interview with Bucky Harris

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Are you looking for a booking agency, and what are your thoughts around that? Not really. Ryan does our booking and is able to handle the current volume of engagements that we’re able to take.
Are you looking for a label, and what are your thoughts around that? We released Three Wolves, and In Sheep’s Clothing with Ocelot Records in the United States. They have been tremendously helpful and we love working with them. We are currently looking for labels in a variety of markets for our next full length however, which we’re hoping to release in 2018.
What made you decide to make this music? Not sure we ever really had a choice.
What are your songs about? They cover a wide range of subjects, but the lyrics generally tend to explore personal experiences and struggles - anxiety, depression, addiction, and the individual’s place in the world. When politics do come into play, our songs tend to explore how the individual fits into these larger political issues.
Who does the composing and writes the lyrics? We write all our songs pretty collaboratively. Generally, Mike, David and/or Ryan conceive the main musical ideas for the song, and come up with the general structure. Then we all sit together and write all the various instrumentation. Mike writes all the lyrics and vocal melodies, and then we work out the harmony parts for the backups all together. Every member has a hand in almost every element of a Bucky Harris song, and I think that’s part of how we keep our songs diverse; everyone’s different influences come out in different elements of every song.
Do you start with the music or the lyrics?
We don’t really have a specific order for writing our songs, but I don’t think we’ve ever tried to write a song starting with a specific lyric. There are songs where we’ve started with a vocal melody, and sometimes the lyrics that we used at the beginning made it to the final cut, but I don’t think those songs were written for that particular lyric; it was the melody that we wanted to use, with the words being subject to reinterpretation as the ideas were developed.
We’ve also written songs based on a chord pattern we thought was cool, or even a rhythm that we thought would be interesting to explore. In short, because we all write the songs together, we all have different influences, and we all play different instruments every song starts a little bit different, but, since we all have a similar idea of what we want Bucky Harris to sound like, we get some cohesion by the end.
Do you compose in a certain environment? For the inception of our musical ideas, not really. Generally, we conceive song ideas in our respective apartments, and then present them to the band at our normal rehearsal space. That said, Mike has had ideas come to him while taking walks on the beach along the California coast or stuck in traffic back home, and Ryan has a habit of hastily recording ideas on his phone while he’s in the shower. After the ideas are conceived, most of the development of them happens in our normal rehearsal space.
Have you done any covers live? We do a lot of Against Me! covers. In 2015, we covered all of ‘As The Eternal Cowboy’ at Pouzza Fest, and a few weeks ago at Le Déluge in Jonquière, Qc we did an hour long Against Me! cover set. There’s a video of us on Youtube doing an acoustic cover of ‘Baby, I’m An Anarchist’ (link). Other than that, we do a cover of French artist, Indochine’s ‘L’Aventurier’, but we rarely pull that one out at live show.
What language do you sing in? Aside from the Indochine cover, we sing in English.
What are the least and most people to attend one of your gigs?
It’s easier to say what the least was, because you can literally count the number of people on one hand. We’re not gonna’ say where it was to avoid upsetting anyone, but we did one show on tour where there were no local bands, and the only people in the audience were the three people we met on the sidewalk outside the show, who pretty much just came in because they felt bad for us. There was also the bartender and the promoter, so… maybe 5 people? They got the most intimate performance we’ve ever done, and I think, in the end, everyone had fun that night.
The most is really hard to figure out. It’s almost certainly a festival that we performed at, but with multiple stages it’s hard to know how many people are actually watching us. For an outdoor stage it was probably Pouzza Fest in 2017 and for an indoor performance, I’d guess that it was Le Déluge.
What ages are most of your concert attendants? No idea. Probably in the ballpark of 25-35 years old, but it’s just a guess.
Do you always play the same songs live, or do you vary? We generally try to play our sets with as few breaks as possible so a lot of our set stays the same for about 6 months. It’s just not possible for us to write and rehearse enough transition material to keep the having the maximum number of songs for the time we have allotted on stage. Generally the set is about 50% the songs that we like the most, 25% the ones that are fun to play on stage and 25% the songs that our audiences typically ask for (that we’re not already playing).That said, if we’re playing the same area often enough or if there are special requests we will adjust the set on the fly.
Do you have a regular place you play live often?
We don’t really have a ‘home base’ type venue like a lot of bands do. We rarely get into the same venue multiple times in the same year, but it’s a lot of fun getting to play different spots all the time. You learn the ins and outs of different kinds of sound people/systems, learn to work with different stages (or lack of stages) and generally get a little bit of a different crowd every night, even if the shows are in the same area.
In Montreal, it would be a toss up between Turbo Haus, L’Escogriffe and Barfly. Barfly is probably the one we’ve played the most often recently, but Turbo Haus and L’Escogriffe are both favorites. Our two favourite spots on the road definitely have to be Fury’s in Dover, NH and Championships in Trenton, NJ. I think if we wanted to relocate the band to be able to play one of those spots every weekend those would be the top picks.
What was your first gig like? Honestly… it was a blast. We we’re launching our first demo, so we wanted to do something a little different and rented a random office space for a night. There was a little lounge area with some couches, and pool table. We had friends volunteer to tend bar and run sound for us. We had a really fun lineup and got a great turnout. It also had a really cool vibe, more like a party than anything. It was a lot of fun.
What was your latest gig?
Our most recent gig was Le Déluge in Jonquière, Qc. We played on the same stage between Pale Lips and WD-40 not long before Voodoo Glow Skulls. Needless to say, we were in great company and there was a fantastic crowd.
After that, we closed out the festival with a one hour Against Me! cover set at 2AM. Singalongs and debauchery might be the best way to describe it. It was our first time in that region of our home province of Quebec and we had a blast; we’ll definitely be going back soon.
Have you had to cancel a gig?
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. We really do our best to not though. For example, there was one show where a member was hospitalized about 6 hours before the show, so we spent that time figuring out a new set that could work without them. So when we do cancel, it’s because it’s absolutely impossible for us to do it.
We cancelled a few dates on tour a few years ago, because the transmission in our van died and left us stranded in Delaware. It sucked, and before that we had never cancelled on a show, but even the most resilient of bands will eventually hit some bad luck and have to cancel. We do everything we can to avoid it.
Where have you played live this year? So we’ve played a bunch around in our home Province of Québec as well as adjacent, Ontario. If I were to name a few cities that come to mind on that stretch it would be Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Jonquière. We’ve also been making an effort to tour in the United States as much as possible, so, just to name a few cities, Boston, New York, Trenton, Philadelphia, Chicago and Detroit. Really as far as we can drive in the time allotted is as far as we’re willing to go.
Where do you plan to gig the coming year? We currently have a work permit for the United States, so until that expires in mid-2018 our priority is to use it as much as possible. After that, we’re not really sure what comes next. Touring Canada is an interesting option for us. To date, we’ve only had the chance to play in two Provinces in our home country (drive times are long here), so that could be a lot of fun. All the bands we have had the chance to tour with in North America have also been trying to convince us that touring in Europe is the best, so we’re also considering that. There are a lot of options, so we’ll have to wait and see.
When did you start to sell merchandise, and what do you have for sale? The band started to sell merchandise as soon as it could. If memory serves, we had our first demos and home screen-printed shirts starting in 2011.Nowadays we have two T-shirt designs, two CDs, an EP download code, patches, pins and bottle openers on the table.
Where can people buy your merchandise? Most of the merchandise I mentioned in the previous question is available for purchase from our BandCamp. The Acoustic EP, the new T-shirt design, bottle openers and patches will be available when the acoustic EP launches on October 13th, 2017. You can also find our music on just about any digital retailer (iTunes, Google, Spotify, etc.).
What do you think about people downloading music instead of buying records now a days?
I think the trend to digital downloads have reduced audiences’ demand for CDs but have also increased the demand for vinyl records. And for bands, it’s kind of a mixed bag. On the one hand you no longer need to make as many CD copies, so it helps to keep costs down, but, at the same time, at least in Canada, the cost of producing vinyl is incredibly high, which is why, at least for now, we don’t have any.
We’re personally fans of vinyl, so if it’s pushing the industry back towards that, we’re happy about it.
How do you think the music industry have changed because of this? The industry is experiencing some major changes that I don’t really think I’m qualified to answer. The relationship between artists, labels and distributors is changing rapidly, and until all the dust has settled, we can’t really comment on how it will shape the future of music. Right now, it’s pretty great that independent artists and labels can access some of the largest distribution networks online without a huge budget.
What do you think of my work? It’s really awesome. There are so few people doing interviews with bands that aren’t already massive names, and I’m sure all the bands you have had the chance to work with appreciate it as much as we do.
How do you think and know that this interview will help you in the music business? Audience building is one of the hardest, and longest tasks that bands have to do. Every person this interview reaches is one new listener. Music is about reaching people, so the chance to reach new listeners is really important to us.
Do you have any role models or idols? As a band? That’s pretty tough to answer. But honestly, every band in the genre that’s come before us, establishing the network of promoters and DIY scenes that make what we do possible.
Why do you think that they exist? Because music matters, and it brings people together in unique ways. For people who want to make music,there’s no other choice.
Is it easier to find inspiration from older bands, or bands that are more active today? It’s about the same. In terms of time periods members of Bucky Harris take influence pretty much from across the board. That said, we’d give a slight advantage to bands that are still active; seeing a live show is a pretty irreplaceable experience.
What have been your biggest obstacles? The biggest obstacle we’ve ever faced was when our van’s transmission died on tour. It really sucked to have to cancel the dates we did, but on top of that we knew that it also meant that when we got home, we’d have to start shopping for a new tour vehicle; a financial constraint we were not really planning for.
What advice would you give other bands or artists? We’d probably tell them to stay organized. Just about every band we’ve had the chance to play with who has been successful has at least one member who is really organized. It’s not glamourous, but that’s what it takes to keep the music playing.
How do you get psyched for a gig? Honestly, it happens naturally. Just being on stage, seeing the crowd and then the ‘1-2-3-4’ count-in is enough to get us excited.
Do you have any new material?
We have an acoustic EP that features re-imaginings of 5 songs from Three Wolves and a new song as well. That is set to launch on October 13th, and will be available at pretty much all the online distributors.
We’re also working on our next full length so we have some new songs, but haven’t debuted any of them as of yet. Expect that album some time in the second half of 2018.
Instagram: @buckyharrisband
How can people reach you? Generally, the best way to get in touch with us is to message Bucky Harris on Facebook, but you can also get in touch with us by email at bck.hrrs@gmail.com.
What are your plans for the future? We’re gonna’ be having a relatively calm winter. We want to focus on writing the next album, and training a new drummer. That said, it’s kind of the calm before the storm. In 2018, we’re gonna’ be recording the next album and are planning a substantial tour in the United States in support of it. Should be an exciting year!
Do you have something to add? Thanks!
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