Singer/Songwriter/Musician/Worship Leader Hanz Ives grew up in a very musical home. “Music was everywhere around me growing up. My Dad was an engineer by career but he was also an amazing singer and actor. He was basically the premier baritone in town and landed all of the great lead roles in the main theater troop in Albuquerque. While other boys were out playing ball in the streets, it wasn’t unusual for me to be running up and down the aisles of the hall where my dad was rehearsing for the next production, watching the process and soaking it up.
“My parents encouraged our musical upbringing through lessons on various instruments and through providing us with music to listen to. I’ll never forget the day my parents brought home the album (remember those?) Meet the Beatles! That pretty much changed my life forever. I totally wanted to be a Beatle. My brother and I would grab tennis rackets, baseball bats and pretty much anything that resembled a guitar and we would air guitar and mimic the vocals to the songs off that and many of the early Beatles records. I also remember fabricating a drum set out of toys and piano benches and jamming along with Steve Wonder’s single “For once in my life”
Hanz’ family was also very involved in the music of their church. “My Mom and Dad sang in the adult choir at our church, while the 3 kids participated in the youth choir. My sister Kathleen was and still is an amazing singer (Kathleen is a staff director at the New Mexico School for the Arts and still sings in recitals and directs opera’s all over the US).” In the Ives home, music was just a part of the atmosphere.
“The whole guitar thing began for me when my brother started playing guitar and was getting really good at it. I was pretty convinced that he and his friends were the coolest guys on the planet so I wanted to do whatever I could to be like them. My sister gave me her nylon string guitar because she wanted to concentrate on piano. I started taking group guitar lessons where I learned my first song, “Skip To My Lou”. (Which of course, is a classic!) Guitar playing immediately became my greatest passion as a 13 year old!”
For the first couple of years playing guitar Hanz would spend hours in his room learning songs by such varied artists as The Beatles; Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; America; Jim Croce, Dan Fogleberg, John Denver and The Eagles. “Folk music and the singer songwriter thing was really all it was about for a kid with an acoustic guitar in the early 70’s. I would pick out all of the guitar parts from ear on those records as well as the lead vocal and harmonies. Then me and my friends would sit around for hours drinking coffee and playing those songs and new ones we were writing; it was a fun and really vibrant time in my life.”
A fact that might only interest me…the first album I ever bought was Jimi Hendrix – “Are you experienced”
As Hanz’ ability on the guitar and singing began to grow so did his social calendar. He went from being (by his own admission) a pretty dorky kid to all of a sudden a young man that was being asked to play guitar and sing at school assemblies, dances, church functions and friends parties. “Looking back it seems so crazy now but at one point I was voted the most talented person in my school and I didn’t even know that a vote was being taken!”
January 16th, 1976 was an important date in Hanz’ life; it was the day he bought his first electric guitar. “It’s pretty funny that I remember the date so vividly, but it truly was a turning point in my life, musically.” Hanz had been working at a job as a bus boy with the express reason of saving for an electric guitar and when he finally had enough money to get one he started pouring over the classifieds in the local paper searching for a good deal. “I had my sights set on a Les Paul because I was really into Jeff Beck at the time and he was playing a Les Paul custom on the cover of his album Blow by Blow. I found the Les Paul Recording model for sale, went to the guy’s house and made the purchase. Not long after that I bought my first amp, a pre-CBS Black Face Fender Deluxe. Having the guitar and the amp meant I could take the next step…join a band!”
Hanz and some of his friends from high school formed the band “Off The Wall”. “We rehearsed in the den of the other guitar player in the band, Vaughn McMillan (who BTW, is one of the best guitarists I’ve ever known). His parents were so gracious, watching TV with the volume turned up to 10 trying to compete with a band in the other room with multiple amps turned up to 10. We learned a set of very eclectic cover songs as well as some of our originals and we went out and played high school dances and some parties. It was a really important time, learning the ins and outs of being in a band and starting to really see where my passions in life could be leading me.”
Not long after graduating from high school Hanz ended up moving to Sacramento, California. He moved in with his brother Ken and his wife and got a job and began to investigate the local music scene. “I don’t even really recall how I made some of the initial contacts in “Sac” but it wasn’t too long before I found myself in a band called “Jumpers”. I’ll never forget that audition. I was asked to learn a few different songs, one of which was the medley from the 2nd side of the Beatles, Abbey Road. I learned the guitar solos from “The End” note for note and came in and played that and the leader of the band said, “You’re in!” I became the lead singer/guitarist for Jumpers. Music was so great at that time; new wave music was in vogue, skinny ties. The travel, the music and the relationships were fun.
That band played all over Northern California and Nevada. It was a really fast-paced and furious time as I was doing a lot of playing and singing while holding down a steady job (which is what you have to do when you are just getting going as a musician.) After several years of playing the Northern California music scene, Hanz received a phone call from his friends back in Albuquerque in the band “Off the Wall”. In the years that Hanz had been living in Sacramento the band had gained quite a local following in Albuquerque and had just recorded and released an EP (which was quite a feat at that time for an indy band). They were in need of a second guitarist and were also looking for new original material in preparations for further recording.
Thoughts on Songwriting that may interest only me!
“I started writing songs as soon as I learned my first two chords. Now, I’m not saying they were good songs, but I had a desire to express myself through songwriting from the very start. I think it was just part and parcel to the musical environment I grew up in.”
“Over time and with a lot of practice I did start writing some songs that I thought were okay and others seemed to agree. It’s an interesting thing, songwriting. In a sense you give birth to this thing and then share it with the world, exposing yourself to both regard and ridicule. It’s something that’s kind of in you or it isn’t because nobody really wants to be exposed like that normally. Over the years I’ve felt almost compelled at times to write. Even when I have no idea what I’m going to write about. More on the songwriting in other forums of this site might be forthcoming.”
BACK TO ALBUQUERQUE
“Coming back to Albuquerque proved to be one of the best things that ever happened in my life. Not only did I have the privilege of playing with a great band, enjoying some success playing all over the western United States but more importantly it brought me to the place where I met my future wife, Debbie!!”
“Debbie and I had known each other in high school. We sang together in the Concert Chorale but apart from that didn’t really have much contact. Then I come back to Albuquerque and she was a DJ at a local radio station and just happened to be dating the manager of the band. We got be really close friends and from there fell in love. Yes, it was a bit complicated but love has a way of sorting these things out. I felt like I was one of the coolest guys in the world, I was playing in a rock band and my girlfriend (and future wife) was a DJ at the number one rock station in town. It was a fantastic time.”
Debbie and Hanz got married in 1984 and continued to live in Albuquerque.
After several more years of working in the local music scene in Albuquerque and touring around with various bands Hanz, along with his wife, Debbie decided to move to Southern California in 1987 to pursue a songwriting/recording career.
“When we first moved to Southern California we really didn’t know very many people. We just felt we needed to make the move because the ceiling for opportunity in the music business in Albuquerque was pretty low. Debbie was so amazing in that she gave up a lot to make the move. She had a cool job as the DJ at 94 Rock and her family was local. Not an easy thing to do but we felt like the adventure was well worth it.”
Moving to Southern California Hanz and Debbie settled down in North Hollywood. It was centrally located and was a place full of affordable housing. Considering we were pretty much in the starving musician mode it was the best option.
“We both got jobs to make rent and then I started trying to make some connections musically by answering some ads for musicians wanted and by placing ads for being available. It was an eye opening experience to come to a place where the pool of talented and qualified musicians was super deep. I realized I had a lot of skills that needed to be sharpened and I needed to have gear that was in keeping with the current scene. I was fortunate to get a few gigs but for the most part it was hit and miss.”
“It was during this time that through a series of God ordained circumstances Debbie and I came to know and have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. MY TESTIMONY Becoming a Christian completely changed my perspective on everything in life. Suddenly pursuing a career in music took a back seat to just wanting to follow God’s will for my life.”
Not long after that Hanz dedicated his talents and abilities to the furtherance of God’s kingdom. He worked as a session and live guitarist in the LA music scene while holding a position at an independent Christian record label based in the San Fernando Valley (N-SOUL Records). It was during this time that Hanz discovered that he had calling from the Lord; leading God’s people in worship.
Hanz began serving in various worship bands in churches all around Southern California as a guitarist and as a worship leader at his home church (Calvary Chapel of Pasadena). Hanz was asked to become the head of the music ministry at the church not long after that.
“It was during that time that three very important things happened in my life. Debbie and I had our children; Elly in 1994 and then Mary in 1996. Of course children are such a blessing and that’s a chapter in my life that I’m still living and enjoying. The other big thing that came up for me was to become a part of the band that was leading worship for Pastor Greg Laurie’s Monday night bible study at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. To be a part of that ministry was so amazing. First of all just being on the platform at “Big Calvary” was awe inspiring, and then to see the gifting of Pastor Greg and the people that would respond to his invitations to come to Christ week after week was just staggering.”
1st ever time performing in any church setting, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Musicians Fellowship 1992
Hanz was serving with the team at Calvary on Monday nights for several years before being asked in 1997 to join the staff of Harvest Christian Fellowship, the church in Riverside, California pastored by Greg Laurie. “I had to pinch myself just to be sure it was really happening. I mean, you just go from trying to be faithful on a day-to-day basis with what the Lord has called you to and then you find yourself as the worship leader of one of the largest churches in America! That doesn’t just happen. God really did an amazing thing in my life to bring me to that place.”
All sorts of wonderful things have happened since that time. In 1999 Hanz became the worship leader for the Harvest Crusades: the global evangelistic outreach of Harvest Christian Fellowship. Since then he has lead worship for the Crusades and for other events from Anaheim to Philadelphia, and from Israel to Australia. Also in 1999 Hanz released a CD entitled “For Our King” which was a collection of worship songs that he has written and that are sung at Harvest Christian Fellowship, the Harvest Crusades and churches across the country.
Since 2001 Hanz as the leader of the Harvest Worship Band has been a part of writing for, recording and producing a number of releases, including “Live @ Harvest” – 2001, “Harvest Christmas – The Voices of Harvest” – 2003, “When We Meet” – 2005. “Praiseworthy” - March ’07, “Enter In” – 2010, “The Promised One” – 2011
During his years of service at Harvest Christian Fellowship, Hanz has had the privilege serving as a teacher and instructor at the Calvary Chapel Worship Leaders Conferences and the Worship Life Conferences. Hanz is also involved in the training of musicians and worship leaders through the Calvary School of Worship and through the Musicians’ Network, which is a part of the worship ministry of Harvest Christian Fellowship.
In his capacity as worship leader of Harvest Christian Fellowship and as the worship leader of the Harvest Crusades Hanz has had the great privilege of serving with and alongside many wonderful musicians such as The Gettys, Joy Williams, Phil Joel, Richie Furay, Crystal Lewis, Lenny LeBlanc, Tommy Walker, Matt Redman, Andrae Crouch, Marty Goetz, Steve Wiggins, Bryan Duncan, Fernando Ortega, Cheri Keaggy, Doyle Dykes, Jill Paquette, Mathew West, Steve Grace, Holland Davis, Terry Clark, Two or More, Ginny Owens, Margaret Becker, The Paul Colman Trio, Paul Overstreet and Dennis Agajanian.
In 2006 Hanz became an Ordained Minister of the Gospel and currently holds the position of Senior Minister of Music at Harvest Christian Fellowship.
Hanz currently lives in Riverside, CA with his wife of 30 years and his Daughters, Elly and Mary and 5 dogs, (yes, you read that right, 5 dogs) in his spare time Hanz likes to ride both mountain and road bikes.