Harbour talks touring, unfinished songs, and how they formed


Photo Credit: Alex Don

Recently, Harbour took to Nashville on their To Chase My Dreams Tour. Harbour is a five member indie pop/rock band from Cincinnati, Ohio where front man Ryan Green started the band in 2014. Having over 1.2 million monthly listeners on Spotify, they are making grounds in their genre of music; especially with their newest album that released this year. Having toured with a few different artists the last two years, Harbour is excited to have their first headline tour around the U.S. Never holding back on energy or instrumental style, these guys are only going up from here.

Before they took the stage, I was able to sit down with four of the members of Harbour to get some more insight into their process and the behind the scenes.

What song would y’all say is your favorite from the new album?
: I would say overall maybe “Sleepyhead” is my favorite song off the album but I think “Everything’s Fine” is my favorite to play live.
Devon: I would say “Everything’s Fine” is my favorite with how it sounds, but the lyrics from “Fish Tank” are my favorite.
Walker: I’d probably say “I Can’t Stand This” is my favorite one.
Jarett: Like you said, Ryan, “Sleepyhead” covers all of our style really well. It has everything
that we like to bring.
Ryan: Kind of like a well-rounded Harbour song.
Jarett: Yeah. But “Fish Tank” is probably my favorite overall, because it was something where Ryan and I had worked on a couple different versions of the song probably three or four years before that album was even conceptualized yet. Then it finally came time to write that version that is on the album and it kind of all came together. It’s one of my favorites in the set now.

Can you explain what “Fish Tank” is about?
: It was a song written throughout covid and it’s just about the uncertainty of everything and how that makes you feel. You know, sitting in your room alone; being a little deprecating. 

I randomly hear about the songs written during covid, but it’s interesting to think if Covid never happened, would those songs still be here?
: The song would definitely be about something different. The lyrics came later as a result of it all. The music was there but it would probably be about something completely different. That’s kind of crazy to think about.

Diving into your writing process, what do you guys normally do when you write a song? Does it start with instrumental and then go to lyrics or vice versa?
: It varies from song to song, really. Sometimes it’ll start with just a jam of us messing around. But other times, I’ll write just a little progression and a melody over that, and then we will build it out from there. The lyrics pretty much always come last. Ive tried to start forcing myself to write them as I go, and sometimes they are a little more honest because they aren’t so thought out. Like I really want to get this done tonight, so you force yourself to not overthink.
Jarett: It’s more like, what are you feeling as you write it, as opposed to its finished and you’re just writing the lyrics later. A lot of time we have a few songs where one of us is just playing something we’ve been messing with and one of us is like, “Hold up. What’s that? Keep doing that.”

How did y’all come together as a band, and how did you find your sound?
: We were all in local bands that played together for years. I had old members in this band who had wives and kids, so they couldn’t tour. The majority of the time we haven’t been able to tour or be a “real band.” so we are actually just getting started doing that. There came a point where I was like; “Look. I understand that you guys aren’t in a position where you can tour and go places, but I need to get guys that can.” They all understood and I pretty much just snagged all these guys. Cherry picked my favorites from the bands I would play with all the time.
Walker: Before I joined the band, I didn’t even play the bass. I was friends with all of them and Ryan hit me up on instagram and was like, “how do you feel about the bass? Not the fish, the instrument!”
Jarett: We were trying out bass players, people we knew were all about bass, and the vibe wasn’t really working. So we were like, “Let’s just find a musician that we know is good and fits the vibe, and basically teach them to play the bass.”

Were any of you in multiple bands at once?
: This is definitely THE BAND, but we all have our own little passion projects.

Did you know what your sound was going to be when you started, or has it developed stronger as time goes on?
: Oh yeah, it still is developing every day. The next record is going to be a more developed version of this record, and so on. When I started, I didn’t really have a clear direction on anything. I just wrote songs that kind of sounded like my favorite bands. 

Talking on that, what bands do you take inspiration from?
: Bands like Hippo Campus, Coin, Bad Suns, Manchester Orchestra, Alabama Shakes, a little Kings of Leon.

Hippo Campus was actually here a couple weeks ago for Bonnaroo.
: Yeah, some of us were there.

I was there too, actually. I listen to your songs and their songs, and I can hear a very similar sound vocally.
: That’s like my dream tour. It would be so sick [touring with them].

Bonnaroo always sends out a survey to the people who attended asking them what artists they would like to see next year, and I made sure to put y’all down. Y’all have definitely grown more in the past year, especially with this album. How would y’all feel getting asked to perform at Bonnaroo.
: I will literally cry on stage at Bonnaroo. I’ve gone every year since 2017, and I won’t miss it. I love Bonnaroo. That’s literally my number one bucket list show.

“Flow” recently surpassed “Get You High” on Spotify as most streamed song, even though it was released two years after “Get You High.” How does that make you feel?
: Good, we like that song better! A lot of us see that as a huge win.
Ryan: There was a period in time where we just weren’t really happy. We had management pushing for us to do thing a certain way. We thought if we do this, we make songs like this, produce them like this, then we are going to get big. That’s the ticket. But we were really unhappy with some of the stuff we were putting out. No the whole thing, by any means, but with the Heatwaves record, we would rather not play it. With the Thoughts On Letting Go album, we went back to being completely independent. No manager or anything. So we started trying to make music we wanted to again. So that was easing back into that. And with this new record, I feel like we’ve hit stride.

What venue or location do you absolutely want to play at, other than Bonnaroo?
: I think for all of us, Red Rock is a dream.
Ryan: We actually saw Hippo Campus at Red Rocks recently. It’s a hike just to get to the venue, like a ten minute hike to get to the top.

So what is in the works right now, anything fresh coming soon?
: Our focus this year is just playing live as much as we can. We want to tour as much as possible and hit the road with this album. Then we’ll start getting back in the studio again.
Walker: We are going to release a single soon before this tour ends. A song with another band, a friend that’s coming on this tour, America Part Two.
Ryan: Yeah, they’re our buddies from New Jersey.
Jarett: We recorded it with them while we were about to start tour together. So they came to town and spent a day to hash out the song.
Walker: And then y’all slept in my living room for four days, it was great.
Ryan: But yeah, we’ve got a single coming out while we are on this tour.
Jarett: Its not part of anything bigger. Just a one on one song we are excited to put out.
Devon: It’s a little different stylistically than the rest of our stuff. Ryan let’s out a big old, “Yeehaw” at the end.
Ryan: We’ll be writing non stop like we always do, but sometimes we will have spurts where we don’t try to sit down and work through anything because we don’t have the time. But eventually, we’ll be like, “alright. Lets listen to something else. Which ones do we want to try and jam out; see where it goes.”

Do you have a file saved of all the unreleased or scrapped projects?
Ryan: Yeah there’s a dropbox with some that are four or five years old.
Walker: There’s almost a full album of songs that are tracked and half finished.
Devon: I have days where I just put in my EarPods and listen to demo after demo where I’m like, “I like this!”
Ryan: We recorded some of the ones we have during Covid, and we didn’t think it was a step in the direction we are trying to go. There’s still songs we like that we want to put out, but we just don’t know how to do that. They’re good songs, but our next record is going to try and keep progressing from this one.
Jarett: We recorded like 18 total songs, and we knew what songs were coming together for ‘To Chase My Dreams.’ It was clearly a cohesive sound for our record that was coming out of those, but it left us a handful of songs where we didn’t know what to do with them.
Ryan: I don’t even want to say they are B-sides because they are just completely different with just playing around a little more. We might just throw something out real quick, just a little EP. Since, you know, these ones just been sitting in the back of the fridge.

Have you gone back to anything in the files that was put on hold, where all of a sudden it made sense?
Devon: That’s kind of how ‘Can’t Stand It’ was from this album. You and I had started working on that in 2018 or so.
Ryan: We just had the little bit of it that sat there for a long time, and eventually we were like, “Lets write that one.”
Devon: And then it ended up being one of our favorites when we all came together.

Stream Harbour’s new album, To Chase My Dreams, or to Just Lie Down? below:

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