Artist offers tongue-in-cheek perspective with skillful musicality and humorous bounce
With trusted acoustic and electric piccolo bass guitars by the artist’s side, multi-instrumental talent Chris Hardy creates clever songs through a remarkably ironic wit. An observer of human behavior, Hardy takes that perspective and weaves intelligent, often fun songs which stand out with flippant distinction. For instance, the single, “People Ruin Everything,” examines the irony of the contemporary human condition with skilled playing and singing. But this is merely the beginning of the story.
Chris Hardy’s skill for bringing creative personal thoughts to musical fulfillment is clear-cut and a pleasure to hear. Listening to “People Ruin Everything,” the tone of Hardy’s voice alone epitomizes the playful musical narrative. Yet, the South Carolina-based musician has a way of speaking to issues on people’s minds, especially with the lyrics, “We can’t believe a word/Cause the facts get all congealed/Behind the scenes on the news/Are nothing but back room deals.”
Among the Hardy music catalog, from the album Such Is The Zest, with original artwork by Jacob Boland, “FREAKISHLY LARGE KNIFE!” stands out as entertaining and a growing favorite. Keep in mind that all instruments, singing, writing and production is by Hardy, with mastering from Scott Horton.
Naturally, musicinterviewmagazine.com eagerly welcomed the opportunity to interview Chris Hardy.
An interview with Chris Hardy
Musicinterviewmagazine.com: A great title and song; what is the inspiration behind “People Ruin Everything?”
Chris Hardy: Having been an introvert my whole life, there is a bit of a slant against people in my world, ha-ha. The song is a bit tongue-in-cheek with the singalong chorus, but much of 2020 motivated me to write it. I watched all these experts contradict each other and it became clear to me that it’s not the science that’s inconsistent, it’s the people misrepresenting the science.
In addition to singing, did you write, perform and record all the music for “People Ruin Everything?” What instruments do you play on the song?
Yup, I did everything. We introverts don’t usually play well with others [laugh]. Let’s see, there’s a cheap Yamaha keyboard; my Steinberger bass; an ’86 Squire® tele and my little Yamaha drumkit with a Rocket Shells piccolo snare. I generally don’t lean on technology, so my hands played every note of it.
You mention playing an acoustic piccolo bass guitar. Do you use the piccolo bass guitar on other songs?
Sure, almost exclusively on my albums since 2012; I think on my last five or six albums, there’s not one six-string guitar on them at all. “People Ruin Everything” is kind of a rarity because I don’t play that tele a whole lot. Sometimes I put piccolo bass strings on my Steinberger for guitarlike sounds, so a lot of electric guitar sounds one might hear on my albums are most likely the electric piccolo bass. I use the acoustic piccolo basses for my solo gigs.
While playing and recording with the acoustic piccolo bass, do you play into a DI, or mic the instrument? What tuning do you use? How about string gauges?
Most of the time I plug into the recorder direct and mic it up. That kind of evens out and gets a fuller sound. The tuning is just EADG an octave higher than a regular bass and I think the gauges are .053, .042, .032 and .024. The acoustics, I have two Alvarez MSB1’s, are a 27” scale, so I just use Elixir® acoustic guitar strings. I also happen to have an impressive stockpile of single strings in .016 and .012 gauges since I only use the four strings.
Do you think your solo album Such Is The Zest helps listeners find personal happiness?
Well, I’d like to know that too. That album wasn’t really designed for that, but the one I’m working on now is sort of a finding personal happiness concept album. On Such Is The Zest, I approached subjects like cold showers with “I Felt The Cold And It Made Me Warm”; shaving off a beard in “Heavyface”; not arguing on the Internet with “I’m Not Gonna Climb The Tower Today” and majestic cutlery in “FREAKISHLY LARGE KNIFE!” among others.
“FREAKISHLY LARGE KNIFE!” is a favorite, earning smiles. How did the song come about?
I once received a set of steak knives as a gift. They all looked the same except one was much bigger than the rest. So, I referred to it as the freakishly large knife. As time went on, I eventually came up with a quasi-operatic vocal fanfare where I would sing “FREAKISHLY LARGE KNIFE!,” when I saw it. Then the fanfare turned into a whole song. I could totally hear Queen covering this song.
We must ask, how has the COVID situation affected you as a musician?
Had probably a 75% reduction in live shows. Down here in South Carolina it didn’t hit as severely as in other places. So, a lot of venues were still open through most of it, but the shows slowed down a bit. With the spare time afforded to me by the COVID, I filmed 265 live videos of one original song each and posted them on Facebook, one per day. Gave me something to do. Then a couple of months ago I went on a songwriting flurry, so my time has been well spent.
What is next for Chris Hardy?
I’ve recorded 20 songs to choose from for the next album. That’s the instruction manual for finding happiness set to music. Well, I’ve collected many bits of wisdom from many sources that have collectively led me to a mostly happy life and I thought I should use my abilities to share this wisdom with people struggling. And after 2020, I know there are plenty of people who might find such an album useful. After I get the songs mastered, I’ll get the artwork collected and figure out what kind of packaging I’ll surround the discs with. Yes, discs. I sell CDs at my shows. I have an older crowd who still have CD players. But this new one, like Such Is The Zest, will have a QR code in the packaging that leads to a free download site, so one won’t need a CD player at all. I’ll be busy with music all right, but as I always say, I suck at everything else [laugh.]
For more, please visit:
Paul Wolfle, the publisher of musicinterviewmagazine.com, is a web-based journalist who has written for several popular sites. Paul has a passion for connecting with a diversity of musicians who are looking to grow a positive presence on the World Wide Web.