Cincinnati has WALK THE MOON, and then they have Harbour. The five piece beach pop band has been playing shows around town for several years, growing into a massive stage presence and finding their sound.
On the brink of the release of their sophomore album, Heatwave, I met up with the band in their basement practice space and dished on all things Harbour.
“We wrote tons of songs for this album; I think we had about 25 to choose from,” said bassist Levi Snyder, as we waited for the rest of the band to arrive. “EPs take less effort, and albums go further, so we chose to do that.”
Harbour released their self titled album in 2015, when the band was just a three piece. It’s a diverse, cohesive piece of work, with sing-alongs like “Over It” and rock ballads like “Cardinal”.
On top of playing any show they could in the area throughout the summer and fall, it showed how far ahead they were of their peers. Since that phase, they’ve added band members and slowed down a little bit, playing a couple sold out headlining shows throughout the year and diving into recording.
“A lot of the time we’ve been spending just trying to find our sound. I think it all comes down to this album, and it’s taken us a lot of years to find our niche. This album is going to be a good representation of what that niche is,” said guitarist Matt Starcher. “We recorded the single ‘Runaway Kids’ up in Akron with Jakub Andrew up in Akron, and he’s really good at the things we aren’t good at. We did all the instruments for this album on Music Row in Nashville, and then came back up to do vocals and mastering at Moonlight Studios.”
Harbour has gradually developed a huge hometown fan base they can consider friends. After first seeing them opening for Public in 2015, I spent the rest of that year driving around Cincinnati to their shows, eventually adding up to about 20 different performances.
Although they’re gearing up for a record, this is a band who really comes into their own during a live set. Their first annual Sunfest is here to show you how.
“We wanted to make it bigger – not only to be an album release but an annual event that people will want to come back to. It helps to get more bands and people involved,” said guitarist Marshall Sallee.
I think it all comes down to this album, and it’s taken us a lot of years to find our niche. This album is going to be a good representation of what that niche is.
“This album deserves a lot more than just a regular show,” added Snyder.
This Saturday, Sunfest will feature eight bands across two stages at Madison Theater and Madison Live in Covington, Kentucky. Long time stage partners Northbound will join them, as well as groups like label me lecter and CINEMA CENTURY.
By now Harbour has played nearly every venue in the Cincinnati area, most recently playing multiple shows at the Madison venues across the river. After many years gaining their hometown crowd, they’re very close to outgrowing it.
“It’s honestly pretty damn tough,” said drummer Harrison Miller, when asked about the climate of the Cincinnati music scene.
“Cincinnati’s a weird market,” said Starcher. “It’s a lot harder to get people involved here. If you go to Columbus, all the shows have a kind of built in crowd. Nobody will know who the hell you are, but there will still be 120 people there just because that’s what they do on a Saturday night. But when you make fans in Cincinnati, people become really attached. It’s harder to gain traction here, but when you do, they’re diehard friends.”
In light of their album, the band will tour some this fall, playing dates like Fashion Meets Music Festival and some college shows in the Midwest. They will also be playing Midpoint Music Festival in Cincinnati this September, alongside recent lineup additions Filthy Friends, Preoccupations, and Pile.
“Once we release the album, we’ve got all these shows lined up, and we just can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of it,” said Miller.
Nobody will know who the hell you are, but there will still be 120 people there just because that’s what they do on a Saturday night. But when you make fans in Cincinnati, people become really attached. It’s harder to gain traction here, but when you do, they’re diehard friends.
I left Harbour to listen to their new record for the first time. In those songs might be what puts them over the edge – a fresh take on a sound they’ve been perfecting for years and a whole new reason to do what they do best: play live shows and make friends.