The Athens, GA based T. Hardy Morris, who also also lends his talent to Diamond Rugs and Dead Confederate, has spent the past year writing and recording the new album. Hardy & The Hardknocks: Drownin On A Mountaintop is the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2013 solo debut Audition Tapes, which was lauded by Stereogum for its “calming beauty,” and praised by Paste for its “wildly passionate” songwriting.
“If Audition Tapes was a high and lonesome mellow-roast with musical touchstones like Harvest era Neil and driving down a windy backroad alone,” writes Patterson Hood of Drive By Truckers, “Drownin On A Mountaintop blasts out of the garage like some high-octane muscle car full of friends, blasting Mott The Hoople on the way to the last-call dive bar.”
Morris first began playing music with friends in an old trailer behind a buddy’s house that they stocked with pawn shop guitars and amps. “Like a lot of people, me and my friends growing up did a lot of crazy stuff and somehow learned how to play rock and roll in the process,” he remembers. The rebel spirit bursting through the speakers on this album is as much about drawing from a youthful past as it is driven by the future. Much of …Drownin On A Mountaintop was written and recorded in the run up to the birth of his daughter, adding an element of urgency that pulses throughout the record.
“I wanted this record to be a kind of end-of-an-era for me,” Morris relates. “It was a very deliberate thing to record these songs before the birth of my first child. I was in a headspace and I wanted to capture it before I became a dear old dad”
On a less psychoanalytical level, …Drownin On A Mountaintop’s ultimate sound also stems from Morris’ preoccupation with two of his former songs in particular. “Share The Needle”, from Audition Tapes, and “Country Mile”, a song he’d contributed to Diamond Rugs’ self-titled debut. Each of those tracks featured a distinct push-and-pull dynamic that ended up bridging the gap between the quieter country leanings of Audition Tapes, and the more aggressive grunge of Morris’ other band Dead Confederate.
…Drownin On A Mountaintop was recorded at Chase Park studios in Athens with Adam Landry & Justin Collins (Cosmic Thug Production). To achieve the sound found on the new record, Hardy amassed a contingent of players (The Hardknocks) comprised of the ever trusty Matt “Pistol” Stoessel on pedal steel, Vaughan Lamb on bass, and Dead Confederate drummer Nick Sterchi.