The Austin-based ten-piece collective of musicians known as Hard Proof has officially released their new album Stinger via Modern Outsider Records! This highly anticipated album arrives on the heels of Hard Proof’s 100% analog 45rpm LP produced by Jim Eno (Spoon) for his Public Hi-Fi imprint last year. Stinger was produced by Chris “Frenchie” Smith, who has worked with The Darkness, Built to Spill, Meat Puppets, the Toadies, and a myriad of Austin bands.
Founded in 2008, Hard Proof is a super-group featuring members of Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, The Calm Blue Sea, Cougar, Ocote Soul Sounds, the Echocentrics, and several other notable Austin acts. As if they weren’t busy enough between Hard Proof and their other bands, the Hard Proof Horns have found work as sidemen with notable acts such as Spoon, Antibalas, Gary Clark Jr., Broken Social Scene, the Walkmen, Dave Matthews Band, Band of Horses and others.
Hard Proof is: Aaron Sleator (guitar), Derek Phelps (trumpet), Gerardo Larios (guitar, keyboard), Jason Frey (tenor saxophone), Joe Sokolik (bass), John Branch (guitar, keyboards), Joseph Woullard (baritone saxophone, flute), Stephen Bidwell (drums, percussion), Tony Cruz (congas), and Tommy Spampinato (percussion).
The band began by studying the blueprint of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band, as well as funk and jazz from the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. While their self-titled album was well received on its 2010 release, there seems to be universal agreement that their live shows are something not to be missed. Austin taste-maker Laurie Gallardo of KUTX may have put it best: "This local nine-piece ensemble always puts on an electrifying live show, an absolute blowout of non-stop percussion action and blasting brass, bringing the best of both worlds to the stage by mixing classic styles and plenty of their personal panache to own the show." In 2013, Hard Proof released their first vinyl, partnering with Canada's Kept Records for the Dragon/Tere 45 that they tracked with Adrian Quesada of Grupo Fantasma and Brownout. In 2014 Hard Proof released a Cassette Store day cassingle, and played the Austin City Limits festival after a successful East coast run.
“Hard Proof tightly fuses sounds from sub-Saharan Africa with adventurous jazz and deep funk to stimulate your brain and move your feet.” - KCRW
"...the ten-piece have forged a sound of their own, one that mixes the selective defiance of Fela Kuti and the soft flutter of Ethiopian jazz with hard Congolese drumming and showy Western rock and roll." - FLOOD Magazine
“The group is rooted in conjuring relentless, driving grooves that make it impossible to resist dancing along with as they ride down a wave of pure African funk.” - Glide Magazine
"The 10-piece “collective” falls into deep sax-laden grooves that progress restlessly but fluidly, like an all-night escapade in Rio de Janeiro—clubs pulsing with energy and streets teeming with vitality." - Austin Monthly