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The Bitter Suite

Interview: Robert John Hanson is the ultimate singer-songwriter to learn from on The Bitter Suite

We sat down with the hugely experienced Liverpool-born musician Robert John Hanson recently. He tells us about life in the USA, his personal release The Bitter Suite, classical music inspirations, Uncle Wally and The Beatles, reading, mystery authors, unexpected death and much more. Sit back with a cuppa coffee and enjoy learning from an experienced artist who guides us through the life of a solo musician in a forget-me-quick world.

Llewelyn: Hello Robert. We appreciate your time and for joining us. First, what do you have for breakfast usually and where are you currently based?

Robert: Coffee and a cigarette for breakfast. My current home base is Providence, RI.

Llewelyn: How did you first get into music and do you recall your first time on stage and what it felt like?

Robert: My father exposed me to classical music and my mother played the piano. You see, we had a piano in the front room. I took piano lessons at age 9, but in order to save money, I had to go with my best friend’s older sister who was a natural and made me look foolish. I also sang in the choir at the Westminster County Primary Elementary School. But it wasn’t until I moved
to the US that I picked up the guitar. I borrowed a guitar from a young lady. The very first time I put my fingers on a guitar I played a D chord by accident. The first time I played live felt magnificent. I played at the Lincoln School for Girls. I was 15
years old and I thought I was a rock star.

Llewelyn: The Bitter Suite. This is a hugely personal release. Please let us in and tell us what the story is behind your new album.

Robert: In 2019 I was about to record a heavier progressive rock album. But then, one of my best friends, the artist Michael Caviasca, died unexpectedly. At his memorial service, I met his therapist, who turned out to be a mystery author, J. L Doucette. I asked her if she’d ever written lyrics and she said she hadn’t. But a few weeks later she gave me lyrics for a song about connection and loss, which was based on her experience of the therapy relationship, but was universal in what it says about friendship. I’d been working on some music in memory of Michael and her words fit perfectly, and became Hush And A Prayer..And that
changed the direction of the album I was about to make. Hush And A Prayer was the first song we wrote for The Bitter Suite Album.
Just a few months later the pandemic hit and I found myself stuck in an apartment with my guitar. Over the next year, I wrote new music and co-wrote about half of the songs on the album with J.L.Doucette.

Llewelyn: Do you recall much about Liverpool and the feeling around the city?

Robert: I remember Liverpool very well. My first crush was in Liverpool, my teacher, Miss Richmond. I actually wrote a song about her teaching which will be featured in a later album. I remember things like Pancake Tuesday and my Uncle Wally telling me he just met a bunch of guys in a band called The Beatles.

Llewelyn: Is there anywhere in the world you’d like to play live in?

Robert: I’d love to play live at the Cavern.

Llewelyn: What other hobbies do you have besides music?

Robert: I’m an avid reader. I enjoy cooking and worked as a chef to pay the bills. I always like cooking to music and I had a knack for it.

Llewelyn: Last, how do you describe our sound to strangers who haven’t heard your music yet?

Robert: I can’t really describe my sound. I have the luxury of playing what I feel at the moment. I like the music of Erik Satie and his composition Gymnopedie inspired me to write the music for Ukraine Spring on The Bitter Suite Album. I grew up listening to the Beatles and David Bowie and I believe my songs carry those influences. I’m currently working on two different albums, each with a different feel. My next single, “I Can Remember” co-written with Cyndy Brown, was inspired by V. E. Schwab’s time-travel novel, “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue”. It’s set to release on all streaming platforms on August 11.

Listen up on Spotify.

Follow his career on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen