Introducing: The Harriets
Harmonies, melodies and dual songwriting skills from Leeds act making big waves…
YOUR NAME: Dan & Ben.
BAND NAME: The Harriets.
WHAT DO YOU DO/PLAY? Both multi-instrumentalists but for the most part, Dan on guitar and vocals and Ben on bass and vocals. We make high-energy power pop and sing vocal harmony.
GIVE US THREE REASONS WHY WE SHOULD TRACK DOWN, LISTEN AND DISCOVER YOUR MUSIC?
1. ‘Fine, fine songwriting’ as it’s been described in press. We deal in tunes, not jams, and we take our inspiration from the songwriting greats. The songs are composed, arranged and quality-tested before they come to the band, and if they ain’t good, they ain’t getting in.
2. We’re DIY. Our last two singles were recorded and mixed in-house by our good selves on Dan’s 32-track Tascam. We’re keen on the idea that in the information age, the artist has a lot more control over what they put out. Which leads us onto…
3. Video content! The internet is a sharing platform and we share with our audience, documenting as many of our DIY adventures as busy 21st-century life will permit, from writing to recording. Chances are, if you like a song, the acoustic demo, early mix and making-of video will be just around the corner.
“Having a mind-blown moment”
WHERE DO YOU SOUND BEST – FESTIVAL, CLUB, BEDROOM – OR SOMEWHERE ELSE?
Dan: All of the above. No, not really! I think we have different sounds in different places, so it’s hard to say. Live, we’re just a power trio so we have to really lock in and emphasise the essential elements of a song. When we’re bedroom recording, we can make a song much more elaborate and layered – lots of extra instrumentation, lots of guitar overdubs. Then when we do acoustic gigs as a duo, we can focus on the two-part harmony. So the cop-out answer is: It depends what you’re looking for.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST…
D: Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Great album, great artwork. Sitting down as a teenager and listening to it was a regular routine of mine.
B: Not sure of the first one I owned, but I remember nicking Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On off my parents, and just blu-tacked the sleeve to my wall because I didn’t have a record player.
D: Weirdly both of us are the same for this one – By the Way by Red Hot Chili Peppers. Easily their best album. Loads of great, lush harmonies and guitar arrangements on there.
B: You just have to work to tune out Anthony Kiedis at times. I think around that time they were a gateway band for a lot of millennials first getting into rock music. I remember seeing the video for ‘Can’t Stop’ on Kerrang as a kid and having a mind-blown moment.
D: Probably something by Metallica.
B: Yeah, probably some crap metal off Limewire.
SO, WHEN IT ALL GOES RIGHT AND YOU’VE GOT A MANSION AND A SUPERMODEL GIRL/BOYFRIEND, WHAT WILL BE YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INDULGENCE?
D: Some actual floor space to put a nice big piano in. A black one.
B: Probably the same. I can’t see myself becoming a collector of vintage guitars or anything like that. I wouldn’t mind an in-house easy setup studio area which doesn’t require crawling around plugging in wires for half an hour before you want to record anything.
SO, WHEN IT ALL GOES WRONG AND YOU’VE ACRIMONIOUSLY BROKEN UP CITING HUGE MUSICAL DIFFERENCES, WHAT DO YOU FALL BACK ON?
D: We’re both capable musicians and writers, so I’d like to think we’d carry on making music independently. But I don’t see any evidence of that happening just yet.
B: Also, time was you could just be a musician and still have food on your plate. Not any more. We have jobs as well. They’re necessary – they just aren’t what we want to do with our lives.
CITE SOME INTER-BAND MUSICAL DIFFERENCES…
D: The two of us have quite different techniques for writing, so sometimes it’s hard to work out where the other person is going.
B: We’ve done a lot of analysis around this. There’s this whole metaphor about ‘the tent’…
D: Without going into it too much – because it probably doesn’t make sense to anyone else – when you start writing, what are the things that make you feel your idea is good enough, something you can pin down and secure and continue to develop?
B: For me, it’s having a few lines of melody and some chords I like, maybe some lyrics, and the arrangement comes later.
D: For me, it’s the structure of the music, what the instruments will play, and how the sections fit together, and words and melody always come last!
B: So when your approaches are from completely different directions, there’s a lot of trust involved. Dan might play me a new song and I think ‘what the hell is he doing, this is the weirdest way to put up a tent I’ve ever seen.’ But you have to trust that you know what they’re doing, and suddenly a certain peg is hammered in and it clicks for you, and you can see it take shape.
WHO ARE YORKSHIRE’S FINEST IN CULTURE, SPORT AND MUSIC?
D: Keeping it to Leeds… Jake Thackray! Hilarious ‘60s songwriter from Kirkstall.
B: Also Gang of Four, Nightmares on Wax. As for Sheffield… Richard Hawley.
“Two massive smoggy shitholes”
NAME YOUR SUPERGROUP – WHO’S PLAYING WHAT AND WHO’S ON VOCALS?
Not really one for speculative supergroups. But I’ve read that in 1969, Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis were looking to make an album together, and sent a telegram to Paul McCartney asking if he’d join on bass. I’d pay to be able to hear that record – and read the stories of their inevitable fistfights in endless Mojo reruns.
GO SEE THIS FILM: The Love Witch (2016). Hilarious feminist pastiche of 60s Technicolour melodrama.
GO READ THIS BOOK: The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead.
GREAT LOST BAND/ARTIST: This might not really count but always wonder what Buddy Holly would have done if he’d survived and carried on making music into the 60s. Obviously he’s really influential and great songwriter but hardly released anything.
WOULDN’T BE CAUGHT DEAD SUPPORTING:
B: Arctic Monkeys. Can’t stand them.
D: Any band with Josh Homme in it.
LONDON, L.A OR LEEDS?:
Two massive smoggy shitholes with crazy wealth divides, or one smaller one? Has to be Leeds.
AND FINALLY… AS YOU LEAVE THE STAGE, WHAT ARE YOUR PARTING WORDS.