Thanks so much to Andy Sandom for this exclusive interview!
++ When and how did Red Harvest start? Where in England were you based? How did you knew each other? Who were the members?
Red Harvest formed at university in Norwich, not sure exactly when, but probably late 1985. The original members were Steve Morris (vocals), Tony Barnard (Bass Guitar), Mark Huggett (Drums), Christine Ellis (Keyboards) and Phil Martin (Guitar). They all moved to London after university, and that was when I joined the band as a harmonica player. Steve Morris was a work colleague of mine at the time. I was playing in a psychobilly band called Saddlewhores at the Clarendon in Hammersmith and Steve came along to see us one night. After the gig, he invited me to a reheasal session with his band, Red Harvest, and I became a permanent member after that.
++ Do you know if the band members being involved in other bands before or after Red Harvest?
I know Mark Huggett is still playing drums, and has been very successful on the jazz circuit. You can google his name and find out plenty of info about him. I really don’t know about the others, I’ve lost touch after all the years. As for myself, I was the guitarist in a punk band called Chaos around 1979, and then took a rest from playing music, other than the occasional jam, and concentrated more on getting drunk instead! I joined Saddlewhores around 1986 and played with them for a while, recorded a demo session which was my first recording experience.
++ Why did you choose the name Red Harvest?
I’m not entirely sure, I wasn’t involved in that process as it was before my time. As far as I remember, it was chosen as it was the title of one of Dashiell Hammet’s most famous novels.
++ At the end of the “Strange” LP, which is the only one I own and it’s brilliant, there someone talking, telling this was the first album by Red Harvest. Who is this? and why did you include this nice little footnote?
That was Phil Martin, the guitarist. Someone had the idea (probably Phil!) to have a BBC style monologue at the end of the LP, and then blend it into a spoof shipping forecast. It was a just a bit of fun, there were a few seconds on that side of the LP that needed filling up!
++ Also this record was produced by Adrian Borland of The Sound fame. How was working with him? Any anecdotes you could share?
Adrian was absolutely fantastic to work with. He had so many ideas and so much talent, and was always full of enthusiasm. He played additional guitar on quite a few of our tracks, the most prominent was the slide guitar on ‘Runaway’. Around 1979/1980, I regularly used to see his band, The Sound, play live. I thought they were awesome, so much better than Echo & The Bunnymen and A Teardrop Explodes, who were around at the same time and similar in style. So, he was kinda a hero and it was a real honour for me to be working so close to him a few years later. I was absolutely stunned when I heard about his passing away. So sad.
++ And what about the song “Heaven”, produced by Pete Shelley! How did this go? How did you get so many renown people working with you?
Heaven was one of the album tracks from our first LP, but that’s all the info I can give you on this one I’m afraid! I never got to meet Pete Shelley, he produced the track after we had recorded it. Shame, it would have been nice to have met him. I really can’t remember how he came to be involved, I’m sure Steve would know.
++ I only know the “Strange” LP and the “Saved” LP, what’s the full discography of Red Harvest including compilation tracks and demo tapes? I ask because I want to hunt these gems on eBay!
I’ve just updated the full Red Harvest discography at Discogs.com, you can view it at: http://www.discogs.com/artist/Red+Harvest+(2)
We also recorded a few demos, and a BBC session for Janice Long. Oh, and I’ve got a live tape buried somewhere in one of my cupboards!
++ Can you tell me a bit about the Aftermath label and the Public Domain label who released your records?
Sorry, Can’t tell you anything really about those labels. They were both indie labels, with whom Steve had had sorted out a deal. I know an Elvis Presley picture disc was released on Public Domain, so it’s a privilege to be on the same label as an Elvis release!
++ Was there any interest from major labels? Why didn’t you get more popular you think?
We had a lot of interest from Beserkley at one point, but that never got off the ground. I think our big problem was doing everything ouselves and not having a proper manager. Still, I guess that’s true indie spirit isn’t it?
++ You’ve put up on Youtube the promo video for the “World Won’t Listen” single. Care to tell me a bit about the video? Where was it shot? what do you remember from recording it? any other anecdotes?
The video was very exciting to do. It was shot in Paris by a British director and cameraman, who’s names I just cannot remember at all. That’s really embarassing, especially as I work in the film industry myself these days! One thing I do remember about the shoot was the football. I remember England were playing Cameroon one evening while we were in Paris, it was the World Cup quarter-finals on 1st July 1990. We cheered like mad when England scored, and the whole bar went quiet and turned to stare at us. It was like that scene in ‘An American Werewolf In London’, know what I mean? Anyway, Cameroon scored next, and the whole bar cheered and gave us the finger! There was no violence or anything, but it did make us feel vulnerable! What a great match – 3:2 to England in the end.
++ What were your favourite Red Harvest songs?
All the tracks which featured harmonica the most! Ha ha ha! No seriously, it’s hard to put a finger on any songs really. I was particularly fond of Murder as that was the very first track I recorded with Red Harvest, I think we ended up recording that at least 3 times, the single version, the album version, and I’m sure we must have done a demo as well. There was a track we recorded in our final demo session which I really did like, I cannot remember what it was called though, but I’ve still got the tape.
++ Any particular gigs you remember and why?
I remember the Marquee gigs the most clearly I suppose. We played the old Marquee down Wardour Street, and the new Marquee in Charing Cross Road. The Old Marquee was my favourite, it was just such a prestigious venue. I had seen so many bands there myself in the punk days, it was a real privilege to have been on the same stage as many of my idols.
++ When and why did Red Harvest split? What happened after with you all? Any clues where are the other members or what are they doing?
We split not long after the 2nd album was released, not really sure why. It all just sort of fizzled out I guess. The original guitarist and drummer had left, and it just felt different after that. As far as I know, the only original member still playing music is the drummer, Mark.
++ Anything else you’d like to add?
It really was great fun at the time, and it’s fantastic that there’s still some interest in our music! Thanks so much!