This is the story of the band as they choose to tell it:
Matt Donahue (drums) had the great idea to start Hank Plank and the 2x4s in the fall of 1996. They were young then. Mark Yokoyama (guitar) and Ben Herzog (bass) rounded out the original lineup. They proceeded to drink a lot of beers and write a lot of songs and play for their friends around Boston, adding Matt Olken on lead guitar.
The friends clapped, but not enough. Matt, Ben and Mark moved to Portland, Oregon in the fall of 1997. It was wet and they practiced a lot and drank a lot of beers. “Fun” Billy Paoli joined the band on lead guitar, they recorded a few demos and the hippies stole the Maglite.
Juliana Trivers (fiddle) joined the band in maybe 1998, bringing enthusiasm, excitement, energy and brio in significant quantities with her infectious, intense and positive attitude. In the summer of 1998 they recorded in a little studio for a couple days and released a CD entitled Ridin’ Shotgun on the Bandwagon. They also went on a short tour of California and did some swimming. They bought really big novelty foam cowboy hats and became very attached to them.
The band spent much of 1999 recording their follow-up album Venus Hair Trap. They also added new members Tom Niebrzydowski on banjo and Ben “Bjorn” Brooks on fiddle, mandolin and musical saw, which doubles as a regular saw. With their expanded lineup, and a handful of guests, they extended their sound into baroque old-timey psychedelica in addition to their post-modern barn burners. Another tour followed, documented in the film Hank Plank on Tour.
Around the turn of the millennium, Matt and Juliana moved to the salsa-producing capital of the world and city that is constantly napping: New York, New York. “Dainty” Dave Lybarger was brought in on the drums and the band played on. The Rocket to Venus EP was recorded with this line-up and the ensuing tour was captured in the imaginatively-titled documentary film Hank Plank on Tour II.
In 2001, Ben and Mark also moved to New York City, reconnecting with Matt and Juliana in their musical venture, Sweet Jeebus. Eventually, they reconvened as Hank Plank to record the opus Planks of Grass, with Ryan Dorin joining to fill a keyboard-shaped hole in the band’s sound.
In August of 2016, the band will be reuniting in Portland, Oregon for a celebration of their 20th anniversary.