Artist Interview: HARD Events founder Gary "Destructo" Richards talks noise levels, his new EP and how to avoid being a grumpy old man
On Thursday July 31 the annual HARD Red Rocks series is back and brings with it a slew of EDM booty-duty acts that will seek to push the limits of the newly initiated sound rules at the legendary amphitheater. Coming with headliners NERO and Dillon Francis are Rudimental, Julio Bashmore, Samo Sound Boy and Gary “Destructo” Richards.
Richards spoke with us before the popular crew heads out to the rocks in an effort to pulverize all the ounces of energy in every lucky ticket holder’s body. He gave us wise insight into the way he runs these types of shows and explains how he is able to stay sane enough to perform while acting as ringleader. He also gives thumbs up to his obnoxious neighbors in hopes that he’ll never become ‘that guy’ who ruins all the fun.
You do so much Gary, but it wasn’t always like this. Tell us a little about your come-uppins.
Well, before HARD (Events) I had a record label, but before that I started producing events and DJing. In about 2006 I realized that no one buys music anymore, so I thought, well, I’ll give it one more shot and I’ll go back to DJing and producing shows. It was what I did in the early days. I went out and tried to figure out what I could do different that no one was doing, and I realized that groups like Justice and Crystal Castles weren’t really getting booked around here that much, so I just jumped in and it snowballed.
That was all around the time there was a hard stigma in the states on calling things 'raves' and putting together warehouse parties. Do you think the electronic music industry has gotten away from that reputation at all?
You know, when I started HARD that was one of my missions: Was to make sure it wasn’t a rave and to show people that electronic music can be quality music without all the stigmas to go with it. And also to have promoters that are responsible to be able to work with communities, and cities, and law enforcement, and fire, and do a good job, and show them that, ‘Hey this is legit, this isn’t some underground four in the morning thing.’
I think we’ve done a lot to change that. I think there’s still more that needs to be done, but I’ve never been to a rave that costs $7-million dollars to produce. When I used to do raves they were like $3-thousand dollars. It’s just way different.
One of my goals with HARD was to set up an event about good music and not that other bullshit - and it works. It took a while, in the beginning the fire and the police were like, ‘Yah whatever, it’s electronic music just like all the other fuckers,’ and then after two, three, four years of producing quality events and not having issues and – knock on wood – and running things the right way, they started saying that, ‘This guy is legit.' I think it’s spread around to a lot of other places around the globe too.
Having to work with communities is a big priority in any event. We’ve got new noise restrictions at Red Rocks now because of the growing scene. How are you going to approach the new rules?
Well, the thing with the Red Rocks show, since I’m in LA, I leave that up to the Colorado office. I know that this show, the hours are different, that it’s a little earlier. I was aware of some stuff, but at these venues you have to be a responsible with the sound levels.
To be honest I haven’t dug into it as much as I need to, but I know that at HARD we used to just rent it out and then we started getting complaints and then I hired a whole team to kind of go in to all the neighborhoods and take DB readings and work with the sound engineers.
There’s ways that you can face the bass - if you take a row of subs and you put another row behind it, it can kind of cancel it out from traveling distances and stuff. There’s things that can be done, but at the end of the day if it ain’t loud enough it’s gonna suck no natter what. For me sound is always rule number one. I’m definitely going to look into that.
The rules aren’t unmanageable and we’ve had great shows here even with the complaints…
There’s always a happy balance. The last thing you want to do is piss people off in the neighborhood where they live.
It’s funny because my entire life I’ve kind of been that dude at like, four in the morning that’s having the party. So now where I live, I mean, god knows how many times it’s been - thump thump thump - at four in the morning and I just smile. Because I don’t want to call the police, I’d never be that guy. I even got kids and shit, but I’m like, ‘Fuck it, have at it.’ But I’m thinking in my head like, ‘God damnit I want to go to bed!’ My thing is though you throw in some earplugs and you’re good. Let them have their fun.
With HARD the company and HARD the shows you tend to be both a performer and a creative head, is this just an absolute nightmare for you being so busy?
It kind of used to be, but since I’ve done my deal with LiveNation it’s been a lot better because it got to the point where I was like, ‘Why am I up here DJing right now? James Murphy needs his bottle of champagne or LAPD needs to talk to me,’ or whatever, and I’m up there trying to DJ. This is ridiculous.
Now the guys that run the events, I come up and ask what to do and they tell me to have a beer and leave them alone, or that I’m getting in the way. So I go over all the creative with them and set times and put the whole thing together, but then when it comes to show time they run it. Then I just hang out.
That’s what I should be doing anyways. You don’t want to be host of the party and security and whatever else. It really comes down to having a good team and now I’m able to do it. They know how to do it a lot better than I would. I’m lucky.
Your new single with YG just recently came out and it’s fire! Do you think this is something that’s going to catch on, all these collabos with hip-hop guys and EDM guys, or was it just a one-off you wanted to jump into?
…That’s so funny YGs emailing me right now…. You know, I thought about it a few times because I feel like all the songs I’ve made up to this point definitely have had a point of view, and they’re all grouped into one area together. Then these new one are something else. I’ll definitely do a bit of both, I’m just on this trip right now. It’s good to just be on something different and new, but I’ll always want to go back to making bangers.
My goal for making tunes is always just to make shit that I can play when I DJ, so it’s good to have a bit of both because what I’m learning with the more G-house shit that I’m doing right now is good, and it’s smooth, it’s for the ladies, but it only goes so far. It’s like you almost get to the climax and then it’s like…UNGH! But then all my other tunes, they bang. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve learned how to figure out how to do a whole set where I can play the new shit, the old shit, and then other stuff I’m into and make them work together.
Is that the kind of stuff we can expect from the coming EP?
Yah, well the EP is called the ‘West Coast EP,’ and basically the whole thing is a combination of house and hip-hop and it’s all rappers from the west coast.
Brilliant, we appreciate your time. See you at the rocks?
Let’s do it!