Catching Up With Harriet’s Alex Casnoff

Music Features

Harriet, the band fronted by former Dawes and PAPA pianist Alex Casnoff, is set to release their debut EP, Tell the Right Story, on Jan. 31. The band — which is made up of Casnoff, guitarist Adam Gunther, bassist Aaron Folb and drummer Henry Kwapis — came together after Casnoff wanted to perform the songs that appear on Tell the Right Story.

We’ve already heard the band’s first single, “”I Slept with All Your Mothers, and yesterday Casnoff gave us some back story on the band’s upcoming release:

What does Harriet’s EP title, Tell the Right Story, mean to you?

AC: I think it’s about the importance of words and the importance of self-representation. The title, Tell the Right Story, is addressed to the listener. Everything is a story. Ignore the facts and choose wisely.

It seems like there are a lot references to family relationships on the EP, even the band name “Harriet” comes from your grandmother. Were you thinking a lot about family when you recorded the EP?

AC: It’s always on my mind, I mean, I still live at home (laughs). And I’m very close to my family, but a lot of these songs are stories. All of the emotions come from my imagination or stories I’ve heard. Maybe a basis of a character or a song comes from somebody I know or my family, but most of the time it’s stretched and changed.

What are you most proud of on Tell the Right Story?

AC: That we finished it (laughs). That I was able to let go at the end of it, because I always want to change one more thing.

What was the idea behind calling the first single “I Slept With All Your Mothers”?

AC: I don’t think I thought a lot specifically about the title. I think it was an emotion I was feeling, but it was a complicated emotion. It was sadness and anger and guilt and all of these things at once that are sort of associated with breakups. It’s basically something that you say that you don’t necessarily mean but you feel, and that’s what the thought was.

How did Harriet’s line up come together?

AC: It’s different from the other bands that I’ve been in that have been predicated on friendships. This was a band that came together after we created the music. I wrote a bunch of songs and then got a bass player and drummer together, who are the bass player and drummer now for the band. But the guitar player wasn’t on the record — I played some of the guitars with (producer) Sean O’ Brien (on the album).

Aaron Folb and Henry Kwapis, who are the bass player and the drummer, played on the record. And Sean O’ Brien moved back to New York City and he suggested we meet up with his friend (Adam Gunther).

The band sort of came together out of necessity of having this EP and wanting to play it live. It has actually worked out really well, and we’ve created a lot of friendships out of that, but most of the time, bands I’ve been in — besides Dawes, I was brought into that on a necessity level— most of the bands that I’ve been in have been based out of high school or college friends.

The press release for the EP said it was inspired by classic storytelling and movies. What specifically inspired you?

AC: I think I’m a musician and a songwriter because that’s what I’ve been doing my whole life, but I think my first love is the movies. In terms of songwriting, I think I’m extremely influenced by screenwriters and dialogue almost more than poetry. I think I like music that, when you’re driving, makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger than the drive.

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