Imperfection is more important than perfection. People aren’t perfect and so they are drawn to subtle imperfections within a performance. That brings out your humanity as an artist and connects you with the listener. Our tracks that are over-polished seem to connect less than the live version of that same song. Out of some insecurity, I want to hide my imperfections as much as I can, but I’ve learned that the raw, unfiltered nature of a song can be what people connect with the most.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Nick Gerard & Max Anthony of HARLOR.
Certain songs catch us off guard. Upon pressing play, we drop our inhibitions, let go, and give in to the moment. The music of HARLOR enables such release. For as much as they may resemble self-described “regular dudes,” the duo — Nick Gerard [singer, songwriter] and Max Anthony [producer] — surprise with an unpredictable and undeniable spark, integrating singer-songwriter spirit into modern pop punctuated by hypnotically high registered harmonies and synth echoes. With production from Katalyst [Bruno Mars, Eminem, Drake], the group comes to life in a series of singles released this year.
“We want to make good songs people connect with,” says Nick. “We want to make songs people love. We’re trying to catch you instrumentally and then hit you with a message. Although not all our songs are heavy topics, we write openly about depression, addiction, and other struggles in order to empathize with a conflicted listener, and have them know they aren’t alone in that.”https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/877be294a700a5b132c35e67ef2e8527
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Nick: I grew up the youngest of 10 children outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Having 9 older siblings to look up to, I had a lot of input and examples of the person I wanted to become. We grew up close, and to this day my 9 closest friends are by brothers and sisters. The last 5 of us spent grades 1 through 8 being homeschooled, which allowed us more time to pursue our ambitions such as music and art. Our schoolwork always came first but, because of this independent structure, I had so much free time to fill with whatever creative activity I wanted. One year I spent learning how to make short (extremely short) films using stop motion animation… I hated not being in school with my friends, but now appreciate the creative freedom I was raised with.
Max: I grew up very fortunate. I had a very loving and supportive family and a tight knit group of friends. My parents are the main reason I found my passion for music and am in the career that I’m in now. I first wanted to learn guitar, but my mom said I had to learn piano first, before I could take guitar. If she hadn’t done that, I most likely wouldn’t be as well equipped as I am now.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Nick: I played a lot of sports in high school and, like some of my brothers, wanted to be known as the star athlete. Being the head-smashing linebacker on the football team was my goal. With that notion in my mind, I was hesitant to open up the “sensitive” side of me when the music teacher told me I should play one of my original songs I wrote on guitar for the school “Coffee House” performance. Not wanting to be a prisoner to my pride, I decided to say “screw it” and entered the line-up. Now, like a lot of butthead kids my age, I smoked weed, tobacco, drank beer and whiskey on occasion, all in the name of enhancing life; catching a vibe and riding it. However, when I first started singing and playing for that crowd, there wasn’t a drug, drink, or crossfade that could compare to the high I was riding in that moment. I took something intimate and vulnerable I was feeling and shared it with that audience. Not only they didn’t laugh me out of the room (like I had imagined a hundred times), but they felt a connection with the song, and that connected me to them. It would take me another 4 years of college and an MCAT to realize no other career path was going to match what had started at that first performance back in high school.
Max: I love this story. The way we got into this profession was a very lucky set of circumstances. Ken Lewis and Katalyst was the main reason why we are where we are, but the way I got to meeting Ken was like something out of a movie. Make sure you can keep up! He was my fiancé’s grandma’s boyfriend, daughter’s husband…you read that right. So if it wasn’t for my lovely fiancé and her family, we would’ve never met Ken and be on the path that we are.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Nick: Max and I were in Nashville for a writing session and the city had just been hit with an ice storm, which they were not prepared for. It took us over an hour to find the one uber driver in Nashville brave enough to face the weather. About 2 hours into our session, the producer we were working with was concerned the weather was getting worse and wanted to call it for the day so we wouldn’t get snowed in. He offered to drop us off somewhere, so we said a grocery store cause it was 3 pm and we hadn’t eaten yet that day (No Uber drivers = no grubhub/uber eats/door dash). We shopped around and filled the cart with an interesting combination of foods (don’t shop when you’re starving or the cashier is gonna give some looks). At this point Ubers, Lyfts, Taxi, etc. were non-existent. Having no other options, very thin coats, and a 14 degree ice storm outside, we started the 2.3 mile walk back to the BnB, all the while singing a rendition of SpongeBob’s “The Krusty Krab Pizza is the Pizza for You and Me” with some new verses about the cold weather that would not be appropriate for daytime Nickelodeon. When we finally got back we spent the rest of the evening drinking wine and binging “Peaky Blinders” on Netflix.
Max: I’d say our most interesting story was a time we had to go to Nashville. Now, it starts off innocent, but soon takes a deep dive. We had gone down the day before an ice storm, and we were very unprepared. Now, keep in mind, Nashville is not accustomed to ice storms, which basically shut down the whole city. We had an insane time finding ubers and getting food. We actually walked 2 miles in an ice storm with just pullovers with groceries in hand! It was an interesting experience, but definitely a memory we’ll never forget!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Nick: The story about the session in Nashville is probably our funniest because we couldn’t believe we were stuck in that situation. I’d say the lesson there is always come prepared.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Nick: We are currently working on our first EP launch that will be May 14th, 2021. With that, we hope to film our first official music video on one of the tracks from that project.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Nick: Imperfection is more important than perfection. People aren’t perfect and so they are drawn to subtle imperfections within a performance. That brings out your humanity as an artist and connects you with the listener. Our tracks that are over-polished seem to connect less than the live version of that same song. Out of some insecurity, I want to hide my imperfections as much as I can, but I’ve learned that the raw, unfiltered nature of a song can be what people connect with the most.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Nick: Keep searching for perspective. Objects look different or are mistaken as other objects from differing perspectives. The same is true of our career and life trajectory. When things seem bleak and the energy to keep grinding is dying, you need to regain perspective on what you are trying to do with your career; who you want to reach; why you want to reach them, what about this career is feeding your fire, etc. The drive that began you down that road at the start is still there, but it’s lost because your focus is aimed at something or someone suffocating that fire. Adjusting your perspective can recenter your focus.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Max: Something we are very passionate about is health and fitness. Although this is quite the taboo subject for most people at the moment, it’s so important to make sure you exercise and eat right. It benefits and inspires so many people everyday, and I wish it was more widely accepted. I, in particular, always get some slack for my diet and exercise lifestyle, but I credit my state of mind, focus, inspiration and confidence all to it and will be a part of my life forever. Just start slow and work your way there, it doesn’t happen overnight. Block out anything negative and realize you’re doing it for yourself, no one else! You got this!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Nick: Aside from the second half of HARLOR, our management team.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Nick: “The clowns are always friendly at the beginning of a nightmare”. I’ve had a lot of different life lesson quotes that have taught me plenty, but this is one that is becoming more and more relevant. This isn’t to say not to trust anyone. I think the point made by that quote is to be weary of the “clowns” in your life, and who might fall into that category.
Max: One that I love is “You know you better than anyone”. There’s always people in life that try and tell you what you need to do or how you have to go about things. You know you better than anyone. Do what YOU want to do, despite what other people think. I’m a firm believer in not caring what people think of you, and because of that, it makes me so much happier and allows me to focus on what’s important for MY life. These outside voices don’t live your life, so why should they be the ones dictating it? Keep your head up, eyes forward and keep chugging through! Most of these “naysayers’’ will soon become your biggest supporters.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Nick: Matthew McConaughey. He is a unique person in the entertainment industry and emulates a wisdom that has been developed from learning from the human condition. Not to mention his movies are awesome.
Max: Honestly, at the moment, Bert Kreischer. That man is so interesting and so incredibly hilarious, it would probably be a breakfast/lunch I’d never forget
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!