Testify – Mike Hardin of Roky Moon and Bolt
Roky Moon and Bolt have been one of Houston’s best and most singular bands. Taking the musical ideas of 70’s glam rock as a starting point, Mike Hardin and company have chipped away at the genre to create something that is at once familiar yet unique. RMAB isn’t a one man band though; RMAB takes Hardin’s vision and siphons it through a strong cast of supporting characters like guitarist Aaron Echegaray who plays guitar like David Lean made epic films and keyboardist Cassie Hargrove whose melodic flourishes are the rug that tie the room together. It’s less a band than a symbiotic organism. Sure Hardin might be the center of attention and this is clearly his vision but, like the best Hollywood directors, he’s smart enough to surround himself with people who not only understand his dream but also expand on it by adding their individual strengths and personality. The band celebrates the release of its newest album, American Honey on Zen Hill Records,this Saturday and we took some precious minutes out of head honcho Mike Hardin to have him answer some questions.
FPH – This is your second release and it’s on a different label. How was the experience of making this album compare to making the last one? Also are both of these one-offs with the with the labels are are either of these labels longer term deals?
Hardin – Night and day with these two albums. The last one we actually came in and tracked the album. This is one is all live. We did it all in one day. You’ll be surprised to know that when you hear it though. As far as the labels go yes we did an album with Home Skool and now this one with ZenHill records and I’m not sure where we go from here. I guess we are just going to continue writing and touring and hopefully something comes along that fits us.
FPH – Tell about the new album, the songs, how you approached the songwriting and the production?
Hardin – Preparing for this album was quite an experience. Since we did the whole album in one day there was a lot of rehearsal time put in. We had to make sure everything was perfect and everyone did fantastic. The songs are a collection of older and newer songs. If you have seen us play any time this year these songs will not seem strange to you.
FPH – The band has expanded a bit. Last I saw you, there were back-up singers, a saxophone, and maybe I’m imagining it but a monkey playing a xylophone. Is that just a live thing or are these full time members and how has the expanded palate of instrumentation helped you with your vision?
Hardin – The expanded band is definitely a permanent thing. Arthur Moreno took on sax duties and he plays every show with us. The girls, Jessica Janes and Rikki Conner, play with us as often as they can. Having a sax was always a must for me. It was just a matter of finding the right person an situation to make it work. The singers are huge because we can do so much vocally now and the band sounds a lot bigger. I am looking for one more member someone to do acoustic guitar and percussion and maybe some other stuff so maybe I’ll find that soon and my quest will be complete.
FPH – I want to ask you is about your band. You are the focus but you shine all the more because you are surrounded by strong personalities on stage and on record who impose who they are onto your vision. I just wanted to throw an open ended question about how important they are to the mix.
Hardin - Absolutely! I spend a lot of time writing these songs and putting together all of these pieces but I can only hear it in my head and play it on an acoustic guitar. In order for this thing to actually work I absolutely must have players. I’m talking about people who can really play but also have strong personalities. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are without the talents of everyone in the band.
FPH – You guys are going on tour. How has the reception been out there on the road?
Hardin – Yes we are planning on another west coast jaunt then in the winter we leave for a European tour with Young Girls. The reception has been largely positive. We had a great time out on the west coast and the people were great.
FPH – You guys seem to take that 70’s glam rock sound and kind of run with it but do you see the band expanding beyond that sound or do you find that there is enough to explore within that genre alone?
Hardin – I can definitely see the music growing. As a songwriter I have grown lot in the last few years and you can hear it in the new tracks for sure. I do feel there is a ton to explore in the glam genre and I never intend to stray too far. I didn’t really set out writing songs and thinking “I want to be glam” it just happened that I loved a bunch of bands that were considered glam and I wanted to make rock n roll that was In the vein of the music I like.
FPH – What’s the song off the new album you are most proud of and why?
Hardin – Probably the last song on the album “When the world was changed” I wanted to have a classic sort of doo wop feel and Aaron, Cassie, Jess and rikki really put the backing vocals together right and they sound so nice!
FPH – Do you ever see Roky Moon leaving Houston to reach a larger audience?
Hardin – Well that is certainly the idea. There are a lot of factors involved in “making” it. The only thing we can do is continue to work hard and tour.
FPH – OK your record release show has a lot of great bands. Let’s say by some turn of fate you find yourself and the other bands teleported that night to another planet where bands must fight to the death in a coliseum for the pleasure of a race of giant bug creatures. How would that play out and who would be victorious?
Hardin – I got nothing here! I guess we would all team up and rise against out alien captors and fight our out of there or die trying. That’s the only way to do it in my book.
Saturday 30 July, 2010 – Roky Moon and BOLT! celebrate the release of American Honey with Tax the Wolf , Young Girls, sIngs, listenlisten, JW Americana, Llorna $6 All Ages 8PM