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INTERVIEW: Jason Hawk Harris

Pic by Sean Rosenthal

Hi Jason, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

A bit nervous. A little achy. Got a shoulder problem I’m working out.  Excited for the record to drop. Just living that day to day life right now. 

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Cussing At The Light”?

One interesting thing is that it used to be called “Curse It All” and it wasn’t that good.  It was much slower and much more depressing.  I pepped it up with a cajun beat and it became one of my favorite songs on the record.

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

Therapeutic drinking is an activity I’ve engaged in a little too much.  What I’ve found is that it never really does anything but magnify the pain the next morning. That’s where it came from.

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?  

I actually had very little to do with it!  Stanley Sievers, the director, came to us with a great idea and I liked the idea of a woman being the main character instead of me, which is why I’m not in the video.  I think Stanley did a great job.  We’re really happy with it.

The single comes off your new album Love and the Dark – what’s the story behind the title?

The last 8 years of my life have been full of love but also full of grief. I wanted the title to reflect the strangeness of living in a world where transcendent love and utter darkness occupy the same plane.  Some of the songs on the record are love songs.  Some of them are about death and losing someone.  Some of them love songs wrapped in a layer of grief and others grief songs wrapped in a layer of love.   

How was the recording and writing process?

Long and drawn-out.  Some of these songs existsed in some form or another as long as 6 years ago. We had money issues at the start, so we had to record in little chunks, which really slowed the process down, but with the help of some amazing people we were able to raise enough to finish it, and Bloodshot came along and but the finishing touches on it. 

Would you call this a departure from your previous musical work?

Not necessarily.  I haven’t really departed from any of my musical sensibilities.  Sure, it’s not ALL rock or ALL country or ALL punk or ALL classical… but I think it’s a little bit of all of them, and I’m happy about that. Feels more like arriving to a place where I’m okay just being me than a departure from the me of the past.

What role does Houston play in your music?

Houston’s home!  It’s where I had my introduction to country music.  It’s where I met my wife, where I burried my mother, where all my family is.  Houston is a huge part of this record.

Having played in the past or currently on different genres – how did you get to balance all your different influences?

By not trying to balance them.  I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to make these different forces work together.  Then I read an interview with Justin Vernon where he said something like… I don’t have time for people to tell me what’s cool or not or what goes together or not.  I decided to take that approach, which is why there are xylophones in the last song on the record.

How much did tragedy serve as a source of inspiration this record?

It wouldn’t have existed without the death of my mother, so … a lot. 

Did you have second thoughts about getting deep into this dark themes?

Not at all. I don’t necessarily enjoy the process of doing so, but I think it’s the only way forward.

How did you get to balance the dark tone with the much uplifting message?

For me, hope is kind of a natural dispensation. It’s as real as my mothers dead body, but whereas grief screams in your ears, hope whispers.  I just try to listen for the whisper.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yup! I’ll be on the road a lot in September, October and November.  You can check out the tour page on my website for more info.

What else is happening next in Jason Hawk Harris’ world?

It’s been a while since we finished this record, even though it’s just now coming out.  I’m writing a lot and getting anxious to get back into the studio. 

Watch here

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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