Hailing from Goshen, Arkansas, Bradley Hathaway is a poet and musician with a lifetime of experiences under his twenty-eight-year-old belt. Starting out in the hardcore scene opening for bands with his intense and profound poems, Hathaway took to the musical end of the spectrum in 2007 with The Thing That Poets Write About, The Thing That Singers Sing About and again in 2009 with A Mouth Full Of Dust. While The Thing That Poets Write About mainly documented a young man's journey through the emotions of love, A Mouth Full Of Dust took a much darker turn, spinning sad tales and gloomy melodies to create a masterpiece in its own right. I had the opportunity to arrange and attend a house show featuring Mr. Hathaway (I thought, "There's no way he'll do it!"), and was fortunately able to see and talk to him at Cornerstone Festival 2010. As screamo bands wailed in the distance, we discussed his career, future plans, Pride And Prejudice, and his new EP, A Thousand Angry Panthers. - Garrett DeRossett, JFH
This interview took place on: 7/10.
Jesus freak Hideout (Garrett DeRossett): The obligatory introductory question-- how did your career get started?
Well, I started by writing one day, first of all; writing poems. And then, I knew some bands from relationships I had by running a venue, like Josh Scogin from The Chariot. So, Josh needed a venue to play at in my town, and I said, "Yeah, I can book a show for you... and, um, can I go on tour with you and do poetry before your set on that same tour?" And I did little poems for him and he was like, "That's awesome; sounds great!" So, I went on tour with The Chariot, just like that, and I delivered water to get on Main Stage at Cornerstone to talk to Blindside and ask if I can go on tour with them. They said yeah, and the rest is history.
JFH (Garrett): You were fairly well-known for your poetry. What turn of events led you to recording music?
It just happened. What was spoken turned into music. There was no conscious decision, there was no effort. Just one day the poems became full of melody that required them to be sung. So, I just followed the melody.
JFH (Garrett): As far as musical influence, are there any specific artists that you would draw influence from?
Bradley: Well, originally, I think was really influenced by the whole hardcore/punk scene; just the idea of expressing and educating and standing up for something. So that kind of translated into me even just doing poetry in the hardcore scene. It's like, "Why can't I? I'm punk; why not?" But, today, it's Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash... lately, an artist named Sam Baker has influenced me a lot, for sure.
JFH (Garrett): Reading the liner notes for A Mouth Full Of Dust, it was clear that the recording sessions were pretty intense. How was the making of your new EP, A Thousand Angry Panthers, in comparison?
Bradley: Well, A) It was shorter-- we spent about nine days on A Mouth Full Of Dust. This one, we went in on Friday, and we left on Sunday afternoon. It was shorter; also, the songs are just different. There's a lot of experimenting, kind of long, drawn-out, more vibe-oriented songs on A Mouth Full Of Dust, and this one was just a little more to the point and simple. Also, there wasn't any expectation or pressure. Not that we had pressure, but we might've put some on ourselves with A Mouth Full Of Dust, making it so intense; whereas this one, it's like "You know what? No one bought A Mouth Full Of Dust, and I don't think anyone's going to buy this one either, so let's just have fun and make a record that we like." And we've always done that, but this one was even more free of this not having expectations-- there was no hope of people listening to it in the way that we thought A Mouth Full Of Dust was going to make us something, you know: "Oh, people are going to hear this, they're going to love it!" This one's like, "We love it, and we don't care."
JFH (Garrett): What's the story behind the new EP?
Bradley: It's not necessarily one story, per se, but it's four songs that seemed to fit well together on an EP. Each of the songs have their own story and it's pretty clear what they are; it's very narrative-oriented. Ultimately, they were songs written over a period of a couple years. There's plenty of other songs we had, but these four songs were saying they wanted to be together on that EP.
JFH (Garrett): What role does your faith play into your music and your poetry?
Bradley: Every conceivable role. There's not really a separation, to be honest. As a Christian, as a Believer, that influences every aspect of my life, and the same for my art. No difference.
JFH (Garrett): I know you're going back to school. How's that going?
Bradley: School's great. I love it.
JFH (Garrett): Favorite literature?
Bradley: Yeah, well, you know now that I've just started getting into it, and your Mom as well. For those of you at home, Garrett's mother is an English teacher in high school, and she told me to read Pride And Prejudice, and I said "Boring." She said, "No, you have to read it because it will teach you dialogue." So, I read Pride And Prejudice. I like it; I don't love it. Right now, I would say John Steinbeck and Carson McCullers are the two most inspiring works of literature that I've read. Those are my two main writers. I've started reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night in the last week, and that's blowing my mind with how beautiful that is. I'm just going through the classics, basically. Particularly American literature; I like American literature of the South.
JFH (Garrett): do you see yourself in five, ten years?
Bradley: I honestly have no idea. I never thought I would be [at Cornerstone Festival]. I don't know where I'm going to be in one year. Long term goals to me are... I don't have any. The only long term goal I had was to pay my house off in ten years, and that's not going to happen, because I just don't have any money anymore. So, truly, I don't know. Hopefully married, making love to a woman, and living in the country somewhere, but as far as career or whatever... I'll be writing songs, I'll be making albums, I hope to be touring, but I really don't know where it's going to go. One day at a time, now.
JFH (Garrett): Anything else you'd like to say?
JFH (Garrett): Well, thank you very much!
Bradley Hathaway's new album, A Thousand Angry Panthers, is available now!