It would be an understatement to say that Chad Warrix and David Tolliver were in the right place at the right time. The duo - best known as Halfway To Hazard - were honing their skills in Nashville's club scene when Music Row's elite began frequenting a club Warrix and Tolliver called home.
"About three years ago, we were playing around Nashville and we played this one bar every week on a Tuesday," Warrix recalls, speaking from his Nashville home on a rare off-day. "We weren't seeking a record deal - we were just playing to play. It turned into an industry hangout - we looked out and we saw a lot of artists, producers, publishers and record label people. One person in the audience was Byron Gallimore, who has produced all of Tim McGraw's records except for one. He fell in love with what we were doing, basically. We ended up signing our deal with Mercury Records. Next thing I knew, we were in the studio with Byron and Tim. About seven months later, we were making our first record - it was just crazy. Last year, we toured with Tim and Faith (Hill) on their 'Soul2Soul 2007' tour."
Co-produced by Gallimore and McGraw, Halfway To Hazard's self-titled debut was released in 2007 by Mercury Records in a venture with McGraw's label StyleSonic Records. The album has propelled Warrix and Tolliver to an ACM nomination for "Top Duo of the Year." On Thursday, May 15, Halfway To Hazard will perform at the Verizon Wireless Music Center in Pelham with McGraw and Jason Aldean on McGraw's current "Live Your Voice" tour.
But even though the duo has garnered McGraw's personal interest and industry accolades, Warrix still sees Halfway To Hazard in the dues-paying stage of its career.
"It's quite a juggle and a circus act to make it all happen, but that's just part of the gig," Warrix says. "Last year, David and I were home only 95 days. We live to perform in front of people. We get up everyday and try to make this thing work."
While the duo is riding the wave of their debut album's success, plans are already underway for a follow-up release. Though an old music-industry cliche applies to the group's current situation, Warrix welcomes the challenge of a sophomore effort.
"What they always say is, 'You write your whole life for your first record and then you have a few months to write your second one.' David and I have written so many songs that we're going back and finding songs we wanted to do for the first record and we've been writing. If we're in Nashville for a day, we usually try to have a writing appointment. We've been writing with people we have chemistry with and we've been writing with new people to find new chemistry. We've even written a song for Tim's new record. We're songwriters first and we really enjoy that part of the business," Warrix says.
With the emergence of technology's dominant role in the music industry, Warrix realizes that Halfway To Hazard is coming along in an exciting - if rather uncertain - time.
"It's a changing environment right now in the music business and we all have to adapt and figure out how to make it happen. With the Internet, text messaging and ringtones, it's a whole new ball game and there are things that weren't thought of even five years ago. These are the biggest changes the industry has ever seen and we have to figure out how to change the model. Our record label has given us a great opportunity to get our music out there. It's a business and we have to treat it that way," he says.'a0
Halfway To Hazard will perform at the Verizon Wireless Music Center on Thursday, May 15. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. The duo is on the bill - along with Jason Aldean - of Tim McGraw's Live Your Voice tour. Tickets are $59.75 and can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com.