Theirs is an age-old story; four lifelong friends, all from the same oceanfront neighborhood, start a band and rehearse in anticipation of their first real gig.
In the case of The Harvest, the guys, ranging in age from late teens to mid twenties, have been pals for about as long as they can remember.
“We used to babysit Gray,” teased Grant Nesmith, nodding to the guitar player on his left. Nesmith, who is lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter for the group, is joined by Gray Singleton (guitar/vocals), Bruce James (bass/vocals), and Cole Rateliff (drums/vocals).
“The band name is a nod to Neil Young and my grandfather, who is a farmer in Nesmith,” Grant said. “There’s a lyric in a Pink Floyd song, ‘Dogs’ that’s says ‘you’ll reap the harvest you have sown.’ I always liked that line.”
At last week’s rehearsal the band seemed relaxed and confident, and just about ready to roll for Friday’s debut at Hurricane Maggie’s.
Singleton is the youngest in the group at 16, and offers the music room in his home where the band practices.
“My dad taught me to play,” said Singleton, “but I think I’m better than him now.” Already tighter then many bands with a lot more years under their belts, Friday’s show will feature about eight or so originals, and the rest covers.
Their overall sound trips through the decades with Brit-pop influences, a handful of old-school classic rock staples: “Psycho Killer,” “Blister in the Sun,” and even “Can’t You See,” but most of the covers fall into the alt-rock and college rock genres.
From artists with mass appeal, The Harvest covers the Alabama Shakes, Modest Mouse, Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, The White Stripes, etc. But the band’s originals are really where The Harvest shines. Very listenable, pop and alt-rock tunes, some with tight three-part harmonies, are delivered by appealing, engaging young men; and if that’s not a good head start and a recipe for success, then what is?
Growing up on Porcher Drive, one block from the ocean, it’s not surprising that an element of surf-rock is evident in their sound. Nesmith operates his electric guitar pedal board, filled with choruses, phase shifters and overdrives, like a pro, creating sweeping vistas of chordal music, and simple, melodic and plucky riffs.
Singleton has tone, too, and showcased a near-perfect George Harrison guitar intro to “Day Tripper.” Solid bass-playing from James, 23, and steady beats with tasteful fills from Rateliff, 24, round out the sound these guys have been developing for the last six months.
The band plans to record a full-length original project in March with Ed Dennis at Atlantic Coast Recording.
“About a third of the original songs we do came out of a jam and are a collaboration from everybody,” said Nesmith, 24, and the oldest in the group. He played briefly with local act Jukebox Elly before moving to upstate New York. Back in town, he seems to lead The Harvest with a friendly, soft touch, and brings most of the song writing, lead vocals and front man duties to the table.
His interesting tenor voice is still young, but dead-on pitch-wise, lending a charismatic, youthful sound to the material, whether a jangley punk-pop original, or a well-known cover. Naturally they’ll discover some songs and styles will work better for their skills and lineup than others, but finding out which in a sea of rock ‘n’ roll options is most of the fun.
“We hope it will be packed at Hurricane Maggie’s,” said Nesmith. “That’s our local watering hole.”
So what about the future?
“Eventually we’d like to go on tour, do that whole thing.”