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New Album Is "Labor Of Love" For Detroit's Hard Lessons

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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The Hard Lessons have been one of Detroit’s premier rock bands since Augie and Korin Louise Visocchi started making demos while attending Michigan State University. But with its new album, “Arms Forest,” the group hopes to “do it professional-style this time.”

Augie describes “Arms Forest,” The Hard Lessons’ second full-length album and the follow-up to last year’s four “B&G Sides” EPs, as “a labor of love” — partly because more than a few of its 13 songs came in the wake of the Visocchi’s marriage last year. But after going the Do-It-Yourself route for most of the group’s career, The Hard Lessons, which also include drummer Ryan Vandenberg, hunkered down with producer Zach Shipps (Brendan Benson, Electric Six) in Hamtramck and Ann Arbor to make their most fully realized recording yet.

“We had no rules and no boundaries while we were making this album,” Augie says of the set, which expands from the trio format to include guest contributions from members of Blanche, American Mars, the Silent Years, Child Bite, Electric Six and the Well Fed Boys. “We really feel like we took our time and, for the first time, I’m really proud of every aspect of this record, from the songwriting to the music to the artwork.”

The Hard Lessons also sent “Arms Forest” — named after a run-down apartment building in the Wayne State University area — out of town for mixing, to engineer Bill Racine (Flaming Lips, Rogue Wave, Mates of State) in Chicago, which Augie feels made a marked impact on the final product.

“It really benefited from having someone from outside, who wasn’t really devoted to the writing and how much time went into everything, doing the mix,” Augie explains.

“Having him mix the record meant something wasn’t going to be kept just for the wrong reason.”

A case in point; the song “Wedding Ring,” which was used in a recent episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” “Bill took the drums out of that one,” Augie says. “It was a duet Korin and I did and there was a drum beat through the whole thing. Bill was like, ‘Why are we stomping on these vocals? This is a beautiful, delicate track,’ and he took the drums right off. That wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

Keeping with the “professional” mantra of the new album, The Hard Lessons rolled out “Arms Forest” with three release parties in advance of its May 26 release, including:

*Thursday (May 21) at the Belmont, 10215 Jos Campau, Hamtramck. Doors open at 9 p.m. Cover is $5. Call (313) 871-1966 or visit www.thebelmontbar.com.

*Friday (May 22) at Small's, 10339 Conant, Hamtramck. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $5. Call (313) 873-1117 or visit www.smallsbardetroit.

*Saturday (May 23) at PJ's Lager House, 1254 Michigan Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 5 p.m. Admission is free. Call (313) 961-4668 or visit www.pjslagerhouse.com.

The group also has highprofile appearances lined up for the Riverbend Festival on June 5 in Chattanooga, Tenn., the City Stages Festival on June 20 in Birminghm, Ala., and the Rothbury Festival in western Michigan.

Web Site: www.thehardlessons.com

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