They just killed Rothbury Festival and were put on display by Spin Magazine, but do The Hard Lessons have what it takes to answer our questions? Guitarist/vocalist Augie Visocchi thinks so.
Why the name The Hard Lessons?
It’s my middle name.
What do you like most about Michigan?
Most of the negative things about Michigan are actually positive for struggling musicians. Unbelievably low cost of living, affordable clinics to make up for the highest unemployment rate in the country, plenty of abandoned lots in which to grow produce, and the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want creatively speaking. It is also a really beautiful state. My wife and I took a week-long honeymoon 3 hours from home for $200. The photos make it look like we could have been in Hawaii.
Who was your favourite band/musician growing up?
I was obsessed with Michael Jackson for longer than anyone else I know who was born in the early 80s. I know everybody loves a dead musician for some reason, but I put so much faith in that man and his music that I even bought Invincible the day it came out just to help him hit the Billboard chart a little harder. Once sixth grade came around it was all about Seattle for me and Pearl Jam and Nirvana introduced me to two very important things that steered the rest of my musical life: Neil Young and the blues, respectively.
What did your parents listen to while you were growing up?
We didn’t have a CD player in my house growing up. My dad would listen to old cassettes of the Italian music he listened to growing up. Some of it is really familiar because it is a common practice in other countries to copy American songs and put new words on them. So some silly Monkees song would have lyrics about a child dying laid over top. If one of these songs would come on in the car when we were kids, my dad would be thoroughly confused. Other than that my mom had ZERO Beatles albums and ONE Rolling Stones album because her name is Angie.
What’s the music scene in Michigan like?
Everybody hates the word “scene” in every scene in the country. It is such a game of semantics and it gets really, really annoying. Speaking for our band, I think there is a great music community fostering a ton of creativity and collaboration. Our roommate Dave held an “Instant Album Party” not long ago, which consisted of members of a ton of local bands coming over, picking names out of a hat, forming new bands, and writing a song per hour. That is what the “scene” is about to me. Of course there is jealousy and egos and all of the other bullshit that tries to rain on the parade, but that is the human race for you.
People are saying you kicked the Rothbury music festival in the gut with your performance; how was the event for you guys?
It was great! To be able to represent our home state at a festival that has received international attention was amazing. We were treated very well for our entire stay and got to see everyone from Bob Dylan to Son Volt on a beautiful Michigan weekend. My parents even made it out and had a great time.
Does it ever get overwhelming when you’re playing show after show or is touring in your blood?
To me it gets overwhelming to NOT be playing show after show.At this point, the road is home for us. When we get home from a month on the road, it is hard to establish any sort of normalcy. We’re out of the loop with friends, behind on mail, out-of-touch with family. When you’re on the road, it is a different story. There is always somewhere to be or something to do so you don’t have time to think about any of that stuff.
You’ve had music featured in Friday Night Lights and Grey’s Anatomy, what’s next?
A commercial for In-N-Out Burger, hopefully. They can use our music whenever they like. I love that place. I hope to one day establish myself as the type of person they would want to write a song for them. It would be a love song, and I would write it from a very pure place. I’ll have a double-double, animal style!
What kind of 90s’ individual is The Hard Lessons?
Well, tight-rolled, stone-washed jeans come to mind. And slap bracelets. A lot of slap bracelets.
Name one band/musician you think people need to know about.
Our friends The Silent Years from back in Michigan are amazing musicians, songwriters, and people. That combination is almost unheard of in the music business.
What artist do you wish you could collaborate with and why?
Leonardo Da Vinci. The amount he accomplished in his lifetime will never be duplicated, and considering WHEN he did it makes you realize what a genius he was. If he were allowed to return to the world and have access the technology that now exists, I have no doubt he could help us create the best album of all time and then wrap it in the most amazing artwork every created. And it wouldn’t be vinyl, CD or anything else. It would be some other format that he developed.
If you could keep one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I can keep all of my albums. We don’t live in New York, so its not like we need the space.
Describe yourself using one word.