Mike Rudolph: Zero 7 is a very unique collaboration and the music is experimental. Your debut release, [the Garden], is a lot more upbeat than past releases? What can you tell me about the music on the album?
Sam Hardaker: It’s a different time and we really enjoyed it this time. [On the last record] it was a struggle and this time it was a completely different atmosphere. Having been through [the experiences over the first two albums] it has proven to be helpful. This time around we felt a lot more comfortable.
Mike Rudolph: What is it that influences your songwriting?
Sam Hardaker: Primarily, I think it was just the fact that we didn’t want to struggle or labor over the songwriting process. This time, we just would go over to Henry’s [Henry Binns, other founding member of Zero 7] place, got into [the music] and got a good momentum going on. This was a completely different and more enjoyable time than the last time.
Mike Rudolph: Usually things come together a lot easier if you don’t try so hard.
Sam Hardaker: Yeah. The first time we made an album, it just came together almost by accident. We released a few EP’s all at different times, we got a record deal and [the record company] then wanted to put all of the music out on a full-length album. So, we recorded three more songs and put together our first record, [Simple Things]. The second record, [When It Falls], was the first time that anyone ever just said, “let’s make an album.” That attitude created a very difficult atmosphere and this is a very typical situation for the second album scenario. This was a beneficial experience and it forced us to learn a little bit about how we wanted to do things, the same or differently, on [the Garden].
Mike Rudolph: What would you say the message is behind the new record and what inspired you to write the latest songs?
Sam Hardaker: I don’t think that there’s ever been a message really. At least, not consciously. It’s more a selfish approach and we are just trying to satisfy ourselves I suppose. So, there isn’t a message and I guess that’s kind of a copout. We had a really great time making the record and that’s all there is to it.
Mike Rudolph: The music sounds like you had a good time making it as well.
Sam Hardaker: Yeah. [He says with a smile]
Mike Rudolph: What is the music scene like back home in
Sam Hardaker: It’s doing pretty well. I have no idea as to where it fits in with the scene. I have never been too interested in being part of a scene. There are a lot of new bands coming up and I am not sure where we fit in.
Mike Rudolph: You say you’re not trying to fit any specific genre of music. What would you call your music?
Sam Hardaker: I don’t know. People call our music all kinds of shit, but none of these terms resonate with me. The music that [Henry and I play is just what appeals to us]. We are both into many different kinds of music and that most likely plays a part in our inspiration.
Mike Rudolph: It is to my understanding that you guys like all kinds of music. What kinds of music are you into?
Sam Hardaker: We grew up listening to a lot of similar stuff. In the time we were growing up in
Mike Rudolph: On your latest album, the Garden, you worked with José González and Sia Furler. What was it like working with them?
Sam Hardaker: It was wonderful. Their presence and musicianship really helped to create the atmosphere on the record. They both were coming from different countries and each time one of them arrived, it would give us the inspiration we needed to create more material.
Mike Rudolph: José just played a show here in
Sam Hardaker: We just finished a UK Tour over here with both José and Sia. Now both of them have gone over to the
Mike Rudolph: KCRW… they are doing something great for music around here.
Sam Hardaker: We’ve done sessions with them before and they seem to be one of the better radio stations to work with. They have invited us to do shows a couple of times at the Hollywood Bowl.
Mike Rudolph: What does Zero 7 have planned for the summertime? Festivals? Mini-tours?
Sam Hardaker: We will be performing at a bunch of festivals all over
Mike Rudolph: I am excited to see how it all unfolds in a live situation. What will the live show be like? If someone has not seen you guys at all, how would you explain your performances?
Sam Hardaker: This time there is a stronger electronic element to our music. We have a couple of laptops that will be running samples and loops in sequence with the live instruments (i.e. drums, bass guitar and keys). José and Sia are constantly involved. If they are not the lead vocalists, they participate in other ways by singing back-up vocals, playing percussion, etc. We also have a little bar on stage and if you really have nothing to do, you can go and have a drink [a devious laugh vibrates my inner ear]. It gives everyone a reason to be on stage!
Mike Rudolph: That’s a good idea. Why didn’t I think of that?
Sam Hardaker: Sometimes it can feel like you’re in some kind of fucked up cabaret thing with people coming and going on stage. It can feel a little bit disjointed and it feels more inclusive if everybody is just there for the whole stay.
Mike Rudolph: When you’re playing up on stage, what is it like for you guys? Is there some kind of spiritual release? What does it mean to you?
Sam Hardaker: I’ve never experienced anything like this. I didn’t grow up playing in bands and I’m pretty new to this. Even though I have toured with Zero 7 a few times now, it’s still a very thrilling experience and I’m in that space where it blows me away every time. What I really appreciate is having all of these other people around. I am not stage material otherwise. Without all of these other people making me feel secure and fun on stage, I wouldn’t do it. Somehow, when there is a bunch of people experiencing it together, it’s really special. I don’t think that Henry and I would tour just the two of us because it would be rather boring.
Mike Rudolph: What are your favorite musicians and what records are hitting home for you? What’s in your stereo?
Sam Hardaker: It’s not new, but I have been into this band called Talk, Talk. The vocalist, Mark Hollis, has a solo album. It is an incredibly beautiful and intimate record. I just bought a record by an artist called Dabrye. He’s a producer from
Mike Rudolph: That being said, what is your take on the music business?
Sam Hardaker: I am not that involved with the music business. I am involved in as much as I need to be in order to do my music.
Mike Rudolph: Well, thanks for taking the time out to talk about your music.
Sam Hardaker: Thank you.
If you would like to check out any of the before mentioned artists, you can go to: