“We Like Strange”: Shane And Tyler Fogerty Of Hearty Har Talk Analog Sound & Upcoming Album ‘Radio Astro’

Shane and Tyler Fogerty have been operating with the band Hearty Har since around 2012, and have announced the 11-song album Radio Astro for February 19th 2021 via BMG. Well-versed in live performance and steeped in Psychedelic experience-based aspects of classic Rock, the brothers, who are the sons of CCR's John Fogerty, have spent a number of years learning the craft of Producing and mixing in order to create their chosen soundscapes as authentically as possible.

The results can be seen in their first two singles from the album, "Scream and Shout" and "Boogie Man". Both have been released with their own videos to pave the way for Radio Astro's arrival this winter.

Tower's PULSE! spoke with Shane and Tyler Fogerty about their journey into Radio Astro and why their Instagram videos are super weird.

Hannah Means-Shannon: It was great timing to release your single “Scream and Shout” and it’s very spooky video close to Halloween.

Shane Fogerty: Yes, that kind of worked out, though not totally on purpose. It kind of fits the vibe.

HMS: I know you’ve been performing as Hearty Har since around 2012, and I wondered what the road was to creating this album and how it came together for you.

Tyler Fogerty: We started the band when we were in college, and we actually made another record in 2014, with a Kickstarter. That was our first real album. We had other musicians then and it was a whole learning experience. We went into a studio and we had some troubles with that, so out of that experience, we realized that the album that we wanted to make would be with us engineering it and Producing it. We had ideas of our own.

After that whole experience, around 2015, we started building our own studio and creating our own music. It took us in new directions. We got new musicians. It took a long time to learn how to engineer and Produce music in the way that we imagined. It’s finally at that level that we’ve always wanted it to be. This is that album.

HMS: That’s awesome. I was actually going to ask how you picked up the skills necessary to be able to engineer and Produce this album. The sounds that use on this album are so distinctive, so I was very impressed by that. It sounds like that Kickstarter album experience was the real crash course in figuring out how much would go into creating the sounds that you wanted.

Tyler: Yes, definitely. It’s nice to have your own space because usually, with another engineer or Producer, no matter how invested they are, there’s a limit to what work people will do. We always had such strong ideas about wanting a certain sound or affect, and it would take too long. We had to brush over it, but if you brush over it too many times, the whole thing gets diminished, in my opinion. It’s great to have the space and time to achieve what you want.

Shane: By putting it in our hands, I think it comes out more purely as our voice rather than a collaboration of a bunch of people and different investment levels. Everything here is our blood, sweat, and tears. We’ve mulled over it and really tried to make it as good as it can be, the best we can do.

HMS: I’ve heard people talk before about the difficulty of communicating their musical ideas to others if they can’t produce a clip of sound to share, using only words.

Tyler: Oh, yes.

Shane: Yes.

HMS: But because you two are working on the same wavelength, I’m sure you can get that across to each other more easily than to other people.

Tyler: That’s the funny thing in audio stuff. You’ll hear certain words, like, “Make it sound warm.” I think we have a certain vocabulary and appreciation of records that we kind of know, even if it’s vague, we can understand, which is nice.

HMS: Does that mean that you have been working on these new songs ever since 2015, or did you start these more recently?

Tyler: I think it was the end of 2016. That was when I went into the studio and started having a long-term vision. That would be the true beginning of this album.

HMS: It’s 11 songs, too, so it’s a chunky album with a lot to it.

Shane: Yes, and we’ve also been recording more since we finished the album. That’s the great thing about having our studio, whenever we’re in there, we can have an idea and just follow it day and night. There are no time limits.

HMS: That is really important, especially the way the world is right now.

Tyler: I think we really went head-on into recording because we really enjoyed playing live in LA, but it was so clustered with bands that it was hard. We’d always just play the same place, and we weren’t into playing to small crowds for so long, so we decided to focus on making good recordings and hoping that would lead to something else. At least in this world of recording we can do well.

Shane: And just get songs out there. People still really need songs.

HMS: I really agree. People really need new music right now, and I’m basing that on many conversations. I can really see that. I know that a lot of people made decisions to hold albums right now, but I do applaud that your album is on the way.

Did you ever get a chance to play any of these live yet?

Shane: We at least half the album before, live in LA.

Tyler: It’s really evolved since then. I think some of the stuff we play live is even better than the record.

HMS: Did your experiences playing live affect how you recorded the album?

Shane: I think some songs took more shape. Sometimes we’d play a song when it wasn’t totally finished to get a feel for it. We don’t really have that mentality, though, that if we can’t pull it off live, we shouldn’t record it. I think the recording should be the recording of what’s possible. We’ll figure out a way live, even if it’s not exactly the same.

HMS: I’ve listened to the new album, and I really think there are a lot of rich layers in there. I’m not sure if you use vintage equipment, but there are a lot of sounds that we associate with different eras. I don’t know how hard it is to reproduce those sounds live, but those guys did it, right? I guess they were created for live performance back in the day.

Shane: It’s easier to play live because you can sample all the effects.

Tyler: Like sampling the Mellotron. But in recording, we take the approach of not settling for less than the real thing, so that’s what we did. It’s all analog.

HMS: It’s all analog? Are you serious? That’s so awesome. I thought it sounded like it was, but I didn’t want to assume because it can be difficult to have the equipment and access.

Did you have a shopping list? Did you have to get equipment in or did you already have enough of what you needed?

Tyler: That’s the cool thing is that in building up the studio, I’d buy stuff here and there and then sell stuff I didn’t use. The majority were the keyboards, and old synthesizers, like the Mellotron, that I knew we would want. I’m kind of obsessed with those weird sounds. Learning how to use a tape machine for delay or phasing, and all that kind of cool stuff, which people don’t do as much now, but it was a big part of some records that we liked a lot.

Shane: Recording half-speed and finding out what you can do. In the very beginning of the recording process, Tyler bought a Plate Reverb from a studio in Chicago that was closing. A Plate Reverb is a giant steel plate in a big wooden box. It’s massive and its reverb, a sound that they have in every major studio. We use that thing a lot on almost everything. It just gives it that nice ambience.

HMS: I’m going to have to listen the album again and see if I can pick out some of that stuff. That is so cool! I really approve of that kind of craftsmanship, even if that’s a little snobby of me.

Shane: I’m glad you dig it.

HMS: Who are the other bandmates who worked on this album?

Shane: The drummer for all the tracks is our good friend, who’s been drumming with us since high school, is Will Van Santen. He plays piano and sings, and does a lot of things on the album. We have two different guys who did bass, Jesse Wilson, and also Marcus Hogsta, who played on a few of them. Jesse’s based in Austin and Marcus is in LA, so he plays most of our live shows. Nathan Collins played Sax on a couple of tracks and he’s also in our Dad’s touring band. He’s an amazing saxophone player. 

HMS: I’m guessing that all these people have a similar musical sensibilities.

Tyler: Definitely. Me and Shane tried to do whatever music we could do by ourselves, but also be realistic and serve the record by getting people to do stuff that we couldn’t do. I’m glad we were able to find people.

Shane: We tracked all the basic rhythm tracks with a live band. I think that’s important to get the interaction in a room. Sometimes you find some magic like that which you can’t just doing an overdub in your room.

View this post on Instagram

Art Official... #realmajick #artificial

A post shared by Hearty Har (@heartyhar) on

HMS: I’m going to ask you a weird Instagram question: What is with the wizard marionette and the book of butterflies?

Shane and Tyler: [Laughter]

HMS: That video is strangely haunting!

Tyler: I had this idea that when people use the word “official” on their name on Instagram that it’s funny. I wanted to make a song called “Art Official” that’s like “Art-ificial” and go through a bunch of styles, but make it the same song. But I thought that would take to long. So I just created this situation of getting a book of butterflies, getting a little wizard, and he enchants the book. I was making artwork for this other song, “Boogie Man”, so I thought it would be funny if he opened the book once he enchanted it and a bunch of butterflies flew out. I thought, “That’s artificial/art-official right there!”

HMS: That explains it, but it doesn’t explain just how weird the final product is. It’s definitely something you should keep on Instagram. It’s very strange.

Shane: We like strange.

Tyler: You have to have a sense of humor.

HMS: That’s the thing—your band name does suggest that you have a sense of humor. Is it important to you not to take yourselves too seriously?

Tyler: Yes, to not get in the way of greater things. Sometimes you create things and you think, “Oh wow, how did that get there?” It just comes to you. I feel like it’s a channeling thing rather than thinking you’re the creator of this great thing. It’s more about paying attention to what’s happening around you and it’ll find its way out of you if you’re paying attention.

Shane: I feel like it’s just about having fun with things, sometimes, too. It feels good. It’s a nice release to explore weird shit from time to time.

HMS: Those are both great answers. I think if you bring positivity to something because you’re having fun, that can have a really good effect. But I like what you said about being open to possibilities, because that’s also a positive state of mind. It’s not like you’re always thinking, “I have to create this magnificent work of art!”

Tyler: Yes. That definitely gets in the way to have that sort of approach. And no one wants to be around you, either, if that’s your attitude.

HMS: What went into the title of the album, Radio Astro?

Tyler: That’s what I actually named the studio, and when you’re in the studio, you have your antenna pointed towards the cosmos, hoping for some insight. It seemed appropriate for all of us coming together and trying to make a record, but also because of us trying to find the weirdness, and bring in bizarre things because we were listening for them.

HMS: That is awesome. You need a little logo for your studio! That would be a great logo and insider memorabilia.

I meant to ask you about the terms that are being used to describe your music. The terms are “Psychedelic Rock”, “Jam Band”, that kind of thing. What do you think of that? Are those the terms you would use? It’s complicated by the fact that it could mean what it meant back then, or it could mean what it means right now. And there are quite a number of bands who do identify as Psychedelic Rock right now.

Tyler: I find that, honestly, pretty funny. But I’ve noticed that in LA, there are so many Psychedelic Rock bands, and their approach is, “Get the phasers, get the fuzz guitars.” That’s the focus of what Psychedelic music is, but for me that’s so far from anything Psychedelic. There’s a certain level of communicating in music and getting things across to people where all the music is working together to create a feeling or an image, and that’s the approach to become Psychedelic. It’s not just about the instruments or the look you convey on stage.

HMS: So Psychedelic Rock should produce a certain experience, that’s internal, rather than being surface-level based on sounds or instruments?

Tyler: Yes, because that’s not limited. It can be specific to each song. There can be a bunch of different types and approaches to it. It’s okay to use the word “Psychedelic”.

Shane: We’re big fans of Psychedelia and 60s and 70s music, and we’re definitely influenced by that, but it’s not just imitation. It’s taking from that and seeing how you can channel all that through your own voice. We want to make it something new for us.

HMS: I appreciate that explanation. These terms can get recycled and it’s hard to know what they mean sometimes.

Shane: Thanks for asking. The whole message can get lost quick.

HMS: With the single, “Scream and Shout”, which is an interesting song on its own, we also have the video. There are these transformational moments in it when things seem to “flip”, kind of like with the butterflies in the book. A moment of surprise for the viewer, like when the girl moves into the dream world in the video. How did the narrative of the video come about?

Shane: We actually had Justin McWilliams make the video and he reached out on Facebook a year before we filmed it. I reached out a year later asking if he was still down to do some videos. He came to us with the narrative and some ideas, and we talked for a few weeks.

Our niece was the star in it, and she’s great. He filled in the scenes, like the narrative of this kind of evil figure stirring the pot, manipulating things around this little girl, who’s at his whim. It had some relation to the song. He was definitely the storyteller, but it was nice because I felt like we could create these little moments that were strongly symbolic but still on track with the meaning of the song.

HMS: Are you planning on releasing more singles and videos between now and February?

Shane: I think there will be another video very soon…

HMS: Did you ever manage to shop at Tower Records?

Tyler: We shopped there, definitely.

Shane: We used to go to the one on Sunset and the one in Sherman Oaks. Our older sister, Lindsay, introduced us to music at a young age. She was into The Beatles and 60s stuff, so she introduced us to stuff and took us to Amoeba.

Tyler: I remember it was really laid out well and clearly. You could really see a lot easily.

HMS: What formats are you considering for Radio Astro?

Tyler: CD, and I believe, eventually, vinyl. We haven’t really talked about that.

Shane: I want vinyl! We both have records and the whole deal. Tyler has an elaborate set up. He has listening parties.

HMS: Very good! I approve this message. I would love to hear this album on vinyl. Would you have to master it separately for vinyl?

Shane: We’d have to do that. We’ll see if we get to that point. I know that with Jack White, on Lazaretto, depending on where the needle drops, it plays a different intro to the song. I love that. I think it’s really interesting and fun.

HMS: That is so cool. I was actually about to say that when you look at the album for vinyl, then you’ll know if you have gaps of time to fill with weird extras that are exclusive for the vinyl.

I love Third Man Records. They do great stuff.

Tyler: They are keeping the torch lit.

HMS: Our Tower Records motto is “No Music, No Life”, also written, “Know Music, Know Life”. Which do you prefer and how does it apply to your life?

Tyler: I like “Know Music, Know Life”, with the pun which gives it extra life.

Shane: I like that one, too.

HMS: Do you think that music changes the way you experience life?

Tyler: Yes, and how you remember life, too. Hearing a certain song can bring you back to a certain place, or to certain people.

Shane: It can make you remember certain smells.

Tyler: And I’m a smell guy. I like scented things.

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