Over the past few years, singer/songwriter HARDY has proven to be one of the hottest songwriters in country music. Impressively, he has co-written over 20 Top 10 country hits, including several which have reached number one. This includes #1 hits with Morgan Wallen, Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Florida Georgia Line and Cole Swindell.
On top of this, HARDY (whose full name is Michael Wilson Hardy) has become a popular artist who has released two solo albums. His first album, A Rock, came out in 2020, and he’s just released his new album, The Mockingbird & The Crow (on Big Loud Records). Also as an artist, he’s had several country hits including the current Top 5 “Wait In The Truck (feat. Lainey Wilson), plus “One Beer” (feat. Lauren Alaina & Devin Dawson), “Give Heaven Some Hell” and “Rednecker.”
What’s also fascinating about HARDY, is that as an artist, he’s charting a new course by equally combining country and rock (including hard rock) on his new album. The Mockingbird & The Crow consists of 17 songs, with the first eight songs being contemporary country. Then the ninth song—the title cut “The Mockingbird & The Crow”—uniquely starts off country and then finishes powerfully with a rock arrangement. And then the remaining eight songs focus on rock, including metal and grunge.
HARDY’s current chart success demonstrates his range as both a country and rock artist. His single “Wait In The Truck” is a major country hit, and his rock songs “Jack” and “Sold Out” have become hits on Billboard’s Hot Hard Rock Songs chart.
Along with his hits as an artist, HARDY remarkably has co-written six other singles for other artists that are now on the charts. These are “Tennessee Fan” and “I Wrote The Book” (Morgan Wallen), “Hate My Heart” (Carrie Underwood), “Drinkaby” (Cole Swindell), and “Heaven By Then” (Brantley Gilbert & Blake Shelton feat. Vince Gill). When you add up all these songs, he has eight singles on various Billboard charts at this time.
Here’s the video of HARDY’s hit “Wait In The Truck”
(feat. Lainey Wilson).
Currently, HARDY is on tour and selling out shows as a headliner in the U.S. In addition, he’s the opening act for country superstar Morgan Wallen’s One Night At A Time World Tour, which is playing stadium and arena shows in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with HARDY. He discusses his new album The Mockingbird & The Crow, his love for both country and rock, and the hit songs he’s for other artists.
Before we get started, here’s a rundown of the other Top 10 hits that HARDY has co-written for country artists: “God’s Country” (Blake Shelton), “More Than My Hometown” and “Still Goin’ Down” (Morgan Wallen), “Beers On Me” (Dierks Bentley), “I Don’t Know About You” (Chris Lane), “New Truck (Dylan Scott), “Simple” (Florida Georgia Line), “Single Saturday Night” (Cole Swindell), “Some Girls” (Jameson Rodgers), and “Up Down” (Morgan Wallen with Florida Georgia Line).
Here’s our interview with HARDY:
DK: I read that you grew up Mississippi. How did you get into music and writing songs?
HARDY: I grew up in a very musical family—music was always around. My mom played the piano and sang, and my sisters sang, and my dad loved music. And I always had an interest in writing. Even in school, I had a knack for writing, whether it was essays or stories. So it turned out to be a combination being in a musical family and loving to write.
DK: When you were growing up, did you mostly listen to country music or rock?
HARDY: It was really only rock & roll, and all types of rock—classic rock, current rock, grunge, metal. At a young age, I became obsessed with rock & roll. And I didn’t really listen to country until I was 18 or 19.
DK: Since you grew up loving rock music, how did you make the transition to being a country songwriter in Nashville?
Here’s the video of HARDY’s song, “The Mockingbird & The Crow.”
HARDY: I tell everybody I grew up country…I just didn’t listen to country. The knowledge of that was instilled in me at a young age. I grew up hunting and fishing, and doing all the small town stuff that you hear about on the radio. So I knew how to speak that language, and write country lyrics.
DK: You said you love to write, whether it was essays, stories, or lyrics. Would you say writing lyrics and words is your strong point?
HARDY: I think so, more than anything else. With the music, I have a lot of help with some great collaborators that help me write a lot of the rock music. But lyrics are definitely my strong suit.
DK: You became a hit country songwriter, writing many hits. So when you were in Nashville and started to have hits as a songwriter, was your goal to be a writer? Or did you always want to be an artist?
HARDY: No, the artist thing came later. I moved to Nashville to be a songwriter…I wanted to write hits for people. Then around the time I started having my first handful of hits, I ended up signing a record deal and doing the artist thing.
DK: You’ve written many country hits for other artists. Are there a couple of those hits that are your favorites, that you’re most proud of?
HARDY: I would say my favorite is probably “God’s Country” with Blake Shelton, because that song was a big hit and it changed my career path. I gained a lot of attention because of that song. Also, Morgan Wallen’s first #1 hit, “Up Down” with Florida Georgia Line, was my first #1 as a songwriter and I’m proud of that one too.
DK: About three years ago, you released your first solo album, A Rock. Can you talk about writing the songs for your first album?
HARDY: It’s always a gradual process of writing throughout the year, and you collect your best 10 or 12 songs. I would write so many songs throughout the year for other people, and every now and then I’ll end up getting one that [fits me as an artist]. Then I put it in a bucket with the rest of them and wait until it’s time to go into the studio.
Here’s the video of HARDY’s rock hit, “Jack.”.
DK: I listened to your first album, and it has some rock songs like “Boots” and “Where Ya At” on it, but there’s also a good amount of country songs. So for your first album, were you thinking about how much country and how much rock you wanted on it?
HARDY: I wasn’t super-conscious how much would be rock…it just happened that way. “Boots” was the first song that I knew was a heavier rock-sounding song. But it went over so well live and had a great reaction, that it gave me the confidence to lean into the rock thing more for the future.
DK: You’ve just released your new album, The Mockingbird & The Crow, which is an equal mix of country and rock. Can you talk about your vision for your new album?
HARDY: Over the past couple years I had about 10 songs on hold for my album. I looked down and I noticed that I had about five country songs and five rock songs. So I realized what I was doing by accident. From there on out, I wrote the rest of the record with more of an intention. I was like…”Let’s try this half country and half rock.” So then I would go to a room and be like, “I’m missing a rock song…let’s do a rock song.” Or “I’m missing a country song…let’s do a country song.” So the last six songs were written with intention. And the very last song I wrote for the record was (the title song) “The Mockingbird & The Crow.”
DK: I like your current hit, “’Wait In The Truck,” which you did with Lainey Wilson. And the song’s video is dramatic and powerful, like a movie. What inspired you to write “Wait In The Truck”?
HARDY: It was an idea that a buddy of mine (Hunter Phelps) had. We were basically talking about what would we do if we found somebody had gotten rough, or whatever you want to call it, with our wives. And I said, “Well if it was me, I would find out where this guy lives and take [my wife] Caleigh with me and tell her to wait in the truck and go handle my business.” And my buddy and I looked at each other, like “Damn, that’s a really good song idea.” So we wrote it down as an idea, and then we sat on it for a long time until we finally got together with the right third (songwriter), Jordan Schmidt. We decided we wanted to sit down and write a great story and really dig in into the characters. We took our time and that’s what we ended up with. And I’m really proud of the music video…I love the video. It’s my favorite thing that I’ve done so far.
Here’s the video of Blake Shelton’s #1 hit “God’s Country,” which
was co-written by HARDY.
DK: How did you connect with Lainey Wilson and bring her in on this song?
HARDY: Lainey’s been a really good friend and she has a very convicting voice, and I knew that if she sang it, she would do it right and be very authentic, and make the listener believe that character that she becomes. So I hit her up asked, “Would you want to do this with me?” And she said, “Yeah,” and the rest is history.
DK: One of the country songs I like on your new album is “I In Country,” which has a great lyric. Can you talk about writing that song?
HARDY: Thank you. That idea came from a songwriter buddy of mine, Nick Donley. Every year, there’s a group of five of us that always gets together and we write. We stay up and write songs all night, and we’ve had a good success rate. Like the first year, we wrote “A Rock,” “Unapologetically Country as Hell,” and a Matt Stell single called “That Ain’t Me No More.” And Nick threw the idea out—”There ain’t no I in country but there’s a Y-O-U.” I think originally, he wanted to make it a “We’re all in this together” country thing. But I said, “Dude, we need to write that about a girl, because that’s a girl song. That’s a great hook for a girl.” Then we sat around my campfire at my house and we wrote that one on a couple acoustic guitars.
DK: Your title song, “The Mockingbird And The Crow,” seems to be autobiographical and tells your story. Can you talk about writing that song?
HARDY: I thought that the record was done. Then I had a couple of buddies writing out on the road with me, and they convinced me to write a rock song, even though I told them that the record was done. I said, “The record’s done…there’s no point in trying to do this right now. Let’s try to write a country hit and get it cut by somebody.” But they talked me into it. I started looking through my ideas, and I was like, “Well, I do have this song idea called ‘The Mockingbird and The Crow.’ And the more I think about it, it would perfectly describe the record that I’m working on right now.” So we talked about the idea of…the internal struggle between sticking with the format and playing it safe, or doing something different. You know, repeating other country songs that you’ve heard by being The Mockingbird. And how The Crow flies its own path. So we sat down and talked about it, and then we ended up writing The Crow (the rock part) first—we wrote the B section first. And then we turned around after we finished The Crow, and we wrote The Mockingbird (the country part).
Here’s the video of Morgan Wallen’s #1 hit “More Than My
Hometown,” which was co-written by HARDY.
DK: Besides your country hits, you now have a hit on the rock chart with your song, “Jack.” Was it your plan to promote “Jack” to rock radio stations?
HARDY: It’s so cool, but that was not the plan. It was crazy…I can’t believe that I actually have a single that’s a Top 5 hit on rock radio. My manager came to me one day and he was like, “Hey, everybody at rock radio is really diggin’ ‘Jack.’ Let’s go to rock radio with it and see what happens.” And I was like, “Okay…Sure.” Then every week I’d get an update, that “Jack” was moving up the rock chart. Then one day I looked up and it was Top 10, and I couldn’t believe it. I’m just really thankful to be accepted into the rock format. It’s a format that I grew up absolutely loving. So it’s areally cool to be considered one of the people in that group now.
DK: I want to ask you about your live shows. You’ve just released an album that’s half country and half rock. When you play your shows now, is it both country and rock?
HARDY: It’s a perfect mix of both. We don’t do half the show country and half the show rock. It’s all mixed in together.
DK: Currently, you’re busy touring and focusing on your artist career. But as a pro songwriter, are you still going to writing sessions to write songs for other artists?
HARDY: Absolutely. I do it every day that I’m in town (in Nashville). It’s just a passion of mine. I moved to town to be a songwriter, and I love writing songs for other people. It’s my favorite thing in the world. So I will always make time to do that.