Jam-band supergroup Hard Working Americans certainly do a lot to live up to their name.
Jam-band supergroup Hard Working Americans certainly do a lot to live up to their name. Pretty much every one of the six band members has two or three other musical projects they’re working on at any given time, and yet they still have the time and, more surprisingly, the energy to make Hard Working Americans a viable and relevant entity in the music world today. When we got to chat with keyboardist Chad Staehly, it became apparent early on just how busy and hectic the life of not just Staehly is, but the rest of his bandmates too.
When we called Staehly, he was taking in the sights from the mountains in Alaska before his other band, Great American Taxi, played the annual Salmonfest in the region. While the rest of his Hard Working Americans bandmates were down in Nashville quickly putting finishing touches on the group’s next album, he was able to squeeze in a moment to just relax and take in life. For Staehly and the rest of the band, that’s almost impossible to do at times because of how hard working they truly are.
“Mainly, I do Great American Taxi,” Staehly revealed. “Hard Working Americans was supposed to be a one-shot thing of sorts, but it’s growing into a lot more which is nice. I also work with a management company in Nashville who manages artists. Really, I wear quite a few hats in this business, but I have to in order to survive and support a family. I feel like I’m a hard working American just like about everyone else in this country who needs to work more and more hours to make end meets and pay the bills. It’s never easy.”
Still, Stahely’s “hard work” involves working with some of the most celebrated musicians on the jam band circuit, something most people would give anything to be able to do. In Hard Working Americans alone, Staehly finds himself part of a sextet that includes Americana singer-songwriter Todd Snider, bassist Dave Schools and drummer Duane Trucks from Widespread Panic, guitarist Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood, and acclaimed lapsteel player Jesse Aycock.
The band formed in 2013, initially as a one-shot as Stahely previously mentioned, and attracted plenty of attention and praise with the release of their self-titled debut record in 2014. Spurred by the success of the record and the chemistry the six musicians felt amongst themselves, the band decided to try for a sophomore record that they’re shooting for an early 2016 release.
“We definitely started thinking we would do just one record and then a few shows to support it,” Staehly described. “One thing led to another though and we’re all just enjoying it so much that George Boedecker from our label Melvin Records decided to financially support us some more for the next one. We took full advantage of that support and the songs that Todd had already been written so we got right to work on it. It seemed like what we all wanted to do, but also needed to do and it just all fell into place perfectly.”
Finding time in the band’s hectic schedule turned out to be easier than anyone anticipated and as some tours wrapped up, the band went right into the studio in Chicago and Nashville and recorded most of it live to tape. Staehly was extremely optimistic about it, especially when comparing it with the first time around with the group.
“This thing is going to be totally different from the first album we put out,” Staehly exclaimed. “We’re proud of that first record, but I would say it’s a little safe in someways. We didn’t take a lot of chances and were recording songs mostly written by other people so that initially boxes you in a little bit. I think this record goes a lot farther into exploratory directions sonically and lyrically. I’ve made quite a few records now with Todd and I feel like this might be his best effort ever as far as the lyrical writing goes.”
Thursday night at The National, Hard Working Americans will debut many of these new songs to Richmond, as well as play what made up much of the band’s celebrated debut. Each musician will surely lose themselves in the songs and grooves countless times throughout the set, but the moment they’re done? It’s on to the next town while meticulously planning out their next over as a band and as individuals. It’s a hard schedule for each member, but when looking at their success so far, it’s one that’s paying off wonderfully for each musician.
Hard Working Americans play The National Thursday night, opening for Col. Bruce Hampton & The Aquarium Rescue Unit, in what’s being advertised as the “jam-band show of the year.” For more information on the show and where to buy tickets, click here.