Experience molds and shapes the stories we tell. Andrew Hagar’s often unbelievable, always fascinating life informs his smoky rock ‘n’ roll with a hint of rootsy mystique and a heavy dose of Americana-style reality. If Nick Cave came up in Seattle circa 1990, it might sound something like this! Thus far, his journey has twisted and turned from underground MMA fights in college and a stint as a trainer to cutting his teeth live by sharing the stage with none other than the legendary Kris Kristofferson. After earning acclaim courtesy of Consequence of Sound and more, all of these experiences bleed into his 2023 independent debut EP, Limited Edition Psycho.
“I’ve had an incredibly crazy and unique life, and I hope you can hear it in what I’m writing,” he muses. “I pull from all of those experiences. A lot of people are just chasing pleasure. For me, it goes back to the martial arts mentality: you continue to challenge yourself and grow. My goal is to convey the lessons I’ve learned in life through the songs.”
Andrew was quite literally born into music. As the son of Sammy Hagar, his earliest memories included birthdays on the tour bus and dad carrying him out on stage to the roar of the crowd. However, it would take a while for music to become his personal focal point—he had to live first. Instead, he first gravitated to martial arts.
Inspired by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, he begged mom and dad for karate classes. “It never stopped,” he smiles. He studied Muay Thai and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at just 15-years-old. While in the middle of college, he fought in a series of amateur fights known as “smokers.” A potentially career ending knee injury, stacked class schedule, and full-time corporate job derailed his burgeoning fight career through.
However, he never strayed too far from combat sports, covering UFC as a journalist for Sherdog and eventually landing a job as a Muay Thai trainer at Werdum Fight Team in Venice Beach under former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum. For the next decade, he also trained actors from television shows such as The Americans, as well as Vida Guerra and more.
Along the way, he eventually traded Guitar Hero for the real thing, teaching himself how to play on YouTube before fronting a short-lived two-man punk band. Not long after, he launched a folk duo with Kelly Kristofersson and toured Scotland with her father Kris.
“When I stepped off stage for the first time, the feeling was indescribable,” he admits. “I thought it was something I could do for the rest of my life. I had never considered music would make me so happy. As much as loved fighting, it didn’t give me the same feeling that playing live did. I decided to do everything I could to make that feeling a reality in my life.” Teaming up with Trev Lukather behind the board as producer and co-writer, he assembled Limited Edition Psycho over the course of 2021. Nodding to influences such as Alice In Chains, Nine Inch Nails, and Stone Temple Pilots, as well as, classic folk, he infuses eloquent lyricism into grunge-inflected grooves.
“I did a lot of my formative growing outside of the public lens,” he notes. “I’m bringing something more confident and fully formulated to the table as an artist, because I waited until the right time to do this.”
Following singles such as “Judgement Day” and “Cold Knife Karma,” he paved the way for the EP with “Redlight Appetite.” Consequence of Sound hailed the latter as “a glammed-out rocker that unabashedly aims for a massive stadium sound.” Elsewhere, “Slave To Your Name” builds from airy verses into a disarmingly catchy refrain, “Dancing with a ball and chain, high on cheap cocaine, nothing’s changed, I’m a slave to your name.”
“It’s one of the more personal songs,” he states.
Then, there’s “Systematic Minds.” Ethereal guitars glide over a robust beat as his voice rings out on another magnetically massive melodic chant.
“More than ever, people’s opinions are not their own,” he notes. “A lot of people won’t even post something online unless they know everyone else will agree. They’re not living their lives for themselves; they’re living their lives for others. It’s worse than it’s ever been. The song is about how we’re all brainwashed into a certain style of thinking. We’re capable of controlling our own thoughts though. You have to master your mind, or else you become a slave to it.”
As the project stares down addiction, isolation, depression, and darkness, the title perfectly hints at Andrew’s headspace.
“‘Limited Edition Psycho’ means we all think we’re special even though we are all for the most part truly alike,”__ he goes on. “Everyone has the same issues, so these are mine.”_
In the end, Andrew’s story remains relatable through and through, because it’s real.
“When you listen to my music, I hope you walk away with a different perspective,” he leaves off. “I also want you to feel a sense of belonging. I’m just a guy who’s working really hard to embody all of the values I appreciate in the world. I try to be 1% better every day. I want to be able express myself in the songs and bring them to anybody who wants to hear what I have to say.”
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