Hardy Playing CDEC Friday November, 22nd


The sound is big. The towns are small. And the name is HARDY.

Big Loud artist HARDY grew up on classic rock in Philadelphia, Miss., a town of about 7,500 in
the country setting of Neshoba County. So when fans hear the music on his four-song EP for the label,
This Ole Boy, they’re getting the real deal. The songs are bold and proud, the voice is commanding and
the lyrics are centered on farms, in the backwoods and mostly in America’s heartland.

“I love that lifestyle, and that’s what I want to talk about,” he says unapologetically. “I’m not
really a love song dude. If I’m going down that road, it’s a song like ‘This Ole Boy’ where it’s a redneckin-
love kind of thing. People that are like me, or people who still live in small towns, still love that and
want to hear that. That’s why I’m who I am as an artist.”

HARDY’s artistic identity is notably focused on This Ole Boy. His voice is gritty in “4×4,”
soulful in the background vocals of “This Ole Boy” and edgy in the stack of HARDY harmonies in
“Rednecker.” The productions’ mix of swamp rock and country walks a line between strutting sarcasm
and communal congeniality. And the incessant word play – where else does “quatro” rhyme with
“macho?” – marks HARDY as a smart guy with an uncommon sense of humor.

Some of those traits are a direct result of his songwriting prowess. HARDY moved to Nashville
to pursue the elusive art of matching words with chords and melodies, and 2018 became a breakthrough
year for him. He was one of three writers on the Morgan Wallen/Florida Georgia Line collaboration “Up
Down,” a #1 platinum-selling country single built on HARDY’s original idea: “We live it up down here.”
He snagged another hit as a co-writer of FGL’s “Simple.” And he took part in Seth Ennis’ “Call Your
Mama,” a lump-in-your-throat ballad that started its chart journey in fall 2018.

In fact, HARDY was so focused on writing that he didn’t really pursue his budding recording
career. It actually came looking for him. FGL’s Tyler Hubbard and the duo’s producer, Joey Moi, were
both convinced there was a place for his talent in the marketplace and offered to help him make it happen.
Perhaps unintentionally – perhaps on purpose – FGL helped him say yes by putting HARDY on
stage three different times during its 2018 summer tour. He hit the road several weekends to write with
the duo, and they brought him out to take Wallen’s “Up Down” part at the Country Stampede in
Manhattan, Kansas; the Country LakeShake in Chicago; and the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. HARDY
was amped and animated in the role, as if he’d been playing in front of thousands for years. And the
crowd reaction sealed the deal.

“Playing those places and those people singing back to you, that whole thing put it in
perspective,” he says. “That is an incredible feeling. It’s just unexplainable.”

Fortunately, HARDY comes to the table as an artist with a strong view of who he is, thanks to his
experiences in Mississippi. Philadelphia spawned two previous country music successes – Grand Ole
Opry member Marty Stuart and songwriter/producer Derek George (Bryan White, Randy Houser) – and
they certainly showed it was possible to make it in the business. But HARDY’s original exposure to
music came from his dad, who consistently had classic rock blasting when he took his son on the 15-mile
commute from the house to the family’s chicken farm and back. HARDY pitched in on a job that was
brutal to the senses – “I don’t even think I could go in a chicken house now,” he says – but he learned the
value of hard work. And the exposure to smart hooks and distinct musical identities of the music his
father listened to made a permanent imprint.

“I like Pink Floyd a lot,” HARDY says. “They’re my favorite band. Thanks to my dad, I loved
The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon growing up, and once I got older, I realized how metaphorical and
parallel their writing is, and how you understand it. I really appreciate, in all genres, creativity that
sonically nobody has ever heard before.”

His dad took him to his first two concerts – Aerosmith, in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1999; and
KISS, in Jackson, Mississippi, in 2000 – but when HARDY wrote his first song at age 18, it set him on
the path toward making music a vocation. That initial composition, “Caroline,” had the singer meeting a
girl in a grocery store and obsessing about her, even though he would never encounter her again.
“It was just so simple and not thought out,” he says with a laugh. “There were little holes in the
storyline. It’s interesting to think about it looking back now.”

But it got a reaction. His parents, of course, liked it. And when he played it for a few classmates
at junior college, they liked it, too. HARDY started playing it at parties and creating a little buzz, though
it was the only song he knew. That spurred him to write a few more.

When he heard Eric Church’s “Homeboy,” HARDY realized that rock had found a new home in
country music, and it created a deeper appreciation for the genre, which had always been there in the
background in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, HARDY’s sister – Nashville makeup artist Madison Hardy Dennis – was going to
school at Music City’s Belmont University, and when he visited her in February 2010, the experience was

“Music was everywhere – I had no idea,” he remembers. “That’s when I found out about
publishing deals and that you could make a living writing songs. That was over one weekend, so when I
went back home I told my mom, ‘Hey, I’m moving to Nashville.’”

HARDY enrolled in the Recording Industry Management program at Middle Tennessee State
University and majored in songwriting, mentored by instructor Rick Carnes, who composed Garth
Brooks’ “Longneck Bottle,” The Whites’ “Hangin’ Around” and Reba McEntire’s “Can’t Even Get The
Blues.” HARDY periodically posted performances of his own songs on social media, and another relative
– Dennis Matkosky, first cousin to HARDY’s grandfather – reached out. Matkosky was an established
songwriter, known for Michael Sembello’s “Maniac,” Keith Urban’s “You’ll Think Of Me” and LeAnn
Rimes’ “I Need You.” Matkosky liked HARDY’s work, and within a few months, he signed HARDY to
his own independent publishing company.

HARDY met FGL’s Tyler Hubbard at a parking lot party on Music Row in 2012, right as
“Cruise” was being released, and didn’t see him again for several years. In the meantime, HARDY landed
cuts by Tyler Farr and Walker McGuire, and when he got a chance to start writing with FGL at their
concert sites on the road, his acquaintance with Hubbard turned into a full-fledged friendship. Beginning
in January 2017, he was a frequent sidekick on tour, writing with them on their bus during the day before
their concerts. In fact, “Throwback” – the newest song on This Ole Boy – was written on the bus at the
Iowa State Fair in August 2018, just weeks before the EP’s release.

The release provides a strong base point for HARDY as an artist, representative of the hard-edged
music, the easy-going people and the slow-changing nature of the world at the heart of a rural community.
“A lot of where I pull from is just being from a small town,” he says. “People live a little slower
and a little more behind, whether that’s a good thing or bad thing.”

With This Ole Boy, HARDY provides a solid opening salvo to establish himself as an artist,
honed in on the sounds and stories at the core of his Southern heritage. But it’s just a starting point, a
place to launch an artist whose combination of country imagery, Southern rock sounds and blue-collar
vocals is intrinsically relatable.

“This stuff is my favorite and the most true to me,” he says, “but we will mix it up along the way,
slowly but surely. I don’t want to scare anybody off, but we’ll give a taste here and there and hopefully by
the end it will be a well-rounded sound.”

A big sound. About small towns. A HARDY representation.