HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, Miss.
EP: Where to Find Me
INFLUENCES: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Def Leppard, Van Halen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Brad Paisley
Beginning his career as a successful songwriter, having written Florida Georgia Line’s “Talk You Out of It” and “Simple” and Morgan Wallen’s “Up Down,” Hardy, is making the transition from writer to country artist. And he’s off to a good start.
Born Michael Hardy, the 25-year-old grew up in Philadelphia, Missisippi and didn’t start writing music until his senior year in high school. He later made the move to Nashville, following his sister to Music City, to attend Middle Tennessee State University, where he earned a degree in songwriting. A chance introduction to Florida Georgia Line’s Brian and Tyler Kelly, before they launched their mega-successful career, was the catalyst that launched his career. Fast forward to today and Hardy has released two EP’s of his own, This Ole Boy and Where to Find Me, which take a look at small-town living and life in the heartland, and already has two number-one singles under his belt, the aforementioned “Simple’ and “Up Down.”
One Country sat down with Hardy to find out about his musical journey to Nashville, his connection to Florida Georgia Line and the kind of music he loves to create.
“My hometown, I think it was a really cool place to grow up. It was just the most cliché small town you could possibly imagine. I had a really cool county fair that we went to every year, and it was hot and it stayed hot. I kind of love that, but very rural outside of the town. No suburbs or anything like that. It’s where I kind of cut my teeth on all the good redneck stuff.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY
“I wasn’t making music until I was a senior in high school. My sister sang growing up and she won all these contests and she was just amazing, and so that was just kind of her thing. I just kind of never assumed that it was my thing, but I was obsessed with music. I was more obsessed with music than anyone else in my family. My dad got me on rock and roll at a really young age. Some of my earliest memories are me listening to music with him, and just obsessing with it. I listened to so much music from age five until now, and I guess all of that just kind of stuck with me. And so then I started writing when I was a senior in high school, and that’s where it all kind of started.”
PATH TO SUCCESS
“To be honest, I didn’t just move up to Nashville and think like I’m going to be the best and I still don’t think I am, but I just tried to have in my head that I’m going to do this. I’m not going to go anywhere really. I’m just going to keep doing this until something happens. But I think, and I don’t mean this out of a cocky way, but I think I was not really considering like failing, you know? Literally, it just kind of never crossed my mind. Obviously there’s been plenty of times where I was told no or that I failed at something, but I didn’t think, that things were going to happen as quickly as they did. But I was definitely determined and had high hopes.”
THE FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE CONNECTION
“I met [Florida Georgia Line] in a Big Loud (Publishing company) parking lot party back in whatever year ‘Cruise’ came out, 2012. It was like a month before ‘Cruise’ came out. My sister went to Belmont. They were friends with my sister at Belmont. So she was interning somewhere on the row, and she actually introduced them to me. We kind of hit it off. I got Tyler’s number. We kind of hit it off, then ‘Cruise’ happened, and they were gone. They were superstars and I hadn’t even signed a publishing deal yet. So at the time I thought that I had missed this opportunity. Then basically years later, I was signed to publishing deal and I’m writing and they started a publishing company— it just shows how far apart we were. I started writing with Jordan Schmidt, pretty much their main guy, and Jordan came up to me at a party, and this was four or five years after, I had not said a word to him. I hadn’t talked to him since that party, literally. He said, ‘Hey Tyler saw your name on some of these songs they wrote and he just wanted to let you know he remembers you because he’s been keeping an eye on you.’ My mind was just kind of blown and I was like, ‘You’re kidding,’ and he was like, ‘Nope, we’re not kidding.’ So anyway, next thing I knew, they had me out to write on the road with them a few times. After a few times we really hit it off and they ended up having me out for the entire Smooth Tour. I ended up writing a bunch of songs on their record and just we kind of reconnected and it’s been a cool feeling ever since.”
THE SOUND OF MUSIC
“It’s not the definition of traditional country. The lyric is country, the music is rock and roll, pretty much. There’s some softies on there. ‘Sunset with You’ is soft, but the lyric is very down home. It’s very good ol’ boy country. It’s not so much cowboys and horses and boots. It’s really more outside, the trees, and redneck—just kind of where I come from, but it just rocks. If you like rock country, it should be right up your alley. If you like lyrics, because I’m a lyric guy, it’s very lyrical and just very rock and roll.”
“I wrote it in Colorado with a few of my friends. It’s one of the first songs I wrote last year, and it started out as a joke. One of the guys said it, one of the guys literally said, ‘well, I’m rednecker than you.’ We all laughed, then we all kind of looked at each other real serious and said, ‘oh s***, we got to go write that right now. It sounds like a song.’ So we went and wrote the song without a guitar, we wrote the whole song without the guitar. Then we came back to Nashville a few weeks later and Jordan Schmidt built up a track and we did a demo and it just kind of took flight after that. When we wrote it without the guitar and you’re like this is really funny and I don’t know what people are going to think about this. We need to wait and see when we put some music to it, and we put the music to it and it was cool. This is really cool. So it just worked out.”
“I’m definitely going to keep putting music out probably a lot more. So look forward to that. I’ll be hitting the road I’ll be doing… Well I can’t say yet. There’ll be some surprises here and there. I’ll just say that. I’m thinking at least one more EP. It might be a little surprise, surprise for this year. I’ll be on tour with FGL this summer, at least the first half of the tour. Who knows in the fall, I’ll definitely be touring some. We’re working ‘Rednecker’ at radio right now so, maybe this summer you guys will be hearing ‘Rednecker’ on the radio. So a lot of good stuff.”
Where To Find Me EP Tracklisting:
1. “I’ll Quit Loving You” (Michael Hardy/Hunter Phelps/Jameson Rodgers/Smith Ahnquist)
2. “Where To Find Me” (Michael Hardy/James McNair/Zach Abend)
3. “Signed, Sober You” (Michael Hardy/Ben Burgess/Jordan Schmidt)
4. “All She Left Was Me” (Michael Hardy/Morgan Wallen/Jesse Frasure)