Jon Hardy on his Hard Year and the Public's Return to the Stage

Aug 16, 2012 at 5:33 am

In late 2010, Jon Hardy & the Public released an EP titled A Hard Year. The band couldn't have known what kind of year lay ahead of it. In September of last year, a few weeks after the Public's well-received performance at LouFest, Hardy took a tumble out of a tree and landed on his head, fracturing two vertebrae and leading to cancelled shows and concerns about Hardy's health -- as well as the future of the band. That period of uncertainty and convalescence came right as the band was poised to record and tour the Midwest. There may never be a good time to fall out of a tree, but the timing of the accident seemed to derail a band that, for some, has long been a favorite to break out of St. Louis and gain national exposure.

But over an afternoon drink in South St. Louis, you'll hear no self-pity from Hardy, only excitement for what's to come and an eagerness to play his songs in front of an audience again. He and his band mates make their return to the stage at Off Broadway on Friday night along with Jon Bonham and Chicago's Hemmingbirds.

Christian Schaeffer: Tell me about the preparations for these shows - this will be your first show since LouFest last year.

Jon Hardy: I guess the preparations started in spring, when we decided to do a show. We had been working on ideas for new material for a while and thought it was time to talk about performing. It wasn't on our radar for a while, but late spring was when we said we should figure that out. Then it's been trying to polish up some new songs that we haven't performed yet, and then once we got those tightened up, we started to run the set and did that til it was solid.

Does it feel like this is a show to kick off the dust? In terms of song selection, will it be markedly different set from your last show?

I would say, if I was looking at the set, it is picking up where we left off. We'll be playing a lot of stuff that we already played and adding in some new stuff as well. It's probably more a show that is just to say, hey, we're still working. It's been a while since we've been on stage but we're still doing stuff.

How long has it been since you got the band back together after you had recovered from your accident?

We started that in late December or early January. That's when we got back into our practice space and started working.

Do you think had you not had your accident that you would have stayed away from the stage so long? Were you looking to hibernate a bit or workshop new songs?

Oh no, I think we had to cancel two or three shows, and once we got through LouFest the plan was to start booking a lot more shows. We were looking at Chicago and Nashville for that fall. How long did the physical recovery take for you?

It was basically, I'll say that it was me in a tree and then winding up on the ground, on my head. I had two fractured vertebrae and a small brain hemorrhage. It took a solid three months to get the doctor's OK to go back to your normal life. It was three months in a body brace. It took three months of recovery to be able to walk and take care of yourself?

I was progressively able to do more and more. I think it was in November when our producer from Chicago, Benjamin (Balcom), came down for a couple days and did some rough mixes of some songs. I was playing guitar, sitting down, for that, but I would have to lay down for a while when my back hurt.

What's the plan for these songs you're working on? Do you see yourself making more EPs or going back for a full-length?

We actually started two songs in the studio in Chicago last spring with Benjamin, and we decided that we wanted to finish those up. That's also partly what we've been doing. Right after the show, we're going up to Chicago to get those nailed down. Part of the process is figuring out how to put them out. I'm pretty sure that the plan is to put them out on their own, for one reason because it's been over a year since we started them. But after that, the general consensus is to focus on a full record.