The Hazzards Anne Harris and Sydney Maresca
When Sydney Maresca attended a friend’s party in 2000, she had no idea it would change her life. Sydney had recently purchased a ukulele, her first musical instrument, and she was eager to brag to her friends about it.
“I was wandering around a party in Williamsburg telling everyone about my awesome ukulele and they all said, “Yeah, that’s really great. Go talk to Anne Harris, she just got one too,'” Sydney said. “We hung out and Anne was like, ‘We should start a band and it should be called The Ukes of Hazzard.’ And I was like, ‘Yes, now we have to because that name is so good.'”
And just like that, a new band was formed. The duo later shortened their name to The Hazzards “to stay on the right side of the law.” The Hazzards, who describe themselves as a “novelty indy pop band,” have been winning over audiences with their catchy songs and perky demeanor ever since.
One might wonder why ukuleles are their instrument of choice. For the girls, the decision was a simple one. “I know I got a ukulele because it looked really easy to me,” Sydney explained.
Anne followed up with, “I thought it looked really easy too. I’m not good at practicing, so I really wanted an easy instrument. I played viola and I played clarinet for two weeks. I guess ukulele is the instrument I’ve played the longest. Besides voice. And tambourine.”
But their decision goes deeper than that. “Another reason I got the ukulele is Marilyn Monroe plays it in Some Like It Hot,” Anne said. “She’s really pretty.”
Throughout our interview, the perky duo seemed to be having a great time. They were giggling and finishing each others sentences, like two schoolgirls enjoying a sleepover. Their giddiness is infectious. Of course, their schoolgirl charm should come as no surprise, considering they promote their shows by writing “Dear Diary” entries in an online blog. It’s also no surprise they consider themselves to be a modern day Laverne and Shirley.
When asked about their musical influences, Sydney responded with, “Wow, musical influences. That’s like a real band question.”
After considering the question for a moment, Anne had an answer, “I try to deny this so hard and I shouldn’t even be saying it now. Sydney busts me all the time on secretly liking musical theater, but I don’t.”
“She does, too,” Sydney quickly added.
“But I do think it informs my work,” Anne said.
“I, 100 percent hate musical theater,” Sydney responded, “but we went on a trip to England and she went there two days before me. And, I got there and she was like, ‘Oh my god, I just had the best time staying up all night and singing Le Mis.'”
“Oh my god, that’s so embarrassing,” Anne said while laughing.
“I just busted you. I’m sorry.”
Their biggest hit is “Gay Boyfriend,” which was one of the first songs they wrote together. The song was downloaded over a million times within its first three months on their site. The song was a bit hit in the U.K. as well, debuting at number 67 on the British singles charts, beating Seal. That lead to a promotional tour of England, including a cooking show, a morning talk show and a chat with the The Sun. “We were like Q List celebrities for like three weeks,” Sydney explained.
However, “Gay Boyfriend” still gets its share of air play. “If you go to a gay German disco, you will hear our song,” said Sydney.
The Hazzards are far from a one hit wonder. Their EP So Pretty, features five other songs, including “SexySpirit4U,” which is made up of real lyrics from a personal ad their friend received.
“We just took all of these emails that my friend got on Nerve.com,” Anne explained. “She was getting all of these Nerve personal responses from this dude in her neighborhood. They were all from the same day during a blizzard. He was so desperate. We were like, ‘Amazing. Cut and paste.'” They did make one change in the lyrics, though. “We changed his email address. People can’t really email him at email@example.com.”
“Hotmail,” Sydney said.
“No, it’s totally Earthlink,” Anne clarified. Then, after a pause, “Netzero.”
The CD also features the song “Just a Temp,” which depicts life as a temporary employee in an office building. The song includes the lyrics, “The secretary’s got a cake for Cheryl’s birthday party. They’re all in the conference room. No temps aren’t invited.”
“I didn’t even change the names in that,” said Sydney. “That’s Cheryl Mintz’s birthday party.”
Of course, listening to their CD isn’t as much fun as seeing them live. According to Anne and Sydney, their live shows feature a ton of high fives and matching outfits. Their live shows also include a full band.
They have a regular gig in New York, their “Wednesday Night Make-Out Party” at Galapagos in Brooklyn. They also recently played at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage on the night Steve Martin received The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. To celebrate
the occasion, The Hazzards even wrote a special song just for Martin.
The band has now turned it’s attention to the future. They toyed around with the idea of tapping into the lucrative children’s music market by forming a kid-friendly band called The Blazzards. They are also planning on recording more music videos and working on another album in the spring.
The Hazzards Anne Harris and Sydney Maresca
What would be their ultimate measure of success? “Originally we said we wanted to have a Japanese beverage commercial,” Anne said, “But I think now we want to have either a cartoon show or maybe, we’re trying to write a movie.”
When asked about the plot of their cartoon show, Sydney explained, “We’d probably solve a lot of mysteries.”
In the meantime, the two are just having fun and honing their sound. They added a rap battle to their set and Sydney recently acquired an electric ukulele.
“I’ll probably come up with some sweet soloing,” Sydney said, “once I learn how to do that.”
Written by Joel Murphy, November 2005. You can keep up to date on The Hazzards upcoming shows, read thier blog, watch their music videos or purchase their CD at http://www.hazzards.com.