“There are a lot of people who didn't want this record to come out” – hmv.com talks to We Are Harlot
When Asking Alexandria singer Danny Worsnop and Sebastian Bach guitarist Jeff George met back on New Year’s Eve in 2010, they hit it off so instantaneously that they were flat mates and working on new music within a couple of days. Forming the band We Are Harlot with bassist Brian Weaver and drummer Bruno Agara soon after, they set to work on their debut album, but, over the next three years, complication after complication threatened to derail the project completely.
Firstly there were the commitments to their main projects, then, as they discuss in our interview, an unwillingness on behalf of management, labels and various middle men to actually release the album. Now though the album is coming (it’s out on Monday), Worsnop has left Asking Alexandria and the band are free to focus on their debut LP.
Their self-titled debut album is a thrill ride, a throwback to the days when Led Zeppelin, Queen and Kiss ruled the airwaves; loud riffs, pounding percussion and vocals so sleazy it’s almost criminal.
We sat down with Worsnop and guitarist George to talk about the band’s difficult beginnings, moving on from Asking Alexandria and putting the fun back in rock and roll…
It’s been quite a long road to get here…
Danny: “Damn right. We started on this in 2011!”
Jeff: “It’s been a long trip, there are a lot of people who didn’t want this record to come out. This band is a great example of what happens when you believe in something and you don’t give up.”
When did you actually stop working on the songs to get ready for the album?
Danny: “About a week before we went into the studio.”
Jeff: “When Danny and I met on New Year’s Eve 2010, we literally moved in together two days later and started writing music. Some of the songs date right back to then, we’ve got hundreds of songs now, the next album will be ready in no time.”
Were Brian and Bruno around for recording too?
Danny: “Absolutely. This band isn’t like a lot of other bands where there’s one guy who does everything and everyone else gets sent what’s been done. We all work together, we’re all songwriters, we sit in a room together and make it happen organically.”
Jeff: “We go to the pub and then we come back and that’s generally when it happens. A song can come from anywhere.”
Is it important to you that it is a band of equals?
Danny: “Very much so. That’s how this band came to be. It was initially going to be a solo thing, but I was on tour in Europe and I was texting Jeff and Bruno and I realised I had so much invested in this band and these guys already.”
Jeff: “There are four huge personalities in this band, that really shows in the music, we love bands like Van Halen and Queen, you can hear the personalities of the guys in those bands, that’s what we want.”
You worked with two producers on the record, first Scott Stevens and then Kato Khandawala, why was that?
Danny: “Record companies try and get you to work with people who they think will do a good job. Then, why they don’t, you have to fire those people and delete their work and then work with a different, much better person.”
Jeff: “Kato, who we ended up working with, was good for us. He understood that we’re a missile and though you can try to guide us, we’re going to hit something in the end. Unlike a lot of other bands, we write everything ourselves, so the next record, we’re going to produce it ourselves too.”
How would you sum this record lyrically?
Danny: “It’s about sex.”
That’s pretty definitive…
Danny: “Well there’s a bit of deeper context as well, there’s bits about love and there’s ‘Flying Too Close To The Sun’ which is about our life of excess, but it’s mostly about sex, you write about what you know and what’s going on in your life.”
Jeff: “And there was a lot of sex going on.”
Danny: “There was.”
Jeff: “It’s best summed by the song ‘Dirty Little Thing’, we’d finished the music and Danny woke up at the crack of 4pm and wandered out, I said to him ‘Dude we’ve got to write the lyrics for that song today’, he was like ‘No, I don’t want to’, so I said to him ‘Well how was that girl you were with last night?’ and he goes ‘Oh she was a dirty little thing!’.”
Danny: “Song done!”
Jeff: “An hour later we’re back in the pub and we’ve got the song done.”
How much live stuff do you already have lined up?
Danny: “We start in the US with loads of festivals and then we’re off to Europe to start on the festivals over there. There’s a lot of tentative offers too.”
Jeff: “We’re going to be taking this thing to every corner of the globe, we want to bring the fun back to rock and roll.”
How has it been preparing for the album’s release in the wake of your departure from Asking Alexandria?
Danny: “I want to stress that me leaving Asking Alexandria had nothing to do with Harlot. It’s just a fortunate situation that I have a second job to focus on rather than sitting around, figuring out what I want to do. The reason I left that band was differences between me and them musically, not because I wanted to spend more time in Harlot. If Harlot didn’t exist, I’d still be sat talking about why I’m not in Asking Alexandria anymore. It was bumming me out and their new music was not the kind of thing I could see myself singing. I can do the thing I love and they can do the thing they love.”
It must be nice to be able to go straight in to something else…
Jeff: “Yeah, I mean this has been going on for four years, we’re ready. Rock music and playing music is such a personal thing, it’s your life, playing the type of music you like is so important. Danny loves Aerosmith and the blues and he’ll get the chance to showcase that.”
You must be pleased to have everyone’s complete focus…
Danny: “Yeah, definitely, it has opened up so many more windows and we can do so much more. We want to make this band as big as it can.”
Jeff: “Yeah, the focus is great. It’s great to just be able to talk about this too, we’ve been playing the record to people, right from demos up until it was finished and everybody was saying ‘This has to come out, I have to see you guys play’. We’ve always felt that way, so whether it was one show a year or a thousand, we still wanted to do it.”
Was there ever point where you thought ‘This album is never going to come out’?
Jeff: “I did think that at points.”
Danny: “I didn’t worry it would never come out, I thought for a while it would come out and get none of the time or attention it deserved. There were a lot of people trying to stop this band from happening.”
Is it fair to say this band is a bit of homage to stadium rock of the 70s? The Led Zeppelins, Queens and AC/DCs of the world. Are you trying to bring back that spirit?
Danny: “It’s more than that. This band has soul, every song has its own heartbeat.”
Jeff: “We were listening to the radio and every song sounded exactly that same. I couldn’t tell who was who. You go back to the 70s and you’ve got AC/DC, Kiss, Rush, Queen, Led Zeppelin, they all sound completely different and as soon as it comes on you know who they are. We have four totally different personalities in this band, we want you to be able to hear that. We didn’t invent the wheel, we’re keeping it rolling. We think music has lost the fun.”
Finally, having come from a band with a profile to a new band, are you looking forward to starting over in smaller venues again?
Danny: “You say that, but right now they’re trying to figure out now which bands they can put us out with. We can’t go with any new bands, we can really only go out with big bands, I don’t think this will be a band that spends time in the small clubs, this is an arena band.”
Jeff: “We’re really excited for all these festivals, that’s where we’re going to start.”
We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut album is released on Monday (March 30th). You can pre-order the album in store now.