By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
El Khatib describes, at one point, being physically pushed onstage by his manager while yelling his credit card number into his cell phone to pay to euthanize his terminally sick cat, left behind at home.
But if it's a life that's sometimes low on glamor, it is the one he's chosen. Coming out of the skate scene in his native San Francisco, El Khatib at an early age landed a cushy job doing graphics for the skate brand HUF. But as he crept toward 30, he found there was a separate set of urgent artistic forces brewing inside him in the form of rock 'n' roll.
In the summer of 2010, Innovative Leisure partner Jamie Strong caught wind of the demos that would make up the bulk of Will the Guns Come Out. "I was blown away by his voice and the lyrics," Strong recalls.
El Khatib decided to go whole-hog into a late-breaking music career, and he's actually now a partner and creative director for the label. "It's partially talent and luck, but the effort you put into it is the return you get," he says now.
Though maybe it's not as lucrative as people think, he notes. "I've heard, like, "Your shit was on the Super Bowl tour buses!' No. Try a rental van."
Though he's not planning to return to sleeping on dirty floors, El Khatib is realistic about his relatively modest success and quick to dissuade rumors of his baller status. "The best one is, like, so they gave you an Audi, right?" He laughs and slams his hand on the table. "Yes, they gave me an Audi. That's exactly how it works. Imported from Germany. It's, like, what?"
Hanni El Khatib's Head in the Dirt is out now.