Interview: Harry Hess
Jun 22, 2012 / 7:00 am
One of Canada’s most prolific Melodic Rock Bands left us with “Hope, their last album, in 2009…a musical statement that was full of promise and potential. Harem Scarem’s Harry Hess, the groups lead vocalist, also became their main Producer and set about expanding his production skills with Canadian and European Talent. A mighty melodic rock project set-up by the President of Frontiers’ Records in 2010 was just what Harry needed. Here are Harry’s feelings on the First Signal project and his standing in the Canadian Music Industry:
Question: Harry, I would like to begin with a question I asked of you the last time we talked, during the release of Harem Scarem’s last album…at that time I asked in part that I felt there would be some future collaborations, and lo and behold we have one… First Signal! Please let us in on how this all started!?
Answer: Well, Serafino from Frontiers called and asked if I would be interested in being the
vocalist on a project and I was happy to do a rock record again.
Q: As one may expect… there are many similarities with this current work, and your work with Harem Scarem…however there is obviously more… much more, please take us through your creative process as it is directed to First Signal.
This was really a simple process for me with regards to my involvement because Serafino compiled the songs and
pitched them to me and with the exception of a few I thought they were great melodic rock songs and something I could do a good job singing. After we decided on the 11 that we both liked Dennis did all the production work and I
just sang them the way I thought they worked best with my voice.
Q: Again, your label is Frontiers Records… a label that is famous for supporting Artists… you must be happy
with this fruitful partnership…
Yes, we have done many deals in the past and for this style of music they are one of the best labels out there.
Q: In the press release, we read that First Signal is an exciting new Studio Project, however the name is very
interesting and implies a lot, and secondly the performance on the debut sounds so solid and cohesive… any chance that you will take this out on the road?
I don’t know… It’s very early to tell what the reaction is but it was made for fans of melodic rock so I would assume that people are gonna enjoy it. I would assume that if it becomes a success we will look at all the possibilities.
Q: Yourself and Dennis Ward are accomplished producers, and no doubt have other projects on the burners…does this hamper your plans for First Signal’s future endeavours?
Not for me, Dennis did the most time consuming work on the project but singing will always be a part of my life so I
can see myself doing things like this in the future.
Q: It is also nice to see that you are working with Darren Smith again… so!...do you two have anything up your collective sleeves!?
We are not smart enough to have anything up our selves except Darren has a few tattoos up there…
Q: What do you think about the actual melodic rock scene?
Well I guess it’s a declining style of music were you don’t see a lot of new artists so it’s a lot of older musicians doing the same thing over and over but hopefully doing a good job of it. It’s an era of musicians that can actually play, which is nice…
Q: What advice would you pass onto “young” musicians?
I never really felt like there was a specific moment but looking back I can say that getting a record deal was obviously a big step in the right direction. Before Harem Scarem I started by playing songs I was writing for publishers in Toronto and they hooked me up with talented writers so I really worked on that right from the beginning and it help with networking and getting music to the right people. My advice would be to hook up with talented musicians ( not
just friends ) and really be committed to working hard and writing great songs, without songs that the world needs to hear it doesn't matter how fast you can play or how good you look (unless you're the people in my dream band ).
Q: Here there are some general questions, I’d like to have your point of view regarding those matters! :)
You surely have a long career in the music business: do you think that something has changed since the beginning in the music universe? What in particular?
Yes, everything is constantly changing and it's always been that way. I believe you always have to evolve and grow to survive in any industry and developing as an artist is no different.
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I have two kids so other than working on music I try to spend some time at home with the family.
Q: You are from Canada, correct? So musically who do you feel is Canada's greatest export?
I'm actually very proud of the impact Canadian artists have had on an international level. For
such a small population we have had a lot of big international bands and comedians. It's play music or freeze! and this makes us funny. Mike Myers, Jim Carey, I rest my case.
Q: If you have to make some names about people to keep an eye and ear on, what names would you suggest? I?m asking you this because you are also a well known producer?
I wrote some songs on the new " Die Mannequin " record and a band to look out for from Canada is " My Darkest Days " I co-wrote a song with them called " Every Lie " which was produced by Chad from " Nickleback ".
Q: Can you tell us three of the highest and lowest points so far in your musical career?
I always say that this job is like being on a roller coaster, a lot of ups and downs and your ass hurts when it's all over.
1. Signing our deal with Warner.
2. Sold out tour of Japan.
3. Recording in Italy, Belgium and Indonesia.
Low points: There have been so many it not really fair to just pick three, but here goes: 1. Definitely being stuffed into
the back of a van for 18 hours to drive to a gig for 5 people. (That happened a lot in the early days)
2. A girl and her friend were standing beside me once and I overheard one of them say "That looks like the singer for Harem Scarem" and the other girl said: "NO! the singer for Harem Scarem isn't that ugly."
3. Signing our deal with Warner.
Q: What do you think about internet and the downloading of music?
It’s made it extremely difficult to make a living in the music business unless you were selling millions of records and were already established but I guess if you ask Hannah Montanna and Lady Ga Ga how the music biz is they would say it’s pretty dam good.
Q: In closing… it is so good to hear you in such strong voice, and with a group of accomplished musicians /
friends! First Signal brings us some very ‘heady’ musical expressions… THANK-YOU!!... and here’s hoping we can hear more!
Anytime!!!!! Thank you…
Now, it is 2012 and we are about to hear more, as Harry is launching the next phase of his storied career. Again with the help of Frontiers and some new musical friends, July will see “Hess-Living In Yesterday”, Harry’s first full blown Solo effort…here is the Review:
Harry Hess “Living In Yesterday”
Review by: Bruce E.J. Atkinson
One should know that a musician of this calibre would not stay silent for long! This is Harry Hess’s first solo outing, yes I know that he was the main vocalist on ‘First Signal’, however that was a group project, ‘Living In Yesterday’ is Mr. Hess’s first full stab at going about this without a group setting. Harry has enlisted a multitude of musical friends, including former ‘Harem Scarem’ band mates, and has maintained control over the whole project. This record represents the direction in which this Canadian vocalist is moving. Harry is singing volumes, ten absolutely stunning musical creations that rock powerfully and display a real growth in the song writing department. Harry has also produced this expedition. His production skills just seem to get better with every project he undertakes. “Living In Yesterday” is: Beauty in Song, Muscular in Music, and Gigantic in Production!
There is quite a European feel to this record…something that is a direct reflection of Harry’s involvement with more and more European Artists. A vehicle of ever growing maturity and vocal talent from this Canadian son. An effort that pushes Mr. Hess in to new ground…exploring musical plateaus that he hasn’t ever visited before, and giving us a Work that is simply colossal! A rich collection of songs that simply rocket out of the speakers.
“Living In Yesterday” is a loud statement of the future, Harry Hess’s musical future…strapping, emotive, melodic and forceful! Thank-you Mr. Hess…Thank-you!!
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Read more Under the Lights articles
- A True Visionary (Frontiers pt.2) Jun 14
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