A Conversation with Hannah Wicklund

Hannah Wicklund (21) leads her rock band Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin’ Stones with commanding vocals and beautiful guitarmanship. She started the band when she was just nine years old. Listening to her self-titled album, it’s crazy to think of the twelve year journey that brought her to this point. If you love rock and ever think you were born in the wrong era for music, this album will make you grateful you born in this era. I was able to talk to Hannah about her music and life since the release of her album Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin Stones

Q: What changes has releasing the album caused in your career?

A: It definitely has caused a shift. In some ways, I consider this album my first album even though I’ve released two full length albums and two EP’s under the name the Steppin’ Stones. I’ve had the band since I was nine years old. This album was the first time I put my name on the front of the band. It was hard to decide to do that and I was against it for a long time. I’d had the band for so long but went and dated my drummer, pulled a Fleetwood Mac. After that, I was the consistent being of the band which is why I put my name up front. This is also my most mature music that I’ve put out. I feel like I’m seen as an artist instead of a teenage girl putting out music. This album was the first time I was able to work with an actual producer, Salder Vaden, who dove into the music with me and he came with a few songs. It was very helpful and very different because I’ve usually done it almost on my own.

Q: What was it like hearing your completed album?

A: I don’t remember when it was mixed and totally completed, but I do remember listening to it when we finished recording. We sat in the studio with some Coronas and just blasted the album. Once we wrapped a song Sadler wouldn’t really let me listen to it. It was crazy exciting and we listened to it crazy loud. It was amazing.

Q: What is the writing process like for you?

A: It’s different for every song. A song can be born from different places. Sometimes I'll have one word that I know I want to use in a song, and it just spurs an entire idea. That word doesn't even end up being the title or anything. Sometimes I’ll have titles first or a riff or a melody, I’ve done it every way, but I like marinating on ideas. When I work on lyrics, I’ll just work on them as lyrics and add music. It all just depends on the song.

Q: How long have you been playing?

A: I started playing piano when i was three. I started playing guitar when I was eight. I’m from a very musical family. My brother was playing from the time I was aware. My dad is a drummer and started playing guitar when I was born.

Q: When did music go from a hobby to a career path?

A: Shortly after I started the band, twelve or thirteen is when I made up my mind. That was when I knew but I’d always wanted to do music. Never pictured myself doing anything else. My mom is an artist and my brother has a band called the High Divers so he’s never had a “real” job like me. So with all that, it seemed totally possible and like the career path.

Q: How did you decide Bomb Through The Breeze would be your first single?

A: It was pretty obvious. We decided to wait until the album was finished to pick. It just popped off the record. Sadler and I co-wrote that song along with two others but it was really easy to decide.

Q: How did you come up with the concept for the Bomb Through The Breeze music video and what was it like filming?

A: The director we chose, Jason Lee, was awesome. We sat down to conceptualize it and I really wanted the contrasting ideas. Light and dark. Nature and stale. The contrasting ideas are kind of what the song is about. Like you’ve taken it too far. We’re done. The actual filming came together fairly quickly. I was really nervous but we only filmed for six or seven hours. It was awesome.

Q: What was it like watching your first music video?

A: Oh my gosh! It was a really cool night. We’d just finished playing a show in Nashville, which was rare and it was very random that the video was finished. All my closest people were in town and we all went out to eat. I was smiling so hard. I was so excited because I’d been so nervous for it. The director made me look so bad ass, it wasn’t even real. It got me excited to conceptualize new material.

Q: What’s next for the band?

A: I’m going to release an EP of alternate versions of some of the songs off the latest record. New music to follow that and lots of touring. I can’t wait.

After talking to Hannah, I’m even more excited for the future of the band. Today, it’s hard to find music that rocks as hard as Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin’ Stones. Her music offers a range of rock and each song is unique. The music and lyrics could stand on their own but they come together to make an epic experience. It’s inspiring to watch someone so close to my age living their dream and crushing it. Hannah told me that Salt Lake City is on her list of places to tour, and you can be sure to see me there in the front row. I hope to see lots of you there too, you have to see her play to truly appreciate the skill Hannah has.