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Backstage with Oliver Hazard in New York

Lead vocalist Michael Belazis from the Ohio-based band sat down to share insight on two of their most recent releases, and reflect on touring with The 502s.

Photo: Ross Bustin

Okay, so first let's talk about your song, “Ballerina.” It’s such a special song. What’s the story behind it?


MB: So, I guess the short answer is after practice one night, Devin playing this timeless lick on the guitar. Usually when a member is playing a song in the rehearsal room, it's like a kind of a subtle way of being like, ‘hey, let's work on this.’ And I asked him about it cause it sounded amazing. It reminded me of something from the 70s almost. And he's like, ‘I don't know, it's just a lick.’ I grabbed my guitar, I started playing a couple of chords to it. Dev almost had a pre-rehearsed verse that he had been working on and it was about heartbreak. I felt like his guitar was almost like dancing in a way. That was kind of the impetus to start bringing in the ballerina concept into the chorus. We built that into the lyrics a little bit. The concept of love and how it can be fleeting.


I love that creative side to everything you guys make. It’s like the music video to “Northern Lights,” which has that scrapbook storyline that is just so cool.


MB: So “Northern Lights” also was written around the same time. That one I wrote in my bedroom right around 2020. It was a very reflective piece of just being stuck in Ohio in the winter. Devin was able to put on some really amazing guitar parts to build it and make it really big. And then we had this amazing artist in our hometown: her name is Ellen and she specializes in photo and video. One of her hobbies is doing mini stop motion animation and I saw some of that work and I texted her to see if she’d be interested in making a music video for us? And she did it in her bedroom over the course of 12 hours. Yeah, it's really cool.


Talking about writing the songs and bringing them to life, what's the dynamic between the three of you when you're working on a project? Is there a role for each of you or does that change?


MB: It’s always change, but in essence, we write as individuals, but then we bring that seed of a song to each other and kind of help form it and make it more three dimensional. It becomes more relatable when you put three people onto a song than if it's just one because then you've got a multitude of experiences. It can be even more complex.


It’s like there’s a piece of everyone in each song.


MB: Yeah. People ask what it is about and it’s something different for each one of us, and it's different for any fan as well. We don't like to define our songs. We like to let people figure it out for themselves.


That's awesome. Do you guys get creative when you're on the road?


MB: Not really. It's so tiring. It's like you eat, sleep, drive and play and you're constantly going but I think the creative part is when you get off the road and you get to reflect on all of the things. There's no time for reflection when you're on tour. You're just constantly trying to get from place to place. But when you get back, you're able to kind of digest all those experiences that you had. So I'm looking forward to doing that.


Was there a special stop on this tour?


MB: Yeah, I mean, a big one for us was the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Just because there's so much history. Also because one of our biggest inspirations is 70s, late 60s folk music. All the greats played at the Troubadour, the Birds, everybody. So it was cool to be able to play there as well.


Oliver Hazard Day it’s this really big tradition that's part of your hometown, and a part of your roots. For somebody who's never been, what could they expect?


MB:

So I think what you can expect is a piece of magic that you really can't explain or understand until you really set foot into this small town. If you blinked, you could miss it. And it's full of all these unassuming people who love music. We bring in local food trucks, local breweries from all over the city. The whole idea is to kind of uplift the local economy. The mayor speaks and introduces us, and then we bring in all these indie artists from all over the country who we think are incredible and they otherwise would never stop in a town like Waterville. The goal is to celebrate music and community.

What are you excited for in this year? What's coming that fans can expect?


MB: I can't really give too much away, but we have a really special event that we're going to produce in our hometown this fall. It’s something we’ve been working on for two years. I'm really excited about it.

 

Listen to Oliver Hazard's latest releases on Spotify and all streaming platforms. Follow MUD on Instagram for the best conversations with your favorite artists.

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