In the ever-changing musical landscape, it can be challenging for independent bands and artists to stand out. It’s not uncommon to wander into a venue or happen upon a band online, hear some music, and think, “Wow! How have I never heard of these guys before?” It’s no longer enough to make good music, musicians need to know how to stand out and get attention. A saturated scene can have its pros and cons, and perhaps no city is more saturated than Austin, Texas, the Music Capital of the World. So, what is it like for an indie band from that area these days? We caught up with female-fronted alternative band Hazard Hounds to find out.
The band started out with drummer Ray Arrington and Guitarist Kris Infante, who met bassist Chace Levi through a mutual friend. The trio met singer Megan Pulido via a collaboration at a hip-hop show and decided to invite her on as a full-time member. Guitarist Jeff Reyes rounded out the group and they quickly began writing and looking to record. A four-song EP dropped in 2014, followed by the full-length release Indiscretions, which came out in July 2016.
Incorporating a variety of genres and influences, Hazard Hounds has a decidedly 90’s grunge alt-rock tone but Megan bridges genres with her soulful vocal tone and hip-hop influence. The rhythm section delivers a powerful foundation with control and the ability to transition from driving, crunchy riffs to mellow psychedelic grooves as displayed in their songs Mothership and Truth Be Told, the former displaying elements of early P.O.D. The nod to 90’s rock is noticeable throughout their music, with a gritty shredding guitar solo in Guide Me, an overall tone reminiscent of Staind in Loyalty, and the aggressive drum intro in Tempted, a song which also shows Megan’s hip-hop influence and feels a bit like Flyleaf in the chorus. All five of the Hounds site different influences. Jeff grew up listening to 80’s metal and blues, while Kris tended more towards indie rock. “Ray and I are more of the grunge/alternative rock side of the band,” explains Chace. Megan pulls influences from all over the map, all of which are noticeable in the music.
As an independent band, the musicians must fulfill a variety of roles needed to keep their business afloat. The band explains how they work together to keep the wheels turning. “Ray is the facilitator, putting the right people in touch with the right needs. Jeff brings the metal edge while Kris supplies the authentic Hazard Hounds sound on guitar as well as filling the visual artist role. Megan defines the band’s style and is considered the glue that holds the project together in many ways. Chace rounds out the lineup serving as band manager and booker.” It’s no longer an option to expect others to make an artist’s career move; it’s up to the musicians, and Hazard Hounds takes a proactive approach to their craft.
Indie artists face their ups and downs and it can be difficult in a competitive landscape. Megan and Jeff both express the difficulty of trying to breakthrough and find where you belong in a city like Austin, which is so full of musical talent. “The Austin music scene is so diverse, there is no clear-cut sound or image to identify its culture. It’s both a blessing and a curse,” says Chace. “You either work your way up to joining some big events to be seen by the masses, or stay underground,” adds Ray. Kris and Chace site scheduling difficulties as well as finding ways to keep material fresh and engaging as further challenges. Despite the hard work, music always has a payoff. “Austin is a great city to find great bands to play with and very progressive so there’s plenty of awesome female-fronted bands to play with of all genres,” explains Jeff, “the scene can be over-saturated at times but there’s never a shortage of places to play.”
Hazard Hounds also recognize many of the benefits of being active in the music scene. Megan and Ray discuss the satisfaction of seeing positive reactions to their music and reaping the rewards of their hard work. The band tries to play charity events regularly according to Chace. They recently took part in a fundraiser called Jamming for Genevieve, an event to raise money for the expenses of a young girl’s cancer treatment. “It feels awesome to have played a part in her life,” says Chace. Hazard Hounds also include positive messages in their music including self-love, community, awareness, and unification, mixed with the simple desire to have a good time and help the audience do the same.
The band looks to the future with flexibility and high hopes. According to Jeff, “We hope to continue building on the success we’ve had and try to achieve more while growing as musicians and as a band.” Ray adds, “I’m just gonna play ‘til the wheels fall off.” “The future holds uncertainty but that’s what makes it fun and a risk, and we know that. I just look forward to opening some people up to what inspired me in my early musical days,” says Kris. Speaking of inspiration, the band offers some advice for up and coming musicians, such as continuing to play as much as possible and not to be afraid of making mistakes while learning. “Dedicate yourself to your craft; if you treat it like a job, it will pay you like one,” advises Chace. Kris adds, “Remember what inspired you in the first place and find what inspires you now.”
We look forward to seeing Hazard Hounds grow and continue their journey in Austin and beyond. They are currently working on a new EP and booking their 2018 calendar so keep a watchful eye. You can find their music on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
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