Atlanta music businesswoman Tammy Hurt debuts electrifying new project, Sonic Rebel
Atlanta's Tammy Hurt is the vice-chair of the Recording Academy and co-founder of Georgia Music Partners, but she's also a lifelong drummer who has just released the drum-driven project, Sonic Rebel. Courtesy of Sonic Rebel
By Melissa Ruggieri, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Oct 20, 2020
Playing drums ‘is my purpose,’ she says.
Tammy Hurt’s name has been a staple of the music industry in Georgia and beyond for years.
She co-founded Georgia Music Partners, serves on the board of the Georgia Music Accord, is managing partner of Placement Music and presides as vice-chair of the Recording Academy.
But her affinity for music isn’t only rooted in its business angle.
Hurt is as comfortable with a pair of drumsticks in her hand as she is a smartphone. She’s been sliding behind the kit since she was 4 years old, playing professionally from 14 and immersing herself in elements of sound throughout her career.
Atlanta's Tammy Hurt is the vice-chair of the Recording Academy and co-founder of Georgia Music Partners, but she's also a lifelong drummer who has just released the drum-driven project, Sonic Rebel.
Her mom, a member of an all-girl band in Knoxville, Tennessee, moved the family to Atlanta following a divorce, where she started working with Atlanta concert promoter icon Alex Cooley, who died in 2015.
“My sister and I grew up basically backstage at the Fox (Theatre) and Atlanta Fulton County Stadium,” Hurt said. “I would always get set up backstage behind the drum riser and look out to those crowds of people in the audience.”
In September, Hurt realized a long-held dream with the release of “Run,” the first track from the five-song debut EP, “We Made This With Our Hands,” under the banner of Sonic Rebel.
Working with Grouplove’s Dan Gleason and Ben Homola, recording engineer TJ Elias and multi-instrumentalist Kevin Spencer, Hurt finally fulfilled a goal project she calls “my therapy and my fuel.”
“This is who I am. This is the essence of me,” Hurt said. “Yes, I became a businesswoman out of necessity, and I know a lot of people (in the industry). But I’m having to re-establish myself as an artist… This project really has been aggregating resources, and people have unequivocally said, ‘Whatever you need.’ It has been a really amazing experience that I don’t take for granted.”
Hurt, who cites John Bonham, Kenny Aronoff and Sheila E. as drumming inspirations, is a purist in that she believes all music sounds better with live drums. But the musical creations of Sonic Rebel are malleable because of the fusion of organic instrumentation and electronic razzle-dazzle.
As Hurt noted, “They’re more interesting than a dude with a laptop at a club — there’s live energy to the whole thing.”
Sonic Rebel laid down tracks for the upcoming EP — it’s due in 2021 — at Big Trouble Recording studio in Little Five Points, which is owned by Gleason and Elias.
Gleason, the bassist for alt-pop-rockers Grouplove (“Tongue Tied,” “Deleter”), was immediately impressed with Hurt’s “strong vision” when they teamed in the studio.
“But within her vision, she allows for a lot of creativity, and that’s the ideal situation,” he said. “Her influences on this were records I’d grown up on or newer stuff that I was intrigued by, like taking this harder-edged rock thing along with punk and metal-infused rock with newer electronic techniques. At the end of the day, I really like to experiment and figure out why things work together, so this was instantly appealing to me.”
Cover art for Tammy Hurt's drum-driven EP, Sonic Rebel. Contributed.
Gleason primarily plays keyboards on the record, along with some bass and guitar.
“It just feels fun,” he said of the finished product, which was mixed by Atlanta’s Grammy-winning Miles Walker. “It feels like music that isn’t too overthought but has a level of intelligence that is engaging.”
Hurt credits Elias for the evolution of Sonic Rebel; she met him five years ago when he was programming for electronic music duo Thievery Corporation.
Hurt showcased the hip direction of the music by debuting it on Twitch; she is also technically astute and especially proud of the Dolby Atmos (surround sound) version of “Run” that arrived last week, as well as its electrifying video, shot in July in an empty Masquerade in downtown Atlanta.
The next single from the upcoming EP, “Reign,” will be released on Nov. 5, followed by a complementary video (shot last weekend) on Nov. 12 and a Dolby Atmos version of that song in December.
“For a long time, my playing took a backseat, and now I’m back in the driver’s seat,” Hurt said. “It feels so great to be recording and releasing music and playing live behind a drum kit. It’s my place, my purpose. It’s where I belong.”
Melissa Ruggieri has covered music and entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution since 2010 and created the Atlanta Music Scene blog. She's kept vampire hours for more than two decades and remembers when MTV was awesome.