[hard3] The Hard Lessons can teach you a thing or two about the blues and the excitement of rock n roll, if only you’ll let them. The young band of a year and some months is coming to Lansing early next month and bringing their garage rock grooves with them for a high energy show filled with gritty blues twang, abounding energy and vocal sentiments that are both charming and catchy.
Already considered an essential band in Detroit’s garage rock revival, The Hard Lessons have an extremely impressive resume for only a year and a half in existence. After meeting in their classes together at Michigan State University, singer and organist Korin Louise Cox, better known as Ko Ko Louise and guitarist Agostino Vissocchi – call him Gin – formed in April 2003 after Gin discovered Ko Ko was an organ player.[lesson]
“He didn’t know at first. It was like he expected me to introduce myself as “Hi, I’m Ko Ko, I play the keys,” Ko Ko laughed.
Once they realized the possibilities of their musical collaborations, drummer and fellow Utica High alumni Christophe Zajac-Denek, better known as The Anvil, -and rightfully so if you’ve seen the drummer in action- completed the auspicious trio. Although they had attended the same high school they didn’t really know each other, and started talking about playing together only when they bumped into each other at the Magic Stick in Detroit in December 2002.
“When I go see a show, I love to see that the band loves what they’re doing,” Ko Ko said. “When I listen to a record I look for other things, but at a show its about making a connection with the audience through energy.”
So what bands have shown Ko Ko a good time lately? “I was in the Loger House in Detroit a couple days ago, I saw Whirlwind Heat,” Ko Ko said. “The band that opened was Lee Marvin Computer Arm, and it was just a really fun show with a lot of energy.”
The Hard Lessons are no strangers to their fellow bands, especially The Sights, who are good friends of The Hard Lessons, and the mutual fans they share. “It’s not like we go hide in some green room after we’re done playing,” she said. “We go out and see the same people that were at our shows at others, there’s really a great scene around East Lansing.”
On recording, The Hard Lessons are vibrant with loud, rasping rock and roll guitar, hard yet danceable beats, an addicting, punching organ and a boy/girl singing dynamic that always keeps things interesting. Both Gin and Ko Ko croon with a classic case of the blues, but counter it with an equal amount of fun and cheer. [hard1]
Justin Spindler, Music Director at WDBM The Impact went to elementary school with Christophe “The Anvil” and went to junior high with Augie. “The best thing I can say about The Hard Lessons,” he said, “is yes, they put on an excellent live show, but on top of that, they actually get out to other shows and they are one of the few bands that are more into the scene than just their band.”
MSU sophomore Anthony Ciolino is a huge fan the Detroit garage rock revival and has had the opportunity to see The Hard Lessons’ live show on multiple occasions. “I like them a lot because a most other college bands are stupid hippie jam bands or really crappy emo punk rock, and because they have a really great stage presence,” he said.
The Hard Lessons’ inspirations span across the music that resonates from their soulful vibe, not just the beginnings of garage rock in the 60’s. “They’re definitely a piece of it,” Ko Ko said. “If you follow rock and roll from the beginning, it’s impossible to ignore 60’s garage rock like MC5 and The Stooges, but another thing that really got me was Motown – my family was always listening to it and singing it. And our drummer was in a ton of jazz bands, rock and roll was a big step for him.”
“We’re all inspired by completely different things,” Gin said. “Our drummer especially has a record collection you wouldn’t expect for a guy in a rock band – a lot of jazz, lounge, Buena Vista Social Club type stuff. We all really dig soul and greasy R&B and of course Rock N Roll. We could list a thousand bands, but it doesn’t even matter. We’re inspired by pure, passionate music… and record players, and vans, and smokey bars, and dancing, and staying up until 5:00 am, and driving through the night, and rest stops and sleeping on peoples’ floors. We’re putting everything into music right now and it feels great.”
As of next summer Ko Ko, Gin and The Anvil plan to embark on their first national tour, playing songs from their first full length album (due out at the beginning of 2005) all over the U.S. and hopefully the UK.
“As cliché as it sounds,” Ko Ko said, “we’re shopping our album around to labels right now, then starting next summer it will be nothing but rock n roll.”
Catch the Hard Lessons October 28 at Small’s in Hamtramck and November 5th in Mac’s Bar in Lansing.

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