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Hanks for everything 

With classical training and a minor breakthrough behind them, The Hanks 'just want to rock'

click to enlarge None of the members in The Hanks is actually named - Hank. But they are big Forrest Gump fans.
  • None of the members in The Hanks is actually named Hank. But they are big Forrest Gump fans.

The glockenspiel isn't often featured in rock 'n roll. Still, Philip Katz of The Hanks uses it in two songs on Your New Attraction.

Katz also dabbles in percussion, keys, trombone, trumpet, clarinet, French horn, piano and guitar. But don't let the technical proficiency fool you the sum total of The Hanks' efforts is frenetic and youthful, with a heavy dose of hard-driving West Coast skater-punk attitude.

The origins of The Hanks trace to a rural boarding school in Oregon, where lead singer-guitarist Josh Grondin met bassist Bryan Harris. Before you cry "Juvie!" though, understand: The 25-year-old, doe-eyed Grondin swears that his enrollment there had nothing to do with any bad behavior.

"It wasn't that kind of boarding school," he laughs.

Instead, he went for academics. But Grondin, who had started playing piano at age 8 and guitar at 13, soon spent his time learning to play everything else he was hearing on his rock, punk and ska records.

Before long, he met Harris. The pair laid out tracks in a dorm room and sold the finished product to classmates.

Later, while attending Musicians Institute in Grondin's birthplace, Los Angeles, they teamed up with Katz and drummer Shane Mayo to release Your New Attraction, a full-length album that debuted in 2005. The foursome currently is working on a sophomore effort, which it hopes to complete this fall after winding down a rigorous tour schedule.

The Hanks' last tour consisted of 72 shows in fewer than 90 days, and included two nights in Denver with a band called Single File.

"The crowd was incredible," says Grondin. "We had about 400 kids there, and they were really receptive."

It was a breeze compared to the 2005 Vans Warped Tour. The schedule was grueling; sometimes they'd play, eat and immediately start driving to the next venue eight hours down the road. Three of them would sleep en route, and once there, the driver would pass out on the ground, in what little shade the van provided, while the others unloaded the gear.

But The Hanks have signed on for several Warped dates again this year. And things are starting to come around, thanks, in part, to some unexpected exposure.

"Our manager met someone over at MTV, and she liked our music and really wanted to give us play somewhere," Grondin explains.

That play came in the form of the reality TV series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, which recently aired their song, "The Only Thing Real." It came in a scene from the reality-based show in which the band on the series was preparing to play a big industry showcase.

After the manager gives the members a pep talk at the last minute, he asks if there are any questions. One of them responds, "I just want to rock." The scene then cuts to a shot of a boat skimming across the Pacific Ocean, in time to The Hanks' tune.

"So we're the "I just want to rock' band, apparently," Grondin says with a sigh. "It was surreal."

The Hanks with The City Drive, Granny Sings Gospel and I Am the Big Bang Theory

theElement, 1626 S. Tejon St.

Saturday, May 19, 7 p.m.

Tickets: $5 at the door.

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