Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catching Up With Hardcoretet the Do It Live Interview!

Reviewing Independent acts is the equivalent of playing musical prospector. You go through twenty releases to find a gem such as Hardcoretet. I was fortunate enough to grab them for a few comments and highly recommend their new release Do It Live. (Review link at conclusion).

 Can you describe how the band came together and what role the overall sound of the band played in determine its member ship?

HCT - "The band initially was formed out of a desire to work on challenging music that would push us beyond our current ability. Art Brown, our saxophonist, and I were in a funk band that was fairly limiting and, with both of us graduating from the University of Washington, neither of us had a project that was constantly testing us as musicians. I think the same could be said for Tim and Aaron, our bass player and keyboardist. 

The current sound of the band has been shaped more by its membership, and not the other way around. In other words, I wanted to be in a band with these guys because I liked and respected them as peope and individual players, not because we had a particular musical vision we wanted to chase. The way we sound now is the product of five years of rehearsing, talking, playing, and writing together and couldn't have been forseen when the band was formed."

For me the band is more of a collective. Solo artists with a common purpose of experimental improvisation. YET the band keeps an incredible air of accessibility. Are some groups becoming a bit self-indulgent in the speed is king mentality of shifting meter and overall pretentiousness of sonic firepower as opposed to working within and pushing the inventiveness of simply melody?

HCT - "The accessibility comes more from our influences than any intentional decision to avoid sounding pretentious. A lot of the music we listen to as individuals has a melodic quality more than an in-your-face chopsfest vibe and, although we all have great respect for artists that can pull that music off, it just isn't what we enjoy. Hermeto Pascoal, Chris Potter, Kneebody, Soundgarden, Miles Davis, and Herbie Hancock are all strong influences within the group. These artists present stellar musicianship, but use that musicianship to serve a song rather than the other way around. That's a mindset we have in Hardcoretet, and it plays out in how we perform the music we write."

Recording a new record is hard, to do a live release with the potential to showcase the band "warts and all" is a huge roll of the dice. Are you setting a standard for more independent type artists to follow?

HCT - "The live aspect of the recording was almost more of a practical decision than anything else. We only had one day in the studio to get everything recorded, and doing overdubs and splices can be a time-consuming, expensive proposition. Given our limited time, we rehearsed like crazy before the date and recorded the set three times, picking the best takes of each song. There's nothing inherently better or more honest about recording live sets, it's just what we had to do given our resources. That said, we're very proud of what we ended up with, and the risk of recording live paid off with some great moments. We'll be heading back into the studio early next spring, and the band has committed to a more "studio album" process with overdubs and all. Not better or worse, just a different product in the end."

Can you describe for us the influences of the band and where do you see the band in five years?

HCT - "The artists I mentioned above are largely responsible for Hardcoretet's sound. Compositionally Kneebody and Chris Potter loom large for me, and they exemplify the way rhythms from modern popular genres like rock and funk can be melded with jazz harmony and melody to create something completely fresh. I grew up listening to Soundgarden, not knowing how advanced they were rhythmically and harmonically, and I'm convinced getting those sounds in my ear early is part of why I write and play the way I do today.

In five years, we'll have a few more records under our belt and will be hopefully making our way around the country playing festivals and visiting college music departments. We've already done clinics at a few universities in the northwest, and the music we play has proved to be the perfect avenue to show music students the possibilities a jazz education makes available to them."

Finally...Do jazz labels get tiresome? Pigeon holing Hardcoretet is like trying to put the proverbial musical square peg in a round hole. Are there pros and cons to this?

HCT - "The term "jazz" is a double-edged sword. On one hand, jazz radio and jazz clubs generally cater to a very narrow segment of the jazz genre, namely swing and bebop from the 50's and 60's, so being labeled a "jazz group" with a record that doesn't swing makes it difficult to present our music to those stations and clubs. On the other hand, the jazz audience is much more sophisticated than that, and appreciates what we do even when we're not playing tunes from Kind of Blue. They understand that the defining characteristic of jazz, improvisation, can take root in any genre, and they can hear when a group of musicians are communicating with each other, whether they're swinging or playing borderline metal. Thanks to the open ears of the audience, being a jazz musician is incredibly freeing, but being a "jazz group" can often be limiting."

Special thanks to Hardcoretet for their time and for their publicist in making this happen!