Monday, February 18, 2013

INTERVIEW WITH AUGIE OF THE HARD LESSONS

The Hard Lessons: They're gonna teach you the hard way.

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Who are you?

Husband, father, guitarist, Italian, teacher, record collector, sometimes-bearded co-vocalist and songwriter for The Hard Lessons.

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Who are you wearing?

Flint Local 432. The Hard Lessons played there last night and on our way out the door they hooked us up with t-shirts and hoodies. Good thing too, because it was the sweatiest show we've played in years.

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What's the best part of being a rock n roll band with a baby?

It is inspiring. Our most recent release is a one-sided 45 with a song we wrote in our son's honor. The flipside has his actual footprint, stamped individually. The green rooms tend to be a lot cleaner when the venue knows we're bringing the baby too!

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Best Detroit band of all time?

Oh man, that's impossible. I really do love that every time we're getting out of town for some gigs the ghosts of the city's music past wish us well. Go south and you pass the MC5's high school or the house where the White Stripes recorded their second album. Go north and you've got the studio where Ready For The World recorded chart-topping smooth jams. When my cousins were in town from Italy they demanded an 8-Mile tour because they were in love with Eminem. I was just as enamored with that Death record as everyone else a couple of years ago and as overstated as it is, Fun House really does sound like a pretty perfect rock n roll mess every time I listen to it.

Beards: yay or nay?

I had one for five years straight? The funny thing is, people who hadn't seen me for a while would say "Oh, you grew a beard." I feel like you don't grow a beard, you stop shaving. Either way, I currently don't have a beard but have not touched a razor to my face in a decade. I'm in a state of perpetual 5 o'clock shadow thanks to a beard trimmer with no guard.

Hardest lesson you ever had to learn?

Having a child changes everything you know about life, especially if you've spent years in a business that functions in the "after hours." It was a sobering moment to realize there is a little human completely dependent on your time, care and even money! It was a hard lesson, but a rewarding one as well. At the end of the day the happiness this little creature brings to our life outweighs all of the challenges.

Worst show you ever played?

We've played 700-some shows in seven countries, and for so long I was proud to say that I could stand by each and every one. We don't really do "bad" shows, really. That being said, we once did a coast-to-coast tour of the US that was scheduled for two and a half months. The first two months were great, but approaching the last week and a half (from Seattle back to Detroit) our booking agent had us playing two back-to-back nights in Moscow, Idaho. The second night we were the only band and they wanted us to play three sets. The crowd was so not a music crowd and there was probably some sports event on the TVs and I just remember getting in an argument with some dude before falling off of the stage and breaking two ribs. We packed up that night, cancelled the last few shows, and drove all the way back to Detroit in one 39-hour shot. I was in bed for a week recovering when we got back.

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See or be seen?

We made the “scene” for a lot of years. I think as we approach a decade of The Hard Lessons, we have our fans and supporters and enjoy playing for them. When I wrote “See and be Scene” I was really fascinated by the word “scene” and how it related to all of these different sub groups of rock n roll. On one tour we played with the New York Dolls and My Chemical Romance and the scenes were so different, but so alike. I imagined that from an outsider’s perspective it really did look like a bunch of dudes in girls' clothes making noise trying to be seen. We even have a t-shirt that just says SCENE on the front. That was a big thing in Detroit for a while, “scene kids.” We were mocking the label by making it an actual label to be flaunted on shirt.

Best US city for rock n roll?

Austin really is a great city for music. Every time we would play there after SXSW the shows were amazing. Nashville is really exciting right now too. Of course we love Detroit and New York and Spaceland in Silverlake was always really awesome to us as well. But really it just comes down to a room of people in ANY city. If your town has a record store and a venue and kids looking to listen to some music, that’s all you need. A little group of folks that can support each other. What more can you ask for?

What's your message to the youth of Detroit?

Stay out of those abandoned buildings. I almost fell three stories through the floor of Fisher Body 21 during a THL photo shoot, saved at the last moment by legendary Michigan photographer Doug Coombe. My message for Doug is THANKS!

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