Small towns in the rust belt may not have much significance to east-or-west-coasters, but they mean everything to the people that live there. Tucked away between highways and plains, these towns are riddled with amazing artists serving their communities. Waterville, OH band Oliver Hazard bring their Midwest roots to life in their newest single “Two x Four.”
Made up of childhood friends Mike Belazis, Griffin McCulloch, and Devin East, Oliver Hazard has built a strong foundation in their hometown. In fact, they even host a yearly festival called Oliver Hazard day. From 2018-2021, the band conducted an almost neverending “Living Room Tour” playing house shows across the US. They’ve taken a DIY approach, playing in minor league baseball stadiums, movie theaters, and wherever else they can to get their music to their fans.
And their newest single, “Two x Four” shows the band’s ability to write clever pop melodies served on a platter of folk instruments. There’s a bright sheen to the single – a polish that only comes from three musicians who know how to push themselves and capture incredible performances. In the true spirit of collaboration, the song features lyrics from all three members stitched together to form a tapestry of scenes from their lives. And running through each of these snapshots are themes of seeking approval at all costs. The song crescendoes into group vocals that fit in perfectly with the mandolin and shakers that make the backdrop of the song.
What this band proves is that not every artist has to be a small fish in a big pond like New York or Los Angeles. Working musicians can make magic happen, even in a small town with only a few thousand residents. Oliver Hazard writes good songs, focuses on playing live as often as possible, and has recently signed with Netwerrk music to help with distribution. These three friends just make good, honest American music, and that’s something worth celebrating.
There’s a lot of phrases in this song that strike me as having regional roots, such as “that dog won’t hunt.” Do the lyrics reflect the way people talk in Waterville, or did you pick them up on your extensive Living Room Tour?
That lyric is definitely a regional phrase. Before the band started, Griffin was a salesman, and his old sales manager would often say “that dog won’t hunt” in reference to sales deals going wrong. Adding that line into the song was kind of an ode to those moments.
How important has it been for this band to foster a sense of community through your music?
Since the band’s genesis, community has been a central focus. The band formed in a small town, in a rural part of the country. During our first year as a band, the mayor of our town supported us in closing the street down, building a stage in the middle of the road, and inviting the whole town to watch us perform in downtown Waterville, Ohio. We usually donate a portion of our local concert revenue to local nonprofits as well. This year, proceeds from our music festival in Waterville will go to the local arts commission, supporting local artists.
What’s the strangest venue you’ve performed in?
Well, there is nothing stranger than performing in a stranger’s living room. And that was kind of the gist of our living room tour. We were meeting the fans who were hosting us on the day of the show. We would just knock on their door a few hours before the concert.
“Two x Four” is a collaboration between the three of you. Is that the typical writing process for the band?
Yes, all three of us are songwriters. As for the process, one of us will present a “seed” or an idea to the rest of the group, typically a verse or a chorus. And then the other two members begin to play/build off of that idea and we eventually shape it into a full arrangement.
When can we expect the rest of the album, and do you have touring plans for the rest of the year?
We are planning a midwest tour (Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, etc) for the fall and we are hoping to release those dates shortly after our music festival this weekend. As for the album release, we don’t have a specific album release date YET, but our plan is to continue to release singles from that album with our new partner, Nettwerk Music, and the album will begin to take shape. This has become a pretty standard way of putting out music in the world of DSPs/streaming. We will make sure to print some vinyl when it releases, all three of us appreciate the tradition of listening to a record front to back.