In our next artist spotlight we talk to Preston/York-based multi-instrumental alt-rock singer-songwriter, Harrison Rimmer about his music and inspirations.
What are the main experiences that inspire your music?
I’d love say it was a certain gig, or riff or drum fill or book but to be honest. It’s things that I come across in everyday life really that influence me. When I started out hearing the likes of Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Hound Dog’, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’, Don McClean’s ‘American Pie’, Robert Johnson’s ‘Sweet Home Chicago’, Nirvana’s ‘Blew’, Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Time after Time’, Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’, Slayer’s ‘Reign In Blood’. I’d be jumping for whatever instrument was near by and start listening for the little things they were doing in their material and try and emulate them in my own way.
These days when it comes to writing songs, I’ve strayed a little from jumping at the nearest instrument. I’d just be pottering around painting something or playing the guitar and then something would come around that really gets to me. I don’t write down my lyrics at first, I’m the sort of writer who’ll jot the lyric idea down, click record and sing whatever is in my head 4 or 5 times and then work around it.
I always think of the younger version of me. Teaching myself the drums and bass playing a long to the likes of Slipknot, Sepultura, Nirvana, Busted, Johnny Cash, Kate Voegele, The Doors, literally anything I could get my hands on and think, man I wish I could write something like this. And to be fair I tried to emulate the styles of those musicians and get really annoyed when I’d come out with something I wasn’t aiming for, like my first ever song “Wish” which I didn’t plan on writing it just came out of my head. And it was very cheesy and I’m rather proud of it cause it’s mine. I guess when I really think about it, I write to get all my thoughts and feelings out and hope that it inspires someone to pick up their guitar, sticks or whatever. To put their voice to paper and just get out there.
I have 2 thoughts that go in my head when it comes to writing music:
The first was from when I was around 14/15 and my Music Teacher Miss Young said in choir practice, “Anyone can sing. It’s finding the style that suits you best.” It’s something I tell anyone and everyone cause it’s true!
I tried a load of genres before settling in what I do. From Rap to Blues, Choral to Jazz, Reggae to Soul, Country to Deathcore. I’ve had a go and I’m still doing it to this day.
And number 2, if I’m happy with a song and someone doesn’t like it, then I’m sorry there’s the door. I urge anyone who writes, even if you think the thing they’ve come up with is the worst thing they’ve ever written, keep it. Play it live see what happens. If it flops there’s always something that you didn’t realise was there, a riff, a hook, a beat, whatever it could lead on to something you could be proud of.
You’ll always be your worst critic.
Talk us through ‘Ripped Up Magazine’ and the ideas that inspired that?
This was a song I didn’t plan on writing nor did I’d ever imagine writing something like this or that people would like it. The reason I say that is because I said to myself I’m just going to record all these old songs I have left over from my last EP, ‘Empire’ and then I can start writing new stuff. That didn’t happen. For ‘C’ I wrote, this song, ‘Scared’, ‘Roots’ and a load of other material, I got told off for trying to put too much new material on the EP! I don’t regret those songs at all.
I can weirdly recall how I was stood writing this one. And that’s very rare. I was standing in my bedroom, in the doorway, with my beat up Yamaha guitar in hand, my phone resting on the side of mattress that was being propped up by my chest of drawers with my phone placed on it with a ratty bit of paper near by and my dog running up stairs to make sure I wasn’t hurt. I began writing it around January 2015, it wasn’t the greatest of starts to a year, I shan’t bore you with the details but to frank I really didn’t really like myself and I needed to get this negative feeling out.
So I had been playing around with my favourite country Wagon Wheel for a while and I was really digging the flow of it. So I tried to write something in that style, like I did when I was starting out. If you hear the old demos, ‘Ripped Up Magazine’ was meant to be a lot slower! But I didn’t like that, so I sped it up and it felt perfect. And I felt good about myself again.
Going into the studio to record the drums was something I’ll never forget. Here’s something I never told anyone: I felt like I was 14/15 again. Granted it wasn’t that long ago by this point but there hasn’t been many tracks that have just thrown me like that. All the memories of getting on the drum stool with my sticks ready to hit the drums at the second the guitar came in it brought back all the memories of me drumming to Frank Turner, Phil Collins, Probot and everything. That track set up ‘C’. I wanted it to be the most raw thing that I had released to date, so there are some mistakes but it’s how I was feeling.
What has been a career highlight?
Good question! That’s really difficult question….Ah too many! After sifting through my photographs and everything, I’ll have to say one of my top 10 has to be the time I got an email from Thailand.
There was a guy who reached out to me back in 2013 who had heard my song, ‘Curled Up’ and asked if it would be okay if he was to propose to his girlfriend with that song and of course I said yes, and then she said yes! What really made this more special was when I released the follow up EP, ‘Empire’ they reached out again saying how they loved ‘Small Worries’ – a song I wrote about a friend becoming a parent – and wanted to let me know they were expecting their first baby.
What top five local bands are you digging right now?
Now this is a real tough one. I’m always listening to stuff being produced in all local scenes. Top five from York currently…Really tough cause there’s so much awesome stuff out there:
2.) On the Ropes
5.) Magnificent Seven
To be honest though, man I love all the music that is coming out of York. Bands like Y Street Band had a huge influence on me as well as Vinnie and the Stars, Joshua Burnell’s stuff, One Way Street, Boss Caine, The Bramble Napskins and so many others. Also, even Seep Away as well man, if it sounds like I’m sucking up I ain’t [I play drums in that band, so cheers Harrison! Ha!], that’s not my style. Seeing you guys play an listening to your stuff took me back especially hearing ‘Trudge’. I could go on for hours about all the music I’m digging right now locally but I don’t think you’ll have the time to go through my essay on it cause they’re all awesome musician and people and I’m lucky to call them my friends. The UK has that many great scenes and I’m proud that I found my music/myself in York. I owe it a lot.
What keeps you passionate about creating, outside of music – think people, places and things?
What keeps me passionate about creating outside of music…that’s something I’ve really thought about. Ever since I started writing I’ve never really taken a step back. But I’ll have to say the following have inspired me, so please bare with this is off the cuff so may be all over the place:
My family, whether they’re related to me or not or even if they’re pets they inspire me. When I hear stories of their crazy adventures, the highs and the lows from when they were young I think of what I’ve done and I’m driven to get out there and make my own memories and see what this world has to offer and what I can give back in return. I’m lucky to come from a family where I have been encouraged me to pick up and play instruments – fun little fact my mum has played Cozy Powell [Whittesnake]’s drum kit! They remind me constantly there is more to life than just playing music, but I’m just too focused on it to notice.
I’ve learnt to skateboard this year and I do photography on the side, as well as painting, and speaking Norwegian from time to time and still reading books on Theology and looking at different Religions even though I finished my degree two years ago. I just love seeing other cultures, how they express with paintings, sculptures, their beliefs. I cannot lie with this year being so crazy with touring I’ve been finding more things that keep the old fires burning. Visiting different places with my girlfriend, my friends or even when I’m on my own on the road there’s just something new everyday. It’s just getting out there and finding them. I like finding new places.
A memory that stuck with me this year was the start of the ‘C’ tour in April, I was sat in the car park of Morrison’s in Camden about to play at Belushi’s and I was terrified, it was the first solo gig in London. I called four people, I felt a bit better but once I got on that stage and played and realised I had nothing to worry about, I was taken back to all the times I’ve travelled to somewhere where I knew no one there.
Out of the many places I’ve travelled to 2 places stand out and that’s Norway and Northern Cyprus. I have fond memories of both places. With Norway I’ve been to Oslo, Bergen, Stavanger but the particular place was when I went to Tromsø and lived there for a month to research my dissertation. I didn’t know anyone there except for a university lecturer who I met once and that was it. It was in the summer and the feeling of being alone didn’t bother me at all. I think back there sometimes when I’m getting ready to play a show or write a song or meet new people and it’s like a rush, I can’t really describe it.
It was the same in Northern Cyprus, I was out there just finishing uni with no clue what the hell I was doing. I was there to see my family and relax. I found myself driving all over the place to places like Kyrenia and just enjoying being lost for a while. Seeing their culture how it’s so laid back and how they interact with each other opened up a little bit more of me.
I guess that’s what it’s like being me. I have an idea of what I want to do with myself creatively, there’s a drive but no plan and I kind of like it that way. Once there’s an idea the plan or the idea slowly comes together.
It’s like when I moved to York in 2011 to start uni. I didn’t know who anyone there, I didn’t know if this city would feel like home and I sure as hell didn’t know if people will like my music but I was determined to find out. I guess that kind of is what keeps me going creatively.