Anti-Beach Music: A Q&A With Dead Confederate
photo by Jamie Younger
Dead Confederate singer Hardy Morris sat down with American Songwriter amid the sound and fury of the Hangout Festival on Saturday. The interview was conducted from the back of a golf cart, in homage to Hardy’s hometown of Augusta, Georgia, home of The Masters. We talked about the unique nature of Hangout, the importance of a band name, and the group’s “happy, hippy” song.
(Editor’s note: Watch the video below to catch our “surprise” guest at the 5:20 mark.)
What’s your impression of Hangout, and how does it compare to other festivals?
A lot of festivals are real similar just in the whole setup and experience. But this is cool because it’s on the beach and the weather’s awesome. It’s just a good vibe. It’s probably a little odd for our music. We’re like anti- beach music
I think you are the heaviest set so far.
Motorhead! Who are also playing the Grooveshark stage…..But it’s nice. When you roll around on a big tour, you’re living day to day, kind of hand-to-mouth. Some shows are better than others. Festivals are just a treat because you get treated so well and the crowd’s are into it. It’s awesome.
Any other acts you’re into seeing?
I want to see Foo Fighters; I’ve never seen Foo Fighters. My Morning Jacket was great yesterday. And [Drive-By] Truckers on Sunday, our Athens compadres.
The band started in Augusta, Georgia, and then moved to Athens. How did that move influence your direction?
We grew up in Augusta. I went to school in Athens and lived in Atlanta for a little while and a few years ago moved back to Athens. Athens is a lot smaller than a lot of people realize. It shapes your sound in that you don’t have much to hide behind. Every band has to be its own entity. It’s a big scene in a small place, so there’s not a lot of room for doing what somebody else is already doing. The Truckers are there, and if you’re doing the Truckers thing, it’s like, “What the hell?” There’s no piggy-backing like there is in big cities.
Explain the origin of the name Dead Confederate.
I wanted it to be a name that sounded like what the band sounded like. At the time we had a list of other names, and that one just kind of kept coming back up and felt like it fit what we sounded like. I think that’s really important. Like Motorhead. They’ve got a song “Motorhead” on the album Motorhead by the band Motorhead. I think they got that one right.
Dead Confederate is an appropriate name for Hangout because the Yankees won The Battle Of Mobile Bay, which happened not far from here. That’s when David Farragut came through and that’s where the line “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” came from.
It’s really interesting, because not being from the coast, you don’t think about the battles that happened with palm trees in the background. You think of Lookout Mountain, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, or of Virginia.
How does the songwriting process work for the band?
It’s very collaborative. [Bassist] Brantley [Senn] and I, for the last two records, have been the principal songwriters. But we both for the most part write on acoustic guitars and bring it to the band and develop it from there. Brantley does a little more elaborate, digital stuff on his computer and works those things out. I’ll write something and once we get in there with the band it takes on a whole new shape.
Are you working on a new album now?
We’ve got another EP that we’ve got in our pocket right now, that we haven’t really decided what we’re going to do with yet. And yeah, we’re going to be starting on a new record in Athens with [Drive-By Truckers producer] David Barbe.
Will the new album herald a new sound for the band?
It’s definitely going to be different. We’ve never been able to stay in one place for too long. The stuff I’ve been writing is kind of a mix of the two [previous albums].
You described “Run From The Gun” on stage as the “happy, hippy” song.
That song was an oddball. I write a lot of music and that was kind of a side song. It was kind of a song that I never really intended for the band to play….it was so different for us…but it’s a good tune, and we wound up doing it and I’m glad we did, and it gives people a different side [of the band].