While recording his new sophomore album, robin and crownashville singer-songwriter Hardy created a song that in many ways sums up his entire musical ethos. “Radio Song” (featuring Jeremy McKinnon of the metalcore/pop-punk band A Day to Remember) starts out as a straight-up country song—girls, trucks, harmony hooks—but then explodes into a A full-blown hard rock riot, filled with thick, muddy riffs over McKinnon’s growls. For a rock-and-roll country star like Hardy, shocking his audience in this way was exactly what it meant.
“I want people to be as surprised as possible,” the shape-shifting musician told SPIN by phone ahead of a show in Athens, Georgia. “I want people to be able to ride the emotional roller coaster.”
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Though he’s been one of Nashville’s most prolific country songwriters in recent years — he penned some of his biggest hits for his close friend Morgan Warren, from “More Than My Hometown” to “Sand in My Boots” — Hardy combined his love of hard rock with his talent for country music songwriting. (Hardy declined to comment Wallen uses racial slur in 2021. ) result? Over the years, Hardy’s artistic career has produced some of the most compelling music to emerge from Nashville.
The front end of Hardy’s new concept album (out Jan. 20) is full of airtight country (like Wallen’s hit “Red”) and B-sides, which are pure rock adrenaline, with song titles so un-country like ” Kill Sh! T Till I Die”.
Currently riding a string of successful singles, including last year’s “Give Heaven Some Hell,” and opening the stage for Wallen in the past year, Hardy realizes Robin Will be his most anticipated project to date. His response to this pressure was “frickin’ go for it”.
Hardy considered his meandering ascent to be a rather unorthodox and unexpected ascent. While many Nashville entertainers aspire to be recording artists, the Mississippi-born, 32-year-old singer Michael Wison Hardy eventually moved to what he calls Nashville’s “town” with the goal of It was getting a publishing deal and becoming a full-time songwriter—a natural progression, considering he attended Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in songwriting. But once in Nashville, thanks to a stellar songwriting partnership with the Florida Georgia Line (whom he met at a party in 2012 and reconnected years later) and Wallen, Hardy teamed up with Big Loud Records and Its in-house producer is close, Joey Moy.
“I really had no intention of being an artist,” Hardy said. “It just happened naturally. So I just thought ‘I might as well send it to the moon with my music because I have nothing to lose.'”
In 2018, Hardy signed his own artist deal with Big Loud, toured extensively, and in 2019 ushered in Hixtape, Vol. 1The groundbreaking mixtape created a huge buzz as the relatively unknown artist landed guest appearances from country music’s biggest names, including Keith Urban and Thomas Rhett .
His latest single, “Wait in the Truck,” proves he’s musically adventurous. Featuring a powerful cameo from rising country star Lainey Wilson, the dark and moody track is a touching tale of domestic abuse and revenge murder. According to Hardy, it has already become a sensation among his fanbase.
“If you look through the comments on YouTube, it’s like, ‘I’ve been through the same thing, I really wish someone could pull me out of this situation,'” he said. “So I know it’s touching people. Like when we wrote my last single, “Give Heaven Some Hell.” You just know it’s going to definitely hit someone and make someone feel something. As a writer, it means the world to me. The highest expectation I can have is for people to relate to a song and actually feel something and maybe work through some kind of trauma or something like that because of it. That’s my shit, man. That’s what I’m doing this for. “
Hardy also makes delivering great live performances a top priority. Not only because there is nothing in life he enjoys more than acting, but also because he has seen the other side of the coin.
“I’ll never say the names, but I know the guys in the band are great, but they suck,” he said. “It fucking sucks, man. When people love your music and they go to your show because they want a great experience and your live sucks, it’s the worst thing ever I always vowed that we would bring it, pass on these songs that people love so much, and give them the best night of their lives.
“I also have a chip on my shoulder and I just want to be better than everyone else,” he continued. “Me and my band are respectful and kind to everyone, but when we get on stage, we absolutely kill it and plan to bury those who have to come after us. That’s always been our mindset.”
While he has big plans for his own music career in 2023 — including a new album, major tour dates and a stadium gig with Wallen — Hardy has no intention of stopping writing for other artists.
“My first love in Nashville was songwriting,” Hardy said. “I would say I’m like two different people. When I’m on the road, I turn off my composer’s brain, and then I’m an artist. But when I’m back in town, I turn it off, and I Just a songwriter. The songwriter side of me will always be there. I love it so much and will never give up writing songs for other people because that’s what I moved to town to do. It will always be a part of me.”
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post 5 Albums I Can’t Live Without: HARDY first appeared in to rotate.