Maryland-based band Bumpin’ Uglies are immersed in varied musical influences that inspire a unique and unforgettable sound, and they aim to please-everyone from die-hard punks to hippies with dreads. New Noise Magazine chatted with Brandon Hardesty, the band’s frontman, about music, life and responsible cannabis use.
How did you get started making music?
I started making music when I was a kid. I would mess around on the piano and try to figure out songs that I was into. I got my first guitar when I was 17 and became completely immersed in the instrument. I started writings songs and hitting open mics. It was all downhill from there.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Sublime, The Skints, Eminem, The Beach Boys, The Avett Brothers, Jason Isbell, and Joe Pug.
How do you describe your style?
I like to think of myself as a songwriter first and a musician second. Lyrics have always been the most important thing for me. Our band’s sound is this cool combination of dub reggae and ska punk tied together with a folky, hip-hop vocal delivery, but I’ve always tried to make the lyrics and the stories the focal point.
How do you feel about the ska and reggae scenes, and how they have progressed over the years?
It’s hard for me to comment on the ska scene because we’re not as immersed in it as the reggae scene, but it seems to be pretty strong. You’ve got bands like Reel Big Fish and Less Than Jake that are still killing it on the club scene twenty plus years into their career, and bands like Streetlight Manifesto, The Skints, and The Interupters that are arguably spearheading a fourth wave of ska. There are still a bunch of kids all around the US that come out to those shows and skank up the joint.
The reggae scene in the US is huge. American Reggae has blown up over the last 10 years and as a result there are a handful of bands that are able to headline amphitheater tours every summer. It’s been really cool to watch the whole thing grow.
Do you have anything exciting coming up that you want to announce?
We’re going to be releasing our fourth full-length studio album this April! I’m very excited about that. It’s called Beast From The East.
How has cannabis affected you life and/or your creative process?
I started smoking pot when I was sixteen and treated it the same way I was treating booze at the time. Plainly speaking, my friends and I would try to get as f*cked up as possible. I started having problems with anxiety in my early twenties and found that getting too high was a trigger for my anxiety, so I stopped smoking for a few years.
When we started going out west I would talk to people about my issues when they would offer me a joint, and I started learning the difference between indicas and sativas, and the effect that they have on your body and your mind. I started experimenting with pot again, but I was treating it with much more respect. These days I’ll smoke a little bit of pot when I have a lot of admin stuff to do on the computer, cleaning to do around the house, yard work, etc. It helps me turn off my head and concentrate at the task at hand. I also really enjoy playing music after a couple hits, but it has to be in the right setting. Being too high in front of the wrong audience can be a huge trigger for my anxiety.
How do you feel about legalization so far? Is there anything you think could be done better or differently?
I think all progress for legalization is good progress. I wish it wasn’t so hard for people working in the industry to bank their income. When you have that much revenue and it’s all based in cash you’re just asking for crime. That said, I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone that’s willing to take the risk of working in the industry right now. It’s undeniable that there’s a lot of money to be made, but there’s a whole lot of risk that comes with it.
Have you ever worked cannabis into your music as a theme? If so, how?
I wrote a song called “Budtender” that essentially summarizes what I just said. It’s gonna be on the upcoming album. We may release it earlier as a single, still trying to figure that out.
Check out their tour dates and get their latest album all right here.
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