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Premiere: Hard Copy Summon Sardonic Post-Punk Fury on "Chew"

Today, we're excited to share the hot-wired new single from the Richmond-based post-punk unit Hard Copy, whose debut LP 12 Shots of Nature arrives October 20th on the ever consistent Feel It Records. Following up 2021's debut EP Hidden Beat, the new cut "Chew" is totally enraptured in wiry serpentine guitar leads, a pounding motorik rhythm, and hypertense shout-singing that make the bizarrely fascinating lyrics feel very real and urgent. To dive deeper into the whole project, we caught up with vocalist Michael McBean to discuss the origins of his new band, how the new album came together last summer, and how watching landscape films inspired the recording process.

Photo by Michael McBean

Paperface Zine: What’s life been like lately for you? What have you been listening to or spending a lot of time doing?

Michael McBean: Life is good. Listened to a lot of jungle this summer. Always look forward to Jim O’Rourke's NTS sessions. Probably spent the most time listening to Joy Tactics.

PZ: How did you all meet and form Hard Copy? 

MM: We mostly met at VCU. Ben [Harsel] asked Ian [McQuary] and Lou [Henninger] to play some songs he wrote. For a few months it was this configuration. Eventually I volunteered to talk into the microphone.

PZ: Take me through this lineup. What has it been like playing making music and shows

together and also what do you admire about one another? 

MM: We've got Ben on guitar/keys/samples, Ian on bass, Lou on drums, I’m on vocals/keys/guitar/tapes. Ian and Lou are probably the nicest people I know and incredible musicians. Everything comes very naturally to them. Ben is a renaissance man and a really hard worker. Everyone brings something different to the table. It's been a lot of fun so far.

Photo by Michael McBean

PZ: What other bands have you been part of in the Richmond scene? 

MM: I can't remember them all, but we’ve had members in Basmati, Gunboat, and Fat Spirit. This is my first band. Our friend Jon Reed recorded the album; he played drums for the Harrisonburg band Malatese.

PZ: Now me through the origins of this new single "Chew." How did this one come together

and what was the initial vision of it?

MM: The intent was to make a song that invites people to move their bodies while still staying true to our sound. The caveman element came in early so we consciously aimed for something primitive. What we recorded together is basically what you hear on the record except for a couple important changes in the chorus. What we had was a little too "punk rock and roll" so we just re-recorded the bass and guitar to hang on the same note/chord for a bit. That proved to be a really helpful lesson for all of our songs. The question becomes how can we do fewer notes, fewer chords, etc. It’s usually more interesting after taking something away.

PZ: What do you like most about this song? 

MM: We're pleased with the production. Feels like you can hear the energy in the room.

PZ: This is the lead cut to your forthcoming debut album 12 Shots of Nature. What was it

like putting this album together? When and where was it recorded?

MM: We recorded bass and drums for all of the songs in our practice space at the end of last summer without A/C. It was nasty. There was some concern re: the amount of sweat hitting the recording equipment. The rest of the tracks and overdubs were recorded all over the place at different times. Jon was really generous with his time and also lending mics so we could continue to tinker. Having that freedom helped us find the sound. We added and discarded tracks for another six months after that initial recording session before deciding it was time to move on to the next phase.

PZ: Did you draw from any specific inspirations when making the new album? 

MM: During the recording process, I watched a lot of landscape films. I saw Memoria at the Byrd and this inspired me to seek out more movies set at this deliberate, methodical pace, particularly ones that weren't narrative films. James Benning, Deborah Stratman, that sort of thing. This naturally gelled with a lot of the music we'd been inspired by. Faust, Arnonld Dreyblatt, Dome, anyone using a rock band instrumentation to play something minimal and repetitive. You could feel people in the Memoria audience waiting anxiously for the next cut to happen. So this became one inspiration, among a lot of different, contradictory inspirations, to try to emulate the Memoria feeling: this relaxing, soothing scene that creates anxiety by going on a little too long.

PZ: How did you land on the name of the album? 

MM: Frederique Devaux describes the prologue of Hallelujah the Hills this way, "a somewhat metric rhythm brings us twelve shots of nature. This number twelve places us in a cyclical pattern, in a system of repetition." I knew that was it when I read it. I'm too dumb to fully unpack it, but his words describe a) the art we love, natural, cyclical, repetitive, and b) the nature of making art in a postmodern age. Being a post-punk band in 2023 is being guilty of participating in an endless cycle of parody and repetition.

PZ: What can listeners expect from this new album especially being out on the always

reliable Feel It Records?

MM: We're thrilled to be on a such a fun, consistent label. Listeners should expect twelve songs that run the gamut.

PZ: Aside from the new album, what else is on the horizon for Hard Copy? 

MM: We've got a new batch of songs ready to go. Hope to get started on the next one soon.

12 Shots of Nature is out October 20th on Feel It Records.


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