HAREM SCAREM is a very respected band in the melodic rockworld. They have been releasing albums for 16 years, starting with 2 MASTERPIECES in the early 1990s, then changing their sound a bit into modern waters, but since the turn of the century the band is back on the melodic rocktrain. Their new CD ‘Human nature’ is however the first album that is a big step back to the big harmonies/huge guitarsound of their first 2 classic albums. Melodic Rockfans already announced this as the 3rd best record and personally I agree, because this album fits in between the first 2 albums of HAREM SCAREM, with an updated modern sound. I did an interview with bandleader HARRY HESS, let’s see what he has to say…
So a new album, tell us all about it Harry? The songs...
Well I think that you’re right on the money in your review that this record could have been between the debut and ‘Moodswings’. The songs are built to be produced that way so you can layer lots of harmonies and guitar parts with it sounding natural and not forced. These types of records require a lot of time and effort just because of the shear volume of tracks to be recorded but it's always worth it in the end. It was fun to do something like this again.
The new CD 'Human nature' is a sort of return to the melodic rock roots, especially the harmonyvocals seem to be catchier than on the last bunch of albums, was that a natural process to get back to the style of the early 2 albums?
Like I mentioned before, I think your songs really need to be written a certain way to be able to treat then with that kind of production. We were conscious of doing that this time because we did get too far away from it on ‘Overload’. I really like that record for it's raw energy and heaviness but something has to suffer and in that case it was the melodies and harmonies, so it was a nice change to get back to that for this record.
First time I do an interview with you Harry, please I would kindly ask you some questions about the past, starting with the very early days when you were a member of BLIND VENGEANCE, you must have been very young when releasing a record with this band in 1984?
Yes, since I'm only 25 now and that was 23 years ago that means that I was under two years old when I made that record. Not bad really when you think about it. It was easier to hit those high notes back then because I didn't have any testicles but having a diaper full of shit just made my sound too "Angry"!!!!!! Darren Smith was also in Blind Vengeance but he was 18 years old at the time( I was two ).
When did you form HAREM SCAREM exactly and how did you come up with the bandname...
Harem Scarem was actually the name of the first Bugs Bunny cartoon.
Although I personally love all your albums, I am a huge fan of the debut that contains some of the catchiest AOR choruses and hooklines ever written. Can you tell me all about the album and its songs, funny stories when recording and how much was HONEYMOON SUITE, LOVERBOY and such Canadian AOR of the 80s an influence for that record?
Thanks! It was really a matter of our influences and really what we were capable of writing at the time. We were still trying to figure a few things out but we always had a strong sense of what was a good song or idea regardless of how we approached it stylistically. There was a strong scene in Canada at the time especially in the 80's with Loverboy, Bryan Adams and so on and I've always liked pop music so would say that It was definitely a part of my musically influences to some degree. I even ended up doing a record with Honeymoon Suite engineering and co-producing. Ray Coburn from " Honeymoon Suite " was the keyboard player on our first record as well.
The 2nd album was quite different, but a true MASTERPIECE because it stood out far above any album released in 1993, can you tell us about this breakthrough album that made your band known worldwide, especially Europe and Japan...
" Moodswings " was just the next obvious step for us and we really were into poppy melodies at the time listening to bands like Jellyfish but also into Metalica, so looking back I would say it was just that combination that created a sound along with our production skills and limitations at the time. It was definitely a breakthrough record for us internationally because the first record came out in three countries and " Moodswings " was over thirty and Voice of reason was released in forty four countries as a result of the success of " Moodswings "
Then for a couple albums you more and more moved with the band's sound into a 90s rock mood, but the 2000s brought you right back with catchy melodic rock, yet sounding modern, but the 3 records and solo album were quite stunning and saw HAREM SCAREM improving once again...
We explored lots of different approaches to recording and writing over the years but I'm sure that we wouldn't still be doing this if we had made the same record over and over again. It would be impossible to have 11 records that were all the same without the fans growing tired of it ( not to mention us ). It has been frustrating for the fans to keep up with all of the changes we've been through but we always try to keep a common thread throughout the records that makes it " Harem Scarem ". but we've really had a great time coming back to our roots and it's a bonus to see how much people are enjoying the record.
Well, now fastforward to the new album, can we expect a tour to support it? (please for once come to Europe for a major tour!)
We are speaking with promoters both in Europe and Japan right now and hopefully we will have some news soon.
You also do a lot of other things besides HAREM SCAREM, such as producing, writing songs for others and you have your own studio, please tell us all your upcoming plans...
I want to focus on Harem Scarem this year so I'm not making any plans right now to work with another artist but always talking to people about potential projects. We are working on an acoustic record right now of our/fan favorite Harem Scarem songs done acoustically.
Finally, some personal questions:
First bought LP: Kiss- Destroyer
Last bought CD/DVD: Billy Talent ( they recorded it in my studio )
First concert visited: Max Webster
Last concert visited: Harem Scarem Firefest 2
First own gig with a band: At school in grade 7
Favorite singer: Freddie Mercury
Favorite guitar player: Ronnie Letekro
Favorite food: Cheeseburger
Favorite drink: Diet Coke
Favorite country: I have many
Favorite sport: Hockey
Best place to play a gig: Japan
Music full time job: Yes, two full time jobs
Anything to add for our readers: Have a good time, all the time
Thanks for the interview
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