Interview: Upbringing: Nai Harvest

We chat with Lew and Ben about bad habits, early favourites, and their musical obsessions.

Nai Harvest are fast becoming figureheads for do-it-yourself rock. They recently released their second album ‘Hairball,’ and continuing their ethos for constant reinvention, lovelord ballads were shoved clean out the way, replaced by snarling, bombastic belters. They sound more tight-knit than ever before, and with their hat-full of tricks expanding at every turn, it’s no surprise they’ve got some diverse influences leading the way.

We caught up with Nai Harvest - aka. Ben Thompson and Lew Currie - to find out more about the music they grew up on, the songs they’re obsessed with, and the pivotal moments that nudged them towards where they are today.

What was the first gig you ever went to?

Ben: I’m embarrassed but actually not so embarrassed to say this - The Kooks at The Octagon in Sheffield, with Larrikin Love supporting. I was 14, I think. I crowdsurfed and bought a LL shirt and never took it off. Twee as fuck, right?

Lew: The first proper band I ever saw live was The Prodigy at Newcastle Arena when I was about 13. My dad and my uncle are both well into their punk and electronic music so they took me along. I got asked if I wanted any pills by random strangers all night with the bass in my feet.

Was there a good supply of venues to go to in your hometown?

B: Oh yeah! Sheffield fucking rules, and there were so many great venues and great shows growing up, I’ve been lucky. The best venue ever was The Stockroom, a proper little punk bar near the train station. I went to my first DIY show there ever, and met Lew for the first time there probably. RIP.

L: I grew up in Middlesbrough, so there aren’t many touring bands travelling through. A lot of the bigger shows were in Newcastle/Leeds but I was only allowed to travel when I got a bit older. There is a really cool old theatre that’s been converted into a venue in Boro called The Empire, which I still wanna play before we finish.

Can you remember the first song you ever developed an obsession over?

L: Probably ‘Anthem Part 2’ off ‘Take Off Your Pants and Jacket’ by Blink-182. I remember my dad coming into my room when I bought my first Sony Walkman, and giving me the album, saying “don’t listen to track 4” (‘Happy Holidays, You Bastard’).

B: This is weird but it was definitely ‘Let Go’ by Frou Frou. My friend’s big sister played it at a sleepover when I was young and I remember trying to ask my parents what song it was by trying to sing the chorus, they has no clue. I didn’t hear it again until I watched Garden State by Zach Braff when I was 16 or so. For all those not familiar with the film, GO WATCH IT! ‘Let Go’ is on the soundtrack at a very very emotional moment. It all clicked into place that day!

What was the first song you purchased with your own money, and why did you choose it at the time?

B: The first album I bought was Sum 41 ‘All Killer No Filler’, cos my skateboarder mate was well into it. Still an incredible record for any house party or wild occasion.

L: The first album I bought for myself was ‘The Young and the Hopeless’ by Good Charlotte when I was about 11. I’d heard the single ‘Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous’ on Kerrang and went out and bought it that night.

What’s the story behind you getting your first instrument?

L: Me and my brother were out playing footy one night, and when we came in my mam and dad had been watching some music documentary. Both fully in the zone, the first thing they said to us was that we should definitely learn an instrument - “it’ll stand you in good stead”. My best friend Mikey had just got a kit and I just asked him to teach me a few beats, and then a few months later I got a starter kit for Christmas

B: My younger brother started having guitar lesions and had a little classical guitar and everyone wanted to watch him play it. I always had to be the centre of attention so I asked my mum for a guitar too. Sorry bro!

What’s your worst musical habit?

L: Not warming up. To be fair, I never used to have to, because I was always playing drums. But now, since I have to work full time and Ben lives in a different city, I rarely get chance to practice anymore. For our recent album tour, I made sure I warmed up every night and it really helped. If we’re getting nerdy, I learned to play drums heel down so that’s really fucked me; I’m still trying to learn how to play with my toes.

B: I’m left-handed, and I forced myself to play guitar right-handed. That took some getting used too but I shred now so it’s safe.

If you could be any band from the past two decades, who would you be and why?

B: Hmm, I always wanted to be in a band that means I could wear a sick leather jacket and not look like a tool. So, The Strokes.

L: I’d be Algernon Cadwallader, and never break up.

Outside of music, what are your songwriting inspirations?

L: To be honest, I don’t really have any. I think at this late stage, we’ve really honed the songwriting process. We just go in and write tunes within the hour. Maybe something is influencing me, but subconsciously… Who knows.

B: Exactly what Lew said to be honest.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given as a band?

B: Hard work pays off. Don’t just do what’s on trend. Fuck hype bands. Being in a band is fun but it doesn’t last forever. I give myself that advice everyday.

L: This isn’t really advice I’ve been given, but something I believe in - it’s to put the graft in! I believe every band should have to do the hard work at first. Recently there’s been a surge of bands all blowing up out of nowhere: not having done any tours or put anything out. Not only is this the wrong way to go about it, but I don’t think these bands will stand the test of time anyway. DIY is the credible way!

Nai Harvest’s new album ‘Hairball’ is out now.

Tags: Nai Harvest, Upbringing, Features

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