of Dylan, John Prine and Van Morrison...very Americana with a faint Irish lilt", Hannan's songs (like those of Springsteen, Steve Earle and Cat Stevens) speak of our everyday lives and the magic that we sometimes miss. He's a storyteller who loves to stir the crowd. He has been called a “three chord wizard,” with guitar, lyrics and harmonica, often funny, sardonic in a good-natured way, dealing with issues like ecology, friendship, love.
Raised on jigs and ballads in San Francisco's Irish community, Jerry Hannan grew up listening to the music of his Irish-born parents (The Dubliners, The Clancy Brothers), as well as Cat Stevens. As a youngster he took accordion lessons, switching to guitar in high school and playing in rock 'n roll bands.
Hannan has just finished recording "The Light Gets Brighter", which will feature his latest gems including his own version of SOCIETY.
Risks and challenges
MAD HANNANS is a truly independent project which depends on the passion of not only the artists to succeed, but also the fans who love the music. We will depend on that community to come together for support and are confident their enthusiasm will shine through once more.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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