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.