Turn on the radio today and with rare exception, you are likely to hear a packaged sound that might get you tapping your foot, but rarely inspires you to take a stand. Enter L.A. band HUDSON: a soul-stirring, musically progressive group that combines thought-provoking lyrics with a legendary sound. Their story began back in September 2013 when former music producers Chris Llewellyn (guitars/harmonica) and Brian Cohen (keys/bass) came together with vocalist David Hudson to help him create his solo project. What began as an Americana-focused solo project morphed into a hard-rock and blues based trio. After a short time, the three musicians came together with Christian Thierbach IV (drums/harp) summoning their final form.
The hard-rock quartet recently released their sophomore EP, Cast Out – a project which was independently produced, according to vocalist David Hudson and guitarist Chris Llewellyn. “Brian and I produced everything,” said Llewellyn. “We’ve produced for major labels for the last eight or ten years so we got tired of the monogamy of that. There’s not a lot of artist development going on with the pop side of music anymore and we’re really about putting in the time and effort into every aspect of the career and helping to build a culture around the artist. So we self-produce everything. We run our own record label. We oversee all of the images that come out, any visuals or music videos. We work closely with our director as far as going in and editing the video with him and we really oversee all aspects of the career as a band so that we can achieve exactly what we’re trying to achieve. We’ve just seen the ball dropped too many times by labels having their own ideas of what the art should be when really that power should be in the hands of the artist.”
Hudson explained that the band strives to underline positive messages in every project they release. “With all of our music there’s a pretty universal goal and it’s always about a few things. It’s always about authentic expression of who we are, it’s about quality over quantity, and really it’s about promoting people. And it’s not just about making cool music or making you stomp your feet and move your hips. I mean it’s fun and we incorporate that kind of music as well, but we always try to intertwine everything we do, especially our music, with a message. And whether that message is ‘no matter what happens to you, no matter what negative experiences take place in your life, you can use it as fuel for a positive future’ or its ‘today is a beautiful day. Go explore nature. Go be outside amongst trees and fields. Enjoy life.’ There’s just always some kind of beneficial message for people. That’s kind of our goal. We have a lot of different messages but they really intertwine in a positive way. We really believe in living naturally and following your passions and hopes for the future, rather than getting stuck with a job that you don’t want to pursue. We feel that when you pursue something passionately the quality goes through the roof, rather than just working on something you don’t care about for the money,” Hudson advised.
Despite these positive messages, sometimes even the brightest messages emerge from the darkest of places. Llewellyn went on to recall the very personal story which had inspired HUDSON’s title-track, Cast Out. “Brian, the bass player, he and I were back in Atlanta producing about six or seven years ago and we were just about to leave to Los Angeles to pursue our production career and the night before we were going to leave, he went out to celebrate with a friend and I went out to celebrate with a different friend and I got a call at three in the morning to say that he’d been beaten nearly to death. He had been beaten by five guys and luckily their license plate was caught by a taxi driver nearby. But through all that, it took six years to go to court. In the court case, once it got to trial, there were some missteps and through that, they got off scot-free. So we were obviously upset about that and initially we were very angry. But we realized we had written a track prior to the outcome of the trial and David had it and I called him and let him know what happened at the trial… and that was what inspired him to write the lyrics to Cast Out. The message of the song is basically to take the negative things that happen to you and to use it as fuel towards something positive. Which, for us, was writing this song and getting our music out to the world. So that’s what we wanted to portray in the music video but we didn’t want it to be a recreation of what had happened.”
As a band, HUDSON’s powerful sound has captured much of its inspiration from childhood influences ranging from Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, to Johnny Cash, Pink Floyd and Nirvana. “As a band I’d say our sound is really 60’s through the early 90’s but with newer sonics on the production side of things. It’s kind of a fresh take on rock and roll. Our influences are far and wide. Everything from classical music on up through blues and jazz, funk, rock and roll, everything in between. We’re kinda just all over the place and we kind of take in influences from everywhere to create our own unique sound,” Llewellyn said.
While Hudson and Llewellyn affirmed that they enjoy their time in the studio, the two insisted that the best way to see what HUDSON is truly capable of is to see a live show. “We always tell people that the best way to hear us is live,” said Hudson. “That’s where the entirety of who we are comes together in every single way. It’s just a good time. It’s not one of those shows where all the musicians sound good, but they’re just kind of there. We tear up that stage, let me tell you. We move. We get off stage and we’re drenched in sweat but we’re going. Sometimes, if I’m feeling it, I’ll do a back-flip off the drum set. Chris plays the double-neck guitar while playing the harmonica. Brian plays the bass and the keys at the same time. There’s a lot of variety and a lot happening and there’s no way to just watch one person or just one thing. There’s a lot of excitement and a lot of energy and that’s how we like to do our shows. It’s not a show that we rehearse or choreograph either. I think that’s the best part about it. Whenever we’re on stage, we’re just ourselves and we let go. We do that with our music and we do the same thing on stage. That’s who we are. We love to get movement and energy onstage. We also love to bring a variety of instruments onstage. It’s a whole spectrum of rock and roll and it’s a lot of fun. You have to see it for yourself.”
Llewellyn chimed in with another element which puts HUDSON’s live performances on a level all its own. “Our drummer Christian also plays the 36 string Paraguayan harp which brings a whole other aspect to the show that I’ve never seen in new rock and roll bands. So when we do acoustic sets, he gets to bring the harp out and it definitely brings a new aspect to the show.”
According to vocalist Hudson, the band has done a lot of growing in the few short years since coming together. “We have grown in every way possible. We not only rehearse constantly together and work on the creative side of the band, but three out of the four of us live together, we play together, we go on vacation together, sometimes spend holidays together with each others’ families. We’re really intertwined as more than just a group of guys that are trying to make some quality music. We’re actually intertwined honestly as more like family, like brothers. It’s a very close bond. I know that chemistry has really helped to make us even better on the creative and music side of things.”
An empowering message of positivity and strength, like those found in Cast Out is much-needed from entertainers who deeply influence the youthful listeners who will shape the future. While many artists paint a picture of victims and offenders, HUDSON takes it a step further to offer lessons for humanity in the midst of these happenings. Combine this with whiskey-soaked vocals and some killer rock n’ roll and HUDSON might just be the next legendary rock n’ roll band with the potential to change the world.