Saturday, 14 November 2009

Harrisons

Harrisons
I've not really spoken to many people about all our experiences with the band as I don't really like to brag/bore people, but it's your choice if you want to read this, so I don't feel as bad writing a bit of a potted (and very watered down) history of it all. People always ask me about the band and I've always been quite coy about it, but I don't see why people shouldn't know about what we got up to!

2003
I'd been playing guitar in a band with Birch for a few years and by the end of the 2003 we'd finally realised that we were shit and split up. Birch was asked to join a new band that two lads who we knew from the 'Can You Jam' nights we used to go to at the Deep End in Hillsborough had formed. I got a phone call from Birch a few weeks later asking for our old drummer's number as they couldn't find anyone else to play drums and I said I'd phone him back once I'd found it, but I had no intention of doing so. I was missing playing and thought that the drums must be easy enough to pick up, so I 'phoned back ten minutes later saying I'd spoken to our old drummer and he wasn't interested. I said I'd come down and have a go at keeping the beat until they found a drummer.

After a few practices I'd begun to pick it up pretty quickly and we'd managed to write about ten songs through November/December.

2004
At the beginning of January we were asked to play at the Deep End. We agreed, but when they asked for a name to put on the posters we hadn't got a clue what we were going to call ourselves. That same week, we were walking down Ben's road trying to think of a name when we walked past the 'Harrison Road' sign. We borrowed some of Ben's Dad's tools, chiselled it off the name/stage prop was born.

After playing a few gigs in Sheffield I got a phone call from a posh bloke saying he was interested in managing us. At the time this was massive news, no other bands we knew had managers or any interest and we jumped at the chance. The legend of Paul Bassett was born that day.

After Paul had begun to work with us the gigs and recording sessions began to pick up and we recorded an album's worth of material in the cellar of Champion Kickboxer's house as well as some early demos with Alan Smyth. Summer was coming and we'd been planning to go to France to live in a van for the whole summer, but were scared to tell Paul as we thought he'd lose interest. We finally told him and he was okay with it and told us that he was working on booking a tour with another new Sheffield band called Arctic Monkeys for the Autumn. He booked us one last gig before we left, which ended up being the first chapter of the reputation the band managed to acquire.

Our final gig before our imminent departure to France was a charity event organised by another Sheffield band whose name slips my mind. It was the May bank holiday Monday and the first hot day of the year. We took advantage of this by beginning drinking at eleven in the morning and not stopping until we got on stage at ten at night. I remember being sat outside ten minutes before we were due on stage trying to wake Jubby up as he was so drunk. We'd been given a book of tickets to sell, but we'd just been handing them out in the pub for free, so after the gig finished and we were asked to give the ticket money to the charity, we were stuck. All through the summer there was a big campaign throughout the Sheffield music scene calling us thieves which we still hear about now.

We spent the summer in France and got back to Sheffield at the end of August. The Monkeys had asked us to play at a party they'd arranged at their new practice room and we thought it'd be a good idea to get together as there'd been a bit of friendly rivalry between our friends and their friends over who was the best band. We turned up at their room with all of our friends and began to play, but as soon as we started their mates started started shouting abuse at us. This carried on throughout the set and once we'd finished it all got out of hand and a big fight erupted between our friends and their friends.

The next day Birch and Ben had to go and try and apologise for the fight to save the tour we had planned. The reluctantly agreed to play the tour, but the atmosphere remained very frosty throughout.

After the tour we booked a recording session with Alan Smyth and recorded four songs, including one which ended up as or first single.

This was also about the time that we heard that the NME had caught on to our music. I remember being in the van and Paul telling us that the editor had been in touch and was raving about 'Shirley's Temple'. It got to Christmas and we ended the year with a show at an old warehouse where Ben ended up drinking piss from the ceiling (ask him!).

2005
Our first big news of the year came when Dave Cooper of Melodic Records offered us a two single deal with his company. We couldn't believe we'd been offered the chance to release a song properly, but then we were told we'd also be making a music video. We carried on gigging through the first couple of months of the year while trying to think of a good ideas for our single cover and video. This was also the first time that we got our first national radio play on Steve Lamacq's Radio One show.

We recorded the video for 'Wishing Well' in our practice room one Sunday. I remember everyone being very nervous about having to wear makeup. The single was due for release at the end of August. In the time leading up to this we began to get some very good press in the music magazines which lead to a sell out single release show in Sheffield which ended up as a bloodbath due to the over-enthusiastic moshing. We also got a slot at Leeds festival, Zane Lowe's video of the week on MTV2 and most importantly a Radio One session for Lamacq at Maida Vale studios in London.

The single sold relatively well and we began to prepare to record our next release. we chose to record 'Blue Note' with Mike Crossey in Liverpool. All I remember from this session was the awful Be Here Nowesque guitar solo that Mike made Ben play on the last part of the song. We'd been thinking of ideas for the music video where we could get our friends involved and chose to make a parody of the football scene in Kes. It was shot over two days and we spent ten hours a day in PE kits on a freezing football pitch. Grindle ended up stealing the show with his amazing acting.

We celebrated the New Year by playing in a kitchen at a big Akoustik Anarkhy house party in Manchester.

2006
We started the year with our first big tour supporting Be Your Own Pet, who turned out to be dickheads, but it got us some well-needed exposure. The interest in the band had been building even further and our new video was receiving a lot of air-play on the radio and TV. We were asked to play at the Leadmill in February and managed to sell it out, which is still probably my favourite memory. It was the first time we ever walked out to 900 people all cheering our name and I couldn't compare that feeling to anything else I have ever experienced.

Interest from record companies was also growing and at the beginning of March we signed a deal with Melodic/Sony in Fagan's pub in Sheffield before celebrating with a Sunday dinner at the Fat Cat in Neepsend. Two days later we flew out to Texas to play the SXSW festival.

The three gigs we played in America probably did us more harm than good. We were starry-eyed and let of the leash in a foreign country and it was al free. We treat it like a holiday and ended up being so fucked for all of the gigs that we played terribly. The NME were good to us and promised not to review the gigs for our sake and Radio 6 even named us the 'best band of the festival' for some reason.

We got back to Sheffield and realised that we need to grow up a bit and decided that instead of recording the album straight away, we'd lock ourselves in the practice room and write some better songs. This was probably the mistake that lead to our loss of popularity. We played our last gig in March, and apart from playing the O2 festival and acting like little kids when we were given the chance to hang around with Kate Moss, Keanu Reeves and the Strokes amongst others, we went away to write the album and didn't play live again until November.

During the summer months we treat practising as a full time job and spent every day writing the more songs for the album. Richard Hawley became involved and was earmarked to record the album, but was nominated for the Mercury prize and ended up being too busy, so we got intouch with Hugh Jones who had produced Echo and The Bunnymen and booked to record the album with him.

We spent two months in a residential studio in the countryside lazing around getting our meals cooked for us, drinking too much, getting very fat, getting cabin fever, trying to kill each other and recording our album. People from the record company kept dropping in to see how it was progressing and told us that they wanted to delay the album release until the summer of 2007, which we thought was a terrible idea, but had no control over.

We came out of the studio at the end of November and were put straight on to a month long tour, only stopping to film the awful video for the next single in London.

2007
By the beginning of 2007 we were starting to realise that we might have 'missed the boat'. Our gigs weren't as widely attended as before and the press and radio/TV coverage for our new single wasn't as intense as usual. Still, throughout the first few months of the year we managed to do a tour supporting The Twang, a support slot for Travis in a forest to 10,000 people and a slot at the London Calling festival in Amsterdam, which was probably one of our finest gigs.

We carried on touring intensively through until June, still waitng for Sony to release the album. We also recorded the video for our final single in this time. We spent two days in the freezing cold again, but this time at Park Hill flats doing our own version of 1984.

The chance to support The Enemy came in June and we ended up playing 14 dates with them in some huge venues. Every crowd we played to loved the band, sung the words to all of the songs and went mad to the new single, but when it was released it sold considerably less than the three singles before.

We drove straight from our final gig of the tour at the Astoria in London to play our own show in Paris and drove straight back home to try and figure what to do next. As we arrived home we got got the news that we'd been asked to play at Ibiza Rocks with The Enemy and at the end of July we flew out to Ibiza for four days.

We arrived back in Sheffield late on a Thursday night and went to draw our wages out of the bank as usual on the Friday, but there was nothing in our accounts. I then received a phone call from the record company o say that they were stopping funding for the band as we'd spent twice our agreed budget over the course of the last 18 months.

We were all faced with the prospect of finding jobs. We played a festival on the beach at Scarborough the next weekend and met our agent who proposed a 28 day tour throught September/October to earn us some money and we agreed to it. By now everyone had grown tired of the everything and we were still waiting for the release of the album. Halfway through the tour Jubby tried to cancel the remaining dates and we had to sit down and persuade him to finish the tour. We decided that after the tour we would split.

We arrived back in Sheffield in October after the 28 day tour without a break and all went to find jobs. We met with the record company and told them we had split. They asked us to keep it quiet until the album came out, which it finally did in February 2008. We playd our last gig on the 1st of December at The Big Reunion at Butlins which ended up being a fitting tribute to our career. We had hit it so hard the night before that we were too ill to play properly and I even walked off of the stage after what I thought was the last song and had to be lead back to my drums to play the last song.

That's about the most condensed version I can write without going into detail. Hope I haven't bored you too much. Please ignore any mistakes, it's half three in the morning.

Some nice links for you:

Dear Constable Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yil1wiK3McI
Blue Note Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46uRtA6ZBdw
Wishing Well Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1sjEdE1XxY

Making of Blue Note:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH4oiOG-LQ4

Monday's Arms Live in Amsterdam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDsKsajihGE
Dear Constable Live in Amsterdam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q846IrHzoW8

Backstage with The Enemy at Ibiza Rocks:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z64mQkdwnTQ

Manumission Villa at Ibiza Rocks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6neboSS3GoI







4 comments:

  1. That's a superb nutshell history of the band Mark!

    One little factual error though; at the Monkeys' practice room gig their mates weren't shouting abuse at you. I remember it clearly. It was one solitary yet ridiculously chavvy and indeed topless kid who liked dance music and the only indie band he liked was The Libertines. You reminded him of them and he was chanting for you to play "Up da Brackey". I was nursing a crate of Bud(which I drank all to myself-save for three bottles which were smashed in the brawl- some geeky posh kid who looked like Harry Potter asked if he could buy some from me, I quoted him a price of £5 for one bottle) sat in chair by the side of the stage when the 22 man brawl errupted and I remained seated throughout the melee watching bemused as mates of yours and the monkeys fell over my feet whilst windmilling each other. One kid even got a broken pool cue forced into his mouth by his assailant. Fun times!

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  2. i visited your site and it was good enough than othere site that i visited before.


    part time job

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  3. Sad how some potentially great bands end before they have really started. I saw The Harrisons at Dalby Forest when they were on with Travis. I bought a copy of all the CDs available at the time and still listen to them. The blogg tells the story of why I never heard any more of you. A loss to music.

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  4. Sound mate, Leigh, Sheffield !

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