Brandon Hanick is a songwriter with a passion for the subtle — and it shows. In the songs he’s playing with his pop band King of Prussia, lyrics in memorable choruses shift slightly each time around, and tiny musical flourishes poke through in individual songs.
The Athens, Ga.-based band self-released their debut disc Save the Scene earlier this spring.
“I wrote a lot of these songs by looking back through other songs I’ve written, pulling in things from that past that finally seemed to fit,” says Hanick. “And found a place for them. I try to go for minimal repetition with my lyrics, and so my choruses aren’t necessarily traditional choruses, because I’ll rework the words as the song progresses.”
The shimmering pop melodies and finely crafted tunes on Save the Scene may garner immediate comparisons to The Beatles, Belle & Sebastian, and the New Pornographers. There’s even a subtle feel to a couple tracks that calls to mind the Moody Blues.
Comprised of Hanick, guitarist Trey McManus, keyboardist/guitarist Brian Smith, keyboardists/bassists Nathan Troutman and A.J. Rownd, and drummer Taylor Coggins, King of Prussia feature former and current members of Athens indie bands Beijing, Touchdown!, and Fabulous Bird, as well as S.C.’s The Envelopes, among others.
Hanick says the band first set out solely to record its debut album. That the entire collection was recorded at home on a basic Boss BR-1180 digital eight-track machine is particularly impressive.
Crisply placed chimes and criminally memorable choruses litter the seven-song disc, and the album’s lyrics are prominent on tunes like “Misadventures of the Campaign Kids” and “Spain in the Summertime.”
“In a perfect world, people would listen and pay attention to the lyrics,” says Hanick, the band’s songwriter, guitarist, and lead vocalist. “But I’m not out to change minds or preach a message. But if the lyrics move people to consider things in a new light, that’s great. Or if they just like the melody and think the song sounds nice, then that’s also good. I don’t plan on becoming the leader of a revolution or anything, they’re just the lyrics that come to my mind.”
Originally merely a recording project, Hanick and King of Prussia have been making a slow move into the live setting after debuting at the storied 40 Watt Club in May of 2006. The shows have allowed the band to exercise even more creativity, moving beyond the precision of Save the Scene‘s recorded form — a second album’s already written.
“I always appreciate bands that change things up [live],” says Hanick. “If I want to listen to the album I could, you know, stay home with some breadsticks and listen to the album. So it was important for me to make the live performances a little more rockin’, and a little looser than what’s on the album.”
And what about cryptic lyric “Tony Danza’s on the run”?
“I wrote that song shortly after Cat Stevens was arrested for terrorism, or detained or whatever,” says Hanick, laughing. “It was just a tongue-in-cheek reference thing about a celebrity as jokey and nonthreatening as I could possibly imagine. That’s a strategy in a lot of the lyrics I write, working something in that is catchy and attention-grabbing but that also speaks to something sociopolitical or economic.”