Interview: Morning Harvey
Photo by Robbie Atkin-Robertson
Morning Harvey dominated the Brightside Car Park stage with a charisma and energy that rivalled anything else produced on the night. Joined on stage by the vocalists behind the dazzling Nice Biscuit and the musical stylings of Aimon Clark of The Creases, Morning Harvey sounded and looked great. Spencer had the crowd rapped around his finger performing as a veteran of the Brisbane scene. Their new track Holy Gun was received well by the audience with many chanting the lyrics back to the lead man. This was the Brisbane leg of their East Coast tour for 'Holy Gun' and they certainly didn't disappoint, our mate Fin Wegener caught up with the guys before their show to give us a little insight into what’s been going on. Take a look:
Spencer and Jackson, you have both spoken about how supportive your family was of your music growing up. In a country that often undervalues the arts that must have been a godsend. Steve, did you have the same support? And did you ever feel the need to invent a backup plan for yourselves?
STEVE: I was the only musically inclined one in my family growing up, so I was inevitably going down a path that meant I’d have little technical support, but I was encouraged to go for it. Fortunately I’ve had a great network of friends and musicians in Brisbane, and we’ve fostered our abilities together. I largely self-taught myself (bless you, internet) guitar, piano, and production/engineering, which I found to be deeply interesting and kind of became my backup plan.
Brisbane is comparatively a pretty small city and hosts a proportionately small music scene. Obviously this has pros and cons, but now that you've toured extensively within Australia and been recognised by music establishments overseas, how you have found Brisbane compares to the benefits of larger communities abroad and in Australia?
SPEN: I don’t know if I’d be able to compare Brisbane to any other place, just for the reason that I haven’t based myself anywhere else with music. Maybe a couple years ago people would tell you to try eventually basing yourself in Sydney or Melbourne to have a better chance at an industry push or whatever (not that I ever agreed with it) But now, I think it’s just as easy to be based from wherever and have the same chance, that is until you feel too comfortable, and then its’ probably time for a change.
In saying that I do feel it’s totally worthwhile and probably necessary to be in a city, which encourages live music and provide an opportunity for it most nights of the week
You've got a new single out titled Holy Gun, the third single from your upcoming album.
The singles from the new record so far have seemed like a bit of an alt-rock departure, particularly Holy Gun's growling guitar, syncopated vocals and dramatic tempo and rhythm changes. Overall, it sounds like an awesomely obscure venture in songwriting. Is there anything in particular that is leading you away from the more 'pop' sound you originated with?
SPEN: I don’t want to ever venture far from pop, pop is very important to me, id say it is to everyone whether they know it or not (pretty loose term).
A fair portion of our album I wrote over three years ago, whether it was just an idea or even a solid verse or chorus.
If I’m thinking back to what I was doing differently a couple of years ago, it was probably just holding myself back from a lot of things. I’m constantly learning with everything I pick up, hearing or make. I don’t want to stop learning, as cheesy as it sounds..
Spencer, you've spoken about trying to remove a 'filter' that pushes you to write for 'the crowd' rather than yourself. Holy Gun certainly sounds more like musicians music than pop for the punters, so do you feel that you've broken through that filter?
SPEN: Maybe. I think that whole “Filter” thing is me trying to understand any insecurity or anxiousness I have when I’m writing. I’m sure everyone has that kind of shit.
Steve, you guys record in a studio at your house. How does recording in your own space compare to working in a professional studio environment?
STEVE: The biggest difference for me is the absence of time-pressure that comes with being on the clock in someone else’s studio. The ability to indulge any avenues that take your fancy means there’s more room for experimentation and refinement. Then there’s the convenience of having all the essentials set-up and ready to go, and the virtue of becoming familiar with your own space acoustically. Most music made by up-and-coming producers and musicians is coming out of bedrooms and home studios; made possibly by modern technology, and a big shift away from conventional big-studio big-money production. Anyone can do it now.
Do any of you ever feel overworked having to act as engineers, producers and musicians?
SPEN: It definitely hasn’t got to that point and I hope it doesn’t. I’m not sure if you could call it work or a job. It’s more an extreme passion that seems feasible.
STEVE: I’m generally working on a couple of projects at a time, so sometimes I do come to feel overworked, especially if there’s a deadline looming. But I love it, so I just get sucked into that kind of manic, perfectionist madness and run with it.
Do you feel that excluding yourselves from the professional recording industry has played a part in the direction you're taking with Holy Gun?
SPEN: As in recording/producing ourselves? I think it’s normal to be curious and try to learn as much as you can. From our perspective recording and producing our music has come from pure convenience and probably financial restrictions.
By doing it yourself, I suppose it increases curiosity when building melodies or songs. Also, a little less pressure perhaps?
Although, we’re up for trying anything, working with a producer, in a big studio or to a tighter deadline will definitely be something to try and maybe it’ll bring out something more interesting.
Do you guys have any ideas of where you'd like your songwriting to go with the next record?
SPEN: Whatever comes naturally I guess, let’s see the first one out though.
Photography by Max Orchard-Fox