More praise for “Paradise City”

Thank you, Rocking Magpie!

“Honestly; (Married Girls has) gone straight into my Sound of the Summer I-Tunes playlist; and also already a contender for Song of the Year.”

The Daily Vault digs “Paradise City”

Maybe the most interesting part about the musical descriptor “a cross between Paul Westerberg and Lucinda Williams” is that both artists remain alive and well and making music, so a collaboration wouldn’t be out of the question. In the meantime, though, let’s not waste the opportunity to be surprised by others attempting to locate that potentially rather magical musical intersection between literate singer-songwriter country-rock and boozy, foot-stomping alternative rock.

Mick Rhodes & The Hard Eight are a Los Angeles quintet that appears bound and determined to ply their trade in that heretofore imaginary Williams-Westerberg nexus, and does a damned respectable job at it. Punk-turned-roots-rocker (and singer-songwriter) Rhodes has a clear vision that the band behind him—Wyman Reese (keyboards, production), Brian Wells (drums), John Sleeger (bass) and Steve Strugis (background vocals)—is more than a capable of bringing to life.

Said vision includes everything from honky-tonk rock (“Since You” and “Under The Bustle”), to delicate country ballads (“Don’t Remind Me”), to punky three-chord power pop (“Keep It Simple”). Each of these thoughtfully arranged tunes approaches Rhodes’ tunes from a slightly different perspective.

Leading off, “Married Girls” features a rockabilly heart, a big fuzz guitar, and some sound life advice (“Don’t fall in love with a married girl”), before “Since You” delivers some fine, fine honky tonk, with fat guitars, barrelhouse piano, three-part harmonies, sassy horns, and a big, bluesy solo by since-departed Hard Eight lead guitarist Brian Hall.

“Last Summer” pairs an anthemic heartland rock feel with a melancholy lyric (“It’s the last summer of your life”) that would make Tom Petty grin. The middle section of the album leans to the country side of the band, with “That Kind Of Love” executing a steady build from acoustic and pedal steel into a big-boned, full-band ballad postulating that imperfect love is better than none at all.

The slight, delicate “Don’t Remind Me” is a more traditional country ballad about the narrator wanting to be reminded of his “wicked selfish ways” that has a bit of a Jimmy Buffett feel to a lyric full of resigned self-knowledge. Contrasting nicely, “Keep It Simple” pays tribute to Rhodes’ punk roots with “Three chords and a point of view / pawn shop guitars and an attitude / Aww, keep it simple, baby” over a fat guitar hook.

Later on, “Whisky Girl” offers a moody character sketch heavy on Wyman Reese’s organ and big harmonies, with strong tension between its brooding verses and booming choruses that reminds of classic Petty or Black Crowes. For tongue-in-cheek nostalgia, it’s hard to beat “Heavy Metal Heyday” (“Workin’ so hard to look run down… You weren’t in the band / but you were on the guest list”), about looking back to your partying days from the front seat of a minivan full of kids. Closer “Go To The Love” turns matters serious again, a soulful tune about battling addiction, featuring rich harmonies over a spacious arrangement.

Rhodes’ vocals and lyrics have a kind of everyman charm; neither could really be termed exceptional, but whatever he occasionally lacks in polish, Rhodes more than makes up for with heart and sincerity on these smartly arranged, powerfully performed tunes. Paradise City finds Mick Rhodes not just walking a tightrope between bar-band roots rock and literate country-folk, but falling off to one side or the other again and again before hopping right back up on the wire.

Rating: B+



San Gabriel Valley Tribune profiles MR8

By Michelle Mills, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Mick Rhodes & the Hard Eight will be touring L.A. in support of its country-pop effort, “Paradise City,” out Jan. 23. Photo by Mark Maryanovich.

Claremont resident Mick Rhodes took on L.A.’s punk scene in 1980 when he formed Human Therapy. The band seemed to be on the outside looking in because of its diversity within its chosen genre.

Such it is with Rhodes’ next take, Mick Rhodes & the Hard Eight.

Formed in 2007, the group’s songs run the gamut of country, pop, rock, blues and surf — and even a little of the old punk edge seeps in.

MR8 released its debut effort, “‘Til I Am Dust,” in 2010. Beset by setbacks during the recording process, lineup changes and other issues, the follow-up, “Paradise City” (Hot Tramp Records), was six years in the making and will be officially out Jan. 23. It features vocalist and guitarist Rhodes and his band, Wyman Reese on keys and guitars, bassist John Sleeger and drummer and percussionist Brian Wells, along with guest musicians, Rick Shea (Rick Shea & the Losin’ End, Dave AlvinWanda Jackson), Danny Ott (Dave Alvin, Chris Gaffney), John McKnight(Fishbone), Solid Ray Woods(Jayhawks) and Roger “King” Ehruman (Stan West Band).

Rhodes had 16 songs under consideration for inclusion on “Paradise City,” which contains 10 tracks.

“It wasn’t that I wanted to showcase what we could do, it was more the 10 top songs that clung together the best,” Rhodes said. “I didn’t want to dump all those (16) songs on one record because I like to keep things clean. All killer, no filler.”


Rhodes writes when creativity hits, starting with a snippet of a chorus, a guitar lick or simply a song title and building from there. His inspiration is “just life.”

“I’m a middle-aged man who’s divorced with small children, and I’m a writer and I’m a student. Everything that’s happening around me pretty much falls into my songs. A lot of my stuff is real personal and specific,” Rhodes said. “If there is a theme (running through ‘Paradise City’) it’s more of what happens when your life changes. When you are expecting life to go one way and it takes another turn. And the pain and joy from change in your life.”


The guest artists on the album are all friends of Rhodes, most of whom have played with him at some point through his career. Covina musician Rick Shea played guitar for Rhodes on a previous unreleased recording. This time around he is spotlighted on pedal steel guitar.

“I showed up and played what I thought might work with the songs,” Shea said of recording “Paradise City.”

“Usually I’ll play a few parts, a few ideas, and everybody will talk about them, and maybe if they want to hear something else I’ll try something else in a different range, a different sort of phrasing or different parts. There’s usually some back and forth and input from everybody.”

Shea has only heard his tracks on the completed effort, as he has been busy producing for other bands, such as the Good Intentions and Osborne Jones, and playing on other albums. He is also writing for a new album of his own, which he hopes to release this year.

“I like the fact that Mick is from the Inland Empire, the Claremont area, and a lot of his songs and a lot of what he is writing from seems like he tries to stay true to that,” Shea said. “He tries to incorporate that in his writing, a whole point of view from the Inland Empire, and be proud of where he’s from.”


Part of Rhodes’ staying true includes flitting between music genres. Even during his Human Therapy stint he strived to be different.

“I was concerned with not getting pigeonholed into one sound and one style, and it’s carried over into my later years even though my writing has changed and my tastes have changed,” Rhodes said. “Even though it’s career suicide to jump all over the place, I can’t be in a slot. I need to have new things to try and to jump around a little bit.”

Rhodes is undaunted by his genre sliding. He admits it may limit his fan base, but feels it works fine with the music business’ current focus on recording and touring. MR8 ends up on bills with both country and pop bands and occasionally with rock acts.

“The advantage of getting on these different bills is you get to see people you haven’t seen before which is the goal for this thing,” Rhodes said.


MR8 is almost finished with its next album, but plans to keep the release on hold for six to eight months until it finishes touring for “Paradise City.”

“We’re going to promote this record the best we can with us being on the low rung of the ladder and try to get as many gigs around L.A. as we can and spread the word. After that and a couple of trips out of state, we’re going to work on our next record,” Rhodes said. “Making money selling records is a hard business. We’re hoping that we can at least make back the money that we put into it because we’re an independent operation; there’s nobody paying for us. The goal has always been to go forward and have each step get us somewhere new rather than standing in the same place.”


When: 10 p.m. Jan. 22

Where: The Press, 129 N. Harvard Ave., Claremont.

Tickets: No cover, all ages.

Information: 909-625-4808,

When: 9 p.m. Jan. 23.

Where: The Cinema Bar, 3967 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City.

Tickets: No cover.

Information: 310-390-1328,

When: 2 p.m. Jan. 24.

Where: Mother’s Tavern, 16701 Pacific Coast Highway, Sunset Beach.

Tickets: No cover.

Information: 562-592-2111,

When: 9 p.m. Jan. 27.

Where: Old Towne Pub, 22 E. Holly St., Pasadena.

Tickets: No cover.

Information: 626-577-6583,

More “Paradise City” love from Music Morsels

Mick Rhodes cut his teeth in the L.A. punk scene, and you can feel subtle pieces of those influences in the music here. He likes straight up rock, too, and with further journeys into country and folk, he has obviously a wide taste in music. He is a master at weaving those various influences together into highly enjoyable tunes. “Married Girls” launches the CD with a sort of Elvis Costello hanging out in the Heartland feel. Songs like “Since You” and “Keep It Simple” are smoking rockers, the former straight ahead and Springsteen-esque, the latter being a more hooky punk-edged romp. “Don’t Remind Me” feels like it wafted out of a smoky west Texas honky-tonk, while “Whisky Girl” is power blues at its best. Along with his songwriting eccentricities, Mick writes catchy and often subtly humorous lyrics, spinning interesting tales. Backed by some excellent musicianship, this sophomore CD should wake up more people to this creator of music that is both fun and intriguing. – MW

Coachella Valley Independent profiles MR8

Genre Hopper: Mick Rhodes, Appearing at Pappy and Harriet’s, Talks About His Move From Punk to Country


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Genre Hopper: Mick Rhodes, Appearing at Pappy and Harriet's, Talks About His Move From Punk to Country

Human Therapy was one of the bands that helped create the Los Angeles punk-rock scene. But these days, Human Therapy frontman Mick Rhodes is singing a different tune: country.

He’ll be bringing his band Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight to Pappy and Harriet’s on Thursday, Jan. 28.

“Back in the late ’70s when punk hit the suburbs, me and some friends started Human Therapy and put out a few records,” Rhodes said during a recent phone interview about his punk roots. “We did a couple of tours and stayed together for about six years. We sort of cut our teeth, and I cut my teeth musically as a songwriter.”

But how did he go from punk to county?

“My family is from Oklahoma, and when I was a kid, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house,” he explained. “They were die-hard fans of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, George Jones, Mel Tillis and those guys. There was a lot of country music in the air when I was a kid, so I didn’t even realize there was a differentiation between country music and rock. When I was young, the radio played everything, so that’s how I got exposed to my grandparents’ music at their house. It wasn’t until I sort of finished with my punk band that I opened my ears to it again, to tell you the truth.”

One night, Rhodes said, had a revelation when he stepped out for a beer.

“When I used to live down in Venice, there was this bar right around the corner from my house called the Cinema Bar,” he said. “I stumbled in there one early evening to grab a beer and stayed for about 3 1/2 hours listening to this guy called Randy Weeks, who had this amazing band and great songs. I just walked out after that one night there and thought, ‘Wow, there’s this whole new way I can write.’ It really freed me up—and that was just from being exposed to that one night.”

Rhodes said he feels there is a formula to a good country song that is often missing in today’s mainstream music.

“To me, the best country songs feel unfiltered and honest, and I don’t like a lot of production on my own country music. I like straightforward delivery and instrumentation,” he said. “To tell you the truth, most of the stuff people call country now is basically hair metal with cowboy hats. You can tell 10 seconds into a song if you’re listening to something authentic—at least I can. Music is subjective and hits people in different ways, just like paintings, food and poetry. A good country song has to be honest and unadorned, just straightforward, like George Jones.”

When Rhodes first started his band, it was a six-piece group. However, he’s trimmed down.

“Now we have five, and all that really happened is we lost our lead guitar-player, Brian Hall,” Rhodes said. “He just wanted to move on and do something else. It was all good, and I had to scramble to learn how to play lead guitar. At first when he left, I was concerned, but it changed the way we sounded—and it wasn’t a bad way at all. We miss Brian because he was a great guitar-player … but the cool thing that happened is our live sound became more about the songs and not the big noise we were making.”

Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight are touring to promote a new record, Paradise City, which will be released Jan. 22.

“It was long process. We started recording this record two months after our last one came out. That was five years ago,” Rhodes said. “We started recording it, and a lot of things happened. Our record label pays for the recording, mixing, mastering, production and promotion of all this stuff. It’s not an unlimited budget. That figured into the delay of this. We had some life things happen—health issues, divorce—and when you throw all those things into the mix, you have a big delay.”

The band also changed up the recording environment.

“The interesting thing that happened between records is we went back to the same traditional studio to record this record; we got halfway through it, and our drummer, Brian Wells, suggested we try a track in his living room where we rehearsed, because he had Pro Tools and some microphones. … ‘Don’t Remind Me,’ was the first one recorded at Brian’s. The results were so excellent that we decided that’s how we were going to record going forward. Half of the record was recorded in his living room. The cool thing about that is we didn’t have to be on the clock and could really be creative and try things.”

Rhodes said it’s a dream come true to play at Pappy and Harriet’s.

“I can’t tell you how happy we are to play there. I’ve been going there forever, and it’s my favorite venue in the world to go listen to music,” he said. “I love it up there; I love the people who work there, including Robyn (Celia), who is one of the owners. I’ve been attempting to get us a gig there for the past four years. Finally with this new record, we’ve broken through, and we finally get to play.”


Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will perform at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Admission is free. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit

Oklahoma’s “Red Dirt Report” loves MR8’s “Paradise City”

From the Red Dirt Report’s 1/6/16 edition: “ALBUM REVIEW: Mick Rhodes & The Hard Eight – Paradise City (Hot Tramp Records) 2016

California rock outfit Mick Rhodes & The Hard Eight kick off 2016 right with a rock sound that is both a throwback and also very now.

What we got was Paradise City, a follow-up to 2011’s ‘Til I am Dust.

The instantly likable Rhodes and his rock band – with a healthy mix of country and soul – have about 50 years’ worth of rock influences on these 10 songs.

That pedal steel, from Rick Shea, sounds sweet and Stonesy on “That Kind of Love,” while the slinky/sexy “Whisky Girl” reminds me of 90’s-era Cracker.

The drum-happy opening track, “Married Girls,” has singer/guitarist Rhodes – a bona fide, smile-inducing pop-rock number has Rhodes – with a great rock singer voice – warning the guys: “Don’t fall in love with a married girl / Married girls run away from the start

Sound advice! And the song is one of the first great earworms of 2016.

In addition to the Stones, Cracker and Tom Petty (“Last Summer”), I hear New Wave influences like The Cars on “Heavy Metal Heyday” which takes the perspective of a middle-aged mom driving the kids to camp and reminiscing about their youth, when they were “stone cold crazies.”

“Go to the Love” has an orchestral, wide-open feel about it – and in a very good way. And those horns on the very 70’s-styled “Since You” take you back!

Mick Rhodes & The Hard Eight are keeping good ol’ rock n’ roll alive with their accessible and fun sound.

Paradise City, released on Hot Tramp Records, comes out on Jan. 23, 2016.

For more information, go to”

Link is here:

Early praise for “Paradise City”

From the Midwest Record 12/18/15: “MICK RHODES & the Hard Eight/Paradise City: With his punk days long behind him, Rhodes and his pals have soaked up all the cool influences that have come and gone over the years and put them together in a crafty, tasty amalgam that drips just another influence every time you turn around. A wonderful wild ride that brims with punk and power pop energy as well as other time tested tropes, this bunch sounds like a bar band that made it extra good. Fun stuff that hits the right chords throughout as well as touching on themes that resonate in middle age as you look backward and forward from the mid point. Hot stuff.”

Here’s a link to the story:

Pre-order “Paradise City” on iTunes

Here’s the link!:

Full album will be available 1/22/16.

MR8 to embark on “Paradise City” tour of Southern California

MR8’s “Paradise City” is coming Jan. 23, 2016, and the band hits the road to promote it with a series of record release shows across Southern California:

• Jan. 21 – Mission Tobacco Lounge (Riverside)

• Jan. 22 – The Press (Claremont)

• Jan. 23 – The Cinema Bar (Culver City)

• Jan. 24 – Mother’s Tavern (Sunset Beach)

• Jan. 28 – Pappy and Harriet’s (Pioneertown)

• Feb. 5 – The Redwood Bar (Los Angeles)

• Feb. 6 – Dale Bros. Brewery (Upland)MR8PC_Cover

MR8’s “Paradise City” will be out Jan. 23, 2016

Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight’s “Paradise City” will be released Jan. 23, 2016 on Hot Tramp Records. Record release party and tour date info will be announced soon.