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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Columbus-based band Hartle Road travels uphill

By David Lewis

Staff Writer


Although they have played together for many years, the Hartleroad brothers and their cousin, Miles Jordan, formed their Columbus-based band Hartle Road a year and a half ago. 

Toby Hartleroad, lead singer and guitarist, Max Hartleroad, drummer, and Miles Jordan, bassist, form the band, along with added guitarist and keyboardist Tyler Carter, who the band members met at a show in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

With musical influences like The Monkeys, The Beach Boys and early Pink Floyd, Hartle Road’s sound expresses classic rock’s honesty.

Secret Stages, Birmingham’s music discovery festival, aptly described the band’s sound and noted the group displays an amalgamation of musical styles. 

 “If (bands like) Interpol and Razorlight had an affair with (bands like) the Animals and the Zombies, Hartle Road would be their genre-jumping, time machine lovechild and Brian Wilson would be their baptismal godfather. Serious ear candy,” the site stated. 

Every aspect of Hartle Road’s music derives from the principles of being a family band. 

Toby Hartleroad said creating music is a team effort for the band. 

“Everything is pretty much co-written,” he said. “If someone comes up with a good guitar riff, we will run with it.” 

Other inspirations also stir the band. Toby Hartleroad recently became the father of a baby boy, who he said has changed his outlook on life. Toby Hartleroad said the changes his son wrought directly inspire the music he creates. 

“My son has shown me everything that is good in the world. He has opened my eyes to that pure innocence,” he said. 

Toby Hartleroad said the band’s biggest inspiration comes from something unorthodox for musicians: film. 

“We are influenced by a lot of movies, foreign films and such,” he said. “We have been getting heavy into films like ‘8 ½,’ which is a direct inspiration for our song ‘8 ¾,’ the last song on the EP.” 

The band even used a direct quote from the film in the song’s chorus. 

Max Hartleroad said visual artists and movies influence the band more than music. 

“We watch more movies than we (listen to) music,” he said. 

Film’s influence brought a peculiar addition to the cassette release of their EP. 

Toby Hartleroad said the tape’s entire Side Two consists of a series of sci-fi episodic radio shows. 

“The best I can relate it to is ‘Blade Runner’ meets a really terrible high school play. Our acting was so bad. It gave us a chance to add some mysticism behind the songs,” he said. 

 Max Hartleroad said The Who’s work also informed the alien-related public service announcements   

“It is like when The Who recorded radio jingles on their album, ‘The Who Sells Out,’” he said. 

 Overall, Toby Hartleroad said the Side Two opportunity caters to the band’s deep desire to expand outside the realm of music. 

“Musicians seem so intent to sticking to that medium,” he said. “I don’t like musicians being boxed into simply being a musician.”

The band members like to question why artists take themselves and their music too seriously. 

Max Hartleroad said a band’s validity often ties to its self-image. 

“A lot of songwriters take themselves so seriously, and a lot of people think they have more validity because of it. But why is doing other stuff like (using a ‘Tuck Everlasting’ quote) less valid?” he said.

Toby Hartleroad said the band’s informal view of music also informs their outlook on life. 

“Life is not so serious all the time,” he said. “It’s just not so black and white.”

Unlike Dent May and The Weeks, Columbus-based Hartle Road had little hometown support, which caused it to travel to play music. 

The band’s music reaches deep into isolation that Max Hartleroad said stems from growing up as musicians in a Mississippi town with little local interest in their music.

“On that tape, you kind of feel in outer space,” he said. “That feeling of isolation comes from living in Mississippi. Sometimes you just feel alone. Being alone allows us to be ourselves.”

Max Hartleroad said this isolation-driven sound can also comfort young listeners with the same plight.

“There may be some kid, and if he hears it, it may make him feel better,” he said. “‘Oh man, someone else feels like this. I feel like I have someone with me through music.’” 

The band’s recording history began when it recorded at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Miss. After the band finished up, studio owner Bruce Watson asked if he could put out the band’s record, which began a process Toby Hartleroad said was fluid and organic. Watson, also a part of Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records, has worked with artists like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Water Liars.

Hartle Road released its EP on BandCamp Tuesday, Feb. 25, with a CD release show last Saturday at Ajax Diner in Oxford, Miss. The band plays in Jackson, Hattiesburg and Baton Rouge in the upcoming weeks and has recorded a full-length album that will be released in the near future. 

In the meantime, Toby Hartleroad said the band hopes to stay on the road continually. 

“We plan to keep touring. There are no guarantees in the music business,” he said. “You can only hope to go on the road and make money.” 

With a well-respected label like Fat Possum/Big Legal Mess on its side, a genre-bending classic rock sound and diverse inspirations, Hartle Road looks to run uphill.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Columbus-based band Hartle Road travels uphill