Ahead of their show in Derby with Superheaven, we caught up with Nai Harvest to talk about the past year, the new record out early next year, and their plans for the future…
In the past you have re-recorded some tracks for new releases for example ‘Distance etc.’, would you consider doing it again on new releases?
Ben Thompson (Guitar/Vocals): Hell no, I literally hate anything we did less than like 6 months ago, those songs are so old, we re recorded them for the album because it’s what you do, you do a bunch of 7 inches and demos, then when you do your first album it’s a compilation of a few new songs and a load of old ones. Every band does the same thing, no one ever does their first album that’s all brand new material, its previous stuff that some people might not have heard and you’re giving them the opportunity to hear it properly, not just in a bunch of little 7 inches you put out but on one piece of material, so we did that purely because of that but I think I only like two songs off that album. We’re quite bad at not liking our stuff
Out of interest, which ones do you like?
BT: I like ‘Whatever’ and ‘Floor’
Lew Currie (Drums): I think ‘Whatever’ and ‘Sitcom [fade-in]’ because it’s fast
BT: I don’t like ‘Sitcom’, I hate it
Are those the only ones you’re playing?
BT: We’re not actually playing anything off Whatever, because we have the new record and the new split and single, and an album written so we’ve been doing an 8 song set of a couple of new ones and songs we’ve released in the past year
There has been influence from television and other media in your tracks before like Twin Tweaks and Washy, is this a theme continuing on the new album?
BT: No not really. I had a bit of a period where all of my friends were away and there was a week when no one was about and I needed to do something to entertain my time, so I ended up smashing the whole of twin peaks in like, two days and then ended up writing loads of lyrics for the album that aren’t even related to Twin Peaks really. It just felt right to put the quote at the front of ‘Washy’ and ‘Twin Tweaks’ was a play on words because there’s two of us
These are your last dates over here for a while, is this the last we will hear until the new album?
BT: Pretty much, we’ve got a few one offs here and there but this is the last tour we’re going to do until March basically…apart from America, but in the UK yeah we’re going try and stay as quiet as we can
How is that sounding, more shoegazey and jangly like ‘Hold Open My Head’ and ‘Buttercups’?
BT: No…it’s on a similar level to that but I wouldn’t really call it shoegazey, in fact I think buttercups is one of the slowest songs on the album and it’s not very slow, we kind of got a bit…
LC: It’s a lot faster than the EP, I guess
BT: I mean there are a couple of slow or mid-paced songs like on every album, but the general vibe of it is like fuzzy scuzzy pop music, it’s just really catchy and fast… I dunno it’s really hard to describe it because we haven’t really recorded it yet or anything, so we’ve only known it from playing it. We’ve got all the songs and we’ve played them over and over again but we don’t go to the studio until November so until we come out we’re not really going to know; but the vibe of it, butter cups might stand out more than the rest as still being a bit…I feel ‘Buttercups’ still sounds a bit like Hold Open My Head did, whereas the other 11 songs on the album…
We had wondered actually because ‘Buttercups’ followed that theme, whether it would be a consistent thing
BT: We wrote ‘Buttercups’ literally as soon as we got out the studio doing Hold Open My Head and I kind of wish it was on that EP, because of how much it sounds like that, the new album isn’t too dissimilar to Hold Open My Head but it’s definitely way more upbeat and sort of garage-y I guess, just a bit more fun. It’s hard to say
Will ‘Buttercups’ be on the record, or is that exclusively for the split?
BT: Yeah it’ll be on the album, we put it out on the split as a sort of precursor to the album because we’re not going to be putting anything out until next year, so we decided to do it on the split as the last to we do this year in term so f putting any records out and just sit tight until March, when the album drops. So it’s going to be a little quiet from November onwards
Can we expect a headline tour on the next cycle?
BT: YES. In March we’re going to do the album and then do a headline tour, but we’re going to try and stay as quiet as we can until then because I feel that we’ve played so much these last two years that people have seen us loads of times with different bands in different cities whether we’ve been doing a little headline or supporting loads of other bands. So between November and March we’ve got maybe 4 shows, which is so not very much for us because we tend to do 10 Shows a month, so it’s going to be really nice and quiet
Are you looking forward to the U.S. Tour, and what are you expecting?
LC: We’re not really expecting anything, we’re kind of glad it’s a fresh new thing now, we’ve never been there so we’re playing to brand new people. We’ve played the UK and Europe three times this year and it’s like we’re kind of glad we’re gonna somewhere else so, I’m or expecting anything I’m just going to go and see what happens
BT: We’re touring with some great bands, so it should be really good, I’m really excited. The record label is based out there so it’ll be nice to meet the guys and be part of that, but yeah it’s just fresh, a lot of the time in a band you tend to play the same venues a lot, play to the same people a lot and obviously there’s more people every time but it’ll be so nice to play to a room of fresh faces we’ve never met before, it’s something we’ve not done since we went on our first ever tour. So to play 25 shows in 25 different places that have got people we’ve never even seen ever is going to be cool
Just going back to the label, the way Topshelf has exploded over the past few years has been really quite amazing, from a listener’s perspective how all of the bands in that roster are all consistently good
BT: Yeah they’re great, I love all their bands but they’ve signed some really good new bands over the last year’
LC: When we signed we really loved the label because it was an emo label but especially over the last year, there’s so many different bands in there
BT: I wouldn’t really call Topshelf an emo label, they’ve branched out so hard, they’ve got loads of like,…they’ve got the core emo bands like The World Is… and You Blew It! and that, but then in fact the last 6 bands they’ve signed they’ve all been so different and I think that’s why they signed us at the time they signed us because we weren’t really an emo band anymore at all. We turned into an indie rock band or whatever…which is essentially, the same thing but we’re not getting into complications of genre but, we shifted away from that quite quickly, and I think Topshelf took notice of that when we shifted away. I think if we’d put another record that sounded like whatever out I don’t think we’d get signed to Topshelf and I don’t think we’d be where we are now. I feel as if, it wasn’t really a conscious decision I just got hella bored of writing the same kind of stuff, and instead of starting a brand new band, instead of starting from the bottom again we were like, well Let’s start a brand new band but don’t have to start again. I class the last year of us being like a pretty different band to what we were before, but without having to change or name and do everything again, because it’s just a pain in the arse isn’t it? I like it when band’s change, because it’s so boring if a band puts the same record out over and over again, there’s no point.
I think that some people freaked out a bit when we put out Hold Open My Head, and they’re going to freak out loads when we put the album out, and we might…some of the core people who listened to us in the first place might not be into it anymore, but there are other people who are probably more into it…and I feel bad for maybe dropping a few fans but at the end of the day we do this band for us and not really for anyone else so like, if people aren’t into it then they can just listen to the old stuff and if they’re into the new stuff then yeah, but the opportunities we’ve had over the last year or so wouldn’t have come if we were still plodding away doing our scratty, under practised basement style stuff. Basement as in playing in a basement [not the band], not really practising much and being scrappy. We sorted ourselves out a little bit which is nice
You’ve been a two piece for everything so far and have it figured out, but would you consider more members in future to expand the sound?
BT: No. If we were going to do that we would just start a new band
LC: It’s been going too long, there’s an aesthetic going on. We’re know on as s two piece do…
BT: I know that it’s a quirk and I hate that it’s a quirk but it is a quirk and at the end of the day that is one thing you can’t fight. We’re known as a two piece and I feel it would be the most sell out move for us to do to get more members just because…and I like the challenge of being able to sound as huge as we can just by two people and the new album is going to show that basically, because there are some songs that when we played them to our friends they were like ‘even a 4 piece band couldn’t play that’, but we somehow have managed to work it…that’s somehow a challenge, it’s what I like most about this band because it’s not easy to write songs that sound big when there’s only two of you
Two pieces have definitely become a big thing with the return of Death From Above 1979, Royal Blood…
BT: Japandroids, Dads, HoneyBlood…There’s loads of new bands but it’s nice, it’s kind of like a nice community with two pieces as well because there’s like an unspoken bond between everyone. We’ve never met some of these bands but like, we’ll either be put on bills together or be put together in interviews and reviews because it’s a little community itself that is going against the grain of what a band should actually be, bending the traditions of a four piece, five piece band…or even a three piece, you’re sort of doing something different…trying to be a four piece band but with two people and it’s a bit weird. Well not so weird anymore but it used to be weirder than it is
Hit the deck was a big moment, we were in that room and it was rammed wall to wall, how was that for you? Would you even agree it was a big moment and what have been your highlights?
BT: Around that time we had just put Hold Open My Head out and like I said before that sort of when we started to class our band as being a band that actually wanted to do something rather than just…I mean it’s still fun and we love it, and it’s not a job but before that record came out we just played shows with our friends, did whatever we wanted, did a couple of little tours but never really took it seriously at all, our real lives came first like uni and jobs and stuff, but recently ever since the 7 inch came out on Topshelf and we got signed properly, it was a bit of an eye opener and we quit our jobs and decided to do the band.
We know it’s never going to be a lifetime thing but we wanted to put a bit more first which we never did before so that’s why I like to mark that as when the band actually started properly. Before that we were just two kids fucking around for free beer and playing shows with our mates, crowd surfing and having a good time and not really giving a shit. It was nice when we put that record out we sort of took it a little bit more seriously and I think other people have taken it a little more seriously with us. So that’s why we don’t like it when people talk about the stuff before that, because to us that was us not being the band that we are now . But every band is going to say that, every band is going to say they like the new record more than the old stuff
This year we saw Gnarwolves open up the main stage at Reading and Leeds, can we expect Nai Harvest to do the same should the opportunity be there?
BT: Of course! I don’t know what the hell we would do. I’d have a word and see if we could rearrange the stage for us, I don’t know because it would be a big empty stage but we would figure it out, it would be cool, I’d love to pull the drum kit forward or something…fingers crossed!
You can stream ‘Buttercups’ below