Harriet Talks "Tell the Right Story", '70s Flicks, and More
Mon, 23 Jan 2012 14:07:21
"Everything is a story," says Harriet frontman Alex Casnoff.
Harriet's debut EP, Tell The Right Story [due out January 31], showcases some truly unforgettable tales from Casnoff. Nodding to Wilco with the right touch of Queens of the Stone Age-style grit, Harriet eloquently transform alternative rock. Tell the Right Story is elegantly ethereal and heart-wrenchingly honest. From sparsely soothing piano passages to dreamy distorted hooks, this is the best story the indie world has produced in a long time…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino, Harriet singer Alex Casnoff talks about Tell the Right Story, '70s flicks, and so much more.
What's your take on Tell the Right Story as a whole?
Well, these are songs I'd been musing over for a while, during the time I was in Dawes and other bands. It came to the point when I had all of these songs and I had something to say and I needed to get them down. I decided to stop waiting and make an EP. I didn't come at from the angle of saying, "I'm going to make an EP. Now, let me write the songs for it." I had the songs first. I had more than five though so I tried to find five that were somewhat cohesive.
What's the thread that ties all five together?
Basically, these songs all come from different perspectives. There are sometimes characters who aren't me singing them. All of the characters in these songs are dealing with a rift inside themselves and struggling to figure something out. They're all pretty complicated human beings. A lot of times, what they're doing isn't necessarily what they think. Their actions and words are sometimes different from their feelings. Throughout all of the songs, there's an effort to figure out how to deal with how difficult life is.
What inspired the characters?
I wasn't like, "I want to make songs with characters". At many points, I've loved movies more than I've loved music. Right now though, I love music a lot. I was always enamored by screenwriters and storytelling—mainly the way you can take an emotion that is yours but ignore or stretch the facts of your life to allow that emotion to inhabit another character's perspective and potentially help you understand your feeling more.
What's the story behind "Send Em Up"?
I was up at 2 AM watching YouTube in my bed, and I was watching some Tom Waits videos. I watched "Ol' 55" and then I watched "I Don't Wanna Grow Up". First of all, I think it's a great music video. I thought, "I want to make a song like this!" Now, I don't necessarily think I ended up writing a song like that, but I immediately went outside to the garage, sat down at the piano, and finished the song by 4:30 AM. There's a distinct story that I have in my head of what inspires the events of the song. However, it's written from a child's perspective. So, there isn't a really reliable narrator. It's about two brothers. The father has a company with his brother, and the brother steals money from the company. The father is weak, and he ends up killing himself. The mother can't deal with it, and she takes her life and the lives of her two children. It's written from the older child's perspective being bored in Heaven. It's not spiritual or religious. It's magical realism. Obviously, I don't expect that to come across every time. I'm more interested in what the listener gets emotionally. I think whatever interpretation anyone has is a good one.
Where did "I Slept With All Your Mothers" come from?
It comes from the feelings that you have in a breakup and not really being able to control your emotions, sometimes saying things you don't mean. It's a broken form of nostalgia infused with anger guilt and sadness.
If you to compare Tell the Right Story to a movie or a combination of movies ,what would you compare it to?
I approached each song like a separate movie. If it was one movie, it'd be an ensemble piece like a Robert Altman movie. My favorite movies are 1970s American films like Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, and The Deer Hunter. They're more focused on character than having a classic Hollywood tied up ending. That would be the era of movie. I like the idea that you can write a line such as "I love you" in a movie, but when the actor says it, it means "I fucking hate you". Words and what is inside are often very different.
Listen to "I Slept With All Your Mothers" below!
Harriet "I Slept With All Your Mothers" by HarrietMusic
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