MEET THE BAND: Iris James Garrison (vocals), Alex Harwood (guitar, piano, bass, drums, percussion)
BASED IN BROOKLYN: Garrison (they/them) and Harwood originally met in 2019 when Garrison worked at a coffeeshop in Bushwick. “I met a lot of people in the music world there at that time,” Garrison says. “We really connected and formed ideas together and started in that DIY scene and played a bunch of places that don’t exist anymore. During quarantine, [Harwood] was one of the only people I could see. We were listening to a lot of music by Lomelda and Florist and bands on [the indie label] Double Double Whammy. We have older influences like the Shins and Fleet Foxes too. The two of us were always listening to similar stuff.”
ON ‘STAND BY’: The band’s first-ever release, the 2019 single “Stand By,” was a demo that the group had recorded. More recently, the band released its debut album, Place to Land, this past summer. "Because the songs happened over such a long period time, we were figuring out how to thread them all together,” says Garrison when asked about the album's origins. “They’re about finding a place within the self and the self being a home. It’s about creating the feeling of movement, and it’s about instability. Within certain songs, there is a destabilizing sound we are trying to get at. The last song, 'Howl,' zeroes in on the quietness of being alone with the self. Sonically, we just try to match whatever emotion is happening in the song. They were all written at different points in my early twenties. It was from age 22 to 25.” The group recorded the album at an upstate New York studio, and because of COVID restrictions, couldn't collaborate with other artist as much as it would've liked.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: “Voicemail” comes across a brittle and beautiful ballad that shows off the band's softer side. “That one came from the pandemic,” says Garrison. “I was propagating a bunch of plants. I had never done it before. I was thinking about the concept of propagating and growing roots from a larger mother plant. I loved the idea and connected it to the idea of what I was experiencing with a person, which was finding a new growth from another connection and growing into that. If we’re growing apart, it’s okay because we can still grow into something beautiful.” “Jersey Soccer,” a song the group cut for the Hardly Art single series, has more of an edge to it. “I was getting at gnawing feeling of not being good enough at anything," says Garrison of the tune. "It was about getting out of my head. The ripping guitar solo there is a big part of it.” The current tour will bring the group to Cleveland for the very first time.
Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]