The Flairs

Perhaps it was the Fickle Finger of Fate that brought Canadian guitarists Dawn Mandarino and Gillian Hanna together in the summer of 2002. The two happened to cross paths while touring with separate bands, and after successfully jamming together with drummer Jen Foster, the ladies added Hanna’s brother Ryan on bass to form the Flairs. The two guitarists’ playing is complimentary, with Mandarino concentrating mainly on rhythm, and Hanna covering riffs and solos. Celebrating the release of Shut Up and Drive [Pacific Music]—which the band describes as “a hodgepodge of rock, metal, punk, and pop”—Flair will be touring Canada and the U.S. throughout the summer (check out for news and updates).

Who are your influences?

Hanna: I was influenced a lot by Slash. He was one of the reasons I picked up the guitar. I really dug his tone and style, and I wanted to play like that.

Mandarino: Seeing the Ramones performing “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” when I was really young inspired me to play punk rock. Their songs are clever in the sense that they’re so basic, and yet so powerful. I think they are the best songwriters of all time.

What gear do you use?

Hanna: I play left-handed, and I was lucky enough to find a black left-handed Les Paul Custom. But I also play a Minarik Goddess, and both guitars are strung with Ernie Ball Skinny Top/Heavy Bottoms Slinkys (.010-.052). My amp is a Marshall JCM-2000, and my effects are a Dunlop CryBaby and a Boss overdrive.

Mandarino: My favorite guitar is my Gibson SG-1, which only has one pickup, and I use Dean Marley LTHB strings (.010-.052). I play through a Marshall JCM-2000. I don’t use any pedals because I’m influenced by punk rock, and I like the simple Gibson through Marshall approach.

How does your new album differ from your previous EP?

Hanna: It’s a little heavier sounding.

Mandarino: We’ve grown a lot since then as songwriters. Now, we take the time to go through the songs and make sure they’re really how we want them to sound.

Do you have aspirations to get signed?

Hanna: Sure. I think we’ve done pretty well so far on our own, but if the time is right and the company is right, then who knows? It’s always nice to have money behind you.

Mandarino: If it happens, it happens. But, in the meantime, we’re having fun doing what we’re doing.