10 Questions with Harijan

After making waves in the early 00’s with their intriguing take on the genre, influential Manchester ska punk legends Harijan will this year release their long awaited and highly anticipated debut album on TNSrecords. We caught up with the band following their long hiatus to see what they had to say.

Please introduce the band?

Harijan are Mike who sings, howls, scats and skanks; Ian who works the bass guitar like a supreme sonic embroiderer; Danny who knows how to show some drums a good time; Andy and Rick who fuck about with guitars; Alex who trumpets the party into a frenzy; Ewan and Joe who parp the trombones like a rumble in the jungle; and Robert “G” Garstang, who saxes like a saxy master glass-blower.

Which of your releases should people check out first and what track is your definitive song?

Hard to pick a definitive track, as we feel that each song has its own identity to some degree – but if we had to we would probably choose “Curriculum Vitae.” This is one of our older, solid set-openers. As for releases which people should check out first, we have a split EP with the John Player specials which was released back in the depths of time which features some cracking artwork too. Also it would be nice if people check out our forthcoming first single ‘Downer’ from the album which will follow.

Which member of the band is guaranteed to make you late getting to the gig and why?

Harijan are a close and warm family unit, who would never leave a member hanging out to dry, in the cold. However, once, when we had two gigs in one night – the first in Dunbarton near Glasgow, and the second in Edinburgh – Rick took a wrong slip-road and ended up getting half the band to the second gig (at Whistle Binky’s) after the other half had already set up and the promoter was getting ready to pull the gig and go home. (Rick maintains that Edinburgh’s one-way system also played its part.) Another time, Andy showed up after the rest of the band had started the set so was vetoed from getting up on stage. Andy later said he had a mint night and it was his favourite Harijan gig to date. So the answer to this one is probably the guitarists.

What is your favourite venue to play?

After much discussion within the band, there really isn’t a single answer to this one either. Some venues we’ve loved playing are the 1in12 in Bradford, for its class conscious ethos, but not for the stairs. Retro Bar has been a favourite because it’s been like a sticky-floored home to us, being the venue that TNS and Bomb Ibiza Ska Bar both regularly had us play at – but not for the stairs.

Farnworth Snooker Club was always a blast, and didn’t have any stairs. Recently we’ve enjoyed playing at The York in Bolton, which is a place everyone should go and have at least a pint, and Rebellion Manchester, which has fantastic sound.

Tell us about something ridiculous that has happened to you whilst on the road.

On a mini tour with Autonomads back in 2009 or some year, we stayed in a brilliant squat house in Bristol. Unfortunately it was raided by police in the night after some numpty left the front door open. We don’t all remember that. Danny and Andy once ended up staying in a house where some sort of orgy started occurring in the room they were sleeping in. They maintain that they didn’t join in.

On the way back from a pumping gig in Stevenage (or London as us uncouth Northerners referred to it at the time), for which we’d hired a van, one anonymous member lost his glasses underneath an articulated lorry because he didn’t want to ask Ian to pull back off the motorway, but was desperate for a number one, and he couldn’t hold on to the van ceiling handle, his todger and his specs all at the same time so the wind blew them off (the glasses).

What are the best and worst bits of being in an underground/DIY band?

Best bits: the DIY scene around you – support seems ever present, especially when you’ve got DIY outfits and promoters like TNS and others around the country. Genuine passion for it in others becomes clear, and you are soon able to suss out those with ulterior motives, eg pay-to-play gigs – AVOID! – vs. putting bands on for the love of seeing live music. The camaraderie and positive vibes among the DIY scene, which is naturally made up of compassionate left-wing types, is a definite plus.

Worst bits:
depends on why you are doing it and what you want from it. Sometimes the worst bit is before you play your set, there’s an undeniable rising tension for some of us! The release you get when you’re on stage is worth it though.

What up and coming bands should we all be checking out?

Everyone needs to check out Gurnal Gadafi. They are the hottest band in town, combining heavy riffs and hardcore vocals with poetry breakdowns. They are a fierce outfit and a special band! Go watch their incredible live lockdown set on the LAD$ collective fb page (posted 11th July). Also if you like found sounds and anonymous pot and pipe bashers have a look at Prangers.

Any advice for emerging bands/bands just starting out?

Practise hard and be organised. It won’t really come together without these things. Do it if you want to do it. Enjoy and pay attention to other bands. Everyone on this scene is going to be pretty non-judgemental and supportive. Above all people like to have a good time. Be prepared for stairs.

What’s next for you guys in the short term and the long term?

Next for us in short term is the release of our three singles from the album we’ve done! Then we have the album which you can buy, there will be a limited run of exciting and very high quality double vinyl, and plenty of CDs/digipacks. In the long-term, we’ll have to wait and see. What with all sorts of crazy shit going off, but let’s all hope the future is a Big Fat Yes.

Finally, and most importantly, what is the biggest animal you could take down with your bare hands? Hypothetically, of course. We like animals. We often put them on t-shirts.

A pig (but we would never hurt an animal)!