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Ingram Hill shifts gears with self-produced album

Ingram Hill_by Rebecca Ward.jpg

Justin Moore, Phil Bogard and Zach Kirk of Ingram Hill asked a lot from their audience — and each other — with regard to the band’s new self-titled studio album.

Like so many artists have done in recent years, Ingram Hill turned to its fans for contributions to cover studio costs. Instead of going through an established crowd-funding program, though, the Tennessee group kept things in-house, spreading the word on its Web site, setting up a PayPal account and offering various donation-level prizes.

“We wanted to make sure we did it in a way that didn’t make us look like a bunch of beggars,” singer/guitarist Moore says. “I was worried to death about that perception.”

When the first week of the campaign came and went without much monetary activity, Moore thought, We just alienated everybody. “And then slowly but surely, [it happened],” he adds. “Once we put it out there a few more times, our fans responded amazingly.”

Moore says Ingram Hill reached its goal of raising at least $10,000, and the band proceeded to use the money to record an album that might surprise a few of those financial contributors. Ingram Hill (Rock Ridge Music), with its banjo and pedal steel guitar, is more intentionally country than anything else in the band’s catalog.

“I’m totally aware that some of our fans are going to hate it and maybe wonder what on earth has happened to us,” Moore says. “But I also think there are going to be a lot of them who like it and are going to appreciate the freshness of this record and this direction. I’m aware it’s going to turn some people off, and you kind of take the good with the bad.”

Dealing with distinctions and differences is nothing new for Ingram Hill.

“Our music and our songs and our writing have always kind of straddled the lines between country and rock,” Moore explains, “and I think it always came down to production as to which side we were going to be. And when you have other [people] producing your albums, they have opinions and input, and it always ended up being more of a rock thing.”

Things turned out differently with Ingram Hill, which was released Aug. 28 and coproduced by Moore and Bogard.

Moore says, “When you have a bunch of kids from Tennessee, and country being such a prominent music genre around us our whole lives, without the outside influence of another producer, I think we just kinda said, ‘Hey, this sounds kinda country. Let’s get some banjo and pedal steel on here.’

“I’m surprised it took us so long to do this, but I’m glad we kind of came to our senses,” he adds with a laugh.

Moore found the role of producer to be exhausting both physically and mentally.

“And when it’s your own music, you tend to just not be happy with it, so you keep wanting to mess with it,” he says. “Stepping away and saying ‘done’ is really difficult.

“So that was the tough part. The good part was total artistic freedom — and time to do what we wanted. You weren’t in somebody else’s studio, paying a producer or an engineer and paying them by the hour, so you’re having to rush: ‘Let’s hope this guitar part is the right one. If not, it’ll cost us.’ [We were able to] figure out what to do with the song and parts, without the clock ticking.”

And aside from a few disagreements over guitar parts, Moore and Bogard handled their roles as coproducers with relative ease.

“There wasn’t any long-term studio damage between the two of us,” Moore adds. “It was just the frustrating part of having so much work to do, and also because we’ve known each other since we were 5.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Ingram Hill on tour (schedule subject to change):

* Sept. 5: Pour House Music Hall — Raleigh, N.C.
* Sept. 6: Jammin’ Java — Vienna, Va.
* Sept. 7: The Grape Room — Philadelphia
* Sept. 8: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
* Sept. 9: The Saint — Asbury Park, N.J.
* Sept. 10: Rockwood Music Hall — New York
* Sept. 11: Club Café — Pittsburgh
* Sept. 12: Birdy’s — Indianapolis
* Sept. 13: Musica — Akron, Ohio
* Sept. 14: Double Door — Chicago
* Sept. 15: 12th & Porter — Nashville, Tenn.
* Sept. 18: Work Play Theatre — Birmingham, Ala.
* Sept. 19: Melting Point — Athens, Ga.
* Sept. 20: Windjammer — Isle of Palms, S.C.

Photo by Rebecca Ward