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Vann Hardin

Vann Hardin

Roy: Okay, let's start by telling everyone out there just who Vann Hardin is: Drummer? Guitarist? Singer? Songwriter?

Vann: Vann Hardin was destined to be a songwriter. My first performances were as a drummer (6th grade). I began writing lyrics for my 2nd band in 1982. At the time doing background vocals. The guitar came last, learned in the mid nineties.

Roy: I'm sensing a little bit of--let's call it "classic rock"--in your writing style. Who were your musical influences growing up?

Vann: Three streams. The biggest being The Beatles. Melody, harmony, diversity of styles. Then, the songwriter stream of Dylan, Cat Stevens, Peter Paul & Mary, Harry Chapin. The third being guitar driven rock ala Alice Cooper, The Knack, Kiss, etc..

Roy: Name a few of your favorite songwriters and why they're important to you.

Vann: Bruce Cockburn. Intellectually and spiritually. Dylan for being able to paint a masterpiece with a few well chosen words.

Roy: What comes first or you--lyrics or music? How has being a drummer influenced your songwriting?

I have stacks of unused lyrics as thick as a phone book. I literally had to impose a moratorium on myself and quit writing, so the tunes would catch up! But occasionally, I'll write lyrics around a melody. Starting out as a drummer has really helped being a rhythm guitarist. Some folks struggle with their right hand, but it's second nature for me.

Roy: Are there any movies or books or other influences outside of music that inspire you to write songs.

Vann: The Department of Motor Vehicles, the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, road rage, the New Testament, my family members, but mostly the woman I love when I write..

Roy: Walk us through the Vann Hardin songwriting process. You have an idea for a song. Now what?

Vann: Lyrics are king to me. I grab a pen and jot down a strong sentence or two, maybe an interesting phrase. I think about what I want to say, then, the best was to convey it. Even if a song has a lot of lyrics, it's out of necessity. I try to whittle down a sentence, deleting unnecessary words... I'll think if there's a better way to phrase it. Then, I'll often build it into a cadence or a numerical pattern. May write the verses first or the chorus. It varies...

Roy: Do you have a memorable concert you'd like to tell us about?

Vann: Alice Cooper, Dragontown tour. He is like a master carnival barker who holds the crowd in the palm of his hand. Alice gives you much more than a concert. It's a show. An event. Also any show by songwriter Pierce Pettis, because his songs stick you right in the heart and make you weep.

Roy: You recorded your song "Treading Water" at my studio. Good song. I'm guessing it's slightly autobiographical. As a fellow songwriter living in this town I've often felt the same way. Do you write mostly from your own life?

Vann: Indeed, the vast majority of songs I write are from my life experiences, things I just have to say. But I'm trying to broaden my creative horizons.

Roy: Is there a song that comes on the radio that makes you say "I wish I had written that song!"?

Vann: Taxi by Harry Chapin. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. Wichita Lineman , I Hope You Dance, oh, and Torn by Natalie Imbruglia, but most of all, a Pierce Pettis song called "That Kind Of Love" which is one of the most moving songs I've EVER heard.

Roy: Can a song change after you've played it for an audience? 

Vann: Songs can change and I do on occasion, change one, but they're pretty sacred to me. I don't like to change them usually.

Roy: So what's next for Vann Hardin?

Vann: My second CD is next. Working at a healthy pace (cross fingers).

Vann plays various venues around Jacksonville and North Florida both as a singer and as a drummer.

You can purchase Vann's CD Lyrical Sphere on CD Baby here.