Hanni El Khatib: The Rockabilly Outlaw

L.A. skate rat turned guitar demon heads up a rowdy revival.

Articles // FindCream // 07/10/11
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Hanni El Khatib

We’re dying to know what you put in your hair to get that pomp.

I use Murray’s. It’s been around forever. It’s just basically wax and grease or something. I don’t know, it’s really bad for your hair, I think. It’s fucking disgusting.

So do you have a big tub of that to take on tour with you?

I have multiple containers of it lying around the house.

Besides Murray’s, what else is essential for you to bring on tour?

Black jeans and a black jean jacket and that’s pretty much it. That could be all of tour, like, t-shirt and jeans and a jacket, and then a skateboard, Murray’s, and –

A guitar?

Yes.

You play super-classic rock & roll on your upcoming debut, Will The Guns Come Out. What got you into this whole midcentury Americana kind of style?

Well, I’ve always been into classic things. I’m fascinated by products from the ’50s and ’60s. Those things were more iconic, like for example, a hammer. I mean, it’s totally weird, but a hammer from the ’50s looks cooler to me than a hammer from today. Do you know what I mean?

Yeah, well, I think the focus was on design then and now it’s on economy, function.

Totally.

In other words, they made shit to look cool then.

Totally! And then, it leads into music. I like a lot of classic rock & roll and R&B from that era. I like late ’50s and ’60s doo-wop music and all the girl groups. And then you could see it kind of turn into punk music, like it was so raw back then that, you know, someone like Gene Vincent would play a show and it was so wild. You were just like, holy shit, that’s like a punk show, but it predates what most people think of as punk music!

It seems like the kind of thing that you would join a band to do. What made you think, I’ll just do this myself?

I didn’t intend on making music to release on an album or go out and tour or whatever. I just recorded a bunch of songs that I was working on at a friend’s home studio because he urged me to do it. I was so busy with my work that it kind of didn’t dawn on me that I could make that a reality. Then I got asked to play, so I just asked my friend Nicky to play drums. We’re doing it as a duo, but I wrote the songs and played most of the instruments on the record myself.

It’s good to know that you can do it on your own if you have to.

People go, how come you don’t have a band name? And I just go, does Dolly Parton have a band name?

Will the Guns Come Out is due out in September on Innovative Leisure Records.