HARPER SIMON

"I come up with ideas on my guitar. In my room or in the bathroom for the echo."

Yes, he's the son of Paul Simon. Yet, he's also a highly competent musician in his own right. He now announces the follow-up to his critically acclaimed debut with a new album, Division Street, produced by Tom Rothrock (Elliot Smith, Beck).

We sat down with Harper to discuss his new album, how he comes up with new ideas and his favourite music media formats.

Harper Simon down Division Street
With Division Street, Harper Simon dives into new musical territory and a much more rough rock sound. We had the pleasure of talking to Harper Simon about his new album:

"My new record is very 1974/75. New York Stones-y Rock 'n' Roll with some acoustic folk-rock numbers thrown in. I always enjoyed that moment when the hippie thing was over and the punk concept hadn't been quite formulated yet. Kind of confused and a little dissolute. There's a sweet spot in there somewhere."

Division Street – salvation and dark roads
What is Division Street a metaphor for?

"Sometimes we may be at pivotal moments in our lives and not recognise it. There are moments when our lives can go in different directions. Some people find salvation. Others go down some pretty dark roads."

Division Street certainly looks like a departure for Harper Simon. The sound is much more driven by electric guitars than his alt-country-flavoured debut. How does he seek and find these new directions?

Simple rock is incredibly difficult
"I come up with ideas on my guitar. In my room or in the bathroom for the echo. Then I work it out with a drummer. In this case, the great Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Attractions. Then, I slowly get some lyrics together.

The mission was to make the kind of rock 'n' roll record I would want to listen to myself. Which sounds simple but is, in fact, incredibly difficult," says Harper Simon, adding that his main inspiration sources are women, nature, art, architecture and films.

Vinyl is the best
As regards sound and hi-fi, how do you prefer to listen to music? What is good sound and loudspeakers to you?

"I listen to a lot of music in my car since I live in L.A. I'm not crazy for the sound of iPods, but I listen to them anyway. Vinyl is the best. MP3s are the worst. When people listen to music over the little speakers in their computer it drives me crazy."

On Division Street, there's a lo-fi folk/country track called Just Like St. Teresa. What's the song about?

"It's about different forces pulling you in different directions. Art, creativity, relationships. Spirituality and self-destructive impulses," Harper explains, which seems like a paradox in itself – a beautiful tune contrasted by thoughtful, melancholic lyrics.

Farewell to Sunset Boulevard
Harper is currently planning a tour in 2013 with Division Street, which was recorded with a small coterie of guest musicians, including Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello's Attractions on drums, Nikolai Fraiture from the Strokes on bass, as well as Nate Walcott from Bright Eyes and Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen.

Harper Simon ends the interview hoping to be able to come to Scandinavia to play his music – while looking out on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. "The architecture doesn't compare to Copenhagen though," he quietly concludes.

Find out more about Harper Simon on Facebook and www.harpersimon.com.

- Rune H. Jensen, rhj@dali.dk

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