In the spotlight – Harry J. Hart

In the spotlight – Harry J. Hart

Harry J. Hart is an 18 year old musician from the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. The Gold Coast is Australia’s main holiday destination with golden beaches and ancient rain forests in less than an hour’s drive. Despite living fairly close to the ocean, Harry was more interested in music than the beach. As a kid he has always dreamed of being a musician. It was his music teacher, mrs. Solomon, he took choirs with her, that inspired him to take up singing and pursue a career in music.

Harry used to sing as Harry Hart, but no one was able to find him on Google because of Colin Firth’s character in The Kingsmen. So nowadays he is known as Harry J. Hart.

Harry starting his singing career through choirs. He played a lot of instruments in school. He started out with violin, then trumpet and after that he picked up the ukulele. “That’s kind of where it all went upwards, from there, from ukulele. I went to a show of a ukulele player named Jake Shimabukuro and the opening act for him was a guy called Daniel Champagne. He was the first guitarist where I was like “Woah, I want to do what he’s doing”.”

Developing his craft is really important to him, as is learning from the best in the business. 

“I went to a workshop in LA in January 2020 that was being hosted by Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine. It was a 5 day thing with classes, jam nights and performances. Some of the other people that were there: John 5, who started out with Marilyn Manson then moved to Rob Zombie; Billy Howerdell from The Perfect Circle and Ashes Divide; Nuno Bettencourt from Extreme; Vernon Reid from Living Colour; Wayne Kramer from MC5; and Bibi McGill, who is Beyonce and Pink’s guitarist and musical director. ” 

Do you have a favourite guitarist?

“I don’t really have one favourite at the moment, but I love Rabea Massaad from Toska. I love his playing because the dude’s got phenomenal tone, but he’s so good in almost every single genre as well, which is crazy.  He can do ridiculous heavy riffs and shred, but at the same time, he can play like a mean blues solo and jazz.  Plus, he’s got awesome chord progressions.  His chordal writing is off the charts.”

“And I really dig Mateus Asato, who is a Japanese-Brazillian Instagram guitarist. He’s really cool. He kinda like sculpted the whole Instagram, neo-soul guitarist, but at the same time joined a famous Brazillian metal band, but also has a lot of jazz roots in his playing… He started like a Dream Theatre kid, same as one of my other favourite guitarists, John Nathan Cordy, who started as a YouTube player, who mainly does gear reviews, but his playing is just so good. It’s the kind of thing where you can just stick it on and you’d be like “Oh what song is this?” not like “Oh yeah, it’s just a guy demoing a pedal”. He’s got the whole fusion thing going on. That’s really cool.”

“I really like Guthrie Govan too. He’s just a beast.” 

Harry scored a spot at Bluesfest in 2018 and 2019. At the 2018 Bluesfest Busking Competition he won Best Overall Guitarist, which was a massive confidence booster for him as he was just 16 years old and up against people who kept telling him they had been playing longer than he had been alive.

What international festival would you like to play? 

“Download Festival (UK) would be sick, but I don’t know if I’m heavy enough for that. I’d also love to do Reading Festival or SXSW.”

If you were to play at a festival, who else would you pick for the line up?

“Well, I really dig The Amazons, they would be really cool to play with. I saw them last year at BIGSOUND, which was super cool.  Amazons would be sick. Silverchair’s my favourite band, but they broke up many years ago, so that would make it hard. Highly Suspect is sick. Karnivool, I love them, but they might be a bit too different to play alongside. The Pale White is a really cool band and Queens of the Stone Age too.”

On your website you mention ‘musician, guitarist, singer, bassist, drummer’. Do you see yourself in that order, musician first, then guitarist etc.? 

“Yeah. I like to think of myself as a all round musician, as a whole, but I specialize in guitar and singing, then bass and drums. I do that to fill out when I’m writing.  So, I write all the parts for my band, then I get them to play it better.”

Who are your biggest influences? 

“Well, I love Silverchair for their songwriting. I love the use of heavy guitars, but with strings and horns and the whole cinematic aspect to it.” 

“I’ve recently been digging a band called Toska. They genre themselves as Cinematic Prog. It’s all instrumental and it’s meant to sound like a story with no lyrics, so you can get where it’s all going when you listen to it. It’s really cool.” 

“John Mayer, his playing style just stuck with me, so that’s something I can’t shake, the “you sound like a diet John Mayer”.”

Harry recently released his debut single ‘It Calls Out‘ with a sound reminiscent of Daniel Johns (Silverchair). He doesn’t mind being compared to Daniel Johns; Silverchair is one of his favourite bands. Harry wrote ‘It Calls Out’ back in high school when he was about 15/16 years old. He had been playing the song live for about two years, before recording it in the studio.

Some of the feedback Harry received for his single has been amazing. Nuno Bettencourt, guitarist for American rock band Extreme, observed, “…Song sounds great.  Beautiful changes in the verses. And you played a solo for the song. That’s important. Nice work man.”

What is ‘It Calls Out’ about?

“It’s mainly about your feelings, and about getting all caught up in your head space, and all that jazz. I was trying to get all metaphorical by saying ‘It Calls Out’ and it is the black dog of depression and all those angsty things.”

Being a multi-instrumentalist, did you play all of the instruments yourself?

“I played guitar, bass and a little bit of the keys, but got session players in to play everything else.  When I write the track, I play all the parts and take it in.”

How would you describe your sound?

“I’d say a pop-produced alt rock. Live it’s pretty balls to the wall, but on recording it’s a bit more tame, a bit more main stream. Think bands like Nothing But Thieves, that kind of vibe.”

What has been your favourite performance and why?

“The Nutella Fest, that was sick. Though I’ve got a gig coming up this Sunday, that I think could be one of my best gigs. We’re doing a Neil Diamond show and we are playing a huge outdoor amphitheater. It’s crazy. It’s a Council owned venue, so they don’t hold back when funding it, so it’s crazy. The sound system in it alone is over half a million dollars worth and they’ve got full lighting rigs. We’ve got three sound guys. We’ve got a monitor guy each side of the stage and then someone up the back. The whole thing feels like overkill, but it’s so cool. Usually it’s something like a 1,600 capacity venue, but due to Covid-19 it’s down to 800…and we sold it out in a week.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 

“Don’t stop playing, because there’s always going to be different aspects that you enjoy, so just follow each path that you enjoy.”

What are your goals for the next 12 months? 

“More Music! I’m in the middle of planning my next release which is a song called ‘Make It Easy’. It’s more of a poppy one, a bit more boppy, upbeat, happy. I’m also working on an EP.”

Last, but not least. What’s your favourite song in the Cool Top 20?

“At the moment, I’ve been really digging the ‘Stones’ by Anger Bang. It gives me very Beastie Boys vibes, which I think is really cool. I quite like Beastie Boys.”

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