R.I.P. Lance Hahn Of J Church

Oct 22nd, 2007 // 10 Comments

jchurch.jpgAs we reported last year, Lance Hahn, frontman of J Church and longtime punk fixture, had been ill for some time with kidney disease. He finally succumbed to the illness this weekend at age 40.

Formed in 1992 after Hahn’s previous band Cringer had finished, J Church’s music was classic pop-punk with a tart, knowing Anglophilic streak. Their triple seven-inch My Favorite Place–J. Church were defiantly of an era when band released triple seven-inches–came with a fold-out sleeve paying homage to Brit acts ranging from Icons of Filth to Bis to Trio (who aren’t British but whatever). This probably played some part in the band getting a little mainstream press in the UK, while they were strictly Punk Planet material in the States.

But if J Church had the unmistakable stamp of a thousand Gilman St. shows, and Hahn “was near completion on a book about the history of anarchist punk bands” (his politics were often lurking in the band’s packaging and titles), J Church’s music had a confessional streak, cut with just enough irony, that had little to do with the skate parks or Ramones-cloning or crusty hardcore that obsessed most of his peers. He ran the eclectic Honey Bear Records, which put out a small but well-curated discography including the tense synth-hardcore of V.S.S.’s Nervous Circuits, a personal favorite that best reflects Hahn’s not-just-pop-punk tastes.

Bouncing from Hawaii to San Francisco over the course of his musical life–J Church was named for a San Francisco train line, in the grand tradtion of punk bands named after regional rail routes or intersections–Hahn finally settled in Austin. There he wrote, worked at a local video shop, continued to play in J Church, and tried to manage his illness. Though they left behind a warehouse full of records–a telling quote from the Austin American-Statesman: “As Hahn was quoted in 1995, ‘A lot of people write trying to keep track of all the records we put out. I can’t even remember.’ (The band was only three years old at the time.)”–J Church’s witty, heart-on-sleeve music was sadly underappreciated in their time, and continues to be.

R.I.P. Lance Hahn [Austin Music Source]
J Church [MySpace]

  1. Dickdogfood

    Gulp. J Church were only ever a name to me. What records would be best to change that?

  2. CoachHogan

    Sad news. I used to own a copy of Cringer’s LP, but it disappeared from my college dorm room many eons ago. I remember it being anarchic and awesome. There’s a great Cringer 7-inch with Charlie Brown getting rained on on the cover – still have that one. RIP, Lance …

  3. mike a

    Aw, damn. My wife knew him, and he sounded like a super-nice guy. RIP.

  4. noamjamski

    Wow, what a bummer of a rock and roll weekend. Saturday night bassist Paul Raven (Killing Joke, Prong, Ministry) died of heart failure at 46.

  5. kidnextdoor

    Lance, along with Cringer and J Church, were my inspiration all through growing up. If it’s possible for one person to teach you how to grow up a good punk, it was Lance. His music and lyrics helped me through some of the most difficult times in my life. This is very sad news. I miss you, Lance.

  6. kidnextdoor

    @dickdogfood: An early album of J church is ‘Camels, spilled Corona and the sound of Mariachi bands’. It remains my fave.

  7. klondikedog

    Very sad. J Church was a really great band who released so many records, the quantity obscures the quantity. Having seen them in all their line-ups over the years, Lance will be missed. Although their output seemed to slow over the last few years, presumably due to Lance’s personal struggles, I always returned to J Church. Just this weekend, I was playing DJ as we were driving and played “Nostalgic for Nothing.” Guess that song sums up everything.

    If you are interested in J Church, I would start with any of their singles compilations. I personally love the first comp, “Camels, Spilled Coronas and Mariachi Bands.” “Nostalgic For Nothing” is also excellent, but although no where as known as their sister band, Jawbreaker, J Church will always be remembered. Picking out a favorite J Church record is similar to selecting your favorite Rolling Stones album; while “Exile” might be it, their output kills almost everything else.


  8. Halfwit

    @dickdogfood: Yeah, Emusic has a pretty solid collection available, including the above referenced album. I would recommend the “Tides of Fate EP” (5 songs, 4 are great, 1′s okay). They also have his singles collection.

    I actually just got into J Church last month (Emusic, again), but the stuff I’ve heard makes me feel like I missed out on quite a bit.

  9. umlaut75

    Dammit. This isn’t making a rainy day any better.

  10. Cos

    This can only mean one thing: Jawbreaker reunites for a benefit for Lance.

    (No, I’m not serious)

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