Hardpan was an American roots rock, americana band with Todd Thibaud, Joseph Parsons, Terry Lee Hale and Chris Burroughs.
Hardpan is not a band, really. It’s more of an event. Four American songwriters and guitar players caught on tape at a certain very strange moment in American history. The Hardpan album is what it was, a sonic snapshot of ten crazy days in Arizona.
See, all four of them have this solo thing going on. Four guys with their own names on their own albums. Four chiefs. On paper, anyway, but really just four guys who thought it would be cool and fun to make an album together. Chris, Todd and Joseph have a number of albums released in Europe by Blue Rose Records, and Terry Lee has albums out on Glitterhouse. They have all been leaders of their own bands for years and toured Europe extensively. And they are four very different personalities. They knew it would be a challenge but everyone got on with the spirit of a band.
None of them can recall exactly when or how they agreed to do this thing together, but they are pretty sure it was all Joseph’s idea. That idea was floating around for a couple of years, and through various meetings and European tours together, the four of them decided to come to Tucson and make a record.
It started off fun. Lot’s of fun. Todd, Joseph and Terry Lee flew to Tucson to make the record at The Studio, a building at Chris’s home that he converted into a recording studio in the summer of 2001. The paint was still drying when everyone converged in Tucson. So they headed for a Mexican restaurant and got very drunk and joked and laughed all night. All night. That was the night of September 10, 2001.
On September 11, of course, the world changed. Like everyone else, they were glued to the TV for most of the day. None of them wanted to play music. But it was their job to make this record, and they only had ten days to do it before everyone flew home. They figured if taxi drivers and bank tellers had to work, they did, too. And screw those bastards, anyway, they can’t stop them from doing what they have to do.
So late that night they started learning each others songs. And over the next ten days they rehearsed and recorded the Hardpan album. It was a unique experience for all of them, subtly adapting to each others styles. They recorded every track virtually live. Every lead vocal is live. Most of the back-up vocals and almost all the guitars are live. And even the percussion is live except for one song (no drummers in this group). A couple of songs are even first takes with no overdubs.
They are proud of this. Each morning they were still glued to the TV, and nobody slept well for days. And they have to say that they probably drank more than they normally would have under normal circumstances. Well, maybe, hard to say with this bunch of guys… But they came together and played their best and captured the event. The album has four distinct moods, depending on who is doing the singing. It all worked because they were all playing together, backing each other up as best they could, and putting the world out of their minds for a while to make good music.
The next step, of course, is the Hardpan tour, which will begin in Europe in September, 2002. The tour will be mostly in Germany, Italy, Belgium and Holland, maybe France and Scandinavia. We can’t say yet whether there will be a second Hardpan album, their solo careers keep each of them very busy.
Speaking of their solo careers, a little background about the four personalities is probably appropriate right about here:
Chris Burroughs (Red) has released five albums in Europe on the Blue Rose, New Rose and Last Call record labels ("West Of Texas", "Trade Of Chains", "Clutter", "Liberty", and "Loose") and has been touring there consistently for the last five years. Lives in Tucson, has four Telecasters and two Martins and one Les Paul and an old Guild 12-string he plays at solo shows. Considered a singer/songwriter, really a rocker. Loves spicy food. Hates giving information for bios.
Terry Lee Hale (Steel Trap) was born in San Marcos, Texas, has a house in Seattle, but now lives in France. The list of all Terry Lee’s accomplishments is longer than a rich man’s driveway, but among them are seven CDs on Glitterhouse ("Frontier Model", "Tornado Alley", "Leaving West", "Wilderness Years", "Old Hand", "The Blue Room", and "Frozen"). He tours about eight months a year, recently and frequently with the Walkabouts. Was barbecue master for Hardpan while in Tucson. His hero is Reverend Gary Davis. Don’t even look at his cool-ass 1932 Dobro.
Joseph Parsons (Houston) was raised between Philadelphia and Monroe, Louisiana. He has three albums out on Blue Rose ("5 am", "Joseph Parsons" and "Live in Europe") and has also toured Europe a lot in the last few years. Joseph has seen more of the world than a Panamanian tramp steamer (ask him about his trips to Baghdad sometime) and says that “sometimes, on a confident day, I like to think my music reflects a bit of all these diverse American and international cultures”. Not afraid to step into the audience when the power goes off on stage in Ingolstadt. Plays guitar, piano, and a mean cardboard box.
Todd Thibaud (Hoss) is a Boston based “roots rocker to the core”. Ever the diplomat, he says he is “very pleased about being teamed up with Chris, Joseph and Terry Lee for the Hardpan project”. He has four studio albums on Blue Rose ("Favorite Waste of Time", "Little Mystery", "Squash", and "HOT-FM Session") and four live albums ("Todd’s Birthday Party", "Dead Flowers", "Church Street Live", and "Official Bootleg"). Official tequila taster for Hardpan. Almost as reluctant as Chris about giving info for bios.
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