Saturday, 28 May 2011

Introduction to Brett Hansen

Hello, I'm Brett Hansen. A bit of a social outcast. A bit of a weirdo. I'm pretty quiet and shy until I get to know people better. I have strange luck, strange adventures and a warped view of life. I'm married (2013 edit: Used to be), I perform with puppets, I draw cartoons, I write and perform music. I studied animation, and am a cartoon geek! I'm also a film buff. And I'm addicted to music. Interesting music. Different music. I have a Dad and two brothers, Todd and Dale. My wife Jen (2013 edit: Ex-wife... We're still friends though) and I go out to a lot of concerts, comedy shows and other events.

I studied classical piano between the ages of 3 and 15. Then I joined a jazz/funk band in 1999 called BORIS, playing keys and turntables (yep, I was a scratch DJ/turntablist).

In 2001, I helped form a quirky 6-piece "circus-metal" band called HEADKASE. For ten years, we took Brisbane by storm, dressing up in wacky costumes, masks and facepaint. We brought theatre, colour, jazz, techno, and all the fun of the carnival to the heavy metal scene. Our music appealed to fans of Mr. Bungle, Dog Fashion Disco, Vicious Hairy Mary, Carnival in Coal, System of a Down, Slipknot, and Insane Clown Posse. We didn't sound exactly like any one of those bands, but perhaps incorporated several elements of them all. We released an album and toured the country. We played to almost 1,200 people at our 10 Year Anniversary Show in January of 2011 at the Hi-Fi Bar. Members of the band currently live in Canada, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. But, like our big show in January, we have agreed to keep the band alive, and come together for the bigger shows. Shows that are worth the flight costs. A second album is very slowly starting to come together.

During this time, I was one of the main members of an experimental noise-art group called SILENT PARTNERS. We would play all kinds of shows with all sorts of musicians - horn players, string players, people from many different bands all jamming, improvising. Lots of crazy fun! We've freaked out a lot of people! We would perhaps appeal to fans of John Zorn, Mike Patton, John Kaada, Ulver, End, Einsturzende Neubauten, Toydeath, Boredoms, Fantomas, Locust, Painkiller, Secret Chiefs 3, Mr. Bungle and Monsieur Camembert.

I was also a member of a dream-like ambient quintet called MARLINCHEN (2003-2007). We described the sound as "a crawling ambience". The group featured violin, guitar, keys, bass, glockenspiel, and occasional operatic vocals. Perhaps of interest to fans of Sigur Rós, Amiina, Múm, Trinkets, Decoder Ring, Bloon, The Dirty Three, and Ulver, we had audiences sitting on the floor with their eyes closed, getting lost in the music. A far cry from the wild moshpits at Headkase shows! We mostly performed at Ric's Cafe in the Valley. But we also performed at small art exhibitions, and at The Troubadour. Members eventually moved to places like Japan and France, and one went on to join the popular Brisbane folk band "Lion Island".

In 2010, I joined an 8-piece ska/swing band called RAD ROCKETS ARE GO! Another crazy and colourful group! From first wave ska and reggae sounding tunes, to modern ska-punk, and big band swing jazz - we had the crowds' fingers a-clickin' and toes a-tappin'. Influences include Madness, Reel Big Fish, Rancid, Toots and the Maytals, The Skatalites, The Specials, Save Ferris, Desmond Dekker, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, and Cherry Poppin' Daddies. Things were happening very fast for Rad Rockets. We were approached after every show, and being invited to play more shows every week! Sadly, after Christmas 2010, three members decided they didn't want to be a part of it anymore. The remaining members have since continued to rehearse and write, while searching for new members.

In 2011, I was asked to perform as musician with improvisational theatre company IMPRO MAFIA for their weekly "Speakeasy" shows. Much like the TV Show "Whose Line Is It Anyway?", teams of actors improvise their way through funny scenes, sketches, songs and mimes. It's the first time (since a piano recital I played at the age of 10) that I've been the only musician on stage, without several other band members who have my back. Thankfully, the actors/improvisers are talented and professional enough to make this work. Coming up with something on the spot is the aim of the game, and mistakes are often what makes it all the more funny. At the time of writing this, I have only performed two of these shows so far. I'm still a bit nervous, but I'm getting there. Learning something new each week and building up more confidence.

I am a cartoonist by trade, drawing cartoon illustrations for technical and general print media. Some clients have included Education Queensland, Lifeline, Leukaemia Foundation, Commerce Queensland and 4zZz radio station. My formal qualifications are - Diploma of Visual Arts: Animation; Diploma of Freelance Cartooning & Illustration; Advanced Certificate in Multi-Disciplinary Arts, Design & Technology (Fine Art & Illustration); Certificate III in Animation; Certificate III in Film & Television. features my student films to download, as well as samples of my cartoon and art work. My animated student films, "Blind Man's Rough" (1998) and "Weasel Boy in: Shop Goes the Weasel" (2000) have screened at several film festivals and art shows, and can also be found on YouTube.


In 1997, while in the USA, I had the pleasure of meeting and discussing animation techniques with fellow animators in Hollywood studios Klasky-Csupo (Rugrats, Duckman, The Simpsons 87-92) and Film Roman (The Simpsons 92-current, Family Guy, King of the Hill).

For money, I work as a storeman in the loading dock of a supermarket. I've been in the retail industry since 2006, working in Grocery, Dairy, Service (checkouts) and Fresh Produce.

Before that, I worked in a couple of market research call centres. I conducted surveys and political polls over the phone. Not sales, mind you. That's telemarketing. Market Research is very different, but still considered just as annoying to the general public. I went into retail when the call centre I worked for moved all work to New Zealand. I also spent a year doing a traineeship of Office Administration. Full-time on the job training, with one day a week at Business College.

Common question I'm asked: Why Brett? Why are you working in office admin, market research and retail? You're a fully qualified and skilled artist and musician! Why don't you simply get a job in the arts?
My answer: Unless you're lucky enough to be discovered by someone big in the industry or someone rich and famous, it is impossible to live off the arts. I've entered into every film and art festival, and had my art displayed far and wide by the clients who've hired me to draw for them. I've performed music all over Australia, making many fans and contacts in the music industry. Headkase's album has received positive reviews and radio airplay all over the world, and we've appeared on local and national television (including "RAGE" on the ABC). With all of this, I (and most artists in Brisbane) remain 'undiscovered'. But we don't give up. We keep following the dream and doing what we love. It doesn't pay the bills, so we have to work less interesting jobs for whoever will hire us. But I know that I would be nothing without these creative outlets. There's no point in giving up on art just because it doesn't pay the bills.

The other thing I just wanted to mention is my wonderful mother, Helen Jean Hansen. She was kind and loving and put everyone else before herself. An amazing sense of humour, always singing and joking. She passed away on the 15th of July, 2010 from Ovarian Cancer. It was so sudden. From diagnoses to her passing, she only had about nine or ten months. When the pain starts, and you go to get it checked out by a doctor, it's already too late. There's no early detection. She remained positive and full of humour right until the end. It was a horrible loss for us. Please donate to the Queensland Centre for Gynaecological Research. One of my Mum's nurses was involved with that organisation.

RIP Mum. Helen Jean Hansen

On a lighter note, I've been married to my amazing wife Jen since August 2009. She studied journalism years ago, and currently works in a government call centre. Like the arts, journalism is a bit difficult to break into. But she's starting to make a few contacts here and there, and appears from time to time as an entertainment reviewer on 612 ABC Brisbane, reviewing some of the concerts and comedy shows she and I attend. 

2013 edit: Sadly the marriage was short lived. We tried all we could to save it. But we simply grew apart. I don't feel that marriage is a joke, and I don't feel good about what has happened. But we enjoyed six wonderful years together. Apparently, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

So that's me! That's my life. Hope you enjoyed this novel of an introduction.


  1. Hey Brett,
    Sounds good, looking forward to see what you plan on sticking on here over the upcoming weeks and months, hopefully some behind-the-scenes looks into Rad Rockets, you guys are/were pretty good!

  2. Thanks Dave! Yeah I should be able to talk a bit about the progress of rebuilding the band since three members left. There's a bit of an interesting story in that.