Josh Hancock literally wears his life on his body. It’s the palette for multiple tattoos that cover his chest and the length of both arms.
If you know anything of his lyrical work for the 86 List, Black Square, or his solo project with his band the Pressure, the iconic images inked on his arms come as no surprise: Chuck Berry, Elvis Costello, The Clash’s "London Calling" album and its late front man Joe Strummer, as well as the logos of punk figureheads Operation Ivy and Bad Brains.
His love for his Hawaiian home is illustrated on his chest: a colorful assemblage of flowers, a hula dancer and Diamond Head.
As his musical alter ego Josh86, Hancock has juggled writing for his three bands — dating back 11 years with punk stalwarts the 86 List. He also did his fair share of concert promotion, when his non profit Unity Crayons was still active.
THE 86 LIST CELEBRATES NEW CD ‘RESPECT’
with Pimpbot, SMITZ, the Hell Caminos and False Crack
Where: Anna’s, 2440 S. Beretania St.
When: 8 p.m. today
Cost: $5; 21 and over
with Golfcart Rebellion, No Image and ODM
Where: Coffee Talk, 3601 Waialae Ave.
When: 8 p.m. Aug. 27
Cost: $5; all ages
Note: Josh86 will also play free shows with his bands Black Square at 9:30 p.m. tomorrow at Indigo Restaurant, 1121 Nuuanu Ave., and the Pressure at 10 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Mercury Bar, 1154 Fort Street Mall No. 10.
But for this and next weekend, it’s all about the 86, as he, Otto86 and Derek86 promote their fifth album "Respect" with two shows featuring themselves and assorted punk-loving associates.
"I write a lot for both (86 List and Black Square)," said Hancock, "and if I have a song that doesn’t fit here or there, I keep it for myself. They’re usually more personal, talking about struggles, dramas and lessons learned in life. With 86 List, it’s punk rock, and Black Square, political ska."
The 28-year-old Hancock figures he’s written close to 200 songs over the years.
"It’s all therapy," he said. "To me, doing band practices are just as important as performing, because all of us are sharing pieces of our lives. Even during tours on the mainland, where we’re sleeping on kitchen floors and eating from 7-Elevens, just playing with these guys makes me feel lucky, because I’m song-making with good people. … It’s both a social and expressive outlet for me."
He considers the 86 List’s new album a bit of a departure, with "music that’s more pop-y and bouncy." Lyrically and thematically, Hancock still touches on sociopolitical issues, including the court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, civil unions in the song "Red Tide " and American imperialism in "Like Rome."
Not that music is ever off his radar.
"In the song ‘Taken,’ I wrote about the struggles of independent music scenes both here and abroad," he said. "In the local scene, it seems we’ve lost a bit of our fan base for some reason, whether it’s because we’ve all gotten older or some think we’re not the band they think we could’ve been. It’s made for some weird drama over the years."
With a possible slot set aside for Black Square on the national Vans Warped Tour next summer, Hancock tempers hope with realistic expectations.
"In our genre, getting on the Warped Tour is the top, because you’re playing with a huge assortment of bands from around the country. But regardless of whether we get it or not, I’ve learned to appreciate where I am now and what I have in front of me."
As what he hopes his future will bring, Hancock’s plans are two fold.
"One goal is to make 10 albums before I turn 30, and I have one more album to go. … The other I hope to realize before I become 40. I’m currently leasing and renting out studios in the old Blaisdell Hotel downtown, and I’m hoping it’ll lead towards opening up a small but true music venue with solid acoustics.
"I’ll always be rooted in Hawaii," he said.