Listen Up: Harlan

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Harlan: Ian Rone, Griffin Rone, Gabe Hasty, Harlan Hutton and Miguel Pilcher - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Harlan: Ian Rone, Griffin Rone, Gabe Hasty, Harlan Hutton and Miguel Pilcher

m Harlan Hutton’s songs are like diary entries.

“Just about all my songs are usually trying to explain a very complicated feeling,” said Hutton, 19. “I used to just write so I could explain something to myself and just put it away and it’s gone.”

The songs are “just little diddlies. Like after Junior Cotillion and I’m feeling like I’m just going to get married at 20 and settle down in Memphis. The feeling that I was supposed to have after Junior Cotillion. Things like that. These little songs that are stupid about things I’ve been thinking.”

She let Gabe Hasty, 19, listen to one of her songs. “I remember hearing ‘Play Pretend’ for the first time and just curling up in a lawn chair and listening to it,” Hasty said. “It’s poetic. It really draws you in in a way that I don’t know. It’s just like sometimes when you hear something you can immediately know the quality. It’s just obvious sometimes. It was a phone recording. And it was done in probably two or three takes. But you can still hear the actual quality of the songwriting.”

He let Griffin Rone, 19, listen to it. “We knew we had to flesh that project out and play it as a band,” Hasty said.

With Hutton on lead vocals and guitar, Hasty on keyboards, Griffin on bass, Griffin’s brother, Ian Rone, 16, on synth and Miguel Pilcher, 21, on drums, the group recorded two of Hutton’s songs: “Foreverendeavor” and “Fingertips.”

They had so much fun recording the songs, which are on Bandcamp, they decided to play as a band.

Before playing music, dancing was Hutton’s main creative expression. “I did classical ballet for 13 years,” she said.

Hutton, who was a member of New Ballet Ensemble & School, said, “It came to a point where I needed to choose to become professional or not. And I chose ‘not.’ I’m like, ‘I’m not going to do it if I’m not going to go all the way with it.’”

Guitar was next. “I needed a new creative outlet, so I picked up the guitar and kind of taught myself how to play.”

Her mother helped her buy her first instrument - a $100 acoustic. “When you first start learning guitar there’s the bands that you want to listen to like the Strokes and that kind of stuff. Just learning how to play those kinds of songs is fun. And also helps you get over the painful learning curve of the guitar.”

She played in her room until she started hanging out with Hasty and Griffin, who also are in Melinda, one of the first local bands she used to go see.

Hasty began playing piano as a child. “When I was four years old my parents got me to start playing classical music, taking lessons,” he said. “At first they had to bribe me into with a GameCube.”

Around 14 “was when I really started to get into it.” Franz Liszt is his favorite, but he also likes Johann Sebastian Bach. “It’s the prototype for modern pop, I guess.”

Lucifer’s Canoe was Hasty’s first band. Then then joined Jimmy Shindig and the Wind Chimes with Griffin and Pilcher. “I got a Tascam 488 and started getting obsessed with recording music. That’s when Melinda was born. It was kind of a recording project.”

Griffin began playing bass after a friend said he wanted to start a band. “I was like, ‘You know what? I’ll pick up bass.’ And having never played really any string instrument, I figured it was the perfect place to start.”

He learned to play the stand-up bass after he joined the jazz band at Christian Brothers High School. That lead to private jazz lessons.

An actor, Griffin also played “Bill Black” in the “Sun Records” TV series.

Pilcher began playing piano as a child, but switched to drums when he was in elementary school at St. Ann Bartlett. “In fifth grade they made you choose,” he said. “Like you could either be in the choir or be in the band. And I was like, ‘I’m not going to be in choir.’”

He chose drums because that was the closest instrument to him in the room after he arrived late to the class. “The only place to sit was in the very back by the drums.”

Now, he said, “I’m obsessed with drums.”

Pilcher and Griffin formed Jimmy Shindig. “Our first show we ever played was at The New Daisy,” Griffin said. “It was a bunch of death metal bands. We were like rock and roll. We weren’t anywhere near death metal. We looked at all the names we were playing with and they were like, ‘Dark,’ ‘Death,’ “Cobra,’ ‘Evil,’ ‘Satan’s Eyeball,’ things like that. We were like, “Let’s find the silliest name. We’re going to be ‘Jimmy Shindig and the Wind Chimes.’”

Ian Rone, Griffin’s brother, began acting at 12 or 13 in a Playhouse on the Square production of “Peter Pan.” “I was ‘Twin No. 2’ in the Lost Boys,’” he said.

He picked up the bass when a friend suggested they start a band, Tiger Lake. “Griffin helped me for the first couple of band songs we made,” he said.

All the band members are in other projects. Griffin, Hasty and Hutton are in Melinda; Griffin, Pilcher, Ian, Hasty and Hutton are in Dave Bao Bao; Griffin and Pilcher are in the folky, jazzy Grandpaw Grew Trees and Griffin is in the indie rock band, Small.

Since she is two other bands besides Harlan, Hutton said she has band practice every day.

“It’s amazing, actually,” Griffin said. “It’s all the same people in different configurations that create a completely different style of music. Dave Bao Bao is borderline punk groove synth wave stuff. And then Harlan is very beautiful and melodic. It’s a lot sweeter than Dave Bao Bao. Dave Bao Bao is a little jarring.

“Sometimes we talk about making a super group. We’ve talked about going on tour this summer and doing three of the best songs from each band. It’d be kind of fun.”

“We’re going to call it ‘Transformers 5,’” Hasty said.


GRRL FEST. Doors open 7 p.m. May 20 at the Hi-Tone. Admission: $15.

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