by taylor priola

defined with a new beginning, nashville’s self proclaimed “pop rock” band hardcastle emerges with their latest single and video, ‘i never knew’. taylor talks with frontman graham laderman and director dawson waters about the songs’ basis of nostalgia, filming process, and what to expect in the future. 

photo by marisa maino

photo by marisa maino

last thursday, you guys premiered your new song ‘I Never Knew’ along with a music video… can you tell us about the story behind the song?

graham: i began writing this song with my friend ben cramer, aka old sea brigade, back in the beginning of the summer. this was a time when i was just beginning to explore the craft of songwriting, and writing with other people. he and i had written together before, and knew we enjoyed working together. we started with a basic chord progression that you hear at the beginning of the song right off the back and looped that. we talked about moving away from our shared home of atlanta, how times had changed, and what a toll ‘growing up’ and chasing a dream can take. we related to each other shared feelings of nostalgia, hindsight, and also on an appreciation for what was to come. with lyrics to a first verse and chorus, ben set up a mic and captured me singing a mostly (melodically) improvised first verse and chorus - that take is the one that you hear in the song now.

after listening back to the fraction of a song we had, we knew we wanted to pursue the idea more. this just so happened to be around the time noah and miles got back in town from being on vacation with family - we hit the shoebox in nashville with owen lewis and tracked drums and bass. soon after, val returned as well and he added the guitar parts. It was really cool to watch how the song became 'hardcastle' as each member added their touch.

i think the story of the song at its core, as i mentioned, is me grappling with the transition from youth to (early adulthood). reflecting on my past two years of college and one year not in school. ruminating on the person who i'd been and the person i was becoming as i worked to improve myself this past summer. especially dwelling on taking people and things that meant a lot in my life for granted, and losing touch with who i was. realizing that if i opened up my mind, was less egotistical, and gave myself a chance, that life could be so much greater. follow your heart, cherish the people who bring a lot of value and meaning to your life, and work hard at what makes you happy! 

the music video, filmed in a basement, was created using a one shot technique. it displays you (graham) conveying a series of emotions through a transition of colors. what was the reasoning for choosing to portray the song like this?

graham: i know that for me this was a very fun and intimidating project. dawson and i built a rotating platform which was quite fun. all credit to dawson on thinking it up and bringing it to life, it was fun to use some power tools and do some problem solving. 

i've always been a pretty bad actor, so when i knew we were doing a one-shot i was pretty intimidated - knew i had to nail it in, well, one take. anyways, i think that it allowed me to express the confusion, sadness, passion, and hope that the song, to me, portrays. i love the movement, the change in lights - it almost represents life is always changing and moving in the background. 

dawson: i think it best portrays the circle of emotion in the song. no cuts in life.

how did the filming process for this music video differ from previous projects in the past?

dawson: it was fun to make a design and actually create and use it in real life. lots of problem solving and troubleshooting as well. we had to tailor our vision to make it functional while staying on a (very low) budget.

you guys have recently made the decision to take all your previously released music off of apple music, spotify, etc.. what was the main cause that lead you guys to do so? 

graham: so this is a long story but I think that for me, again, this summer was very transformative. what i've been telling people when asked this question is this: 

photo by nolan knight

photo by nolan knight

i always LOVED jamming and creating music with val and miles in high school. it was great for that point in time because we learned a lot about being in a band etc... but going into adulthood, i never took the time to really learn on the art and craft of songwriting - and it took its toll. lyrics were always something that went to the backburner and felt like a chore (most of the time). after making songs in this manner - trying to fit a mold, a sound that we thought would be a path to 'success' - and putting them out, we realized that we needed to do something different to sustain this. the passion and love were always there, i just think it was a bit misguided. so i took about 2+ months to write like 30+ songs by myself and with others, and ‘i never knew’ became the first of those 30 or so songs that became something real. with all of that said, at the end of the day, while the songs we took down still have a place in my heart, and the people that we connected with because of them still mean a lot to me, i want to be represented as the person i am today moving forward. my head has moved from 'instant gratification' to 'hard work over time,' and the pay off has been IMMENSE. i love the process and the journey, and every song takes me somewhere new. 

on that note, this can be defined as a new ‘era’ for Hardcastle. how would you describe the sound of the new music coming out in the future?

graham: authentic. we've chased different sounds for a long time, and i think this is the first time we've finally found ourselves at peace with where we're at. the songs aren't contrived. the lyrics are honest. i think that we have all worked very hard for these next songs (and this next 'era'). It's from a place of self respect and awareness, and a lot of hard work. i hear a lot of artists out there saying that they are 'working hard for you' or 'these songs are for you.' while i get the sentiment, i want to make it clear that this has been for us first. we genuinely hope that the music has a positive impact on anyone listening, and are deeply humbled and appreciative when we hear the kind of positive feedback we've been hearing from listeners out there. but it's important to me, in trying to be honest, that i say (and i think i speak for the rest of the band too): i find comfort in these songs. they are cathartic, they give me purpose and hope. i am abundantly proud of the hours of work i've put into this stuff, and i am even more proud to say that i did it for my own enjoyment and catharsis - not for a spotlight or fame. 

with all that said, of course, i am an incredibly ambitious person, and ruling the world is in fact on my agenda - but that's another conversation!

last question, if someone is reading this and just discovered Hardcastle, what is one thing you would want them to take away from your music? 

graham: pursue what makes you happy. work really hard and don't listen to the noise (distractions, negativity, self-doubt). be self-aware and learn self-discipline. understand that nothing is going to be handed to you, so you've got to believe in yourself - and that should make you hungry as fuck. be grateful at all times to simply be alive, and if you're reading this article, be grateful you have access to the internet! there is so much opportunity. 

bottom line, we as a band want the best for everyone listening to our music. we are truly humbled if you can find some sort of comfort, inspiration, or relation to a song of ours. Be yourself! Work hard, be a source of positivity.