Every so often you come across a band that has never been on your radar and makes you feel like you have been living under a rock. If that is you, it’s time to crawl out from under that rock and check out Harker. Harker is a band based out of Brighton, England that is releasing their debut full length No Discordance next month on WireTap Records. It will be available on February 9 on digital, vinyl and CD formats. The lead single, “300 Cigarettes” was released in November and was followed by a short tour of the UK.
Harker consists of singer/guitarist Mark Boniface, bassist/vocals Phoebe Saunders, guitarist Tony Ware, and drummer Matt Claxton.
Founder/singer/guitarist Mark took some time out to answer a few questions about the band, their songwriting, and the punk scene in Brighton.
How did Harker get together?
Harker started as me on my lonesome! I was playing acoustic under the name from about 2012, which was songs paired with a lot of Jawbreaker covers. I met (guitarist) Tony in late 2013, from there we went and recorded the first EP ‘Hours’. A lot of these songs were full band versions of originally acoustic songs. When it came round to recording our first 7″ single ‘Gasping For Air’ was when Harker started to flesh out more like a band. We did a couple more releases between the two/three years that followed (including our EP on Paper + Plastick, ‘A Lifetime Apart’), but for the album we pretty much reinvented ourselves. I ditched the acoustic guitar for electric and we rewrote a lot of older songs. Combined with our love for fuzz and pop, we sound a lot louder now, with a heavier Superchunk / Jimmy Eat World influence.
What bands or artists inspired you to get involved in music?
I think there’s pockets on all spectrums of music that I say would influence, but for me personally the bands that inspired me to become a writer would be Fugazi and The Wedding Present. From their music, down to ethics I think Fugazi were a special band that resonated with me when I was younger. They taught me to not think outside the box, but to stamp on the box altogether and make something entirely new. The Wedding Present (particularly the albums ‘Bizarro’, ‘Seamonsters’ and ‘Saturnalia) have always been my go to for how to structure a song, how I want a certain guitar part to sound, and often visual direction for artwork.
Is there a backstory behind the band name?
Not really – Liked ‘League of Extraordinary Gentleman’, thought the surname was cool, reminded me of vampires due to the book ‘Dracula’. I’ve gone from loving the name, to liking the name, to hating the name, to now feeling it’s integral to how we sound. Almost like the names grown into the songs.
How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard of you?
Fuzz pop, laced with some real dissonant noise. People who listen to bands like Superchunk, Fugazi, etc etc will get it. To others, it would probably sound like pop songs with buzzsaw sections.
Describe your lyrical content? Are there specific themes that you like to touch on or are they a collection of various thoughts?
A lot of the songs on ‘No Discordance’ are personal, as the album is based upon the fallout of a traumatic experience. Some of the songs deal with lack of control in your emotions, some are about reflection on past self be it negative or positive. Songs about mental health are very prominent within music nowadays, which is great but i think there needs to be focus on not simplifying a problem which can be so complicated dependent on the person in question. People have their own way of reaching a resolution, and that’s what I tried to portray in a lot of the songs on the record.
What songwriting process do you follow? Lyrics first? Riffs first? Jam sessions?
There’s no real set process, some of the songs I would write entirely with the band later on making subtle changes in the rehearsal space or in studio. The most recent songs like our cassette club release ‘Hellion’ or ‘Station Approach’ has been a combination of me and Tony writing together. Our next releases will probably carry on this process, if it ain’t broken don’t try to fix it! Lyrics always come last, it’s the most difficult part.
Can you tell us about the punk scene in Brighton?
It’s cool! As far as I know, we’re a scene which is almost ‘generational’. you have people coming and going with a couple of mainstayers. Bands are always springing up, but there is problems with Brighton being a very musical city there’s always competition with Metal, indie, psych and loads of other bands. I actually think bigger promoters in Brighton should be pushing for more local support to nurture the cities ‘Punk’ scene. For example, Menzingers played a sold out 14+ show at The Haunt last year. No local support. It was shows like that at the age of 14 that made me want to play music, and seeing a local band comprised of people I had met playing those shows EXCITED me! This is more of a UK problem all over, which is why I have respect for Ducking Punches offering local support on all their shows this year in the UK. I want us to do that, and to give younger bands the opportunity to thrive and to most importantly keep punk going strong in our city.
What does Harker have planned for the future?
Same old, write some records, tour the record and work with some fantastic people along the way.
Any final thoughts?
Listen to and buy our new record before it sells out ya shmucks!