Chris Harford – The Gonzo Today Interview

The Doc Jeffurious Interview

Many words come to mind when talking about Chris Harford. His music has been described as “dark and rocking”, but always brilliant and widely dynamic. There is no denying his reputation in many circles as sort of a singer-songwriter’s, singer-songwriter.

His first major record release occurred back in the early 1990s, predates Nirvana’s first hit record and included an impressive plethora of guest musicians. A veteran performer in every sense of the term. He has since released several acclaimed albums, one of which ‘Looking Out For Number 6’ was produced by Dean Ween, who also contributed some guitar and percussion work to the record.

A true renaissance man, Chris Harford has many things going on and you can bet than they are all terrific. I had the pleasure of sharing a bit of time with him recently and faithfully submit the following — Doc Jeffurious

Doc Jeffurious: Where did you get your start? What artists influenced your music?

Chris Harford: I was weaned on The Beatles. They kickstarted everything for me. I’m the youngest of four. My brother’s and sister’s record collection was key…vital. From The Beatles I moved on to Neil Young and the Rolling Stones. Then through middle school and high school it was the whole Southern rock thing, Allman Brother’s and Lynyrd Skynyrd. And then I got into Elvis Costello, The Specials and English Beat, ska music…XTC in my later teens.

DJH: Where were you when the alternative music and grunge thing took off in the early 1990s?

CH: I got signed to Elektra Records in 1992, right when grunge was hitting. I had an album out (Be Headed) on a major label which they let me produce. I had Ween guys on it and some guys from high school. But also Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright, The Proclaimers and Toshi Reagon. I had a bunch of people on that record. I was right there when grunge was happening. It think Nirvana‘s “Nevermind” came out a month after my record.

DJH: You are a very well known artist, but have a sort of underground, word of mouth fame. I think that a lot of artists that achieve that kind of success have this unique perspective of being on the outside of the traditional business of music looking in. How do you think music has changed over the years since you began as far as people getting into it? Is it less organic in many corners because it has become more digital? Is that the future of music?

CH: That’s a good question. It seems to be a lot about word of mouth. Like how you heard about my music through Adam Egert, even though it was through social media, it’s still word of mouth. It’s all about a person turning another person onto new music. You know? I still think that it’s best way to know about new music. Word of mouth is the most key way to learn.

DJH: You travel with The Band of Changes, which is an ever evolving and revolving sort of music project. How many shows a year do you perform with The Band Of Changes?

CH: It varies and probably slowed down as I age into an ancient human being but I’d say as much as possible. Lately it averages out to once a month now. But it can vary if take mini tours. In 2008, I took off on a 12 or 14 day tour around Europe which was really cool. I’ve opened up for Ween around the country way back in the day too.

DJH: How do you think your performances over the years have changed?

CH: Something that has happened over the years is how busy everyone has gotten. Unless it was some special occasion, we stopped rehearsing and often musicians would meet each other for the first time on stage. It’s been really interesting to see how it’s evolved spontaneously in the live setting. Almost like jazz musicians and improvisational jam bands. So there is a lot of just give and take. Depending on personalities of the band that evening and what they are bringing to it. And I’d say that has evolved over time because once you’ve played with the same people for two or three decades and the newer players come in and meet them, it becomes this sort of mix which is really fun for me. It keeps it fresh and the songs alive and different arrangements from the record keeps it fun.

DJH: Ok. Finally, I have heard that you maybe have a new release coming out?

CH: I am working on a couple different things. There are no dates set yet but I have been in the studio working on several different projects with several different people. So, there are things in the works. I finally got to invest in a home recording situation. I’m excited about that, too.

DJH: Well, Chris, I appreciate the time you have taken to spend with me today, man. I will keep my ear out for any new projects to be released.

CH: Fantastic! Well, thanks for helping to spread the music. And if you haven’t already heard it, ‘Horn of Plenty’ would have been my last record that I did. Check it out and several of my others at the website and we’ll be in touch. Thanks for reaching out, Doc.