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Interview with Mick Harris of Lull - conducted via phone 11/22/96

Jester: In the past six months you have released a Scorn, Lull, and the Collapse record with James Plotkin. How do you find time to write so much music?

Mick: Actually the Collapse record is quite old. The recording itself is over a year old and came out about 4-5 months ago. The same with the Scorn recording as well. Lull is the newest, mostly because I hadn't done a Lull album for nearly two years. It is quite different than previous material. Relapse came to me with an album offer after I composed a track for a compilation of theirs which still hasn't been released yet. So I approached them with the idea of an album consisting of a single track that could quite possibly be the last Lull record. They were happy with the idea and that was just released a month ago.

Jester: Where did you come up with the idea of recording an album with only a single track?

Mick: It is just me being a hermit really. I'm always complaining that tracks are not long enough in the music that I listen too. I really enjoy long pieces whether they are beat oriented or not. I like that, especially in experimental music and it has always been an influence on me. For me, as a listener I have always enjoyed trying to get into some of these longer tracks. To me that was what Lull was always about, to get in and work my way around a track. It was something that I had always wanted to do and Lull was the perfect project for it.

Jester: Now that both Lull and Scorn are both solo projects how do you differentiate between the two musical styles?

Mick: They are two completely different projects stylistically. One has beats and the other doesn't. The both have atmospheres and a feeling to them. With Lull I have been exploring the concepts of working without a beat and Scorn working with a beat. They do have different sounds but there are a few parallels. Personally I know the difference so I understand the different moods and feelings that come about when I am creating a particular track for each project.

Scorn has always had a kind of funk, with beat and low bass. I've just finished another Scorn record that won't be available until February on KK Records in Europe. I've finally managed to get away from Earache Records. We did manage to part on good terms which I am glad about. I've signed a one record deal with KK Records. I will only be signing one album deals from now on to see how the relationship will work with a new label. I don't want to get involved with any bad relationships again because it did end up being such a bad nightmare there at the end with Earache.

Jester: I noticed on the new Scorn you went back to doing vocals and I wondered why?

Mick: Well it depends on what you consider vocals. I think people have gotten the wrong impression about what they consider as vocals. The whole thing was an intensely personal record and was sort of an attack at Earache Records. It was really made for me and things that I cared about. I did know that it was my last record for Earache and it originally only started out as a four track EP. I really had no more concern for the label and decided to go into the studio and really have fun with the record this time out. I can't even explain the personal level of the record or the humor in the attack of the label. It is not really an album, but more of an extension of a 12" than ended up being an album just to end the contract with Earache.

Jester: What struck me as odd about that Scorn album was how beat oriented it really was, yet so minimalistic at times.

Mick: I know what I am doing with Scorn and how I want to shape it but I never know what the final result of an album will be. Yes it is a very minimal record but it is extremely personal. There is a lot going on, yet in a very minimal manner. It was designed to be a very listener oriented album to allow people to pick out the various pieces they will pick up after few listens.

The new record is perhaps the shortest Scorn record I've ever done, 48-49 minutes, only nine tracks. It is very beat oriented, yet stripped down. You'll just have to wait for it to get a real understanding of what I mean. It will have a simultaneous release by KK Records in Europe and Invisible Records in America in February. There is definitely going to be touring with this album. Both Martin and I want me to come to America and to finally tour there. We just have to work out the particulars so that it doesn't affect my health. It won't be a very long tour because to be honest I need to be at home in the studio working. However, there will be a four to five week tour definitely in America. I am going to be talking with Martin about coming over right after the release of the album on February 18th and work out all the details very soon. Things are really picking up over there and yet I've never been on a tour in America in the five year history of the band.

Jester: Martin is doing an excellent job of bringing English bands over to America for the first time.

Mick: In general Martin has been very positive to me and that is what I have been looking for in a label. I don't know if he truly understands my music but he seems to be very positive.

Jester: What first inspired you to compose and release music?

Mick: I grew up as a punk. So basically I looked for aggressive and powerful music and Punk was always a release for me. I had always wanted to play drums because it was a loud, physical instrument that you could get into. Then Napalm Death came around and after seeing advertisements in Birmingham, I wanted to try and sing for the band. I didn't get it but several months later I started hanging out with Justin Broderick and we clicked. So I ended up joining Napalm Death as the drummer.

Jester: Why do you still make music today?

Mick: I have a passion for making music. It's there and I don't want to get out of it. Music is a great way of expressing myself and I get a great feeling from it. I have my own studio and it is very easy to just continue the process of making music like I always have. I don't have to worry about paying for studio time because I am a self taught engineer. If it sounds good for me, then it has always been good enough. It is still a challenge and I don't wish to do anything else because it is all I know.

Jester: Are you a self taught musician as well?

Mick: Yes in every instrument I play. It has all been trial and error. If you listen to any Scorn record, none of it is in tune or in key because I don't work with music that way. I can't read or write music, nor do I wish or want to. I know what sounds right and that is what music is all about. If it is not a challenge, forget it. If you have to write music in key, then forget it, I don't want to write that kind of music.

Jester: Where do you see your music going in the future?

Mick: I don't know. What can you or anyone else really say? I will just continue to go on doing it and see how it goes. There are still a large number of projects that I will continue to work on. I'd like to do a lot more collaborating as well. I really enjoy mixing other people's ideas with my own and seeing the end result. I'd also probably like to do a little bit more with production but it isn't really something I'd have to do. By production, I mean being exposed to more artists who write similar music that I do and being able to relate to what they are doing by helping them come up with something interesting.

For example working on the Sielwolf record was a interesting task for me. Originally they sent me a copy of an old album and a new demo tape. So when I talked to them, I told them that the older material was not a sound that I normally worked with but the new demo material was something that made sense for me to help them out with.

Jester: If you could choose anyone to collaborate with, who would it be?

Mick: I'd love to do something with John Hassle. However, he seems to be a difficult man to get a hold of and I doubt he has ever heard of anything that I have ever done. I've tried to contact him but I do think it might be kind of fruitless. I'd also like to work with Robin Guthrie, the guitarist of Cocteau Twins. The style of treated guitar that he uses is something that really interests me.

Jester: In what little free time you have, what types of music and artists do you listen to?

Mick: I listen to a lot of old jazz Coltrane, Miles Still and John Hassle. I listen to a lot of Experimental Avante-Garde Kraut Rock and Electro-Acoustic material. I also listen to some intersting Drum'n'Bass, but there is a lot of junk as well. There are a few good Techno bands as well. One of my favorite labels is located in America in a town called Kalamazoo named Black Nation Records which is run by a guy named Jay Denham. Most of the material on his label has a good mood.

Jester: That is odd. Kalamazoo is my home town. I was born and raise there for over twenty years. I'll have to look into that label the next time I am home for the holidays.

Mick: They just released their 20th 12". What I enjoy about them is the fact that they have their own sound. They are not a highly rated label among other labels and DJ's but in Europe they are readily accepted in the underground Techno market. It is a lot more experimental compared to most of the European Techno which I really enjoy.

I also listen to most of the stuff off Basic Channel Record and Chain Reaction Records run by a guy named Maritzio. He is releasing a great deal of really unique music. Metroplex is another excellent Detroit label. Rob Hood is a very good experimental Techno DJ/artist from Detroit. Implant Records, Jeff Mills, Axis Records are some others.

Jester: Have you drawn any influence from the artists you listen to or is the majority of your music mostly personal?

Mick: It is a little of both. I have such a passion for music and sounds in general, but one cannot be helped being influenced by the music they listen to. A lot of things influence me, there is no one particular thing that influences me more than another.

Jester: Is there anything you would like to add in conclusion?

Mick: James Plotkin and I will be doing another collaboration for Sub Rosa Records. I did an album with a guy called M. Teho Teardo called Matera with will be coming out on Invisible Records in America through KK. It was done in my studio but is more of his material rather than is being a true collaboration. The new Scorn will be out February 18th and is titled "Zander" which is a name of a fish. I also finished a project with a guy from Sigillum S with whom I have collaborated with before. I am doing another Drum'n'Bass project in a weeks time with someone else for Sub Rosa records as well.

Then I have some touring to do in the late winter and spring and then back to the studio. There is just loads of stuff to work on. I also started my own label called Possible Records. There have been a few 12"s and a single CD. There will be another album being released on it before Christmas as well as a few more 12"s and then I will put it on hold for a bit so I can tour. There is a Scorn 12", Ambush, PCM, Coit and a few others as well. It is a mood, Atmospheric, Breakbeat label with a little Drum'n'Bass.

It doesn't ever seem to stop. The Scorn tour will definitely happen. It will just be a small club tour which is fine by me as long as the clubs have a lot of bass and the club doesn't moan about my volume. I refuse to play with bad speakers and low volumes. If I can't feel the music myself then I know the audience isn't feeling it. The audience has to feel it otherwise they will not truly understand the music. I might even do a few Lull shows in the East Coast if Relapse asks me.

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