Single: Harriet Who? / Television
Artist: The Harriets
Released Date: 10 February 2018
“Harriet Who?” is the third release from Leeds based psychedelic rock outfit The Harriets, a group which wields a distinctive sound consisting of jangly Byrds-esque guitars and busy pummelling drums with drastic shifts in song structure and experimental arrangements all held in place with a strong indie pop influence. However whilst on paper “Harriet Who?” may appear to be a traditional single release backed with a B-side, the band have created a grouping of tracks which showcase their masses of ideas in a tightly contained and concise manner. This SP stands as one of the most uniquely challenging singles put together by an underground band in recent memory, the three tracks deliver an entertaining journey which manages to cover more musical ground than most bands’ albums.
Harriet Who? Tracklisting: 1. Intro 2. Harriet Who? 3. Television The Harriets are: Daniel Parker-Smith - Guitar & Vocals Ben Schrodel - Bass & Vocals
The introductory track is an interesting warm-up with lo-fi spoken word samples, acoustic guitar and piano which builds up a sense of ambience and intrigue. And while it may set up the next track, “Harriet Who?”, it does not spoil the surprise of its thick jangly Rickenbacker-esque rhythm guitars, its rapid drums and eccentric structure. The song is best described as a two part medley with the bouncy and erratic first section giving way to a toned down change of pace in its second half which features a funky beat and a change in tempo, resulting in a track that does away with traditional pop song structure and demands you leave your expectations at the door. The final track “Television” provides something of an antidote with a slightly more straightforward arrangement, which draws from early 80’s new wave with its thunderous beat still being painted in The Harriets’ distinctive vocals and guitar work which gives it their unique musical stamp and perfectly rounds off a very short but very enjoyable record.
You won’t find more fun in under ten minutes this year, that’s a promise.
Just before this new release, The Harriets kindly accepted our interview. You can read it here.
Hi guys! Great to have you today.
Dan and Ben: Hey, thanks for having us.
Thank you! How did you two meet up and become a band?
Dan: We met at a house party and got talking about music, and the discussion turned to songwriting. We’d both been independently writing songs for years, but neither of us had found a band to perform them with. We sat down to see how it panned out, and it was as simple as liking each others’ songs, and finding that we played off each other well instrumentally.
Ben: We were frustrated songwriters, in search of a band! We thought two writers surely would be an advantage. Plus our voices blended nicely for two-part harmony, so we decided early on to make that a major element of the sound.
I agree with you, your harmonies are fantastic!
Were The Harriets always two of you as far as concerned as a creative team?
Dan: We’ve worked with some drummers who’ve contributed great ideas arrangement-wise. But it’s always just been the two of us coming up with material. After having spent most of 2016 as a three-piece ‘band’ in the strictest sense of the word, we decided it would work better as a creative model to just be a two officially and have a drummer for touring. We’re really lucky to have gotten an awesome drummer on board who is happy just to practice and tour with us, and not be a member of the ‘band’ proper.
Ben: So basically, we would say so. It depends on who you ask.
How did you decide on The Harriets as your band name?
Ben: This has always been a bit of an uncomfortable question. It feels like there should be some great anecdote but none exists.
Dan: We wanted something simple, name-based and not too wordy – like The Smiths.
Ben: We also had the song ‘Harriet Who?’ in the vaults and it was a play on that. It became a bit of an in-joke that there’s quite obviously not anyone in the band called Harriet, but we would open our sets with a song that asks ‘Harriet Who?’ It seemed a bit daft at first – we’d be having conversations about the Harriets playing ‘Harriet Who?’ and ‘Harry’ in Harrogate – but it worked quite well as a nod to the audience wondering who Harriet was.
Haha, I think it’s a nice friendly simple band name!
Who are your influences? Do you both listen to similar music?
Both: There’s a lot of overlap.
Dan: Bowie, Big Star, The Cars, Macca, Beach Boys, and a lot more.
Ben: We started out sceptical about some stuff and have won each other round. I’ve spent a year on the Steely Dan offensive. He loves Steely Dan now.
Interesting! You have been listening to a lot of the all time great artists!
Dan: From a recording perspective, it’s good having slightly different influences. When we record, we make playlists of tracks we can use as reference points to guide the production. There’s always stuff on those playlists we’ve both heard of, but also plenty of music that’s new to one of us.
Ben: We ended up with some random Chet Atkins country guitar piece on the last one. That’s not the kind of music we’d ever chat about, but it ended up steering us creatively. So that was a nice moment.
By the way, I heard that Dan was in the Uni’s folk society. Was it the kind of music you wanted to create and perform at the time?
Dan: How did you find that out?!
Haha, I know a bit about Leeds!
Ben: The folkies, they talk!
Dan: We’ve both written ‘folky’ songs, though we didn’t think of it like that.
Ben: We’ve been compared to Simon and Garfunkel though, and Belle and Sebastian. Sometimes these things come from other people even though you never would have said them yourself.
Dan: We still like to do an acoustic gig, just the two of us. Sometimes it’s nicer. Less gear to lug around.
Ben: The harmonies are better. You really listen to each other more. Stripped down, the song has to stand on its own – there’s no noise to hide behind.
How do you go about writing your songs?
Ben: Independently for the most part. But, we’ve found, the ‘character’ of the song comes when one brings it to the other.
Dan: When you write alone, sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees. You need some advice. Sometimes that’s a verbal suggestion, sometimes a musical part. So we provide that role for each others’ songs.
That’s a nice expression.
Ben: I’m always writing stuff and saying ‘I’m really happy with these chords, and this is a nice melody, but it’s a dirge – how will we ever do it live?’ And then Dan sort of sits down at the drum stool and plays at twice the speed and forces me to admit that it doesn’t ruin it, and then it’s a song for the band. ‘Rules for Travelling’ was one of those. ‘Jessie’s Song’ was similar. With Dan it can be lyrics – ‘Television,’ he had nearly all the music down, but no words for a long time. We sat down and kicked some lines around and something I suggested became the first line, and then that was the prompt, and got the rest of it flowing.
Dan: ‘Harry’ was very fast – I sat down and played it on the acoustic, Ben played the bassline and sang a harmony part, and it was done in half an hour. Those are the best ones, when it just clicks.
Okay. Thanks for sharing.
You are just about to release your new single “Harriet Who?”. It’s a package of the intro and the two songs. How did you come up with this idea?
Dan: We’d recorded a number of things at home but we wanted to test ourselves with this one. A more continuous piece of music.
Ben: ‘Harriet Who’ and ‘Television’ fit a theme lyrically. The intro was an attempt to tie them together musically.
I see. How would you describe each song?
Ben: “‘Harriet Who?’ is an eccentric medley in the vein of late-60s pop, incorporating psych and country, while ‘Television’ is a dynamic and angular rocker that draws on post-punk and new wave.” That’s from the press release so please read in your best official music-critic voice.
Thank you. I believe “Harriet Who?” will be released digitally. And are you planning a physical release too?
Dan: No. We’ve done physical releases before. you can still buy our self-titled EP, and ‘The Hangers On’ single, from Jumbo Records in Leeds, or order them online! But we wanted to try and do it differently this time. We are self-produced and self-managed, so with everything else going on, we wanted to save some time and resource.
I hear that you have a headline show soon! Can you tell us about it?
Dan: We’re playing Belgrave Music Hall on the 3rd March. Awesome venue! Very excited to be on stage there. If you buy a ticket, you get a free download of our single. Follow the link to order! – Click here: http://fatso.ma/oRsR
Great! What should we gig goers expect from your live shows?
Dan: High energy, good fun, catchy choruses. Guaranteed you’ll come away with at least one tune in your head.
Ben: Lots of on-stage camaraderie. We really enjoy playing together and people tell us its infectious to watch.
That sounds like fun! Do you already have a plan for more gigs?
Ben: We’ll do them as they come. We’ve had plenty of offers, but it’s good not to spread yourself too thin.
Is there anything else you would like to say?
Dan: Like and follow us on social media. Right now we’re working hard on releasing a lot more content about how we write and record and what we’re up to. Expect more videos, demos, covers and collaborations. So keep an eye out for exciting things in the pipeline!
Thank you for your time! Good luck!
Both: Thanks to you too!
28.2.18 The New Adelphi Club, Hull Event page – click here
03.3.18 Belgrave, Leeds Event page – click here
06.4.18 Northern Guitars, Leeds Events page – click here
To find out more about The Harriets, visit their sites using the links below:
Official Website: https://www.theharrietsband.com/
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