Interview Marshall Harner
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My foundations in music started when I received a drum kit for Christmas at the age of 8. I then very quickly picked up the guitar and started singing. My dad was a pretty good guitar player, and getting an education in music through music lessons and learning instruments was something that was made available to me from an early age. Had I not started a career in music I would probably be pursuing a career in audio engineering, which is still mostly related to the music industry.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I work out every day on top of going to school and working on music. I also enjoy cooking, and I often find myself testing out new recipes. I don’t know that any of those necessarily influence my creativity directly other than my school classes which are related to music, music production and the music industry. I do find that these are good outlets for me when I don’t have ideas for new songs.
How long has your band been around?
I’ve been performing and writing my own music since I was thirteen, so almost seven years now. I’ve always experimented with a multitude of different genres, anything from singer-songwriter acoustic to progressive metal. I think having a diverse background in terms of genres has been extremely helpful in my development as a musician.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m originally from Washington, D.C. but I’m currently located and have lived in Nashville, Tennessee for the past 2 years. Growing up in D.C. had a huge impact on my development as a musician. There’s a very strong Metal scene as well as Rap. Both of those genres were hugely influential to me as a kid, and I think my lyrics and melodies tend to combine elements from both genres, while still being R&B at the core.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
My stage name is simply my first and last name. When releasing music, I’ve always wanted to be true to myself and honest about who I am as a person and an artist, so I decided to use my real name.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
I’ve had a few very memorable shows around the D.C. area. At one show I played, Jon Bernthal from “The Punisher” and “The Walking Dead” showed up. At another show Paul Ryan, who’s a very famous American Politician, was there. I think my most memorable show was a show I played with a metal band I used to be in called Okulus. We played a show at Baltimore
Soundstage to a fairly large crowd, and the audience response was absolutely fantastic.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I love playing house shows. It’s a much more intimate setting, and I feel much more connected to the audience. It’s also generally people who are much more familiar with my music which is great as well. I’d love to do a show at Brooklyn Bowl or The Basement in Nashville. The 9:30 club in D.C. has always been at the top of my list of dream venues.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
There’s a bunch of artists I would love to perform with. I’d like to set up a small festival type lineup with Nothing, Nowhere, The Weeknd, Diveliner, Sleep Token, Bobby Raps, Corbin / Spooky Black, Steven Moses, Frank Ocean, and Field Medic.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I think my main piece of advice would be the same for both. Practice a hell of a lot more, it pays off.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
If I could give my younger self any piece of advice I’d probably tell myself to write a lot more music. I think I stopped writing for a while when I was in High School, and I can’t imagine some of the songs that I missed out on during that time period.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
“Show Me” off of my latest album. The lyrics are also very honest and confessional, and I think it’s the longest amount of time I’ve ever spent on developing a song.
Also “Nerves” off of my album “Daydream” is also a song that means a lot to me. I think it’s my most honest song, and the lyrics definitely show that.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
In terms of cover songs, I love playing “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, and it gets requested quite a bit at certain times. For my own songs, “Floorboards” and “Watching Stars” usually get requested the most when I’m playing acoustic sets, and “Drunk” is by far my most requested song when it comes to R&B.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
I do everything on my own for the most part, so it very much depends on what mood I’m in. Sometimes I feel like recording guitar parts, sometimes I feel like making beats, and sometimes I feel like writing lyrics. Generally my process for making a song is combining a bunch of elements together from little bits and pieces I’ve created over the last few days or weeks. It’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle until everything fits. Once all the instruments and vocals are laid out, I’ll record, mix and master everything over a two-day period.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
My lyrics are often very confessional. I try to be very honest in my music and describe different situations or aspects of my life. Most of my subject matter covers relationships, family bonds and issues, substance abuse, and my own mental health.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
Since it’s just me working on songs, other than when I have features such as Dez B, Jay Brown, Grayson, Ben Tsakopulos, or Miles Todd, there are never really any disagreements. However, there are times where I get halfway through finishing a song, and determine that it’s not worth finishing because it’s simply not good enough. I’m very picky when it comes to what songs I release and what gets turned into a finished product. Sometimes I have to finish a project completely to see its full potential.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’ve already started working on a new album, and I’m working on booking shows across Nashville and other cities across the country. I’m hoping to do some shows in my hometown as well as New York, LA and Atlanta. My latest album “When the Night Was Just the Time When We Could Fall Asleep” released in January, and can be found on all digital platforms, vinyls will be released soon as well.