Checking in with Hard Pass | Rock Candy

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Checking in with Hard Pass

Posted By on Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 10:07 AM

click to enlarge hardpass.jpg

Hard Pass is the brainchild of Chad Conder and Mitch Vanhoose, with Jon Dodson, Jordan Trotter, Ryan Hitt and Isaac Alexander. Vanhoose, a professional sound engineer, has done work with Funkanites, Amasa Hines, Spero and more.

Conder sings and plays guitar in Flat Top Tony and The Purple Canoes, but you may know him better as the drummer for Adam Faucett and Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth. I visited Vanhoose's studio at his Park Hill home in North Little Rock, where Vanhoose showed me his 1985 Trident Soundboard - shipped from London - and said he was “very proud of his AD/DA converters." I smiled, like I knew what he was talking about.

How did the two of you meet?

Andy Warr (of Iron Tongue, Sweet Eagle, Booyah! Dad, and more) introduced us when we were teens. Andy moved from Cabot to Russellville where I lived at the time. We all ended up in Little Rock playing in an outfit called the Global Test, before moving on to other projects.

When did the idea for the band Hard Pass come about?

Vanhoose: It was around 2008, when we shared a Jacksonville duplex. In our free time, we’d get together, have a few beers and write songs. It turned out to be liberating. We just hit ‘record’ with no expectations of playing live or even finishing anything. It was just for fun.

What’s your songwriting and recording style?

Vanhoose: It’s not unusual for Chad to have an acoustic version of a song and leave it with me. I’ll go into the studio and add instrumentation and backing vocals, and then we’ll meet back up.

Conder: After years of playing in trios, having a large, fully produced sound is refreshing. Mitch is a great engineer. He fills in the song and interprets it.

click to enlarge Vanhoose at the board.
  • Vanhoose at the board.

What are some of your influences?

Conder: I was influenced by the Beatles as a kid (still am). In high school I discovered locals like Ho-Hum and Isaac Alexander of Big Silver. That was big for me. Meeting Darian Stribling (owner of Blue Chair Studios) at such a young age was also big. He taught us about the past scene and how to record.

Do you have any advice for Arkansas musicians?

Conder: My advice is to do it yourself. Play house shows. Record your own records.

Can you give some details about your new Park Hill Sound?

Vanhoose: Park Hill Sound will soon launch a website that’s a collective of everything Chad and I are involved with. It’ll be sort of a storefront for all the bands: Hard Pass, Spero, Brother Andy, Adam Faucett, Booyah! Dad, Magic Jordan, The Global Test, Mexico Mexico, Chad solo, and me solo. It’ll have something from my studio, the global headquarters, with our buddy Joe Osbourne's art work. The website is

Hard Pass' debut album, "The Axe Forgets," will be released July 22 at the White Water Tavern, with opening sets from Isaac Alexander and Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth. 

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