[Photo by Jason Quigley]
As our long awaited QSTOCK28 festival is finally approaching, we’re chatting with some of our past performers to get pumped for the big day. Recently, I caught up with Hutch Harris, lead guitarist and vocalist of Portland indie-rock band The Thermals. The Thermals played Quadstock in 2011, and, in the words of Hutch Harris himself, they “killed it.” Since then, the group has continued to make a name for themselves as one of the leading indie-rock bands of the Pacific Northwest. Harris shared with me what the band has been up to, how The Thermals stay inspired, and more.
JS: What ventures are you currently working on? I saw that you’ve personally gotten into producing. What led you down that path?
HH: A few people separately asked me to produce their records at the same time, last fall. It was a coincidence but seemed to really make sense. Recently I’ve produced records for Jessica Boudreaux and Jenny Logan from the band Summer Cannibals, and for Brett Newski from Milwaukee. I really enjoy producing, and I usually work with a fantastic engineer, Victor Nash, in his Portland studio Destination: Universe.
JS: Can you tell us anything about what The Thermals might have in store soon?
HH: The Thermals are still playing shows, we’re playing Portland and Seattle next month. We are taking a long break from touring right now, which I’m very happy about. We toured hard for almost fifteen years and I’m really enjoying being in Portland all the time these days.
JS: The Thermals have been a band for an impressive 15 years, and I’m assuming there have been a lot of highs and lows through that experience. How do you guys stay motivated to continue making music?
HH: It’s been nice lately to take a break from the band, to take a break from writing and touring. I enjoy making music as much as I ever did, but putting all my focus and energy into just one project can be draining. I think it’s good to take a step back from The Thermals and only make records when we are truly inspired.
JS: Your lyrics have been recognized for their political themes. In this trying political climate, do you believe music plays a role?
HH: Lately I have been content to let my money speak for me. I work a lot producing other people’s records, and I donate money to organizations I believe to be important and politically helpful, like the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
JS: What other artists that played with you all at Upstream Music Festival this past weekend were you excited about seeing?
HH: The Kill Rock Stars was amazing, and all the bands are friends of ours! Quasi, Wimps, and Summer Cannibals. We were also excited to play with Dude York, who are friends of ours as well, and are on the label named after one of my lyrics, Hardly Art.
JS: I know it was quite a while back, but do you have any memories of playing Quadstock or something you can share about your experience?
HH: I don’t like the brag, but I have to say we killed it. Check out this video of us playing at Quadstock! The audience was amazing, too.
QSTOCK28 is on Saturday, May 20, 2017, where headliners Bibi Bourelly and Sam Lachow are slated to take the stage. Tickets are still available for purchase for $10 at the Seattle University Redhawk Resource Hub.
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