interview with A.J. Harrison, Musician/Author

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Have any of you played in other bands? Yes. The New Sunrise 

How is it that you started playing music? I liked Simon and Garfunkel but never knew Paul Simon wrote the songs they sang. When I found out he did, I said, "If he can do that, then so can I! And I did! 

What are your names? / Who plays what? / How old are you? I'm a solo artist. A.J. Harrison, 61 years old. 

Have you had other previous members? Yes. John Matarazzo, Steve and Harry Casey, Bruce DeBlock, and The Kimble Family (Group), Andy Christel, Donna Johnson, David Harvey. All decades ago. 

Did you make music even when you were young? Yes. I sang in school and camp and really enjoyed it. At 12, I wrote my first song, "You Can Turn to Me", and recorded it a 13, with The New Sunrise. I became a recording artist then, and that song is still popular today, 48 years later! 

Where are you from? Originally, New Jersey. I now live in Alabama. 

What's your style of genre? Rock. Not soft, not hard, but sort of middle rock. 

What inspires you? Many things. Love, nature, problems in our world, people who are hurting, teen suicide. I like to write and sing about things that matter.

How often and where do you reherse? All the time,and in my home. 

How have you developed since you started with the music? I would like to thank my music composition has improved and my singing and guitar playing. 

Do you have other interests of work outside the band? I am a book author and am in the middle of writing a new book now, called "Shattered Hopes". I also write short motion pictures for television. 

Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? No. After so many years in the entertainment industry, I manage myself through my company, Harrison Enterprises. 

Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that?I have my own label, Harrison Enterprises Records. 

What made you decide to make this music?Again, Simon and Garfunkel. 

What are your songs about?See what inspires you. 

Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? Me. I won't allow ANYONE to do that with my songs. I feel that only the songwriter can know exactly why the song was born... Where it came from... So I, alone, write my words, music and full arrangements. 

Do you start with the music or the lyrics? 99.9% of the time, I write the words first. Many other musicians have told me I do it backwards! But it's worked for 48 years, so why tamper with it?

Do you compose in a certain inviroment? Oh yes!!! I need to be alone! I need to concentrate on my thoughts and nothing else. Distraction will ruin a good song composition. 

Have you done any covers live? Yes. A few Simon and Garfunkel songs, John Denver, Joe South and The Lion Sleeps Tonight, because I can hit those notes. 90+% of the time, I only do my original songs. 

What language do you sing in?Only English. 

What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs? 50 in a school and a few thousand in a concert venue. 

What ages are most of your concert attendants? That varies so much, I could only GUESS 20-45 or so. 

Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? I have about 20 songs that have remained very popular though the years that I try to keep in the list, but I'll always throw in newer songs, as well. 

Do you have a regular place you play live often? Not anymore. But I like college venues, because they're just the right size for me now. 

What was your first gig like? HA! I was shaking like a leaf, because it was my first time on stage and it was a 2000+ person audience. After the applause for the first song, I knew it went over OK, so I immediately calmed down. After a standing ovation and the yells for an encore, I became a big ham! But NEVER smug or self-centered! You just don't do that! After all these years, I still get butterflies walking onto a stage, and I think that's good. 

Have you had to cancel a gig?No. Thank goodness! 

Where have you played live this year?I haven't. I'm working on a new book and concentrating on that. I am, however, trying to put together a very different sound group of musicians for a new album and some local performances. What I'm trying to do is top secret right now. Lol. 

Where do you plan to gig the coming year? I'm not sure if I will. The book won't be done until the end of 2017.

When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale?I would sell CD's, T-Shirts, autographed pictures.

Where can people buy your merchandise? at my website, www.ajharrisonmusic.com 

What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days? I'm not that happy about it, honestly. It's VERY difficult to make a living as a musician today, unless you perform live in addition to recording. Things have changed. We all have to accept those changes. 

What do you think of my work? As an interviewer? I think you're great. 

How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business?All interviews of this nature are good. It lets lets your fans know what's new. Haven't given one in quite a while! 

Do you have any role models or idols? Role models would include, Bill Mumy, Art Garfunkel, and Dave Zane. 

Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today?Older bands. I write the type of music the older bands do. Our styles are the same. 

What have been your biggest obstacles?Overcoming the Internet. It's hurting me making a living. I'm 61 now. I'd much prefer making a living producing new records, as opposed to performing big venues to make enough to live off of. When I first release a new new album, I'll make some money from it. Then it becomes available for free on the Internet, and that's that! 

What advice would you give other bands or artists? Keep at it. Today, you don't usually break into the business with little effort, like in the 60s and early-mid 70s. Independent is the way to go today, I think. If you can get signed by a MAJOR label, awesome! But that's not easy to do anymore. 

How do you get psyched for a gig? Just the thought of doing a show where people actually pay to come see you, is enough to psych me! It's a public signal, so to speak, that people still love your music. 

Do you have any new material? Yes. But when it becomes public is not decided yet. I need to finish my book first. 

What are your web sites?www.ajharrisonmusic.com and my Facebook Fan-Page is www.facebook.com/ajharrison.music.books

How can people reach you?fan-mail@ajharrisonmusic.com 

What are your plans for the future? To continue writing books, but mostly to write and compose new music and release more CD's. 

Do you have something to add? I'm just so grateful that my recording career has lasted for such an amazingly long time, in a business that lets so many go so quickly. My fans mean so much to me, that there are simply no words to describe that. I hope my next album will be my best. 

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