Just because something sounds old, doesn’t mean it’s dated, something Cole Harris proves quite effectively on his debut album, “The Long Way Around.”
With influences ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Elvis Presley to Johnny Cash, Harris wears them all on his sleeve as he weaves through the 10 song collection.
Hear from Harris about proudly showcasing his influences, working with a successful producer, his songwriting style, and more!
Pro Country: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up?
Cole Harris: As far as songwriting goes, Tyler Childers and Evan Felker from the Turnpike Troubadours are a couple of my favorite songwriters. I like Colter Wall too, and a lot of the folk side of country. Of course, I love Johnny Cash, and I love Jimi Hendrix’s guitar styles, so I was able to incorporate a little bit of that into the album as well.
PC: Was there a specific moment you knew you wanted to pursue music as a career?
CH: I’ve always wanted to do something with music. I got my first guitar when I was in fourth grade, but I didn’t really practice it back then. I got back into it when I was in high school, and that’s when I knew I wanted to actually go somewhere with it. I never thought I’d get to where I am right now, because I just never thought I would have the chance to.
PC: What was it about the guitar and music as a whole that got you interested again during your high school years?
CH: I got really big into Johnny Cash my freshman year of high school. I had been talking to this girl who was a fan, and I got into it myself after trying to impress her with my knowledge on the subject (laughs). After that, I basically learned how to play guitar on Johnny Cash songs.
PC: Were you feeling any type of pressure, internally or externally, as you were preparing to release music for the first time with the “Ball and Chain” single or collectively for the first time with “The Long Way Around”?
CH: I do my best to not feel pressured because there really isn’t any. I’m not tied down to any kind of contract with anybody. It’s really nerve-racking and stressful wondering how it’s going to go though. Being an unsigned artist, I’ve made a big investment into how this is going to go, so of course I hope it goes well. If it doesn’t, then at least I tried. That’s my main thing. I want to be able to look back 10 years from now and be able to sleep at night, whether it goes good or bad, at least I’ll know that I gave it a shot.
PC: Why did you decide to release “Ball and Chain” as the lead single from “The Long Way Around”?
CH: I felt that it really showcased my songwriting style. It’s folky, and has a few elements of classic rock, Elvis rockabilly type stuff, along with Johnny Cash. The lyrics are a little more artistic; not just surface Ievel, you have to think about what they mean to be able to understand it. The song sounds really happy and upbeat on the surface, but if you go in-depth with some of the lyrics, it’s talking about the inevitability of growing old and dying (laughs).
PC: “Save Me” is one of the standout tracks on the album. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that song?
CH: That’s actually probably my most Jimi Hendrix influenced song. I wrote that one probably about three years ago now. I had just watched a documentary on the Eagles, and wanted to do something a little more on the rock side. I wanted to come up with a catchy riff, and that’s kind of what the acoustic part at the very beginning of it is, then it swells up into being something loud, heavy, fast and upbeat.
PC: You worked with Wes Sharon on “The Long Way Around.” What is it like to work with someone that has had the success that Wes has had as a producer?
CH: It was awesome! He had so many connections and so much experience. He knew exactly how to enable the ideas that I had and make them happen, and he was totally comfortable with shooting any ideas down that he knew weren’t going to work. It really helps in the long run, because it saves a lot of time at the studio. He also had a lot of connections, like the Turnpike Troubadours, and that’s how I got a couple of those guys to play on the record, as well as a couple other amazing session players who were awesome to work with.
PC: Do you have a favorite song on the album? If so, why is it so special to you?
CH: I think “Ball and Chain” is definitely my favorite. It’s special to me because that’s the style of songwriting that I strive for with every song; more of the artistic, subversive meaning that you really have to stop and wonder what the writer is actually talking about.
PC: What do you hope people take away from “The Long Way Around” after listening all the way through?
CH: I would like people to take away that different genres of music can come together. That’s the kind of music I like, and I think it would be cool for other people to understand that country doesn’t always have to be what you hear in pop-country now; things like back roads and drinking six packs and that kind of thing. Country can have more of a rock and roll of folk influence, and still be flexible with the term country. I want to help propel it back to its roots. The grassroots movement that’s coming in with Colter wall and Tyler Childers, I want to be a part of that, so I hope that’s what people take away from it.
PC: What are your plans for the rest of 2019?
CH: Right now I’ve got a radio promoter out of Austin, Texas, and she’s promoting me on Americana and Outlaw country stations across the country. I’ve also started sending out CDs to radio and labels. I’ve got a booking agent out of Chattanooga, Tennessee who’s been working on getting me some shows booked. Hopefully we’ll be doing a lot more touring in 2019 and 2020!
*All images courtesy of Cole Harris Facebook Page*