Saturday 29 June 2013

Interview with Harvester

The Blind Summit Recordings cover art

Now on Sludgelord I am interviewing Irish Sludge/Stoner Rockers - Harvester

I featured these guys back in 2012 when I reviewed their awesome début record – The Blind Summit Recordings.

I originally said the following: This is some of the finest hard-rocking 30 minutes your ever going to encounter in 2012. It will leave you with a big smile on your face. And it's an album you will be coming back for more.

All in all an outstanding release from another excellent band to check out.

Phil Lynott would be proud of these guys. Fucking Awesome.

Well 8 months later the awesome record label Freak Flag Recordings has just released The Blind Summit Recordings on Vinyl. Plus they have just supported a little known band by the name of Mastodon on their recent Irish Tour.

So I had to catch up with these guys to see how they are doing.

Q1 – Hi guys. How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this.

Good man, cheers for asking us. We just finished recent gigs around Ireland with Caudal from Berlin and we had the Mastodon gigs in Dublin before that so it has been a pretty busy few days.

Q2 – Can you give people a brief history on how the band came about.

Myself and Ken (drummer) had played in another band round 8 or 9 years ago and had always talked about doing something again. When he moved to Galway to start a new job we started jamming with each other and throwing ideas together. We jammed for around six months with 2 other guys who both ended up leaving, one to join a big indie band and the other to travel India. So soon after that Steve joined on bass and Higgins came in shortly after on guitar and fit in great. Higgins came in with the riffs to Cosmonautical Mile so it was a good start.

It was good to have someone else who could write which took a bit of pressure of myself. We all have a mutual love of Sabbath, Rory Gallagher, Neurosis and a few others so it's good to have reference points when you're writing or explaining ideas to, or sometimes at each other haha.

Q3 – You released your début album – The Blind Summit Recordings – last year. It received some great praise from the Sludge/Stoner Metal community Were you happy with the responses you received.

Yeah it was great, totally unexpected. We were really surprised by the response from the blogs and the reviews we were getting. Cheers for your own review, we really appreciated it. The reviews were mostly positive which was a great way for people to check out the band and we got a good few downloads on bandcamp. It's always good to hear people say nice things about the band. We still have a lot to improve on in the band so we are not walking around thinking we are fucking great because a site said so. We definitely appreciate the kind words but I know not to read too much into it. We still have a long way to go to better the the last release with the next songs we write.

Q4 – Was it an easy album to write and record for. And if so would you change anything about the album since it now has been released.

Mostly it came together quickly. Myself and Ken butt heads about song ideas sometimes but that's normal in any band. We know how to tell each other something isn't working without any big drama. The hardest thing about writing was just balancing everyone's schedules. At the time of the recording 3 of us were working long hours in our jobs so caffeine was the saviour of the writing at times.

The run up to the recording definitely bottle necked and 2 songs came together pretty quickly, Old Blood and All Roads were the last to be written before recording and were still being worked on the week before the recording.

There's not a whole lot of things I would change about the recording. I would have liked to have recorded more songs and maybe layered one or 2 more guitar tracks. We had an acoustic thing that we were working on that didn't get recorded that will prob be on a future release. I try to avoid listening to a recording once it's mixed and mastered cos I don't want start thinking about things we could have added. I try to just let it go and hope people are into it.

Q5 – Your all involved with different bands such as Rites, Them Martyrs and Gummidge. Is Harvester classed as your main band or just another great band your apart of.

We try not to class bands as the main one as it's a bit weird for the other bands. I don't play in Them Martyrs anymore as I currently live in Edinburgh and they wanted stay as active as possible. They'll probably be touring later in the year. Rites have recently called it a day but that was never seen as problem as they were never any clashes with gigs or practices that I can think of. We just mainly try not to put any band over another. It's my main band as I am not in any other bands currently.

Q6 – Is it hard to find the time to get all the band members together as no doubt your busy with other projects.

Yeah it's more difficult as I have recently moved to Edinburgh to do a masters in composition for film but we are doing our best to work around it. I send them riff ideas and videos to work on and they send me stuff. We wrote a new song in one practice for the most recent gigs that I had sent them. It might work out better as there is less fucking around because of the short amount of time we have to write together. It's only really around 5 hours traveling so it's something I'll be getting used over the next while.

Ken also has a pretty hectic job as a forest manager but you just get the fuck on with it.

Q7 – Is there a scene for you to perform regularly in your home town or do you have to perform further afield.

Yeah there's a pretty good scene in Galway with regular gigs every week from a combination of local and touring bands. We all have been playing in diy/crust/hardcore bands for around 15 years so we know everyone from gigging round Ireland playin anywhere and everywhere.

Q8 – What is the gig scene like in your home-town and Ireland in general.

The gig scene in Galway is pretty good. It's mostly based around hardcore punk bands just doing it for fun. There are 1 or 2 bands that have toured properly like Bachuss and Only Fumes and Corpses but mainly the bands just enjoy gigging locally which is a shame as there are some great bands. There have been less younger bands coming in lately which is a shame. There are fewer new kids playing these days but that will hopefully change in the future.

Many of the people that were playing in bands 10 years ago are still playing. The only difference is that they are the ones running the gigs now as there is a strong diy work ethic there. Gigs have recently been happening in alternative venues to pubs and clubs in practice spaces. The scene in Ireland is pretty healthy, mostly punk or hardcore based. It's a pretty tight knit scene, everyone knows everyone. There's always bands coming over from the US or Europe so there's always something happening.

Q9 – Your début album has just been released on Vinyl via Freak Flag Recordings. How did that come about. (Yes I have bought my copy already. 9 of 250).

Cheers, thanks for buying it. That came about by Gary from Freak Flag downloading it from bandcamp and emailing us. Initially it was going to be a run of tapes but we bullied him into doing a vinyl release. At first we were a bit apprehensive about it as people contact us regularly offering things and nothing comes of it but he was really professional about it and he laid everything out in great detail so we were really happy that he contacted us. It's a cool, really well run label and the other bands on it are great.

Q10 – Lovely package it is too. Superbly designed with some cool packaging. Did you have a say with the design of the vinyl cover or was that all down to the label itself.

Thanks, yeah the design was put together by our bass player Steve. He did a great job and it was his first time at doing any of that kind of stuff. Gary from the label basically let us do whatever we wanted so we were happy to go ahead with the design we had previously for the download.

Q11 – What is your fave track off the album.

Probably Old Blood as it's the one of the most recent ones we wrote and I like the guitars on it. There's no fat on the song it's all just riffin. It's definitely a tap your head, rub your belly song for me to play and sing live.

Q12 – The UK and Irish Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene is currently on the rise with many brilliant bands currently out there. Which bands are you currently digging. Any you like to recommend to our readers.

I haven't really been keeping up with the scene as much as I would have liked so I'm probably not too hip on newer bands. Headless Kross from Glasgow are really good, great guys. Slomatics from Belfast are also cool. Conan, Rites, Trenches are ones that come to mind.

Q13 – Do you guys have full times jobs to contend with. Or is music classed as your full time job.

For myself music is my full time job. Right now I teach guitar and I will hopefully be making a living from scoring music for fillm/tv in the future after I finish in college. Ken works as a forest manager and is pretty busy with that. Steve is helping out in a tattoo shop in Galway and Higgins is training to be a guitar builder. We don't make much money doing this band, we just do it for the love of it.

Q14 – Are your family and friends supportive of your music and the decisions you make when performing with your respective bands.

Yeah, they're all really supportive. The level of interest from family members is different for everyone, I know Steve's dad is really into the band and was already a huge fan of Thin Lizzy and Rory Gallagher.

Q15 – Which bands and artists influence you on your music. And have you met any of your musical heroes.

For us as a band I would say probably, Sabbath, Neurosis, Thin Lizzy, Neil Young, mostly old stuff. I listen to loads of different stuff, Django Reinhart, Jesus Lizard, anythin as long as it's good. As a kid I loved Sepultura, Nirvana, Slayer, that kind of stuff. Chaos A.D was a huge album for me as kid. Refuse/Resist was one of the first riffs I learned. When we met Mastodon recently that was pretty cool. I tried not to bother them.

Q16 – What is the song-writing process in the band. Is it a group collective or is it down to one individual.

It's a collaborative thing. Mainly it's one guy bringing in a bunch of riffs with a vague structure and we try stuff out til we're happy with it. I wrote about 80% of the stuff on The Blind Summit Recordings. We mostly do riffs before getting together with Ken so we have most of the work done structure wise. It changes for every song, I try to be open to moving things around to get the best song.

Q17 – What are the most and least rewarding aspects of participating with the band. Obviously the reality of how expensive it is being in a band could be considered as a negative aspect

The most rewarding aspects for me is getting the van and having a great time playing gigs. I enjoy recording too. I can't really complain about negative aspects. We just finished a small tour with Caudal and played with Mastodon for 2 nights in Dublin. We didn't lose any money and have a small amount for future recordings/tours. Freak Flag also released our vinyl in the middle of all of that. I can't really complain. I hate to read about other musicians complaining, shut the fuck up and get on with it. The good out weighs the bad.

Q18 – You just recently supported Mastodon on their Irish Tour. How did that come about and how did the Mastodon fans treat you.

That was great. It was a real eye opener to see how a huge band operates. I messaged Mastodon about the gigs through facebook and didn't think anything of it. Bill Kelliher messaged us back asking for the recordings. At first we thought it was a joke that one of our friends were pulling on us. I emailed him the recording and he replied saying he requested his management for us to support them. The band and crew were all really helpful and easy going. We had few beers with Brent on the first night and Bill was really cool to us also. The Mastodon fans were grand. I didin't expect all of them to like us, we sold a good bit of merch so someone thought it was cool.

Q19 – If you could provide any advice to people wanting to start a band, what would it be.

It would probably be just be stubborn about playing and practicing. Also be prepared to be patient with people. At times it might seem like things are against you but you need to use your stubbornness to your advantage. This is starting to sound like hardcore lyrics haha.

Q20 – So what are your future plans for the next 12 months or so.

At the moment we'll be writing trading stuff back and forth on the internet and there will be another tour before the end of the year. We will be able to play much more when I finish up in college so hopefully we will get into the studio next year for another release followed by more touring and drinking.

Q21 – Finally do you have anything to say to our readers.

Thanks for checking out the band. You can keep up with gigs and future releases here.
Thanks to the guys for doing this interview. Check em out folks as these guys are something special indeed!!!