Hutch Harris of The Thermals Talks Portland Bands, Elliott Smith, Saturated Music Scenes
|Hutch Harris is the nice fellow on the left|
Showing some real restraint, I kept the Elliott Smith questions to a minimum.
Up On The Sun: How has the northwest indie rock sound/scene - especially in Portland - changed since the band started out? There seems like there was an explosion of new bands around that time, so was it difficult to make a name for yourself in such a burgeoning scene?
Hutch Harris: The music scene is more saturated than when we started out. I would
think it's even harder to make a name for yourself now than it was then. It wasn't hard to make a name for ourselves because we are awesome. Also, a lot of the bands that "exploded" out of portland at that time weren't actually from there. We were.
UOTS: Was it difficult to follow up The Body, The Blood, The Machine with all the critical praise it received?
HH: It definitely pushed us to work hard. The lyrics on TBTBM are so respected that I have to try to always keep my lyrics smart.
UOTS: Who writes the majority of the songs?
HH: Some songs I write and bring to the band. Some songs we write as a trio, starting with a riff Kathy or I write on the spot, as we "jam" or whatever. I write the lyrics.
UOTS: What are some of your favorite bands and/or albums out right now?
HH: White Fang, Boom, Nurses, Explode Into Colors, Reporter, Glass Candy, Rib Cages. These are all awesome portland bands.
UOTS: Who are some of your favorite Portland bands that people outside of the city/region haven't heard of?
HH: Most of the bands I just listed. People know and love Glass Candy all over the world. People in scattered US cities know and love Explode Into Colors. Unfortunately they already broke up.
UOTS: Where was Personal Life recorded and how long was the process?
HH: It was recorded at Jackpot and Alberta Court in portland. Total of about 3 weeks recording and mixing.
UTOS: I loved your cover of "Ballad of Big Nothing" on the To Elliott: From Portland compilation. Could you speak to what an influence someone like Elliott Smith was to you?
HH: I can speak to what an influence Elliott himself was on us. We love him! He was (pretty much) from Portland (editor's note: born in Omaha, attended Lincoln High School in Portland) and he was on Kill Rock Stars, our record label. He was an amazing writer and musician, obviously!