Monday, October 10, 2011

Harpoon Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?
We are a three-piece (guitar, bass, & vocals) with a drum machine.

2. How would you describe the musical sound of the new album?
That is in the ear of the beholder, I guess.  We did try to not make another typical grind record, which is how most people tended to describe our first release.  We tried to bring in some melodies this time around, as well as some drone aspects.  Check it out and tell us how you would describe it.  Everyone comes from their own set of experiences, so what might sound one way to one person, could be totally different for another.   

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores?
Being a part of 7000 Dying Rats for about a decade and a half made me grow very accustomed to writing some really silly lyrics, when there were lyrics at all (the first two records have almost no lyrics whatsoever…just guttural noise).  With Harpoon, I suppose I wanted to try some new things, but I didn’t want to lose that humorous component.  I still think some of the lyrics are funny, but perhaps they are not so “wink wink” funny now.  Maybe they are actually only funny to me.  Dunno.  A lot of the time I choose words for sound rather than meaning.  As far as the subject matter on the new record, much of it has to do with the lies we tell ourselves to get through the day. Sometimes it can be difficult to truly be honest with oneself. 

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the band’s name?
Originally Harpoon was a two-piece band I had with a friend of mine, Dave Melkonian.  I played bass, and he played drums.  No lyrics or vocals.  It was kind of like a cross between Godheadsilo and Ruins.  We only wrote a couple of songs, but when that ended I still wanted to use the name.  Dean was cool with it.  I just think it is a funny word. 

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?
You would have to ask someone that has seen us.  I think it is really hard to be objective about something like that. I know that I am tired when we are done so apparently I am doing quite a bit of moving around and yelling.  As for Dean and DJ, I can usually hear their instruments OK, unless the sound guy sucks ass.  Other than that I am clueless.

6. Do you have any touring plans for the new release?
For sure.  We are planning to hit the West Coast (and all points in between) this summer.  We’ve done the east coast a few times now, so we kind of feel compelled to go west.   

7. Currently you are singed to Seventh Rule Recordings, how did you get in contact with this label and how would you describe the support that they have given you so far?
I’ve known Scott (owner of Seventh Rule) for a while.  We both lived in Chicago for a number of years and would always run  in to each other at a lot of shows.  He’s a great guy; very supportive.  This record is definitely a departure from our first record (Double Gnarly/Triple Suicide), but he is someone who puts little stock into prevailing trends and what most Metal magazines think are cool at the moment.  He likes to take chances and that’s why we wanted to work with him.    
8. On a worldwide level, how has your music been received by underground music fans?
It’s hard to tell.  There are a heck of a lot of people out there who can’t get past the drum machine thing.  It doesn’t sound metal enough to them…whatever the hell that means.  Personally, I could give a crap.  We chose to use a drum machine for a reason.  We like the way it sounds.  I think there has been an incredible amount of quality heavy music made without an actual drummer: Big Black, Godflesh, the first Jesus Lizard record.  Look at Kraftwerk.  They made a shitload of really interesting music without some guy pounding on drums.  I suppose there will always be orthodox metal fans unwilling to listen to anything remotely different than what they are totally comfortable with and that’s fine, I guess.  I suppose those are not the kind of people we are writing records for anyway.
On the other hand there have been quite few people who have responded very positively.  We have received messages from quite a few places hither and thither which is really quite amazing considering the limited amount of touring we have done.

9. Are there any side projects besides this band or is this a full-time lineup?
Dean does an ambient solo thing called Wastelanders.  DJ was doing a rock thing called Needle Age with some of the guys from Sweet Cobra and Pelican, but that is in kind of a semi-permanent holding pattern.  I play in a band called Eunuchs with a bunch of the guys from Hewhocorrupts. 

10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?
I suppose we want to continue to explore new ideas.  We made a very conscious decision this time to not make another standard grind record.  In fact, I think one would be hard-pressed to find many “grind” parts on the new record at all.  I feel like a lot metal bands get really focused on sounding like one specific genre and then they are totally trapped.  They become unable to make interesting choices for fear of alienating their “fans.”  Most of the stuff I hear nowadays sounds like the same record being made over and over.  I love a lot of metal, but I still really respect the whole “fuck what everyone else thinks is cool” attitude.  “To thine own self be true” and all that.     

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?
How does the saying go?  There are only two kinds of music…good and bad.  I like a wide variety of stuff.  I grew up a serious metal head.  Love all the classic stuff: Iron Maiden, Dio, Motorhead.  Then I discovered hardcore.  I must have owned about five different copies of the Cro Mags - Age of Quarrel because I played it so much.  Then I really fell in love with all the Amphetamine Reptile bands in the 90s like Hammerhead, Cows, & the God Bullies. About the same time, King Coffey from the Butthole Surfers had a really great label called Trance Syndicate that put out some really awesome bands like Cherubs & Bedhead.  I love pretty much everything that Nick Cave has done.  For the past 6 months or so, I’ve been listening to a lot of early 90s shoegaze stuff: Cocteau Twins, Lush, My Bloody Valentine.  Andy Nelson (who engineered our record) turned me on to Scott Walker who I think is pretty interesting.  The last Walker Brothers record is cool (at least the stuff that Scott Walker wrote).  I really like the new Atlas Moth.  I think Stavros wrote some great vocal melodies for it.  Rob Crow rules.  I could go on and on.

12. Outside of music, what are some of your interests?
I like reading, mostly history.  I am an insane Detroit Tigers fan (I grew up in Detroit).  I'm also a big time Scrabble nut.  I am basically a nerd. 

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?
Naw.  Just, thanks for listening.

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