Athens, GA-based Humble Plum’s debut album, Seventeen Hours, out now. Humble Plum is composed of Daniel Hardin John Ilardi and Josh Johnston. Ilardi and Johnston are students in UGA’s music business program, affectionately monikered as MBUS, and Hardin graduated the program in 2020. Childhood friends Hardin and Ilardi reconnected at UGA and brought Johnston into their fold.
The album title, Seventeen hours, refers to the 17 hours in which the group wrote, recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. When Hardin first suggested the idea Johnston kindly told him to get some sleep. The next morning, still adamant, Hardin quickly got Johnston and Ilardi on board. “We just wanted to see if we could do it,” said Johnston.
The rules were simple: The album had to be completed in one day and absolutely no thought or planning could take place prior to the day the group had set aside to make this album. The group “didn’t think anyone would listen” to Seventeen Hours, they just made it for the fun of creating music together. The result is joyful chaos. The album feels raw and personal in a completely new way.
We asked Humble Plum to take us through each track on the album and give us further insight into the making of Seventeen Hours.
Check out their track-by-track rundown below, and be sure to queue up the album stream below.
Starting with a guitar riff, Hardin penned some lyrics about his friend and bandmate John who “has a really nice car and is always down to jam.” The first song on the album, “Johnny” was written and recorded between 7 a.m and 9 a.m and then forgotten until putting the final album together.
Johnston really wanted to make a Jere Morehead diss track and a punk track. Both wishes were met with “Hey Jere!” The track gave current students Ilardi and Johnston an opportunity to air their grievances with the president of UGA on the university’s handling of COVID-19. Lyrics include gems like “I can’t go to the beach, but I can go to a game? Why don’t you learn to spell your own name?”
Is That A Bee?
In a jarring transition from “Hey Jere!”, “Is That A Bee” is a mellow reggae track that questions Jerry Seinfield on why he ended Seinfield and made the Bee Movie. The track’s composition started with an off-beat guitar and reggae drums inspired by Sting’s “Englishman In New York.” Hardin wrote the lyrics in 10 minutes “on pure instinct.”
Rest in P-Bass
A somber addition to the album, “Rest in P-Bass” was a collaborative effort about a bass guitar Johnston sold and missed dearly. The song utilizes a mandocello, which is a baritone mandolin that adds to the tracks depth. The humor in writing a song about a bass with the same level of sincerity as a break-up ballad is not lost on the trio. “There is definitely an element of funny in the sad,” said Johnston. “It’s overly dramatic for sure.”
“Intermissionary Funk” forgoes lyrics to let the track’s instrumentals shine. The first of two instrumental tracks on the album, “Intermissionary Funk” harkens back to the funk-rock backings popular in the early ’70s. While Hardin’s drums and Johnston’s bass ground the track, the guitar is what makes the track noteworthy. In a unique approach, Hardin, Johnston, and Ilardi took turns playing guitar adding the slightest variety to the tracks uniting riff.
Johnston lived in Bulgaria for five years, which has become quite the joke among the friends and was the impetus for Johnston to write “Mother Russia.” The instrumentals for the song are “basically the Tetris song” according to Johnston. Interestingly, the theme to Nintendo’s 1989 video game actually started its life as a 19th century Russian folk song “Korobeiniki.” The song was recorded using a 1969 Soviet Union microphone. “It sounds like you’re yelling in a bread line,” says Hardin. Ilardi describes the mics effect as “aggressive” which is why they also used it on the track “Hey Jere!” The song was recorded in one take with Ilardi holding the mic up to Johnston, turning red with suppressed laughter. Hardin calls the track “a glorious tune.”
2nd Best Friend
“We all have that friend we like, but also find them annoying,” said Ilardi when asked about the concept of “2nd Best Friend.” It’s about your back-up friend. The song was inspired by Flight of The Conchords “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room” taking the song’s concept of calling someone “the most beautiful girl,” but qualifying it with “in the room. Humble Plum does something similar by qualifying “best friend” with “2nd” making the track kind of mean, but very relatable.
Thank You Caledonia
“It’s the sad one on the album,” said Hardin in reference to “Thank You Caledonia” Humble Plum’s ode to the iconic Athens music venue. Ironically enough, when the group decided to write about Caledonia, they thought they were going to make another funny song. It is when the group started actually writing the song and reflecting on what the loss of Caledonia meant to them that the song turned into the heart wrenching goodbye heard on the album.
The guitar for “Siri” was written at 7 a.m and put aside for about 12 hours when the band started building the rest of the song. Hardin developed the drums taking inspiration from Cloudland drummer Karmen Smith. “We wanted a song people could jump to,” said Ilardi, and “Siri” is just that. The track’s title comes from the lyrics which the group wrote using predictive type making the song completely incomprehensible.
The Mighty Oconee
The second instrumental track and final album track is “The Mighty Oconee” a joke because as Johnston explains “the Oconee is anything but mighty.” The track has an Americana vibe produced by the layering of various string instruments including banjo, mandolin, and mandocello.