Up and Coming: An interview with HRVRD
by Jeffrey Curry (Behavioral Neuroscience), published February 1st 2013
Naming yourself after the most recognizable university in the world is a ballsy move. It sets the bar awfully high for a band with only 7,500 Facebook fans. HRVRD is caught in the middle of a miserably competitive music scene where bands with good amounts of success aren’t guaranteed a bright future, but the North Carolina post-hardcore turned indie-experimental (or something) quintet are acing all their classes. I caught up with guitarist Jason Shaw the day before the band left for their first national tour supporting letlive.
Tastemakers Magazine: What was your inspiration for choosing the band name Harvard?
Jason: There really was no significant inspiration. It’s not complicated, it’s just a stupid thing that happened. We were searching for a band name and we wanted a unique name but in this day and age everybody’s got all the cool band names. The only thing we could agree on was that we wanted it to be one word and easily recognizable. Somebody said “Harvard” one day and nobody said no. I tell people that none of us care what the name of our band is, we just care about the music that we’re playing.
TMM: When I started listening to you guys, I had a terribly hard time googling your name. Did this have a role in dropping the vowels?
J: It was a wonderfully happy coincidence; we didn’t really want to change our name but it came to a point where it became necessary. The main reason was that we had received a cease and desist from Harvard University. Tons of lawyers come out of that school and one day we were going to get sued for using the same name. When we changed the name, it was directly because of legal action but we didn’t want to undo the effort that we had already put into the band, so we took out the a’s and for the most part we add the spaces when we can.
TMM: On your first EP, there are a lot of post-hardcore elements. What was your reasoning for transitioning into a less aggressive sound on The Inevitable and I?
J: We all just were feeling a change in the style of music that we wanted to play and The Inevitable and I is still aggressive in quite a few places but we wanted to be a different style of band. We decided to completely cut screaming out of our music altogether because we have an awesome singer so we want to let him shine, you know? Each record we write is going to be different because we’re never going to be in the same mood.
TMM: In the last twenty years, Equal Vision Records has propelled many bands into household names. What did it feel like to sign to such an influential label?
J: It was awesome. There are a huge number of bands that Equal Vision has put albums out for that I’ve loved.
TMM: What type of sound can we expect to hear on your upcoming Equal Vision debut, From the Bird’s Cage?
J: The difference between The Inevitable and I and From the Bird’s Cage is huge. There are new things that each of us stepped out of our box to get to and the overall sound is dark. It’s really dark.
TMM: If there was a HRVRD sandwich, what would be on it?
J: *Laughs* A HRVRD sandwich, I do not know. If we were talking about all of us, I would say that everyone agrees on chicken fingers. We could put that with some honey mustard. Excellent question.
TMM: Who do you personally consider to be your biggest musical influences?
J: Personally, I adore The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and a ton of classic rock. I’m also very huge into motown and all of my favorite singers are probably girls in motown. I love Sam Cook. We all love so much different music so it’s hard to say who our main influences are. There are so many awesome musicians in this world.
TMM: What is your favorite song to play live?
J: Ah, that’s a hard question. I don’t know, I guess “French Girls” would be up there because I love that song. I’m very proud of our band for writing that song. It’s really intense and I think people really enjoy hearing us play it. They really get into it and sing along. We add the horns in as well.
TMM: Who would you play with on your ideal tour lineups?
J: I would love to play with At the Drive-In. They could headline because there’s no way we could play after them! *laughs* If we could tour with At the Drive-In and O’ Brother that would be a sick tour. Omar’s gonna be so busy with Bosnian Rainbows he won’t even think about ATDI. He wasn’t even concerned about his reunion!