Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Love Child”?
Love Child is about the human susceptibility for prioritizing desire and satisfaction over empathy and understanding, and the consequences that that can have on both our personal relationships and on society. The framework for modern communication seems to lend itself to knee-jerk expressions, particularly anger, without regard for the ramifications. We as a society have forgotten that words are powerful, and we are each responsible for our own.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
The media and social media hurricane surrounding the 2016 election contributed significantly, but it was primarily influenced by the advent of an alt-right (neo Nazi) group settling in my hometown and the hypocrisy and malevolence of their philosophy and their practices.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
We released our very first official music video with this song! It was directed by Evan Younger (of the band Miracles of Modern Science) and filmed in Cincinnati, OH.
The single comes off your new album Against All Tides – what’s the story behind the title?
Against All Tides is a lyric from the song ‘Westbound from Polaris’. The full lyric is “I am spinning, but westbound from Polaris, against all tides of mighty turning earth.” It represents our feeling of being at odds with the world around us – politically, philosophically, at times personally and even musically, but not being dispirited by it.
How was the recording and writing process?
I wrote the songs over the course of a year or so, largely while living on my parents’ sustainable vegetable farm in Southern Indiana. Being in the woods, removed from the noise and movement of a city had a definite impact on my writing: Observing the tumult of the political world through the lens of someplace so natural and peaceful resulted in nature playing a considerable role, mostly through metaphor.
How has Leonard Cohen influenced your writing?
I am probably more familiar with Leonard Cohen’s full catalogue of works than I am with that of any other songwriter. The depth of his descriptions and his use imagery and allegory always impact me and inspire me to find truer ways to describe my own ideas.
How did you get to balance your classical roots with the modern ones?
We always begin with a set of lyrics and melody, which could probably go in many musical directions, but our natural arranging inclinations take us to something that often sounds like classical chamber music. Even when we are writing something that is heavily influenced by another genre – rock, folk, gypsy jazz, etc., our articulations and phrasing are still very classical. We tried to curb them at first – to play more within one specific genre, but ultimately decided that wasn’t an honest reflection of ourselves, and that our music would be more authentic if we didn’t suppress our classical instincts.
After five albums in around five years, how would you say you have grown as artists in that tenure time?
Our sound has changed as we’ve gained confidence, particularly as singers. We incorporate a lot of three-part harmony into our arrangements, and at the beginning we were scared to do even two-part. Since we didn’t grow up singing or study voice, it has been a steep learning process, but is now one of the most joyful parts of performance!
What aspect of politics did you get to explore on this record?
This album contains several blatant protest songs, such as 535 (Are You Even Alive?) which is written for the 535 voting members of congress. Senators and Congressmen are supposed to be civil servants, representing the will of the people. However, our congress seems to actively reject that concept, governing with self-interest and without any regard for the lives they impact.
Any plans to hit the road?
We are currently on tour in Florida, and will be in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before the end of the year. 2018 is filling up as well, with trips to the Northeast, Midwest, West Coast and Europe.
What else is happening next in Harpeth Rising’s world?
We’ll be focusing on making so more videos for the new album, and potentially recording a live album in the next year or so!