Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bruce Hazel interview, 2010

Bruce Hazel: Classic Sounds For The New League
introduction, interview and photos by Daniel Coston

For over a decade now, Bruce Hazel has put his stamp on rock n' roll throughout the Carolinas. Be it with the Noise, Bruce Hazel & Some Volunteers, Temperance League, or under his own name, Hazel has merged his love of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and other classic sounds to form his own version of what Rock can be. His current project, Temperance League, joins him with longtime local starwarts Shawn Lynch, Mark Lynch, Chad Wilson and D.K. to create an inviting merge of garage rock and classic-sounding guitars riffs. Temperance League are now touring throughout the East Coast of the U.S., in search of the wider audience that they deserve.

Hazel is also well known in Charlotte for heading up the Fool's Brigade, an annual event that covers a famous musician or band for charity. This event has become that many look forward to, and has packed whichever venue its held in every year. Hazel is also a fun frontman and an all-around good guy, a frontman you can root for when he's onstage.

Tangents: How did the Some Volunteers evolve into Temperance League?

HazelThe Bruce Hazel & Some Volunteers moniker was something I could put on anything I was doing at the timeThis is something differentThis is a band.

Tangents:  How do you feel about this lineup now?

Hazel: I remember Mark and Shawn talking about the early days of Lou Ford. How they were a gang. I wanted to be part of a gang.

Tangents: You've been writing and playing a lot of new songs, and you have been recording with this new lineup, as well as the Volunteers. What's your plan for the next record?

Hazel: There are a ton of songs. We have enough completed material for a Volunteers record. We should have probably put it out by now. But at least I have it. Currently we are trying to make something that represents Temperance League. I want to capture the raw energy with minimal overdubs. The Volunteers record is layered. I want the Temperance League record to be stripped. I want all the records I make to be something I'm excited to listen to. I would like to make something that represents us and our live show.

Tangents: Talk about your role as a frontman. What do you have to do to get people into what you and the band are doing?

Hazel: It is the simplest thing that took me the longest time to realize... to just be honest and be myself.

Tangents: What has been your favorite Temperance League gigs so far?

Hazel: It's always nice to be home at Snug Harbor.

Tangents:. The League has been playing more out of town. Do you hope to continue that for a while?
Hazel: As much as possible.
Tangents: What changes have you seen to the Charlotte scene over the past several years?

Hazel: More beards.

Tangents: Between The Journey And the Destination (released in 2004) is still one of my favorite records to come out of Charlotte in the past ten years. What do you think about when you hear that record?

Hazel: I'm very proud of that record. We had a blast making it. Justin [Faircloth, of the Houstons]  was the most comfortable producer to work with. I just invited all my favorite players to stop by Cougar Camp [Studios]. We had DK, Chad [Wilson], Benji [Hughes], [John] Morris, [Chris] Lonon, Rodney [Lanier], Joey Stephens, Michael [Anderson] and [Brent] Bagwell. We had everybody. Somebody was always hanging out or stopping by. Mark [Lynch] came by to offer his sage advice. But I don't think we ever got Matt [Faircloth] or Mark on tape. 

It was easy. Very casual. We'd have lunch and some drinks and just play. Shawn was living at [Cougar Camp] at the time, so when he'd get home from work I'd say, "Get in there and play this guitar part," or, "We need you to play drums on this." I think the record reflects how much fun we were having. When I listen to that record I picture us hanging out in the kitchen listening to someone tracking in the next room. They'd come out and say, "How'd I do?"  I'd yell to Justin in the control room "How was that?" He'd say, "Perfect." I'd say, "Sounds like you're done." But you were there, you know?

Tangents: How did the annual Fools Brigade shows start?

Hazel: Just thought it was time to get involved in my community. It was during the time the Pillowtex factory closed down outside Charlotte in 2004. I organized a fund raiser for those families affected. It happened quick. I made some calls and everyone responded. We raised a little money and had a good time. Later that year I got involved with Rock The Vote, and put together a show to get people registered. Again the neighborhood responded. There is a mission statement on the Fool's Brigade site that Phil came up with so we could sound more official. But really The Fools Brigade Annual Benefit is as much for us as it it is for the charity. It's fulfilling and satisfying that feeling of knowing you belong to a community.

Tangents: Do you have any favorite years of the Fools Brigade shows?
Hazel: Luckily each show we've done has been a success. All have had memorial moments but something really special happened in the room the night we did Bowie. 

Tangents: What records are you listening to these days?
Hazel: I can't stop listening to Reigning Sound. I'm going thru a huge Greg Cartwright phase right now. 

Tangents: Okay, here's the scenario.... Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits are gonna settle things once and for all, but they're gonna dance it out, like the gangs in West Side Story. Who wins, and why?

Hazel: I never saw West Side Story.

Tangents: Was there any person or show you saw, or met when you growing up that made you want to be a musician?

Hazel: Some I've know personally and some I've just admired as a fan but I continually seem to discover them just when I'm ready to throw in the towel. 

Tangents: Any questions for the interviewer?

Hazel: Of all you've interviewed who was the toughest to get a straight answer out of?

Tangents: There's been a couple... and I'll tell you about them the next time I see you.

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