This Harbour, founded and fronted by North Bay, Ont.,’s Nathan Olmstead, was formed about two years ago. Olmstead and This Harbour has one previous recording under his belt, called The Voyage. The band has filled out with a full four-person lineup and is currently in the studio working with Juno-nominated producer Ben Leggett on a new release, titled The Wicked and The Wild. We can look forward to the new album coming out around the Christmas season. I recently had the opportunity to chat with Nathan Olmstead.
Raz Mataz Magazine (RMM): First of all, how would you describe This Harbour?
Nathan Olmstead (NO): A great question right off the bat! There was a time, especially when it was a solo project, when I would’ve said it was a folk band through and through. But now as I look at us, I honestly couldn’t tell you. I know that’s cliché for bands to say, but with each member that joined, something new was added to the pot and we’ve ended up with a concoction of punk and folk and indie rock. Anything you can imagine has been thrown into this album. That isn’t that much of an exaggeration.
I think one of the things that has stayed the same has been the lyrical matter, mostly because I still write a lot of the lyrics. We’ve always tried to push boundaries with our lyrics and get people thinking in ways they never have before. We focus a lot on the ups and downs of human emotion and you can see that in our lyrics on this new record: tension and anger, all the way to happiness and joy. We don’t hold back.
RMM: Cool. I love that. Share with me a few of your influences. . . .
NO: My list of influences is a huge list, so I’ll just name a few. City and Colour, Wayfarer, Attack in Black, Listener, Hey Rosetta. . . . I could name a band from every genre that you’d see pieces of in this album.
RMM: How long have you been your own writing music?
NO: Since I knew how to play guitar. Even before I could sing at all I was writing lyrics and poetry. I’ve always been a writer and not a cover-guy. To this day, I am extremely boring around campfires because the only covers I know were leaned accidentally. That is, with the exception of some Three Days Grace.
RMM: And when did you know that you love to perform?
NO: The day I realized I’m a narcissist. [laughs] In all seriousness, I don’t think there was a flick-of-the-switch moment. I just realized one day that I had been performing my music and I liked it. I always share stories when I try and help out people that come to me for answers and my music is just an extension of that.
RMM: Could you tell me a little bit about this new album?
NO: It’s way different than the last one and way different than we expected it to be. It’s heavier, faster, with a lot of slow songs to mellow you out. It builds and drops in ways that no one will be made uneasy by it. It’s actually turned into much more of a conceptual piece than we had thought it was, and Ben Legett is really bringing it to life in a way we never anticipated.
NO: The Wicked and the Wild came up as we were talking about the first track on the album (now the title track). It applies to so much in so many different ways. Some of the ideas behind it are: we all have a wicked side that connects us with the wild we see in animals, and it relates to the concept of the songs, which is the story of a rough-handed man (the wolf, the wicked), and this beautiful and mysterious lady he falls in love with (the fox, the wild). It is the tale of the corrupt corrupting, and the mysterious inspiring.
RMM: Did you write all the music, or was it a collaborative effort?
NO: Our more complex music certainly had a lot of collaboration but the majority of the music was written the same way that The Voyage was: at home in my dad’s office with an acoustic guitar. I should say, however, that the rest of the band has added so much depth and emotion to these songs that they have taken on a whole new life.
RMM: What’s it like to have the backing of a full band compared to your solo acoustic sets?
NO: When it hits, it hits hard. It makes it a longer process but it adds so much intimacy to the music. I never imagined that, but emotions like anger and frustration can all be amplified with electric guitars and drums. The mellow stuff has depth now, too.
RMM: Are there any exciting upcoming shows? When will you debut the new music?
NO: We’re in Sudbury a lot and North Bay hopefully! Most of the gigging is coming up after the release of a single! I don’t want to give too much away, but the fall looks promising for This Harbour fans!
RMM: How does this new album compare to your previous recordings?
NO: It’s been a longer process, but Ben is an amazing guy. Dave was also amazing on the last record. I have no complaints about either. The recordings have way more going on but they all maintain the identity of the band as subtle.
RMM: Where would you like to see this band go?
NO: We just take it one day at a time but we have high hopes and we are shooting for the stars. We’d love to make it across Canada and visit our amazing fans who haven’t seen us live yet.
RMM: What are your thoughts on Canadian music at this time?
NO: Canada has one of the most talented music scenes in the world. I believe that fully. Our independent artists are so well-supported compared to other places around the globe. I think we should be so grateful for the opportunity to share our music and stories with the amazing fans in Canada. I always watch the Junos! I know some people criticize mainstream music but for such a small country (population-wise), we rock radio stations pretty well.
RMM: What artist(s) would it be a dream come true for you to perform live with?
NO: This list is another long one but a lot of the bands that inspire me are current bands that would be amazing to share a stage with. For sure one would be Hey Rosetta!
Keep up to date with This Harbour by visiting their Facebook page.
Their album, The Voyage, is also available for free download at: noisetrade.com/thisharbour.