Lots of bands dream that big recording deals and rock glory are just around the corner. Little Rock's Hap-Hazard, an Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase alumnus, isn't just dreaming.
Sessions with noted producer Sylvia Massey - she's worked with Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine and Prince, to name a few - will result in an EP that will reach the band's hands next week.
Even before the June sessions with Massey in Weed, Calif., such record labels as Lava and Universal were nibbling, band manager Doug Adams said.
Hap-Hazard possesses everything a modern rock band needs and a record label seeks: youth, talent, personality, stage vitality throughout the lineup and melodic songs with crossover appeal.
"These record companies told me, 'Y'all have everything except one thing: You've only got Arkansas on your resume,'" Adams said.
Hap-Hazard wouldn't be the first band to learn you've got to leave home to establish a reputation. Evanescence was discovered in Nashville, but relocated to California under the watchful eye of Wind-up Records for two years before the mega-hit album "Fallen" was released. Another young local act, the American Princes, is taking its EP along while it embarks on a lengthy tour to distant venues. Fort Smith's Starkz has been to see the major players in New York and has toured the region to nail down record label support.
So in the past few months Hap-Hazard has taken to the road, playing major clubs and shows in Arkansas's border states. After their California trip, the guys spent two days playing the Major League All-Star Game Jam in downtown Houston with 7 Mary Three and Blue October. Budweiser has lined up as a sponsor: The St. Louis-based brewer will put its money and muscle behind an up-and-coming original act in every state.
"We're getting good exposure," vocalist Kaleb Tirman said.
A connection with an agent in Los Angeles got the group set up with Massey and engineer Kayle Holmes for the EP.
"She planned to record five songs we already had, and we wrote three more before we went out there. She ended up wanting to do those three and two we had written," says drummer Justin Carder.
Band members said that Massey told them that of the 1,000-plus artists she's worked with, Hap-Hazard would rank in her top 5 percent for tightest band, songs and overall enjoyment.
Hap-Hazard's current lineup - bassist Alan Pittman, Tirman, Carder and guitarist Daniel McHaney - was assembled five years ago when Carder joined. In 2001, the group finished runner-up to Mojo Depot in the AT Musicians Showcase.
Adams, whose uncle is the famed rockabilly musician Sonny Burgess, has managed the band for 20 months.
Last Saturday, the group played four of their newest tracks at the "Battle of the Rock," a band contest sponsored by Clear Channel at its events center. They followed a short "unplugged" set by Seether, who played later with Evanescence at Alltel Arena. Evanescence guitarist John LeCompt regularly has been wearing Hap-Hazard T-shirts, band members said.
McHaney and Carder write the band's songs - of the four they featured last week, Carder wrote "Spin Around" and "Be There Someday," while McHaney composed "Fortunately" and "Smother." "Spin Around" includes a complicated change in drumming syncopation that serves as a hook; Tirman reaches deep for an emotional delivery on "Someday"; McHaney and Tirman harmonize nicely on "Fortunately." All four were power-packed, edgy, heavy modern.
Hap-Hazard has veered more toward the pop-melodic rock sound, and includes a ballad on the EP. "Now, when we write, it's so easy. Our songs are about life, about how we feel at the time," Tirman said.
To see how far this band has come, see it in two shows this weekend: At 9:30 p.m. Friday with Element 80 at Juanita's Cantina Ballroom, and 9 p.m. Sunday at the Electric Cowboy, opening for hip-hop group the 17th Floor.
"We really feel we've taken all the necessary steps and that it's time and something is going to happen," Carder said. "Those two labels [Lava and Universal] are just some of the labels we've talked with, but when the EP is out they are going to have some competition."