Q Magazine

Microwave Frontman Nathan Hardy Unpacks Trippy New Album 'Let's Start Degeneracy'

The album's title was gleaned from a story about drugs the songwriter found in a vintage copy of Playboy.

Source: Cameron Flaisch

Microwave's new album 'Let's Start Degeneracy' dropped via Pure Noise Records on Friday, April 26.

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Mind-altering substances have always come up in Microwave's lyrics, but they've never had this big of an impact on the band's sound.

The glum Atlanta pop punk outfit's new album Let's Start Degeneracy is a thoroughly psychedelic affair. Their first LP in five years dropped on Friday, April 26 via Pure Noise Records.

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Source: Cameron Flaisch

Frontman Nathan Hardy told Q the record was fueled by his love for psychedelics.

There are a handful of straightforward, concert-friendly tracks like "Circling the Drain" and "Bored of Being Sad." But most of the record is spaced out, heavily layered and defined by its trippy electronic samples.

"Ferrari," "LSD" and "Huperzine" are prime examples of this experimental sound, but none of them define the album quite like the intro track "Portals."

Frontman Nathan Hardy told Q he recruited his girlfriend to sing a hymn called "Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling" over the warbly, humid soundscape. Johnny Cash performed the song on his 1975 gospel album Sings Precious Memories.

Religion isn't a big part of Hardy's life these days, but it was while he was growing up in a devout Mormon household. The songwriter penned some of the band's earliest material while serving as a missionary for the church.

After leaving the faith, Hardy rebelled against his sober upbringing. The frontman's past lyrics are clear about some of the problems that caused, but he doesn't have any qualms about using psychedelics.

"They hold a special place for me," Hardy said.

He says he suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder and took prescription drugs like Zoloft for much of his life to cope. But the frontman was able to stop when he and drummer Timothy "Tito" Pittard started microdosing after the release of their sophomore effort Much Love in 2016.

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That's why a 1970 edition of Playboy caught the frontman's eye while he was browsing an antique store. The new album's title was gleaned from a roundtable discussion about drugs published in that issue.

The panel included quotes from several psychedelic advocates like William S. Burroughs and Ram Dass, but the record's title was uttered by the strident prohibitionist Harry J. Anslinger.

He helped outlaw cannabis in 1937 as the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department's Federal Bureau of Narcotics. Anslinger had no love for LSD either. The substance was outlawed in the U.S. in 1968.

"The principal side effect of taking it is pregnancy," Anslinger said. "We should call LSD 'Let's Start Degeneracy.'"

The puritanical diatribe resonated with Hardy: "He said things that had a lot of entertainment value," the frontman said of Anslinger. "He was just poetically ignorant."

The lyrics on Let's Start Degeneracy show a lot of personal insight on Hardy's part.

"It’s about letting go of attachments and behaviors that aren’t serving you and trying to shake off your programming and not be motivated by fear and guilt and shame," he said of the record ahead of its release. "It’s about learning to be happy and take care of yourself."

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Hardy knocked out most of the production for Let's Start Degeneracy in his home studio. It's the first Microwave album that wasn't engineered by Travis Hill, who also joined the band as a second guitarist in 2016 before departing in 2021. His bassist brother Tyler Hill is still part of the lineup.

Travis wanted Microwave's albums to sound like a real live rock band, but Hardy wasn't so dedicated to that approach. He wanted to create something cleaner and more mainstream.

"I like the larger than life Bring Me The Horizon type mixes," the frontman said.

Hardy added artists shouldn't be intimidated by the thought of producing their own records.

"I feel like it makes sense for bands to record themselves," he said. "You can watch a few YouTube videos and record your stuff at home and save a lot of money."

Next month, Microwave will begin its U.S. to promote the new album with support from Origami Angel, Heart Attack Man and Carpool Tunnel.

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Check out a full list of the upcoming dates below:

Sat/May-04 – Atlanta, GA – Shaky Knees Festival

Tue/May-07 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom

Thu/May-09 – Toronto, ON – Operahouse

Fri/May-10 – Lakewood, OH – Roxy

Sat/May-11 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall

Tue/May-14 – Minneapolis, MN – Varsity

Wed/May-15 – Des Moines, IA – Wooly’s

Fri/May-17 – Denver, CO – Ogden

Sat/May-18 – Salt Lake City, UT – The Complex – Grand Room

Mon/May-20 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

Tue/May-21 – Portland, OR – Roseland Ballroom

Wed/May-22 – Sacramento, CA – Ace of Spades

Thu/May-23 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall

Fri/May-24 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

Sat/May-25 – Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

Tue/May-28 – Austin, TX – Empire Garage

Wed/May-29 – Dallas, TX – Studio at The Factory

Fri/May-31 – Nashville, TN – The Cannery

Sat/Jun-01 – Charlotte, NC – Amos Southend

Sun/Jun-02 – Louisville, KY – Mercury Ballroom

Mon/Jun-03 – Columbus, OH – King of Clubs

Wed/Jun-05 – Brooklyn, NY – Brooklyn Steel

Fri/Jun-07 – Boston, MA – Royale

Sat/Jun-08 – Philadelphia, PA – Franklin Music Hall


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