Harry Hess | interview

Live At The Gods

This album is the best Scarem's live record to date... Do you agree?
I didn't think it was that good the night we did it, but looking back I think it went extremely well for a festival show but also our first night of that tour.

On this CD and also when I saw you on the stage in Augsburg, I missed some ofthebest songs youever did. I mean songs like If There Was A Time or Untouched (two of my favorites). Why don't you play these songs?
We used to play those songs when we were touring for those records, it's impossible for us to do everything and everyone has their favorites.

The audience still prefers the songs from the debut or Mood Swings era. Howdo youfeel aboutperforming Rubber songs live?
We're definitely not going to just play songs from our first two records ten years later. It's a part of our history like any other records we've made and we're proud of all of them.

Barry has a really great voice! I love his harmony vocals…
Barry does have a great voice! Everyone in the band is a competent lead singer, but when we've done other people singing lead vocals in the past, we have received comments that it doesn't sound like Harem Scarem anymore.

I was absolutely blown away by the live version of Honestly. Your vocal performance in this songis simply amazing! How much do you improvise?
It's just turned into that version after many years of playing it live. There really is no plan when we're up there for that one.

Also Pete's guitar playing is great (as usual) on stage. Many rock fans, especially in Japan see him as a guitar hero. But I think he doesn't want to be in this category. Do you know how he feels about it himself? I'm asking, cause I saw your comment on 'Wishing', which has been originally intended as an instrumental...
It's all about not repeating yourself over and over again. We consider ourselves the type of musicians that want to challenge ourselves and try to achieve new goals. Doing another guitar instrumental on the last record felt forced and would have been a time waster. It's like knowing Karate, you don't walk around trying to kill everyone all day long.

Just Another Day and more...

It's been a few months since your solo record has been released. Are you still satisfied with it?
Absolutely! I thought it might not be received well in the "Hard Rock" world but it wasn't made to sound like another Harem Scarem record. They are just some songs I wrote that I like.

As I've seen in some of your latest interviews you said, that you didn't use any older material on your solo album. But I can't help myself, I hear lots of similar things to Karma Cleansing, Voice of Reason, or Rubber. Does it mean you prefer more "progressive" and modern direction in your Scarem's sound? Especially songs like Undone, or Just Another Day sound as outtakes from Voice of Reason...
The solo album is all new material written in the last few years. I'm my mind it sounds more like the Rubber stuff but of course would have overtones from our previous records because of my influences in making them. I have a very distinct melody style which I guess would be hard to hide.

Some songs have feel close to Queen. Some arrangements or vocal lines really reminded me of this band... Did you intend to do it this way, or was it just an accident?
Yes, still Queen and Jellyfish have got to be two of my biggest influences. I guess I write what I would like to hear and then it ends up sounding that way.

Did you feel some differences when you worked on your solo album, or it was almost the same as you're working on Harem Scarem album?
It was a lot of work doing everything myself, next time I think I would do more co-writing and involve more of my favorite players.

Why did you decided to re-record Sentimental BLVD? This song is a little bit different from therest of the album…
Exactly! I thought the record could use a good up tempo rock track (just to prove I haven't gone crazy). I never recorded a vocal on the song except for the original demo when I wrote it. I also found the original masters when I was putting together the Early Years stuff.

You played some basses, guitars and keys... Any other instruments you can play?
I played drums on the Deep End and also various percussion but that's about it.

Will you play some song from Just Another Day on the Scarem's shows?
I don't know! There definitely is no shortage of songs for us to play live, but you never know.

I've heard something about Pete's and Creighton's solo albums... Do you know something about it? If yes, when we could expect them?
Creighton's is closer to being finished and Pete is working on his on and off. I don't know any specific release dates because I don't think there are any yet.

Also Darren Smith told me you're doing something on his solo record. How does it sound?
We're actually going to demo some songs this week. This will be the first time in the studio for this project. Darren has a great rock voice and I'm really looking forward to working on this one.

The Early Years

How do you feel yourself, when you hear those demos 10-13 years since they were composed and recorded?
I cringe!!!!!! They are awful but they are extremely old and most of them when we were very young and didn't know what we were doing (not that we know now). But if you're a fan I think it's really cool to see the progress of the band over the years and hear how the sound and style developed and where some of the songs and parts came from.

I think it was great gift to all die hard fans worldwide! Did you know how much we had to pay, when we wanted to have all those demos?
I can imagine, that's why we did this, so people that wanted it didn't have to pay so much for them.

I personally prefer the Voice of Reason album. I ever wanted to know if there are some demo versions for this album. I think it would be great to hear those genial songs in their demo versions. Do you have a plan on making something like The Early Years part II?
There are more unheard demos and I guess there will be a good time to release them one day. Right now there's a lot of product out there with solo records coming as well, so maybe we'll wait a few years.

The most of the latest songs you wrote with Pete. But on The Early Years are not credits for individual songs. Does it mean that you wrote them together as the band?
I wrote most of the early stuff myself. I started writing with Pete sometime during the first record I think.

Some songs we can hear on The Early Years, were used in the project with Jon Fiore. Do you plan to work with him again?
I haven't spoken with Jon in some time. There is nothing in the works, but I think Jon is extremely talented and I would definitely work with him again.

Don't Even Know I'm Alive has been used on the great Stupid Angel album. You also used a part ofthis lyric in Look Right Through Me, then the original song was released on The Early Years... How many versions of each song exist?
I didn't think that using that line in another song was really another version. It's completely different except those words finish the thought. It's not unlike using other words over and over in songs (love, heart, desire, fire) ya know!

Higher and Harem Scarem

I've noticed some changes in the sound of backing vocals... They're more into your solo album: not so massive (for example as on Weight Of The World), but more modern sounding. Although Darren was a part of this record, I don't hear him so much as on the previous records. Why this change?
Actually a lot of these songs lent themselves very well to big backing vocals. If they're not as big as some other records, it's purely a mixing or production decision.

Also the album sound is a little bit lighter. Did you decide to make an album for those who still love your older stuff, or you didn't think about it and recorded the album as you wanted personally?
Honestly we didn't think it was that light when we were recording it. There are more softer spots and broken down intros but that's a function of the songs. Not really any big plan to make the whole recording sound lighter.

The album artwork is similar to Karma Cleansing. It seems you're interested in the Asian / Eastern cultures.
Yes, Pete put that together and has similar tattoos all over his back (and penis). You can't see the one on his back.

You and Pete are credited as authors. Why aren't Barry or Creighton involved in the process of writing / recording?
Pete and I have written the songs for many records now. We are in a groove and it comes out pretty easy these days. This is what makes us sound the way we do, so we really don't want to change it that much.

Will you be touring with your new album? Some European dates on the way?
We are just in the process of talking to our agent about tours. I will keep you posted on that.

Also people in U.S. and Canada want you guys! Just check the forum on thesite... Especially Canadian fans don't understand, why they can't see the Canadian band in Canada. Do you have some good news for them?
Canada is just starting to recover form many years of bands having a hard time touring this big country. It's been a few years now since we've played, but we will definitely play there again.

The previous album Weight Of the World has been released in Canada under the Rubber banner. Why? I think it was pretty different than the two previous Rubber albums, so many people that didn't know you as Harem Scarem might be really confused...
We're trying to confuse them so we don't get too popular and become assholes! Really, it's because the last record we released here in Canada was under the name Rubber. It went extremely well and we would like to continue with that.

Will Higher be released in Canada? If yes, will it be under Harem Scarem, or Rubber recording?
We have not discussed it with the Canadian label yet, but if it does, it will be Rubber.

Speaking of Canada, what's the band's current status over there?
Like I said it's been a few years since we've played, but we left off on a great note with the Rubber releases.

Do you know, how much units of Weight of the World have been sold?
Around 40,000 worldwide and continues to sell.

... and your personal message to the site visitors?
I would like to personally thank Dan for all the time and effort he has put into the site. I check it out frequently and love to read the emails from the fans. Please keep them coming.
All the best.

Interview by Dan Friml
Originally posted at haremscarem.net