Most songs have a message of some sort, though too often I hear the shallow musings of today’s pop stars and wonder if there’s even a market for artists of substance and intelligence.
Artists from Charlie Daniels to Kid Rock have released patriotic songs in recent years, but it can be tough for a musician to toe the line between entertainment and enlightenment. Too often, such acts are derided as gimmicky or preachy and can turn off audiences before they are even engaged.
One Alabama-based trio of seasoned musicians is seeking to change that perception with a mix of memorable melodies and driving guitar riffs that result in tapping toes before the lyrics’ impact fully sinks in.
I recently had the pleasure of hearing from one-third of Project Hayseed as I learned more about the unique venture from the group’s founder and drummer, Joey Bruno.
The idea for a band, described as “a blend of southern rock, blues, and pop,” dedicated to espousing pro-American values was rooted in the frustration so many felt with America’s societal shift.
“The 2012 presidential campaign and other events in the news made it clear that Project Hayseed needed to happen,” Bruno explained.
Concerns about a move away from the Constitution and toward an all-powerful central government led Bruno to speak out, and he solicited the help of two fellow musicians, Luke Baggett and Bruce Bentley.
With nearly a century of musical experience between them, the fledgling group certainly had the expertise to make a great band. The next step was crafting a soundtrack complete with catchy but thought-provoking lyrics.
Each of the three members contribute to the creative process – lyrically and musically.
Though the unusual name of the band originated as Bruno was cutting grass one summer, the term “hayseed” has since taken on a more affectionate meaning among band members and their fan base.
The term has historically been used disparagingly in reference to those considered to be unsophisticated or uneducated, he explained.
“As ['hayseed'] is used by the band and their fans … the term implies a simpler, common sense, less complicated look at the world and one’s actions and place within it,” he added. “The total idea being that America would serve itself better by returning to its core values – shrink the size and reach of her government and let the people regain their authority as the true leaders.”
As with any worthwhile venture, Bruno noted that band members have put considerable time and effort into the project thus far.
“Writing was a task because it’s just too easy to take the low road and write a dozen ‘I hate [blank]‘ songs,” he said. “That’s not Project Hayseed. We like to make different styles of songs with little hidden meanings in them – challenge your thinking, so to speak.”
Furthermore, he said the recording process is an arduous and costly one.
“Not only do the songs have to be right musically and lyrically, they’ve got to be of a very high commercial grade and quality as far as production goes,” he said. “Maybe it’s a sticky point with us, but we must be on par with the other offerings that you find by the mainstream. We don’t want the ‘conservative voice’ band to be a weak product.”
Attention to detail has already begun to pay off, though. Bruno said the growing number of self-described Hayseeds is a testament to the popularity of their message and sound.
“I think our timing has been incredible,” he said. “People have called [and] sent fan mail from as far as Alaska and the prayers – oh my; just so touching.”
Project Hayseed is already getting numerous requests for live shows, though he said the majority of performances will take place after the album is complete.
“The show just works better in larger venues and crowds,” he said. “We’d like to seat 1,000-plus and that’s very doable. Getting the album finished is the key.”
Tentatively titled “WE Built This!”, the name of their first album is a well-placed jab at an infamous comment by Barack Obama.
“Yeah, it’s pretty much every joke you can spin on that genius quote,” Bruno said, calling Obama’s claim that business owners are not responsible for their success “beyond insulting.”
Those interested in learning more about the band or who would like to donate to the costs of producing “WE Built This!” can visit their website here.
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