Columbus-based Americana band Harvest Kings sticks together, performs for the love of music
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 22:01
This is part of our weekly series titled "Columbus' Own," where we profile a local band every week.
Columbus-based Americana band Harvest Kings are “in it for the fun of it.”
“We all just love playing together,” said drummer Carolyn O’Leary. “It’s a lot of fun.”
The band members all have families and other jobs. They don’t spend their days in a recording studio or on the road touring, and they don’t plan to anytime soon. They play because they enjoy making music.
Vocalist John Joseph, who contributes most of the lyrics to the band’s music, fronts Harvest Kings. The band originated as his project in late 2008, Joseph said.
Songs from the band’s 2010 release, “Cardboard Crowns” have been featured on podcasts and have received radio play on Columbus’ NPR-affiliate, WCBE. Harvest Kings’ sound has been compared to singer-songwriter Ryan Adams and the country-punk rock band Lucero, Joseph said.
Although Joseph takes on much of the songwriting duties, he still collaborates largely with other musicians in the band, such as guitarist Chris Bair. Bair has not always been an official guitarist for Harvest Kings, but he worked with Joseph on some Harvest Kings songs at the band’s inception, some of which made it to “Cardboard Crowns,” such as “Just Like Yesterday” and “Beautifully Strange.” Bair was busy playing in his previous band, Silo the Huskie, shortly after Harvest Kings’ album was released.
“(A) little over a year ago (Harvest Kings) needed someone to fill in,” Bair said.
He thought it would be a temporary position but became a permanent member shortly after.
As it stands today, the band operates cohesively to create music, Joseph said, which will be shown more clearly on the next album, tentatively titled “Invisble Mud.”
“This next CD will be a much better representation of the band,” Joseph said. He hopes to release it by or before summer 2013.
Alongside O’Leary, Bair and Joseph, Harvest Kings also includes Jon Schaer on guitar and Kerry Stewart on bass, both of whom also contribute to the songwriting process. The two artists have co-written songs with Joseph — Schaer and Joseph collaborated on “What Are You Waiting For” and Kerry worked with Joseph to produce “Bullet Proof,” both of which are recordings Joseph said he plans on using for its next album.
Joseph said there is no formula to Harvest Kings’ songwriting process.
“Sometimes (the band) will bring a riff in,” Joseph said. “Sometimes I’ll put lyrics on top of it.”
At other times, Joseph will have written lyrics with “melodies completely hashed out” for the band. Other times, band members will “come in with full music and (he) will try to make the lyrics work around that.
The five members are experienced in playing in bands around Columbus.
In addition to Bair’s role in Silo the Huskie, O’Leary played in Scrawl. Bair said his time with Harvest Kings has been different than his experiences with past bands.
“I actually really enjoy this band,” Bair said. “(It’s) less business and more fun.”
When Harvest Kings performs live, Joseph said the audience is a key component to the show.
“I just want people to come, enjoy the music and have a good time,” Joseph said. “As long as people are there, I’ll be happy. We’ll always be a bar band, too.”
In regards to the future of Harvest Kings, Bair said he is realistic.
“We’re looking at it more of a hanging-out band,” Bair said. “The reality of where we’re going to go with music now … we’re not going to tour anytime soon.”
“We’re not in the studio eight hours a day,” O’Leary said. “We’re not practicing five days a week. We’ve all got families, we’ve all got jobs.”
However, O’Leary said the band is going to “hit it hard (with) writing” this year so Harvest Kings will have something released soon.
Joseph said he is interested in playing more festivals. Harvest Kings performed at the Circleville Pumpkin Show last fall.
The next Harvest Kings performance is scheduled for 8 p.m. Feb. 22 at Ace of Cups, located at 2619 N. High St., in celebration of Lost Weekend Records’ 10th anniversary. Lost Weekend Records is a record store located at 2960 N High St.
“We like to play, we like to create,” O’Leary said. “That’s why we do it. You can’t not do it, it’s always there buggin’ you. It’s always in you.”