Halfway To Hazard: Crossing The County Line Into Hazard
by Janelle Landauer
Chad Warrix and David Tolliver (the guys behind the new duo, Halfway To Hazard) both grew up in small towns in southeastern Kentucky – just outside of Hazard. The first song that they wrote together several years ago (“Cold”) includes the opening line “Halfway to Hazard” and refers to the halfway point between their hometowns. It’s only fitting that their band name includes Hazard, given the fact that it influenced the direction they decided to take with their music. “There’s just so much music and so much musical heritage back there and it all comes together and becomes what we’ve done,” explains Tolliver. “Everything back home – we try to draw from all of that when we create our music.”
Warrix and Tolliver have been friends since they were kids. They immersed themselves in music early on, but eventually it took a backseat to other hobbies. Chad took up Motorcross back in his motorcycling days and David gave basketball a try. In the end though, they found their way back to their music and about 4 years ago, Halfway To Hazard began. “We started writing a bunch of songs and we enjoyed playing and sharing the stage together, so it turned into a cool project” notes Tolliver.
They started playing a lot of shows in Nashville – mostly at 3rd and Lindsley. The shows were early (5-6 PM) and drew in a lot of people from the music industry as they were just getting off of work. “Byron Gallimore was one of those people that kept coming and the first time he came and watched us, he walked up on stage and said ‘Man, I’d really love to work with you guys,'" says Warrix. “He came several times after that and he just kept reiterating every time – that he really wanted to work with us and we just kind of couldn’t believe it.”
As you would expect, they didn't pass up the chance to work with Gallimore in the studio for their debut CD. And, if that opportunity wasn’t enough, Gallimore brought in superstar Tim McGraw and he wanted to work with them as well. “McGraw really shared a passion for the music and loved what we did (the songs we had written, the demos that we had done and our live show) and he wanted to put his name on it too,” recalls Warrix.
“We’ve learned about Tim that anything that he does in life, he does 110%. We found out that with Halfway To Hazard, it was going to be one of those things. He’s always defending us, taking us under his wing, sharing information and giving us pointers… And, Faith (Hill) – she does the same thing for us. They’re both like proud parents and they’ve been great mentors.”
McGraw and Hill even invited them to take part in their ‘Soul2Soul 2007’ tour this year as one of the opening acts. “Sometimes we would just pinch ourselves,” says Warrix. “We were out there playing in front of 20,000 people – just David and I with our guitars and that’s kind of how it started. That was an amazing experience.”
Halfway To Hazard’s self-titled debut CD hit stores on August 14, 2007. One of the first things that you notice with their music is how they often switch lead vocals on different songs. And, a lot of times, they'll even change vocals right in the middle of the song, just as they did with their debut single and video, "Daisy." “It’s fun and it keeps it fresh and it keeps us entertained,” adds Warrix. "We both enjoy hearing each other sing, so it’s a lot of fun.”
After they became a duo, “Daisy” was one of the first songs that they wrote together. “When we got done, we kind of sat back and looked at each other and were like ‘we think we have something special here’” recalls Tolliver on their co-writing session with hit singer/songwriter Anthony Smith. “It’s always going to be special to us because it’s our first single out. And, what an amazing experience to see the characters that you created on paper, in your mind and playing with chords and melody – turn into actors on a set.”
Halfway To Hazard has had quite the year making their debut in country music. They released their first single, video and album; They were on one of the biggest tours of 2007; And, now they are about to release their second single to radio called "Devil and the Cross." This is really only the beginning for them, though, as they’re quick to point out. "We just continue to do so many things that we’re proud of, but we’re just at the beginning of the hill” adds Warrix. “There’s a long climb ahead…"