Harry Hess | interview

Canada's Harem Scarem have developed a reputation for high quality, emotional yet clean rock 'nroll. Led by the amazing vocals of Harry Hess and the diverse riffage of guitarist Pete Lesperance, they have released seven full lengths since 1991. They briefly changed their name to Rubber and released one album, Ultra Feel, in 2001, but with last year's Weight of the World and this year's Higher they sound better than ever. Both albums have been brought to us by great Italian label Frontiers Records. Here is Harry Hess.

In my opinion Higher has some of the catchiest songs you've ever written- was there a focus onwriting really catchy, straight ahead rock songs this time around?
Thank you. It's always our focus to write what we think are great songs. It was all about keeping it simple and just doing what came naturally.

What was the recording atmosphere like for Higher compared to the recording for Weight of theWorld?
We were really relaxed doing this one. We've made so many Harem Scarem records that we're very comfortable with the process and we just enjoy it now- it wasn't always that way.

Why isn't Harem Scarem one of the most played bands on radio these days?
We always slipped through the cracks as far as timing goes, I think aside from doing quality work you've gotta get lucky and be timely with style of music your doing. Other than that I have no clue.

I listen to any of your albums and there is always several songs which are better suited for theradio than most top forty songs.
Yeah, I think people just don't put us into that category as a whole and they don't really know how to market us to the mainstream.

How did you happen to get to work with Jack Frost on his solo album?
He called me a few years ago and asked if I would be interested in doing something together and I thought it would be cool because it's very different from what I normally do.

Was he a fan of Blind Vengeance as well as Harem Scarem? How did it feel to let loose and get somescreaming in there?
Yeah, he was a fan of both. It felt great to do that style of singing. I'd love to do more of it.

Your voice seems to get better with each album- how do you go about practicing and perfecting your singing style?
Thanks, I think it's just experience and knowing what to do for the song.

I'm always blown away by your talent as a vocalist, but you also know how to capture thoseirrestible melodies, do you always approach your singing keeping in mind what is best for the song?
The song always dictates what will happen, after producing so many records it just becomes obvious after a while- but I'm a little stupid so it takes me longer.

Did Gary Hughes approach you for the Once And Future King project? Do you enjoy doing side projectslike this?
It's cool to hook up with quality people that you normally wouldn't get a chance to work with.

What is the secret to your longevity? Do you ever get worried about not having a steady income withthe band?
I used to, but I've had enough success now that I don't have to worry about it and I don't plan on living to long anyway.

I see you also produce and work with a lot of bands in the studio, do you ever get sick of being surrounded by music all the time? What is the biggest challenge when producing a record?
I like developing projects and working with new bands. It keeps it exciting and fresh. It's such a different dynamic from project to project that it doesn't really get boring.

It appears that you are not afraid to update your sound and add a hint of modern influences, wouldyou say you are open minded and accepting of change? Do you think you may have lost some fans, especially around the time of the Rubber album?
You can't make the same record over and over again. We've recorded so many records that it would never have survived this long if they we're all the same. We've evolved into this because of those records and I think we're in a good place musically because of it. 99% of our fans like the band because of our diverse records and can find a common thread throughout all of them that appeals to them.

Interview by Brett VanPut
Originally posted at Transcending the Mundane