The Last Bison Talks "Inheritance"
Wed, 06 Mar 2013 09:42:31
"Obviously, family is a very strong value," says The Last Bison's Dan Hardesty. "Honest, transparent friendships and relationships that endure are very important to us."
That's only one facet of the North Carolina seven-piece's full-length debut, Inheritance, though. Over the course of the record, The Last Bison infuse an orchestral and palpable sense of soul into fustic folk, which they've cleverly dubbed, "Mountaintop chamber". Frontman Benjamin Hardesty, Dan's son, tells vivid tales of life and love through the songs, and they're as unforgettable as the melodies are. As a result, Inheritance stands out as one of the year's most spirited debuts and the introduction to a truly timeless group.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, The Last Bison's Ben and Dan Hardesty talk Inheritance and so much more.
Did you have one vision or vibe in mind for Inheritance?
Benjamin Hardesty: To be honest, we got to the studio and recorded all of the songs. Our producer Kevin Augunas came out and was like, "Guys, we need an album order!" We sat around this table and said, "Alright, everybody think about what would flow best." We sat in silence and thought through it. The one we came up with is what we used. I'd like to say we had some elaborate scheme to make it flow how it did. It just happened.
Are there a lot of organic moments like that on the record?
Dan Hardesty: It's funny you use that word. We use the word "organic" quite frequently to describe the process of The Last Bison. So much of it seems like it's not really contrived. It just happens. The way the album comes together is somewhat the same. We love the idea of songs matching well or connecting with the following track. "Organic" is a great way to put it!
Is it important to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Benjamin Hardesty: Absolutely, I'll bring the song in its bare form with the structure and dynamic and we'll paint the picture together as a band. I'd like to think that as people listen to music there's some visual happening. It might be different for each song. Even without the lyric and vocal, the music could paint that.
What's the story behind "Sandstone"?
Benjamin Hardesty: It's my perspective on a story from the Bible about Samson and Delilah. He was a judge in Israel during the time where there were no kings. Samson's love story is a tragic story that ends in his death. In his story, there's a moment where he's blinded, and his eyes are gouged out. He finally sees and understands who God is before he dies. The song is about his love story and, when he's finally brought to his death, his eyes are opened.
Dan Hardesty: There was a lot of debate in the band about how the album should end. Ben was pretty adamant about that song to end things. Many of us felt like it was a great closing track. Listening to it several times, I feel like we made a good decision.
Benjamin Hardesty: It leaves you with a sense of completion and wanting more.
What songs speak to you both the most right now?
Dan Hardesty: Honestly, "Take All the Time" is a favorite for me. Musically, I love it. The whole sacrificial love message that's there is not selfish. It's someone who's saying, "I'm here for you!" I like that one. It just stands out for me.
Benjamin Hardesty: I love upbeat and energetic songs, but my two favorites are the slowest which are "Take All The Time" and "Sandstone". I'd say for the same reasons as dad. "Take All The Time" is near and dear to me because it comes from current and personal relationship experience. I'd say "Sandstone" because of the sacred story it came from. A lot of times in my life, I've had to be brought to my knees and beaten a little bit before I saw the big picture. The story of someone relates to me in that way.
Do you both tend to read a lot?
Benjamin Hardesty: We both do read. I don't read as much as I should. I wish I read more than I do. Sean Astin is one of my favorite actors. Somebody asked him what people need to do to be more intelligent and he just said, "Read, read, read!" Reading is very important to both of us. I get carsick in the tour van when I read [Laughs].
Dan Hardesty: Ben was home-schooled, and a large portion of that was just reading. There's also a tremendous influence in the music from our faith. The music is something we're both committed to reading and delving into.
If Inheritance were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Ben Hardesty: The Jet Li movie Hero! Have you seen it? It's beautiful [Laughs].
Dan Hardesty: It's visually stunning, and it's interesting because it tells the story of the movie from three or four different perspectives.
Ben Hardesty: I love really well-done kung-fu movies [Laughs]. I'm not talking about the goofy dubbed over flicks. I'm talking about Hero and House of Flying Daggers. It's so important that the score matches every color in every scene. They're more than movies; they're art pieces. I'd like to see my movie behind some kung-fu [Laughs].
Dan Hardesty: One of my favorites of all time is Master and Commander because of the epic voyage, journey and story.
Ben Hardesty: We like man movies!
Dan Hardesty: In our music, we take people on a journey. We want them to feel like they started out on this journey and they came through various epic events and ended up somewhere they didn't start. Movies like Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World have that same kind of story and feel. They're classics. Another one is The Patriot
Those are all underrated and great!
Dan Hardesty: Come over and watch movies with us [Laughs].
Ben Hardesty: Most of what I listen to is the music dad introduced me to. I have to thank him. U2 is a huge inspiration. He introduced me to Allison Krauss and Union Station when I was really young which introduced me to the American folk, bluegrass, and country music we get in the east and down south. Those are my go-tos.
Dan Hardesty: There's a lot of guitar in the house. Then, there's Union Station and more bluegrass stuff. It has composition, but it doesn't depend on a pop structure. It's beautiful.
Have you heard The Last Bison? Be sure to check out their Soundcloud page.
Photo: Matt Wignall