Hangnail has been a band for eight years. They are from Kenosha, Wisconsin, where they've lived all of their lives. The origins of the band can be traced back to when guitarist Nick Radovanovic and drummer Jacob Dosemagen started playing together when they were eight years old.
Lead vocalist and bass player Mike Middleton says, "We first started out when we were in Junior High and we liked bands like Nirvana, Green Day and Weezer." But the individual tastes of the musicians in Hangnail can be diverse. "Nick has been heavily influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughn," Mike continues. "Bands like MxPx, Pennywise and NOFX got us into the whole punk idea. But now we all listen to a variety of music that ranges from classical to rock n' roll."
God has also played an important part in inspiring the band, who all attend the same church in Kenosha. "When we first started out, we weren't a Christian band," Mike explains. "We have all grown together with each other and in our relationship to God over the past few years." From this, Mike says he believes that "many of our close friends have opened up their minds to Christianity. We feel that our evangelistic role is in opening up minds who otherwise wouldn't give Christianity a chance. And for those who already know Him, we want to provide good music they can listen to without any regret, and maybe even challenge them."
Hangnail has been acclaimed early on as a hard-working touring unit. "Touring has been great!" Mike says. "We did seven tours last year and played over 200 shows. It was our first experience at it, and we learned a lot from it. But overall I would have to say it was really good." Among the bands they've toured/played with are The Undecided, Dogwood, Logos, Stavesacre, Philmore, Element 101 and Ghoti Hook.
"We have really seen God work by how He's protected us on the road," Mike adds. "There are so many things that could have and should have gone wrong but didn't. We are very appreciative of the many people who list us up in prayer from our home church and elsewhere." (The band has its own daily devotional time together while on the road.)
While they plan on playing "a ton of local shows beginning in February until we do our next tour which would begin in May," the band actually hasn't been able to play locally the past few months because "we've been immersed in the process of writing and recording two records," Mike says.
Two records? One electric and one acoustic - how did this come about?
"The idea came after we did a couple of live radio unplugged songs on 95.1's WILL "Rock The Neighborhood," Mike explains. "They turned out really good, so we decided to do a six-song acoustic record. This was especially fun for me because it gave us the opportunity to incorporate things not normally used with 'punk rock music'."
The plan they worked out with label owner Brandon Ebel is that they would record the albums in separate sessions, and the electric album would be released with the acoustic disc as a bonus for the first 5,000 of the run, and then the acoustic record would be released separately at a reduced price later on.
"We did the 'plugged' album at the Blasting Room, which was produced by (All/Descendents' veterans) Bill Stevenson, Stephen Egerton and Jason Livermore," Mike says. "All three of these guys played a huge role in how the record turned out. As far as the song writing wend, they were pretty hands off because they thought that we had a fairly good handle on that aspect. They did have some ideas that we incorporated into the arrangements of the songs. The biggest role that these guys played was getting the sounds that they got for the recording and getting us to perform at the level we did. I'm really happy with how the record turned out."
"The acoustic project was mostly self-produced," Mike continues. "This was a lot of fun because we got to use instruments like strings, bells, bongos and even a hammered dulcimer."
The topics of the songs deal with "what I mostly just have experienced in my life," Mike says. "So a lot of the songs deal with my frustration over my disobedience to God. Other songs come from issues with my friends and just things that could happen to any person from day to day. Hopefully people will be able to relate, and the music can then become more than just something fun to listen to."
While the first Hangnail album scanned more than 10,000 units (a great accomplishment for an independent punk first album) Mike thinks the newer material definitely lives up to that record's promise.
"I think the newer album shows a lot more maturity, and i would certainly hope that it would," Mike says. "Some of the songs on our previous record are four years old by now. That would put us at the ages of 16 and 17 when those songs were written. All songs on the new record are at the oldest two years and at the newest just a couple months."
Right now, in the middle of recording their music and performing it live, Nick, Matt and Mike are all attending college around the Kenosha area. "And Jacob's been busy working at Matt's dad's machine shop with Matt. Nick and I have been working with different bands helping them record their music."