Shane Harper Talks Making Music, C.S. Lewis Novels, "You've Got Mail", and More
Fri, 13 May 2011 14:53:45
Jason Mraz Photos
Shane Harper is going to make this summer a little brighter.
His self-titled debut album is a collection of nine sun-soaked pop rock gems that groove and bounce at all the right moments. Harper's music echoes Jason Mraz and John Mayer, while infusing a charisma and panache all his own. The record is inviting, intelligent, and infectious. Harper's a multi-faceted performer, and his first official offering is what pop needs right now. Given his success on Disney's Good Luck Charlie and Rob Reiner's Flipped, Harper's star will only rise further with this album and current tour with Cody Simpson and Greyson Chance.
In between everything, Shane Harper sat down for an exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about his debut, influences, favorite C.S. Lewis books, You've Got Mail, and more.
Did you approach the album with one cohesive vision or did it come together track by track?
From the get-go, I wanted to make a consistent album. Often when an artist gets together with multiple writers or producers on one record, it sounds like ten individual singles as opposed to one record. Back in the day, records had a lot of consistency and they flowed. There was a vision from the beginning, and I feel very blessed that it worked out that way as opposed to unraveling [Laughs]. It was always a point for me to make sure that the album had that nice flow.
Is it important for you tell stories with the songs?
Definitely! I wanted to be as creative as possible without getting too complicated. When people are listening to it, they can understand what's happening and there's no confusion. It's not so off the wall artistically, but it has consistency and tells a story.
What fosters that visual sensibility? Do you tend to read a lot?
It's so funny you said that. I love to read; I'm a super nerd [Laughs]. Reading is one of my favorite things to do when I'm not working. I draw a lot of inspiration from that. It really helps, and it's cool to keep your mind working like that. Sometimes, if I get done with a really great book, it will ignite a creative spark that leads to a song. It's a big deal for me.
What authors do you come back to?
I'm a mega C.S. Lewis fan! I've read almost all of his books. He fascinates me. I love studying him. I remember being read The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, which is so great for your imagination. He has this array of books that open up your mind and let your imagination go. That's been a really big influence. The Screwtape Letters is incredible. It's one of my favorites. I also love the space trilogy with Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength. They're amazing! If you like his stuff, that's as good as it gets. That's probably my favorite book series.
What's the story behind "Dance with Me"?
That was actually the first song that I ever wrote, which is kind of wild. I wrote it when I was 15-years-old, and I remember it pretty clearly. I was in my room playing guitar, and I'd mess around making up melodies. That time, I wanted to write a full song. I just went for it one afternoon. It feels like that song has been around for an eternity.
Where are you coming from lyrically?
It's so weird! I think I was listening to some old Jesse McCartney records because I'm an unashamed Jesse McCartney fan. J. Mac was awesome! I listened to his old records and drew reference from the way he wrote because he was very visual, sweet, and sentimental with these love songs. That's where I pulled inspiration for that first track.
Which artists shaped you?
I actually grew up on Stephen Curtis Chapman. I love Switchfoot and Jesse McCartney. Nowadays, I love John Mayer and Jason Mraz. Phil Collins has been a big influence on me. I grew up listening to him, and my uncle introduced me to his music.
If your album were a movie, what would it be?
That's a really great question! The album has a sentimental romantic thing going on so perhaps a chick flick like You've Got Mail [Laughs]. I'm going to go with my favorite chick flick, You've Got Mail! It's got Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan; it doesn't get any better.
What's next for you?
I'm working on that Disney show Good Luck Charlie which is always a complete blast for me. It's also going to be a heavy dose of touring and acting gigs. I love to do those as much as I can.
Have you heard Shane Harper yet?