~ bio story & photos by Marty Sundvall
One Minnesota night when two visitors show up on the stately house on the east shore of Pearl Lake. It's actually three places in one: Brian Heying's part, Hazzy's part and the part where they make music. Heying answers the doorbell ring, followed closely by his dog.
Next door, Hazzy is making coffee and cursing his old electric coffee maker. He gives the paper bag holding the old maker a quick boot and then pours his caffeinated mixture out of a French press. He offers a Guinness to one visitor and a drink to the other; he opts for a root beer. Beverages in hand, he leads the visitors to the inner sanctum of Playground Studio, the old attached boathouse that has been converted into a state-of-the-art recording operation.
Posters of all varieties line the walls. There's a vintage Johnny Cash promotions poster, an autographed shot of Ray Szmanda (the old Menard's spokesman), a Nirvana poster from 1989, a large cutout story of Fela Kuti, among others. A bagpipe hangs on the wall next to an organ from the late 1800s and over a booming drum kit that is about 100 years old.
"Listen to this snare," Hazzy said as he played a bit on the old kit, which features a picture of a sunset and silhouetted performers on the bass. "It's huge."
Two washboards sit on a shelf on the other side of the room, and in between you can find more drums, guitars, a set of bells, various shakers and rhythm makers. Foot pedals are at the ready next to where the black Gibson Les Paul is resting.
All the while music is playing through the speakers. New music made on the fly and in piece-meal fashion by Hazzy and Heying. It's obviously new music as the well-versed fans of Hazzy's music look at each other and comment about how cool it sounds.
The short tour heads into the studio control room and Hazzy moves behind the 31-track mixing board (it's actually a 32-track board, but one row is masking taped and not used). Hazzy starts fooling with a new track, one that doesn't even have a name yet. It's a building, layered piece done by him and drummer Heying.
It's the first time since the visitors arrived that Hazzy stands still for more than seven seconds.
"You know, making music is a lot like cooking," said Hazzy, whose other projects include making tapes of him whipping up stuff in the kitchen on a show he calls The Crappy Kitchen. "You can only fiddle with it a certain amount before you ruin it. That's why I am so into this mode right now. There's something that only happens the first time you record a song. After it gets too refined, you lose something."
This is the musical mode that Hazzy is in during the first part of 2005: to make music quickly, record it, mix it a bit and get it down before adding too much to it. This particular tune starts slow, with a bit of guitar, some small rhythm and then Heying coming in on drums, starting light and building the power as the song progresses.
Judging by the numerous tapes in the control room, Hazzy has been in this musical mode for a while; just making the tunes, just him and Heying.
"Yup. This one's a taper," Hazzy says short time later.
Mark Hasbrouck (Hazzy) was born Sept. 18, 1963, in Olivia, Minn. By the time he was seven he had lived in Marshall and Fargo before his family moved to Champlin in 1972. He would spend all his time there, from the time he was in third grade until graduating from Anoka High School in 1982.
Hazzy started playing music as a youngster on his grandmother's organ, saying he'd just sit there and start making things up. Later, at age 14 or so, he started to fool around on his dad's four-string ukulele, but it wasn't until he was about 16 when he found a teacher named Randy Berg that Hazzy started playing guitar.
Berg's instruction fueled the desire to learn more and to learn how to play well. Hazzy said that during those first months, he would go home after school, lock himself in his room and just play his dad's old Sear's Classical guitar.
"For five or six hours every day for five or six months," Hazzy said. "It was a mad freaking out. Thing is, I've never done that since to that degree."
His influences in those early days included the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Segovia, John McLaughlin and others. He also said Yes was a band he liked very much, but added, when he was first starting out, "That music was way over my head," Hazzy said.
He progressed so much during those first few months that his parents helped him buy a used Stratocaster, the tan-colored electric guitar he still plays on stage to this day.
During the spring of 9th grade he helped form a small garage band called The Success.
"We started The Success before any of us could even play," Hazzy said. "None of us could play or anything. We couldn't even tune a guitar. But he had this book full of lyrics that he'd written, and maybe it was the competitiveness between us, but when he started writing I wanted to start writing too."
Later, in 10th grade, he joined another garage band/cover band. They did some Dylan, some Beatles, some Stones, a little Hendrix, a bit of Clapton and other classic rock staples. The first gig they played was at a high school party of a few hundred people in a field.
"It was about 35 degrees out and there were no lights. We were plugged into this loud little generator for electricity," Hazzy said. "I was so nervous I could barely move my fingers."
It was also about that time he started writing songs. The first one he can recall he described as a "stupid tune" called Hometown Blues.
"I started playing music because I wanted to write," Hazzy said.
Hazzy gives credit to a friend named Richard Geary for getting him started writing songs when he was more into riding dirt bikes and playing sports.
After graduating high school in Anoka, he attended St. Cloud State. It was in the dormitory when he wrote the first song he said he felt good about: TV Evangelist, a song that can be found on the Surahoolies Four-Track Recordings, 1986-1989. He also learned a great lesson about writing during that time.
"I'd get way to serious trying to write these great songs and I'd just think way too much and they sucked beyond belief," Hazzy said, adding that he has those very early songs on a cassette tape somewhere.
The Playground studio looks just like the name would imply, a playground, and a well-used one at that. Much like a yard that has recently hosted several childhood games, stuff is strewn everywhere. It's not a huge dirty mess by any stretch, instead it gives the feel of busy clutter. Cords and tapes are everywhere, a large amp and guitar case are near the sofa. A Hüsker Dü vinyl album rests with other LPs in a milk crate.
A small strip of paper made by local musician Lisa Thompson is attached to the south wall. It reads: All clean and no mess makes Mark a dull boy.
"I might be the least-organized person ever. I have stuff everywhere in here," Hazzy said.
One of the visitors on the cold winter night was puzzled when Hazzy said the new song was a taper. It was not until Hazzy pointed out long strips of tape on the wall to the right of the mixing board that taping made sense. On the tape strips are markings used to denote what instrument is being made by what track.
Probably a dozen of these tape strips are affixed to the wall, one with 10 different drum tracks on it. Some have small labels on them: Jackie's Cult, Spooky Kids, Lingo. Others have no markings. Another has the words "I know I finally made it the day I get dissed by Arsenio Hall".
Hazzy points to the front of the mixing board where another tape is in place. "You have to write down what is playing on each track because it's way too much to remember," he said.
The new song continues to play for a bit as Hazzy checks what is playing on each track. When he puts it all together the sound is kinda familiar in that it sounds like Hazzy's guitar and Brian's rhythm.
"Thing is Brian only listened to this once before he made the drum track," Hazzy said. "He's incredible like that. Sometimes it takes him two or three times before he gets it, but a lot of the time it's just one hearing and he's got it down."
Other songs are light, some quite heavy and dark, others goofy. Some have been played live on Tuesday nights while some feature Hazzy's dog Curry eating, or licking a spoon. Others are pure stream of consciousness. And many, many sounds.
Hazzy met Heying when he lived in the last Profetz house, a dwelling near the convenience store on Washington memorial Drive in St. Cloud, while he was playing in a local band called the Profetz.
This was a few years after Hazzy moved to St. Cloud State's Holes Hall. While living in Holes Hall, he met Billy Branscom and the two started to become friends and jammed in a most unlikely place in the dorm.
"We would jam in a little storage space next to the gym in the basement of Holes, and I mean loud," Hazzy said. "Here we are standing next to boxes and stuff just jamming. We never learned any songs, we just jammed. I wish I had some of those recorded."
But the jam sessions were not always met with pleasure.
"There's people doing reps and working out and pretty soon there is a small crowd down there listening to us jam," Hazzy said.
In 1985, Hazzy, Branscom and a friend released an album with the Profetz. The house they had moved into became a haven for parties and for people who just wanted a place to crash. One of the people that would frequent the Profetz house was Heying, who grew up kitty-corner from Hazzy's cousin Tim in St. Cloud.
"I've known Brian my whole life, but didn't start playing music with him until much later," Hazzy said.
To hear the story from both Hazzy and his brother Mike, the sound of Mike and Brian jamming in the basement of the house didn't go over well with Hazzy. "They sucked. It was horrible," Hazzy said. "If it was good I would have liked to listen to it, but I just wanted to get some sleep." So Hazzy started pitching bottles and trash down the stairs in an effort to get them to quit. "At the bottom it was just cement and on the far side there was a room we made with some drywall. The recycling was right there and I'd throw down bottles and they would just explode. Boom! But they didn't even notice and kept on playing."
While Hazzy, Branscom and Tommy Becker were making an album, Heying was continually practicing in the basement of the Profetz house. "I mean he was over there constantly," Hazzy said.
Shortly afterward Becker moved away, as did Branscom. Hazzy started playing with Heying in about 1986. It was shortly after that when the Four Track Recording album was named, and was also the time when Chris Johnson said they should be called the Surahoolies.
"I was like, 'What the hell is that?'" Hazzy said.
One of the coolest things on the wall of the Playground is an old melted button box. It was no more than a toy, really, but when it was left on the dashboard of a car over a summer, the keys became gnarled and twisted, like bad British teeth. Hazzy then explained how the toy button box was submerged in Pearl Lake and then photographed. The image graces the cover of the Surahoolies' "Underneath the Water" album.
Hazzy points to more cool things in the studio. More posters, including a water-damaged Profetz poster, are visible. Others are promotional posters for many bands and musicians, not the least of which is the Surahoolies.
It was during 1986 and shortly thereafter when songs like TV Evangelist and Legend in Her own Mind were made. And the band was convinced to try and play live. The pair then soon teamed with Muggsy Lauer and a friend of his, Ted Chopp. Their first gigs as the Surahoolies were played at the Cantina.
"Things were going pretty good," Hazzy said. "We were getting some good crowds and I was trying to get us a gig at the Red Carpet."
But the Carpet did not initially bite on the proposition. However, as the crowds kept coming to see the band at the Cantina, soon the Red Carpet gave the Surahoolies a gig, on a Sunday night in March 1989.
"It was fun," Hazzy said, "but my favorite thing about that gig is when Charlie, who used to book the music there, comes over to the stage when we were playing and puts a piece of paper on the stage with open dates, Saturdays, and $400. I was like, 'Yeah!'"
The Surahoolies, like most bands went through some transformation, with Muggsy and Chopp leaving to do music they were more into. Scott Allen came in but then left the band after a time. The band moved to the Cities in 1990 and began to really take off.
They wanted to start doing some different things musically, and Hazzy knew Jim Bjorklun, who was a guitar student of his and whom Hazzy knew also played the violin. J Ellingson had joined the band on bass, Marty Wolf joined on percussion and Deb Pflipsen, who Hazzy was dating at the time, joined to play accordion. Andy Novak (now Andy Furcht) would later join as a third percussionist in 1995, forming a six-piece band.
The Surahoolies started getting bigger and better gigs. They played the Cabooze, the First Avenue Main Room, Seventh Street Entry, the Fine Line, the Spectrum in Winnipeg and a host of other great rooms. And nobody on the St. Cloud music scene of the era can ever forget the love-fests staged at the Red Carpet. Even today, at any good jam there are still people who look as though they learned to dance at Surahoolies' shows. There was an undeniable magic to that band.
"Those jams with the Surahoolies were the best. Not to put down anybody that I've played with since, but that was different; it's hard to explain," Hazzy said. "When you're with a band and everyone is doing their own thing and all of a sudden we're on the same wavelength. That's what I'm after, when the band becomes greater than the sum of its parts. You just go, 'Whoa! How did we get to this point.' That's what's unexplainable. I can't make it happen, but it just does. It's that magical element that comes from people who have played together for years."
Hazzy moved back to the St. Cloud area in about 2000 and now lives in the big house on Pearl Lake. He said about three dozen bands have used the recording studio, but he is doing what he likes doing best on this cold night: mixing the tunes that have seemingly come from nowhere.
"There's just something cool about the first time a sing is played; something that you just can't get back after you fix it and mess with it too much," said Hazzy as he samples some trippy music featuring a deep drum, an accordion, a high hat and layered vocals. It's music that he and Heying just make up, with Hazzy doing one part, Heying coming in later to do more and then tweaking it just a bit.
"This is how the Four-Track Recording were done," Hazzy said.
The Surahoolies released that 1989 album after the six-piece band broke up. Afterward, the Hoolies went on as a four-piece with Hazzy, Heying, Bjorklun and Ellingson, and made one album, Lazy, which came out in 2002.
One year prior, while housesitting for a friend who was out of town, Hazzy wrote all the songs from his 2001 Some Songs album. Much of the hurt and turmoil he and the band had gone through in the past few years is revealed in the lyrics and slight darkness of the music.
Then, in June 2002 a whole new sound hit the St. Cloud area when the Stearns County Pachanga Society started playing at the Tavern on Germain. The infectious Latin grooves whipped the crowd into a frenzy during those early shows. The core, however, sounded familiar, with Hazzy on guitar, Bjorklun on bass and Wolf, Heying, Furcht and Stacy Bauer creating a big rhythm.
Shortly after the Pachanga Society started playing, Hazzy, Bjorklun and Heying started playing in a Neil Young cover band called Powderfinger. One night, Hazzy said he was trying to come up with a band to open for Powderfinger; one suggestion was a band called Cops, who would do all Police tunes. Then, someone mentioned they should start a band called Blimp and do all Led zeppelin songs.
"Actually, I think it was Stacy who got the ball rolling on that one," Hazzy said. "Someone brought up Blimp and Stacy said, 'You know, that's not a bad idea.'"
With Bauer on lead vocal, Jeff Engholm on bass and keyboards, Hazzy on guitar and Furcht on drums, Blimp made an immediate impact when it played that first night at the Rox in St. Cloud. People in attendance were stunned at how close the band came to the authentic sound of Led Zeppelin, even though Hazzy said it is very difficult music to play.
"With Neil Young I know where he is going for the most part," Hazzy said. "But with Zeppelin, they took what was popular in their time and then just went off in a different direction. It's extremely complex music and really hard to play sometimes."
When not playing in one of the bands or on Tuesdays with cellist Jonas Dubin at Acoustic Tuesdays at the Tavern on Germain, Hazzy can be found in the Playground, making new sounds, new music and not many refinements.
"That's the way music should be made," Hazzy said.
Hazzy, now 41, plays music live at least three nights a week (though some weeks he said he plays four or five nights a week). He also teaches guitar and works as a counselor at the St. Cloud Children's home.
Hazzy said he is one credit away from completing his major at St. Cloud State, a major that has changed from music to elementary education to special education.
"The thing is I don't care a lot about money. I want to make enough to survive," Hazzy said. "The main thing is I want to do what I want to do. I don't get a big thrill out of buying shit. I want to have a car that works, an ok place to live and to make music.
"I simply want to have my music heard by more people somehow," Hazzy added. "Thing is, I'm kind of shitty at the business end of it. But I can write more and more now. I am told I can write songs on the spot and that's what I want to do. That, and get paid for it."
Hear and see more at: www.hazzville.blogspot.com Thanks a ton!!
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