An Interview with Jim Bob and Simon from H A R K at Damnation Festival

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HARK Band Photo

H A R K had a chat with our Lisa Fox at Damnation Festival. They told us about the band, what they have been up to,  the second album, their future plans plus more!

This is Lisa Fox from Rock Sins, I’m here with H A R K do you guys mind introducing yourselves.

JI:        Hi yes I’m Jim Bob from H A R K I play guitar and I sing.

SB:      Hi I’m Simon and I play drums in H A R K.

Cool, so how’s things?

JI:        Good thank you. Very nice to be here.

Good. So first of all, the name H A R K has got spaces between the letters, why?

JI:        That’s just simply to mimic our logo design. The logo design featuring some kerning, I don’t know if that many people know what kerning is but its just space between letters. So it’s just a case of typographical design. We don’t stick to it needing to be written that way but it’s up to whoever wants to write it.

So you probably get some fun things on posters and things then?

JI:        Yes. Yes. There’s been the occasional dot between each space but do people not know about kerning? Maybe they don’t but we’re here to educate people in typographic stuff.

You’re a very creative band and all your artwork, you do the artwork don’t yourself, and it’s absolutely wonderful.

JI:        Thank you.

What inspires your artwork is it the music or is it the other way round?

JI:        I mean, thematically it might be the music, in terms of visual style I’m a huge fan of art nouveau, especially Alphonse Mucha, who I’ve loved since the mid?90s when I was in college. So you know Mucha, comic books, geometry, I did a lot of CDT drawing in school so it’s all that combined influence for me.

And what do the rest of the band think about Jim Bob’s creativity, do you just let him get on with it or are you guys all involved?

SB:      It’s cool because Jim, although he is the creator of the artwork he keeps us involved right from the very early stages of it, so it’s nice to see it evolve in to what it finally becomes.

JI:        And I take feedback from the guys. I don’t just disappear and go right this is what I have and you know.

You don’t lock yourself in a room?

JI:        Well I do but I have the gift of email to bounce things back and forth with the guys.

So you guys released your debut album earlier on in the year. What can you tell us about it?

SB:      It’s called Crystalline. It’s seven or eight tracks. Is it eight or nine, I’m not sure.

 You can’t remember how many tracks it is, that’s a bad sign.

SB:      Yes we wrote it over a long time, we formed in 2010 I think, we spent a few years just jamming and getting to know each other. We went to Monnow Valley Studios in South Wales, Monmouth, to record it.

JI:        Yes we went to Monnow Valley because Cozy Powell from Black Sabbath said it was the best drum sound in the world so we thought well we need that, so we went there. Kurt Ballou from Converge mixed it for us in Boston. Neil Fallon from Clutch sang on the last track. He did that remotely from his home studio. That was really cool.

How did those names end up getting involved?

JI:        Kurt simply because I’d been in touch with him, my old band Taint opened for Converge on their first UK tour which was probably in 99 or something. I’ve been a fan of his band and his work ever since and we turned out to be one of the bands that he didn’t turn down, which is good, because Kurt’s really selective of who works with. As for Neil, I’ve known him and Clutch for a long time, again through my old band, Taint. Clutch took us out on H A R K’s first tour, when we just had the seven inch released. And Neil remarked on that song, he heard that song every night and he commented on that end section where he sings on and when we were recording it just kind of popped in my head, I thought, I need to have a word with Neil see if he’s up for it and he was.

That’s got to feel awesome.

JI:        Bit of a life achievement ticked off situation.

Yes definitely. Not many people can say that because he doesn’t do a massive amount of guest work.

JI:        Yes. Yes. Exactly. Exactly. Yes.

So do you find that fans of Taint have come across to H A R K ?

JI:        Yes. I’ve definitely I’ve noticed a lot have. I’m sure we don’t do it for everybody but that’s fine. You know, life goes on. I’ve definitely seen and I’ve had feedback from a lot of Taint fans happy to see the progression.

So what can we expect from the show today?

JI:        Sweat. Hair.

Hair, hair is good.

JI:        Not from our bass player but from us two. Yes lots of sweat and yes we’re just going to smash it out.

Fantastic, what have you guys got going on next year?

SB:      We’ve got a few shows in February, we’ve started writing as well. Quite a few riffs and skeletons of songs, hoping to record maybe through summer next year.

JI:        I hope so yes. Hopefully we can get it right and make it happen quickly and get in a studio in the summertime.

I interviewed a band the other day and we were talking about the album cycle, they released an album around the same sort of time as you guys and they were like, “No we’ve only just released it, we’re not starting on the next one yet”, it’s interesting how that varies per band because they were absolutely appalled with the idea of writing, but for me I think it should be an organic process to keep going. What would you say about that.

JI:        Yes I mean, I wrote a tonne of riffs about three months ago. I have a new guitar and also we got robbed in Paris in June the night before Hellfest so my phone went and with that like a lot of riff ideas. So when I received my new guitar that weekend, I got back and without planning it just sat down and started recording. I’ve probably catalogued about 40 riffs since June. Plus we’ve got pretty much one song almost done, so I think you do it because you do it anyway. In that organic sense.

Well I like to think of music as being creative rather than a business, and you obviously feel the same because of all your artwork and things that you do.

JI:        Yes. Yes. Yes.

So how was Hellfest for you guys?

JI:        Oh great. Yes we loved it, we played with Phil Anselmo in Paris the night before. He and us got robbed, by some local crims. We had a great time with Phil and his crew where we did a night drive, no sleep, loading in at 09.30am, played at 10.30am and we blown away by the full tent you know cover songs and it was full and the response was great. It was a perfect tonic, with no sleep and the robbery.

SB:      Yes.

JI:        So yes it was amazing. We were so flattered that that many people made it out for us that early and then somebody tweeted us saying that we had one of the best, probably the best turnout at that stage, that day, that’s what that guy’s opinion was, so if that’s true then that’s amazing. Yes. Yes. We loved it.

So you’ve got some more shows coming up, anything you want to tell us what’s going on next year, anything exciting?

JI:        Yes just, I guess Greece and Bulgaria will be exciting. We’re really excited, and I haven’t played in Greece for a long time since Taint did, so that will be great to get back there for five shows, a new experience for us. And then we’ll just keep writing, maybe work on a couple of more tours for April onwards and yes, just keep active.

Keep going.

JI:        Yes. Yes.

SB:      Yes.

So I always ask bands when I interview them, because the site is called Rock Sins, what is your biggest rock sin? This can be anything at all.

JI:        Rock sin. Stage diving on my first gig and hitting the floor and that was in Centrix in Swansea in 1992. I think the thing was getting up and doing it again and hitting the floor again.

So you didn’t learn from the first time?

JI:        No. I’ve got to choose my spot wisely.

SB:      I’ve got a better one than that. I was watching my friend’s band having a good old mosh, slipped, landed head first on the dance floor, knocked myself unconscious and the next thing I know I’m outside with legs like jelly.

So you are the band that injures themselves.

SB:      Yes.

JI:        Yes. Yes.

SB:      At other people’s gigs, yes.

But not at your own?

SB:      No.

You’ve learnt from that then, not to stage dive at your shows?

JI:        Yes. Yes. Yes.

That’s got to make you aware of the crowd though and what the crowd doing, because surely it’s got to make you a bit worried about what people are doing to themselves when you’re playing.

JI:        Yes.

SB:      Yes.

JI:        You kind of make the choice and then you know, you get whatever you deserve.

If you go splat then you go splat.

JI:        Yes. Yes.

Keep going with music and try not to injure yourselves.

JI:        Yes exactly.

Excellent, thank you very much indeed.

JI:        Thank you.

Interviewed by: Lisa Fox

You can follow H A R K on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Harkband. H A R K are currently on tour across the UK and Europe with Prong. Full details of dates can be found on their Facebook page.

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