Brandon Hardesty Talks Bumpin Uglies

Photos From Bumpin Uglies Press Release

Formed over a decade ago in Annapolis, Maryland; the punk reggae band Bumpin Uglies have been one of the fastest rising bands this year and have no intentions of slowing down! Their most recent full length album topped reggae charts and threw them into the national spotlight. After years of relentless touring this four piece band has had their biggest year yet having played some top notch music festivals and even hosting one of their own. Festival Squad was lucky enough to sit down with the bands guitarist and vocalist, Brandon Hardesty, and talk about some favorite festival moments, their upcoming set at Resonance, future tours, and new music! 

Festival Squad: You guys came together as a band a little over a decade ago. Where did you all meet at and what brought you all together? 

Brandon Hardesty: Initially it started off with me playing open mics around Annapolis, Maryland with my first bass player. After about a year and a half of that we stopped playing and then I met my current bass player Wolfie. He and I met at an open mic at a local rock bar in Annapolis called The Whiskey. He was playing in a southern rock band, which ended up not working out for him. Eventually the two of us started playing then bought a van and started touring and haven’t stopped since then! After that TJ, our drummer, joined us and we toured as a three piece for a long time. After a while we wanted to add on to our sound so we added Chad about three years ago on keys and guitar and that’s where we’re at now!

Bumpin Uglies left to right (Dave Wolf, TJ Haslett, Brandon Hardesty, Chad Wright)

FS: You guys have hit a few really big music festivals this year including Firefly, Peachfest, & Reggae Riseup as well as headlining a few other festivals. What have been some of your favorite moments from this years festival season? Any festivals that you haven’t performed at but are on your list for next year? 

BH: Yeah! Firefly was huge for me! I grew up in the mid-atlantic and I remember when Firefly was starting out about seven or eight years ago. That was a huge stand out moment for me because we were the first ones to open up that stage for the day and we had about 800 people come out and watch us! They were dancing around and singing the words to our songs and I can confidently say that they were there for us because as soon as we finished they just rolled out! Of course you never want to see that for the next band that has to perform on that stage but it was really cool knowing they came out to see us! Peachfest was also super rad. There was a lot of great music and I really like the location there. One that I would love to do next year would be Electric Forest! Resonance is actually Chad’s, our keyboard players, favorite festival out of everything! Resonance definitely has a great lineup, I think Resonance and Peachfest were my two favorite lineups. 

FS: Resonance has been one of my favorite festivals for a while now! There’s nothing like it. Do you guys have anything special in store for the weekend?

BH: We are gonna come out and play all the hits! Hopefully we can get some collabs going on with a few of our friends there! We have a rotating cast of horn sections that join us. We tour as a four piece but we record with a horn section and I would love to add one full time it’s just that were still in a van and don’t really have room. But yeah, I’m trying to find a horn section to join us for Resonance! I love collabs, I feel like the more people you have on stage with you the funner the vibe of the show is!

FS: I just recently interviewed Matt Jalbert, the guitarist from TAUK about their tribute set at Resonance this year. He mentioned that Jimi Hindrix was one of his early influences, as a guitarist and performer who have been some of your influences and what is some of the music you like to cover? 

BH: Sublime is a huge influence for us as a band. Id sad say collectively as a band we all love The Beatles to. Other than that were all kinda all over the place other than that! Chad, our keyboardist, is super into the jamband world and loves Papadosio and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. TJ, our drummer, is super into hardcore funk music. Then Wolfie, our bass player, is kind of all over the place with what he listens to. Over the last five years I’ve been getting into the folk funk genres and alt country stuff. I’m just really into the singer songwriter stuff.

FS: Resonance is moving to Slippery Rock, PA this year. You guys just hosted your own music festival this year called Weekend At Wolfies in Bedford, PA only a couple hours away. Was this your first year doing it?

BH: Yeah this was our first year and it was a blast! It kind of exceeded all expectations! Definitely going to make that an actual thing and just try to build on it!

FS: Any idea when the 2020 dates will be and will it still be at Fort Royal Farm?

BH: Weekend At Wolfies will be returning June 11th-13th, 2020 and will be back at Fort Royal Farm in Bedford, PA! It’s absolutely beautiful there, it’s at a beautiful farm on a mountain. They’ve done a lot of festivals there over the years and have some really cool infrastructure.

2019 Weekend At Wolfies Recap Video

FS: What were some challenging things about the weekend & what were some of your favorite moments from your first year hosting it? 

BH: We held the festival in the middle of June and in Maryland that when it starts to get uncomfortably hot but it was perfect there that weekend. Everyone was wearing sweatshirts at night and enjoying the firepit. We had a really intense storm that lasted about fifteen minutes on Thursday night but other than that it was perfect weather with clear skies the whole time. So this year I just became a father!

FS: Congratulations! 

BH: Thanks man! My son is eight months old now. But one of my favorite moments of the whole festival was with him. We like to have fun as a band and don’t really take ourselves too seriously. We have a lot of dumb ideas as a band and never know how their going to translate. One of the ideas that I had that I knew I wanted to do was for our first set. We walked out to The Circle Of Life from The Lion King and I held my son up like Simba! Haha I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out and if it was going to be funny or not but it ended up being funny and at the same time super heavy and emotional for me. But yeah that was one of my favorite moments. We also have a fan group on Facebook that are super supportive called Uglies Nation and this was one of the first times that everyone was able to come in from all over the country and meet up. It was a really cool bonding experience that happened around the music that I enjoyed. 

FS: After Resonance you guys hit the road for the Lava Sharks and Water Parks Tour. Can you tell me a little more about this tour? Are there any stops on the tour that you a bit more excited for? 

BH: That’s our headlining tour and were linking up with a few of our friends! Were meeting up with Little Stranger for the Texas and Southeast leg and then Project 432 for the Midwest and Colorado portion. Denver is probably the location I’m most excited for! The last time we came through the city we sold out our show so we are playing a little bigger venue this time and I’m excited to see how that goes! I’m really big on setting goals and then hitting those goals and the next big target is playing Red Rocks! I feel like that’s on every bands bucket list and one of the ways to do that is have a really strong Denver draw! So if we sell out this next show it’s one step closer to getting on that Red Rocks stage! Other than that I’m just excited to see the fans and we’ve also got a lot of new music that I’m excited to play!

FS: Speaking of new music a little bit ago you all released an album titled Beast From The East that debuted at number 1 on the reggae charts and drew attention from Billboard. Now you have released an EP titled BUZZ. Can you tell me a little about your newest music projects?

Bumpin Uglies ‘Buzz’ EP

BH: We actually just released a new single a week or two ago! We’ve also started recording another set of I think twelve songs and I’ve got another two albums of stuff written after that so we have a lot of new stuff coming! Ideally I’d love to put out at least an EP every year indefinitely until we run out of music. 

FS: Where do you guys record your music at? 

BH: We actually have a studio in Annapolis, Maryland where I’m from that we’ve been working with for forever! We started working with a producer named Howie Spangler from the band Ballyhoo for the Beast From The East album and it went really well! Bringing him into the process really helped build the sound and were getting better at refining our process.

FS: Awesome! Well thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today! I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys perform at Resonance and eventually seeing you guys eventually take that Red Rocks stage!





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