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Turn Me On: Hearty Har’s Shane & Tyler Fogerty on Dad’s Legacy & Forging Their Own Path with ‘Radio Astro’
Hearty Har — the Los Angeles-band fronted by Tyler and Shane Fogerty — cut its collective teeth on the Southern California club circuit over the past decade. But the project’s new album, Radio Astro, out now, is almost a debut.
After a few false starts, the Fogerty Brothers — sons of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty — holed up in the small studio they’d built after the not-so-great experience they’d had recording in the past and set about honing their craft and finding their sound. It was a labor of love, and the results showed. But then the pandemic hit, and everything was placed on hold.
— Hearty Har (@heartyhar) February 19, 2021
Fortunately, their dad’s Fogerty’s Factory YouTube performances (and November 2020 album) got them out of the lockdown doldrums we’re all wrestling with, and the pair now have their sights firmly set on the future. Here they tell Rock Cellar about the music that inspires them, how they’ve wrestled with their dad’s formidable legacy, and how music videos became an unexpected creative outlet.
Rock Cellar: I’m really digging the record. I fell in love with it right away. I wanted to talk to you about the band and how you got to where you’re at right now, and the making of it and anything, but particularly your influence. It’s been an insane year for everybody. What was the trajectory of the record? Was it a pandemic-type thing?
Tyler Fogerty: It’s actually been a pretty long time coming. We started it, I would say, officially, back in 2016. We first built our home studio and have been piecing it together since then. We had another manager and we released two of the songs that are on the album awhile back, but then we kind of realized, “Okay, we want to do a full record that we produce and engineer.” Then we lost some band members, because everybody didn’t have the patience or the vision, I would say, to be in the studio all the time. Plus, if you play in LA, you’re always at the same old places, making no money. So, we had to get out of that cycle.
So, I was thinking, “Okay, let’s just make a really good sounding album that we feel is just 100 percent us.” Then it took a long time, figuring out how to make it sound really good and learning the whole process. We finished it about probably about a year ago, except for that track “Waves of Ecstasy,” because that was written and worked on in the lockdown. So we’ve been sitting on it for a long, long time. It feels really good that it’s finally out.
Rock Cellar: It’s almost, in many respects, even though you guys have been doing this for a while, a debut album. You’re almost reintroducing yourselves to everybody with this, I’ve got to imagine.
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah. This is the realized version of what we wanted all along.
Shane Fogerty: Yeah. And it’s our own vision. We made an album in 2014 with different bandmembers, and we had a Kickstarter and went into the studio and had a producer/engineer, but that didn’t end up working out the way we thought it would. So that’s what drove our desire to build our own studio and do it ourselves and see if we could make it even sound good to ourselves. And once we did one song that we were happy with, it became a matter of, “Okay, let’s keep doing it and see if we can improve on this.” And that’s been the trajectory since then.
Rock Cellar: And what are the core influences? Because every time I hear it, I hear different reference points. I was just listening to the record earlier, and I thought, “Now I’m hearing Flaming Lips and Lord Huron.” I hear older influences, too, like Piper at the Gates of Dawn-era Pink Floyd, or I hear San Francisco, late-sixties influences, but it’s all through your own unique filter, often all in one track.
Tyler Fogerty: I think it goes back to music that came out of the sixties, and even late fifties.
Shane Fogerty: And the seventies. Even eighties sometimes is good. [Laughter]
Tyler Fogerty: Some nineties, too. [Laughter] But our core is the Beatles and Stones, and the Kinks. And then, soul music and the Nuggets compilation. Because I really love music history, so I’ll get into a specific thing and I’ll learn all that I can about it, and just jump around the decades and just hear stories and sounds and try to study them and achieve them and spin off on those things, too. We love synths, and orchestral soundtrack stuff, too.
Shane Fogerty: Morricone. Alessandro Alessandroni, his guitar player, who also released solo albums, which are awesome, is very cool. They have all the Spaghetti Western whistling, and 20 guitars and weird chords, and harpsichords and stuff. We love all those unique blends of sounds and instruments. We get excited by that.
Rock Cellar: I hear all the things that you’re mentioning, but a lot of people won’t hear, let’s say, the Kinks or the Stones. But it’s obviously in your DNA. How did you get to where you are as opposed to just being another band that sounds like the Stones in 2021?
Tyler Fogerty: I think just a lot of dedication and hours and hours of being totally committed to trying to make the album the best thing [it can be]. Because I think there’s a way to have a love for something, but then not copy it. You just have to be aware of trying to serve what a song needs, and not try to make a song sound like somebody else, which I think, especially in LA, there’s so much of. It’s kind of a crime. It really kind of irks me. I don’t want to be anything like that at all. I just want to do what I like to do and realize the ideas naturally. And that took a lot of work.
Rock Cellar: But that’s a struggle. A lot of sons of well-known musicians struggle with either sounding too much or too little like their parents. Do you struggle with that at all? This is as far from your lineage, really, as it can be, but it still retains that kind of sixties thing, just a different form of it.
Tyler Fogerty: We obviously love our dad’s music, on a level that most people probably don’t understand. But he’s already been ripped off so much in his life. Besides, I want to keep going forward. We’re related already, so it’s like, “All right, that’s cool, but what do we want to do?” I don’t know, it just seems very obvious to not do that.
Shane Fogerty: I’m just not inspired to write music like our father. I love that when we want to get that fix, we can go and join him onstage and we play together and do all that, and that totally satisfies that for me. And when I write and I make music, definitely there’s my father’s influence on writing. Because a simple, good song is a strong way to get a message across. But our inspirations are vastly different from his, and so the decisions we make are usually different than what he would do.
To me that’s exciting, because it’s like, “Wow, we’re going down this other path over here, and it’s what we’re interested in and trying to discover and it’s new to us.”
Rock Cellar: And yet you’ve become much more widely known because of the Fogerty’s Factory YouTube posts during the lockdown. That’s not a bad thing, obviously. Because now there’s an audience there of people who will check you out who might not have known about you guys otherwise. And like you said, when you want to do that, it’s there for the taking. But talk to me a little about the Fogerty’s Factory and how that came about and what you guys learned from that experience. You played a lot of deep cuts as well as the hits.
Tyler Fogerty: It just came about very spontaneously, and then it slowly started getting more professional. I had never played some of the songs, so I was learning them right when we were playing and also recording them, so at first it was kind of a headache. But then, as we started to do it, weekly, and we got an engineer to take care of that, and the camera, and it just started building up, it became much more enjoyable.
Plus, it was a 180 degree difference from when we record. Because we were all playing live together, with no overdubs, doing a very simple and uplifting thing, which was really nice. It was like, “Oh yeah, this is just a positive thing that you can do with your family.” And the songs are all so good. And we all gel musically together. Our sister came and played with us, for the first time playing in a band, really. And she killed it.
Shane Fogerty: She’s great. She’s a star.
Tyler Fogerty: So, that was cool. It was nice having such a simple, positive band experience. Through the years, we’ve encountered some weird stuff in other musicians. But this was a breath of fresh air. No worries, really. Just to try to make people happy. And it made us happy too, because it was good music.
Shane Fogerty: Yeah. It was a nice tradition to do meetup with the family and jam a little every week, too. It was a nice bonding experience.
Rock Cellar: I want to talk to you about your videos. I love the “Fare Thee Well” video, and “Scream and Shout,” too. “Fare Thee Well” is hilarious. It’s got this Beastie Boys vibe to it, which probably nobody has said to you.
Shane Fogerty: No, but I like it!
Rock Cellar: There’s something about them that is pre-MTV. There’s almost a Monkees’ Head kind of inspiration.
Tyler Fogerty: Love that movie!
Rock Cellar: Talk to me a little about where the videos come from, and how involved you were in the gestation of those.
Tyler Fogerty: We met a guy on the internet! [Laughter] Justin (McWilliams) reached out to us when he was just out of college and was like, “I like your music, we should make a video.” Then, almost a year later, because we were busy recording, we were like, “Maybe this guy’s still down to make a video now that we actually have music to make videos to.” And it was cool because he had a pretty open mind, and he was really good at organizing the thoughts. We would meet up and just talk about little situations or, like, little funny moments, and because he went to film school, he knew how to make it into a narrative.
We just wanted to make stuff not super serious. Just kind of funny, a little bit. Like, don’t take it to a professional music video style, where the band is just playing in a room, yeah.
Shane Fogerty: And epic scenery.
Rock Cellar: But it does seem to be another creative outlet for you guys. They are funny and there is a lightheartedness to them. But they’re a window into your creativity too. I mentioned Head and you guys knew what I was talking about, so you are using them as a way to reach people beyond most artists. A lot of musicians really hate making videos, and they just see it as an obligation, and something they have to do to promote the record, or whatever. It doesn’t sound like you saw it that way.
Tyler Fogerty: No. It was actually a lot of fun, because everybody got together, and it was like, “Okay, this weekend, we’re going to make this little film.” It was nice, too, because it was related to the music, but a less stressful thing, and a fun activity. It was a nice change.
Rock Cellar: A pleasant detour. The bio and the articles I’ve read keep referring to you as “psych-rockers.” I’ve got to imagine you don’t see yourselves that way.
Shane Fogerty: Not really.
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah, no.
Shane Fogerty: We like psych rock. I love psych rock.
Rock Cellar: And you mentioned Nuggets.
Shane Fogerty: Yeah. Like, Pink Floyd Meddle-era, and “Echoes,” that’s like peak psych rock to me. David Gilmour in Pompeii playing his freaking Strat. You can’t touch that.
Tyler Fogerty: When they say we’re a psych rock band, it’s like, that’s just one ingredient in the soup. We don’t want to have to do that forever.
Shane Fogerty: We have the psych mentality, I feel like, somewhat.
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah.
Shane Fogerty: Like, we’re fans of psychedelia in general and of exploring different realms of thought.
Rock Cellar: Well, it makes sense. If you’re flipping through your record collection and it’s Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Nuggets, Meddle-era Pink Floyd, that begs the question: What are the modern artists that you drew inspiration from? Like I heard Flaming Lips, and I heard Lord Huron, but maybe you don’t.
Tyler Fogerty: I had never really listened to Flaming Lips. We saw them live not too long ago and I think that was, like, the first time I …
Shane Fogerty: That’s when it cleared for me, definitely.
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah. But leading up to that I was into the freak folk back in the early- to mid-2000s. That was my first modern music discovery.
Shane Fogerty: Like Akron/Family. The Felice Brothers.
Tyler Fogerty: Devendra Banhardt.
Shane Fogerty: Dawes, Delta Spirit, that kind of stuff. And Tame Impala, since long before Inner Speaker came out, I’ve been a fan. They’re like, one of my number ones.
Tyler Fogerty: I really like the Black Keys.
Shane Fogerty: Dr. Dog. Angel Olsen’s pretty great. There’s so much. I’m always finding new stuff.
Rock Cellar: Again, these are not psych rock. They don’t fall into one category. There’s a thread there, but again, when I listen to the record, I’m hearing a lot of different things put through your own filter. Was there a point where you felt, “Okay, we’ve found our sound?
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah. And I think that was kind of the hardest thing to deal with, being in a band with other people. Because once we discovered that, it was like, “This is the standard. This is how we’re going to keep moving forward.” But other people didn’t really see it that way, so it created rifts. Because all I want is to make the best music, and like, we’ve just started to kind of do that, so let’s keep going in that kind of spirit.
Rock Cellar: That begs the question. I’ve never been in a band with my brother, but I’ve got to imagine, you just having shared so much time together and grown up together and shared records and whatever, you had to have a shared language that maybe those outsiders didn’t have. Because I in collaborating with people, maybe they didn’t have the same reference points that you did.
Tyler Fogerty: Yeah.
Shane Fogerty: Yeah. To me, yeah, that’s definitely becoming more apparent as I get older. It’s like, “Why is it so easy for me and my brother to just relate on musical taste and ideas, and be able to just do that instantly?” You don’t have that with most people, I don’t think, and because we’re related, I think that definitely plays a part in it. We grew up together doing the same things, playing baseball, skateboarding, paintballing. [Laughter]
I think our consciousness is somewhat interconnected, I guess.
May 13, 2021