• CVZ

Haggert Mctaggert Gets Personal with Songs Of Abstraction


Do you remember the last time you just laid down on your bed, headphones on, and just LISTENED to an album? Never done that before? Well, do I have the perfect album for YOU. Songs Of Abstraction, the sophomore album by Haggert Mctaggert will make you feel like you’re on a road trip through backcountry fields on a gorgeous summer day with your favorite friends (we know you have favorites) from the comfort of your own room. I spoke with Braden Lawrence, the human behind the band name, about the new record, and his existential beginnings involving a possible concussion and some loose bricks.


What is your music origin story?

I first started taking guitar lessons when I was around 8 years old. I really liked the idea of playing guitar but didn't have the patience to actually learn it at the time. I just wanted to play along to AC/DC and shred, not slowly learn scales. A little after that I started playing the drums and really fell in love. I think that the physicality of drumming always made sense to me and I could play for hours feeling like I was getting somewhere. Around that time the movie School of Rock came out and I feel like after watching that all I really wanted to do was rock and freaking roll.


What is your history in the Philly music scene?

The first time I ever played in Philly was in 2012 with The Districts at The Fire to a crowd of maybe 10 (family and other bands included.) Other than The Fire and upstairs at World Cafe Live it was hard to get club shows so we played a lot of house shows and started meeting a bunch of people that lived in the city. Basically we just played whatever shows we could get on in Philly until we started touring heavily around 2014 and our Philly plays started to get more planned out. But yeah, I've lived here for about 7 years now and am very glad I became a young musical man in this fine city.

How did Haggert Mctaggert come to be? Also, is the name a reference to the two streets in Philly?

I started writing some songs when I was a freshman in High School and would record them onto Garageband on my Mom's Ipad. Sometime around then I heard Daniel Johnston and it blew my mind. I felt like his music gave me "permission" to write songs or something. I only knew a couple chords on guitar but it was enough knowledge to be able to express my usually awkward semi-sad feelings into songs. I've always really loved writing songs but didn't really have any confidence behind it at the time. There was this weird night at the ole' Districts house where we had a little party and our back wall was broken and there were bricks everywhere. I started laughing at something and tripped and hit my head hard on a brick. When I woke up I was totally fine but couldn't stop imagining there was this reality where I died in this really dumb way without ever really putting myself out there emotionally. After that I started writing more and eventually started making the 1st Haggert record with the lovely Keith Abrams from Pine Barons {NOTE FROM CVZ: if you haven’t checked out Pine Barons, queue em up after listening to this album} in his old room. He helped bring the songs to life in a way that I still really love. As far as the name Haggert Mctaggert goes I had this purple bear in my closet that I won at Hershey Park and named it Haggert Mctaggert so when I was saving those first couple songs on Itunes I just put the artist as Haggert Mctaggert and for better or worse it's stuck with me. The streets in Philly are just a really weird coincidence that kind of boggles my mind a little bit haha.



Who was involved in the recording/writing process for the album? Were you inspired by any other artists when writing the album?

For this record most of the songs started out as home recordings, then I'd take the files to Keith's house and we'd go down the rabbit hole together. Performance wise Keith and I played most of the parts along with my dear pal Rob Grote on some guitars and bass and my girlfriend Casper who sang backups on a couple tracks. I was definitely inspired by other artists when making this, I feel like production wise I usually gravitate toward some of my favorite stuff like Sparklehorse, Brian Eno, and Neil Young. This record took a long time to make because either me or Keith would be busy on tour or working on other records so it could be a couple months in between working on stuff so it was definitely fun to see our tastes and inspirations changing over the course of making this thing.


What influenced you to write the album? What themes do you like to explore in your lyrics? From listening to it myself, it seems like a very personal record, are you pulling from personal experience?

I think the first song I wrote for this record was Coco Delight which kind of jumps around trying to tackle issues that were going on with me and friends like mental health struggles, love, and body image issues. Every song on the record is definitely personal to me but some are more first person like that song and Living Backwards and some are more me imagining situations and putting myself in a characters shoes. I think the most fun example of that is the track The Lucky One, which is kind of a platonic love story between this well to do guy and his Scandinavian financial dominatrix. But yeah this record thematically deals a lot with being in love, dying, trying to be hopeful, and me sometimes trying to attach importance to mundane things like watching TV or having a bunch of unread emails.


Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd like to discuss?

All proceeds from my Bandcamp will be donated to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. Thanks for havin' me!

This album really is a mini mind vacation for me. I have always been a big fan of Braden’s; he endlessly impresses me with the scope of his talent, from playing with the Districts to opening himself up to vulnerability through Haggert Mctaggert. Listen to the album HERE to see what I mean! And (as always) be sure to follow him on instagram HERE!


by Kristen Levine



 

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