Awesome New Republic talks band, tour, music industry

Awesome New Republic, or ANR, is an up-and-coming indie rock band made up of UM Frost School of Music alumni Michael John Hancock and Brian Robertson. After graduating in 2004 and 2005 respectively, the duo has released several albums and been featured in The New York Times, as well as the music sites Pitchfork and Stereogum.

The Miami Hurricane with Michael John Hancock before the band comes back to Miami to play at Bardot on Nov. 11 to mark the release of their new album, Stay Kids.

The Miami Hurricane: How would you describe the genre of the band?
Michael John Hancock: Well, I think the name of the band, Awesome New Republic, is a pretty good description as far as what that refers to, which is like multi-cultural, globally connected. The music that we make is kind of like that, which is eclectic, incorporates a lot of different genres within one style.

TMH: What are some of the artists that influence you?
MJH: We like the Beach Boys a lot, we like Prince a lot, and more nerdy, kind of technical music. We like David Bowie a lot, a lot of the German acts. We listen to a lot of music.

TMH: What’s it like being a part of a band of only two core members as opposed to bands of more than that?
MJH: For working on stuff I think it’s easier. There’s a lot less people that have to have a say, or be incorporated into what can sometimes be a pretty introverted process. For the road, I suppose having a larger band is where you could benefit. You can recreate your recordings better with more musicians, and also, if you’re on the road for a long, long time just as a duo it gets a little degrading.

TMH: How do you think your experience at Frost Music School or at UM as a whole helped your music career?
MJF: Well, I met Brian. I think that was the biggest thing for me, personally, and I think he would probably agree, really just the group of people at our time at UM. As much as you’re going to take a lot from professors, you’re mostly going to learn from working with other people, like your peers.

TMH: What has been your big break into the music industry, or has that happened yet?
MJF: We do this band, and we don’t really make that much money or anything like that, so we also work for this company (10K Islands) that supports the band and facilitates everything for the band… not like the kind of thing… that maybe some kids think about when they’re younger – they’re into, you know, mega success or whatever.

TMH: What does 10K Islands do exactly?
MJF: We score movies and TV commercials and all that, like a music house. And all of the people that work there put out original music, too.

TMH: What advice do you have for current UM students who may be trying to follow in the same path as you guys?
MJF: If it’s not too late, I’d focus on non-performance based study, focus on maybe engineering, audio engineering, maybe something outside of the music school that’s going to give you the more well-rounded education…  instead of staring down just one hole for four years. I mean, I definitely did that, but I kind of wish in hindsight that I studied some sort of combination of audio engineering or electrical engineering, or something like that.

TMH: Can you talk about the indie music scene in Miami and how that either helped or hurt you as a band?
MJF: When we first came down to Miami from our different hometowns – I’m from D.C., Brian’s from Rhode Island – I definitely couldn’t connect the dots where to play, what to do, and all that. And over the last six years or so it has really gotten a lot better, I think, more of a support group. We have a good, solid support system in Miami.

THM: How do you think your new album, Stay Kids, is different from your previous ones and what are you most proud of about it?
MJF: I think it’s better produced; it sounds a lot better. It manages to have some of the more, sort of, experimental, sonic type stuff that we used to do… it’s a really solid, large-sounding mix, definitely more cohesive. One thing we tried to think about with this was making the lyrics and the music really cohesive.

TMH: You are known for advertising one of your albums with a bitTorrent file sharing site. What was that all about?
MJF: We put a couple things out, kind of, every kind of way that you could put it out… we put it on iTunes, we had it as a direct download on our site, and then we worked with this one torrent site, isoHunt, and they sort of promoted the album on there… It was a pretty good idea, I think.

TMH: Were you happy with the results of it?
MJF: Yeah, definitely. Everything we do that adds more fuel to the fire, more fans.

TMH: What do you hope to see happening in the future for the band?
MJF: We are recording a couple albums when we get home from touring, so I think the main thing I’m looking forward to is taking time off from the road for a while, like three or four months. So that’s my hope, that we make something that’s way better than anything we’ve made.

For more info on the band, visit anrmiami.com.


Album release party – November 11th at Bardot. More info at bardotmiami.com

November 6, 2011


Trevor Maxim

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.