Johnny Hart and the Mess
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Johnny Hart and the Mess

Buffalo, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Buffalo, NY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Alternative Rock

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The music of Johnny Hart and The Mess falls into the genre of “real.” It’s one of the few instances when I’ve heard a band for the first time & thought, “This is some genuinely honest stuff right here.” It came from a guy who just wanted to write some songs. There isn’t a whole lot of effort. There isn’t a lot of self-hype. There doesn’t seem to be much ego involved. It’s unfortunately a rarity these days when everyone seems to get wrapped up in the pristine, viral, auto-tuned, social media kind of world that we live in.

Johnny Hart and The Mess

As far as the performance & music itself goes, it’s just solid. I’m sure that they’ve heard the comparison several times but at the first vocal entrance, I did a double take to make sure that I wasn’t listening to a song featuring John Mayer. I also heard a lot of 90’s blues-rock tendencies. “Waking Up Next to You” was somehow nostalgic on first listen.

I did not grow up on Johnny Hart and the Mess, but less than one minute into this song I felt like I’d known it since childhood. I’ve never come across a band that caused instant nostalgia on first listen before. It’s kind of awesome. The performance itself sounds like a group of quality musicians who are just playing a simple song in one or two takes. I might be wrong but that’s just the impression that I get.

This song itself just gives me an honest good vibe. It’s got heart and the performance feels real which can be a challenge in today’s world of the digitally edited perfect take. Maybe it’s because the music seems to draw likenesses to Counting Crows & Blind Melon, but this just gives me a great first-listen experience. I like the organ & the lead guitar. I like that the production & recording draw no attention away from the simple subject matter. I also like the female harmonies with the male lead. (which remind me of Sheryl Crow on “American Girls”)

There’s just nice work all-around on this song. Thanks for the listen Johnny. I’m looking forward to hearing the next one. - Indie Music Plus


The brainchild of Johnny Hart, “Something Like This” is the debut record of Johnny Hart and the Mess. Johnny, an established musician who has shared the stage with the likes of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Fitz and the Tantrums, Black 47, and Led Zeppelin (no, not really Zeppelin, but that would be pretty cool). He has performed across the country from NYC to Cleveland, to all over Western New York and even as far as Galway, Ireland.

Johnny’s background is indeed unique. Having started taking piano lessons with his grandmother when he was only four, there was an immediate recognition made that this is where Johnny belonged. Piano lead to years of musical curiosity that turned into Johnny also picking up, the accordion, mandolin, whistle, bagpipes, guitar, some drums, some bass and more over the years. Johnny has played in a wide variety of bands, including punk, celtic, rock, blues and classic rock. He has played a variety of styles of music with a variety of people ranging from 14-68 years old.

Now elaborating on his own ideas and developing them to their fullest, Johnny is encountering some unique differences in this album compared to albums in past. Instead of focusing on a specific “genre” of music, Johnny focuses on what’s real to him. His influences range from rock to pop to hip hop to metal to jazz to blues to ska to celtic to dance to bluegrass and any other “genre” you can think of. The word genre is simply a label, a label used to categorize a collection of sounds with other collections of sounds. To someone who truly loves music, there is no such thing as genres, there is just variety, the spice of life. So to say Johnny likes one specific genre of music, would probably not settle well with him. The only genre Johnny seems to recognize is “alternative”, why you ask? He thinks that is where record labels put all the bands they don’t know how to categorize or market. They are just a pool of misfits out on their own, and to him, those are the best bands out there.

“Something Like This” The album is real, the album is genuine, the album depicts life and not the fairy tail version. It’s not trying to be anything other than the mess it is. It appeals to audiences of all kinds, whether you’re a dancer, or a boot stomping rocker, this album has something for everyone. Johnny is so proud of it. He loves music. Plain and simple. He loves all music, so it only made sense to him to elaborate on all his passions and all his influences and cluster them together in “Something Like This”. “Something Like This” is the first album to include the current band format. - Pete's Rock News and Views


Sat. July 1st, 8:45 PM at Buffalo Iron Works

Thur. July 20th, 8:30 PM at Charlie's Boat Yard - The Buffalo News


List your band members and the instruments that they play:

So there is a little bit of an explanation behind this answer. I made this new album by myself. I’ve never done that before. Every instrument and vocal track on the album was done by me. Now, since the album has been released I’ve started forming a group to play the music out live. So far I have David “Teaspoon” Hulett on drums, Anthony Dyal on bass and Saxophone and one more member on the way. As far as the instruments, I play accordion, mandolin, whistle, bagpipes, guitar, piano and synth. On the new album I played guitar, piano, synth and did the vocals.

I produced, engineered and distributed the album on my own.

How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?

I wanted to call it Johnny Hart and the “something”, and while I was making the album I remember working on a track that was just a mess. And I thought to myself, that would be a pretty cool name. I suppose “the Mess” also refers to my whole creative process and the album I made. It’s all over the board as far as the different sounds go. There are dancy pop songs, there are heavy rock songs, and there are sad bastard piano ballads. It’s all over the spectrum.

As far as how I met the guys to perform the music live, it was kind of an accident. Teaspoon was filling in on drums at a St. Patrick’s Day themed gig at the Hop Inn. I knew the guys playing and they asked me to do a couple tunes while they took a break. While I was playing, Teaspoon snuck back up and played a few songs with me. The rest is history. We stayed in touch, played a bunch of shows together to get comfortable and now we’re playing together on a consistent basis.

I hope those guys aren’t mad at me for stealing their drummer! Recently he introduced me to Anthony and I couldn’t be happier to have him on board. Even though there is no sax on my album, we’re incorporating that into the live shows. I’m a big fan of the sax.

I started the process of making this album about two years ago, but it was released this year and the band is being formed this year. So I guess it’s a 2013 baby.
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?

I grew up in South Buffalo,went to Canisius for high school, went to college right outside of Cleveland, lived/studied a bit in Ireland, and I’ve been back in Buffalo since 2010. I love Buffalo. I always have and I always will. It’s the best kept secret out there!

What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.

Living. Breathing. Electric.

When and why did you start playing?

I started taking piano lessons with my grandmother when I was 4. I took lessons for about 8 years and got sick of that. After all that time, I couldn’t read sheet music to save my life. It’s a foreign language to me. Everything I do is by ear.

As I got older I was exposed to a band called Jackdaw when I was a teenager. That pretty much changed my life and started my music career. I started picking up instruments I didn’t know anything about. I would tilt my keyboard sideways and try to play it like an accordion. Once I mastered the sideways keyboard playing, I searched the thrifties for ads (because Craigslist didn’t exist) and found an old cat in Kaisertown with an awful yellow accordion with bright orange sparkly buttons. My father and I made the trip over there and I walked out a proud new accordion owner for $60. I figured, it would probably be easier for me to learn things like the accordion, mandolin and whistle rather than trying to track down a teenager in the area who played those instruments. Believe it or not, but it was hard to find an accordion player my age back then, now they’re all trendy.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?

As i was growing up I always thought I wanted to be a musician and there were high points in my performance career. But I never really looked at it as a reality until college. I was kind of thrown in last minute to perform alone at a fundraiser. I had never really performed completely alone. After multiple drinks of courage I played and saw the crowd reacting to just me and my guitar. After that night I thought to myself, well this changes everything. I might be able to do something with this.

My previous bands Stage Crew and Southside had some great shows including a Thursday and the Square opening slot for Fitz and the Tantrums and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals a couple years ago. That was amazing and really opened my eyes to the national music scene. My first “wow” moment would be the first time I went on stage and played with Jackdaw. That was probably the first time I thought maybe I could do this. But my confidence was not reassured until later in life like I mentioned, once I started playing alone in college and becoming more comfortable with myself.
Describe your voice/instrument.

I think when people see me, then - Buffalo Rising


List your band members and the instruments that they play:

So there is a little bit of an explanation behind this answer. I made this new album by myself. I’ve never done that before. Every instrument and vocal track on the album was done by me. Now, since the album has been released I’ve started forming a group to play the music out live. So far I have David “Teaspoon” Hulett on drums, Anthony Dyal on bass and Saxophone and one more member on the way. As far as the instruments, I play accordion, mandolin, whistle, bagpipes, guitar, piano and synth. On the new album I played guitar, piano, synth and did the vocals.

I produced, engineered and distributed the album on my own.

How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?

I wanted to call it Johnny Hart and the “something”, and while I was making the album I remember working on a track that was just a mess. And I thought to myself, that would be a pretty cool name. I suppose “the Mess” also refers to my whole creative process and the album I made. It’s all over the board as far as the different sounds go. There are dancy pop songs, there are heavy rock songs, and there are sad bastard piano ballads. It’s all over the spectrum.

As far as how I met the guys to perform the music live, it was kind of an accident. Teaspoon was filling in on drums at a St. Patrick’s Day themed gig at the Hop Inn. I knew the guys playing and they asked me to do a couple tunes while they took a break. While I was playing, Teaspoon snuck back up and played a few songs with me. The rest is history. We stayed in touch, played a bunch of shows together to get comfortable and now we’re playing together on a consistent basis.

I hope those guys aren’t mad at me for stealing their drummer! Recently he introduced me to Anthony and I couldn’t be happier to have him on board. Even though there is no sax on my album, we’re incorporating that into the live shows. I’m a big fan of the sax.

I started the process of making this album about two years ago, but it was released this year and the band is being formed this year. So I guess it’s a 2013 baby.
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?

I grew up in South Buffalo,went to Canisius for high school, went to college right outside of Cleveland, lived/studied a bit in Ireland, and I’ve been back in Buffalo since 2010. I love Buffalo. I always have and I always will. It’s the best kept secret out there!

What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.

Living. Breathing. Electric.

When and why did you start playing?

I started taking piano lessons with my grandmother when I was 4. I took lessons for about 8 years and got sick of that. After all that time, I couldn’t read sheet music to save my life. It’s a foreign language to me. Everything I do is by ear.

As I got older I was exposed to a band called Jackdaw when I was a teenager. That pretty much changed my life and started my music career. I started picking up instruments I didn’t know anything about. I would tilt my keyboard sideways and try to play it like an accordion. Once I mastered the sideways keyboard playing, I searched the thrifties for ads (because Craigslist didn’t exist) and found an old cat in Kaisertown with an awful yellow accordion with bright orange sparkly buttons. My father and I made the trip over there and I walked out a proud new accordion owner for $60. I figured, it would probably be easier for me to learn things like the accordion, mandolin and whistle rather than trying to track down a teenager in the area who played those instruments. Believe it or not, but it was hard to find an accordion player my age back then, now they’re all trendy.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician?

As i was growing up I always thought I wanted to be a musician and there were high points in my performance career. But I never really looked at it as a reality until college. I was kind of thrown in last minute to perform alone at a fundraiser. I had never really performed completely alone. After multiple drinks of courage I played and saw the crowd reacting to just me and my guitar. After that night I thought to myself, well this changes everything. I might be able to do something with this.

My previous bands Stage Crew and Southside had some great shows including a Thursday and the Square opening slot for Fitz and the Tantrums and Grace Potter and the Nocturnals a couple years ago. That was amazing and really opened my eyes to the national music scene. My first “wow” moment would be the first time I went on stage and played with Jackdaw. That was probably the first time I thought maybe I could do this. But my confidence was not reassured until later in life like I mentioned, once I started playing alone in college and becoming more comfortable with myself.
Describe your voice/instrument.

I think when people see me, then - Buffalo Rising


Discography

Something Like This - released on June 10th, 2017.  Available in hard copy through the band, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Tidal.

Photos

Bio

Johnny grew up playing in bands for half of his life.  He started playing in a band when he was 15 years old.  In his first band, Johnny shared the stage with the likes of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Fitz and the Tantrums, Black 47, and countless others.  He has performed across the country from NYC to Cleveland, to all over Western New York and even as far as Galway, Ireland.  After ten years with that band and dozens of shows under his belt both locally and nationally, Johnny wanted to explore some new ideas and sounds.  In 2013 he released an album called “Makes No Sense” under the band name Johnny Hart and the Mess.  For the first time, he did everything on the album by himself.  He wanted to branch out and explore different styles of music to see what he really fell in love with.  It turns out, rock n roll was his love.  His concept of the Mess was his experience of making an entire album by himself.  He didn’t play drums, really didn’t do much bass either, so after mixing a song he leaned back and said to himself, “this thing is a mess”.  Then the name was born.  Soon Johnny would realize the Mess would be a living, breathing thing.  Enter Tyler.​

After exploring a variety of sounds and styles Johnny deeply missed the authenticity of humans in the music creation process.  While drum tracks and synthesized instruments have their advantages at times, he missed the connection of having band mates and performing live with a group.  The natural phenomenon of humans assembling and performing together was something Johnny needed back in his life.  After searching for some time, Johnny took to Craigslist and put up an ad mentioning some musical interests and bands he admired.  Tyler wrote back to Johnny.  After some back and forth, they met up and began writing together.  Over the course of 6-8 months, Johnny and Tyler had an immediate musical connection, became very close and had some original material they really wanted to run with.  They began their quest of finding additional band mates.  After a handful of auditions, they just couldn’t seem to find a drummer who fit the mix or a bass player.  Until one day, Tyler ran into an old friend.  Enter Kooks.

Tyler talked about what he had been working on with Johnny to James Kooken after bumping into him.  Kooks liked what he heard and agreed to come over to meet Johnny and hear what they had been doing.  Kooks' thunderous drumming style brought everything to a new level and was the drummer the guys had been dreaming of.  Fast forward and the band seemed to be on their way.  Johnny on vocals and rhythm guitar, Tyler on lead guitar and Kooks on the drums.  All they needed now was bass.  With a show quickly approaching that the band agreed to, they needed someone who could play bass for them, at least for this first show.  Tyler managed to talk Mike Tomasulo into rehearsing with the group on bass and playing the show with them, even though Mike is a drummer.  It worked out great.  But with Mike playing drums in his own band, he just didn’t have the time to stay on permanently.  So over the next 8 months, the band would rotate and work with a variety of bassists.  Joey Lewis began filling in for shows when his schedule permitted.  The band soon fell in love with this.  The idea of not having a permanent bass player would normally be very concerning for a variety of reasons.  But the band soon learned that each time they did a show, it would be different because of how that particular bass player interpreted and performed the songs.  It made the shows constantly evolving and always fresh.

​When it came to the studio, the band had been working pretty closely with Joey Lewis and asked him if he would record the album with them.  Over the course of four days and 10+ hours each day, the album “Something Like This” was made.  11 tracks in total spanning across many styles of music.  It was a dream come true for the guys.  They brought in a variety of friends to add their incredible talents to really make this album full.  On June 10th, 2017 the band released their baby to the world.  

After having Courtney Wofford on supporting vocals for the song "Waking Up Next to You", the band knew they couldn't go back.  With her addition to performances, the live show has been taken to a new level.

After years of playing with various bass players, Nick Myers officially joined the band permanently.  Now tighter than ever, the band is rapidly expanding their live shows and bulking up their catalogue of original material.  There is no slowing down in sight.  Sky is the limit.