Jason Frye Of Harrowed – A Thanet State Of Mind

10730867_816735798377774_5192776515379629312_nEarlier this year I resurrected my hardcore fanzine Harder They Fall. I had written the two previous issues back in the early 2000’s, when my involvement in that scene was far more active. In 2015 I felt like I wanted to flex some creative punk rock muscles that had cramped up and so I recorded some punk songs with my friends Jamie and Kieron which became the Severed demo and I interviewed some other friends  and Harder They Fall issue 3 became a thing. The issue sold well, certainly well enough for to convince me that doing a fourth issue might be a nice idea. And sadly that’s where we come unstuck. Life got busy again and my plans to publish another issue had to get dialled back. Anyhow, I DID manage to conduct a couple of interviews for issue 4 before I ran out of steam and rather than let them languish I figured I’d throw them up on the ol’ Hammer. First up is an interview with my old friend Jason Frye. We’ve been allies for over a decade, we’ve  played in bands together and he’s patiently endured more of my  belicose ranting than most. With a new Harrowed split EP with Art Of Burning Water on the horizon courtesy of Secret Law & Superfi Records I thought it was high time that the quiet man of Kent’s hardcore/metal scene had his say….

Jason, tell us about the origins of your involvement with heavy music, what was your gateway and how did you end up here?

I owe it all to my Dad. Me and my brothers were subjected to it from an early age, he would play guitar along to metal records in his corner of the dining room where he had a little practice amp and a real 80’s Charvelle Jackson. I would stand at the door and listen in, and I remember every car ride we had he would slam in either Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi or Demanufacture by Fear Factory on cassette and that was it. Personally I got really into Green Day early on with Dookie and the rest is history with a few dubious selections along the way.

You run a recording studio Son Of Sun in Margate but it’s not your first studio. Above All studios has earned itself a place in local Thanet legend for being a place where many of us cut our teeth making demo’s and records and as a hang out spot. I have many many fond memories of that place. Tell us how and why Above All got started, why did you select that sketchy location and tell us a funny, shady or weird story about hanging out on Northdown Road.

Our dad, Mr Beaumont Frye, was working as sound guy for a local rock band at the time who were looking for a permanent practice space. My dad had a buddy who worked for a guy who owned it and so they started to rent it out. Unfortunately they didn’t factor in location, and opening up a music studio in an old ass crumbling building behind the high street of a notoriously run down and poverty stricken area of town didn’t phase them. Jamie and I were always sticking our nose in and I think it was just a matter of time before we got a sniff of what we could do there. Long story short, dad lost interest in it and we carried it on for a while as a place to record and rehearse.
That studio has a lot of mixed emotions for me, its the place we all hung out and made music, and had many many laughs, and it was the place were I personally had the spark to be doing what I’m doing now, but it was also the place were a lot of studio and band gear got stolen from the constant break ins, constant fear of getting jumped when I locked up at night and general crazy happenings in that place, including dead bodies found outside.
Harrowed has been around a little while now but it’s had it’s fair share of up’s and downs and member changes. You tried out a lot of singers as I recall but working as a three piece seems to suit you all way better, do you find it easier/more productive to operate in this way?

We did try a few singers out, it was frustrating because we had everything ready to go but no vocalist, they just weren’t hitting the mark we had in our minds, so to make it easier on any potential try out Seb recorded some scratch vocals over the LP. After that session we knew Seb had to do it! After our second show we parted ways with Ben who also played guitar and at that point we didn’t have a bass player so I asked our friend James, it just turned into a three piece. It has a lot of advantages though, its kinda easier to organise things, and we are able to tour in a small car.

What was the story with Santa Karla packing it in and the two halves forming Harrowed and Unholy Majesty respectively? I feel that was a band that really started to come into it’s own but never really escaped the stigma of being ex Love That Kills.

Santa Karla broke up because Daniel Duggan moved to Canada, it wasn’t on bad terms and we all thought SK had had a good run. On the run up to that we had been writing for a new record. When the split happened Seb and I decided to carry on and form Harrowed, and actually a couple of songs from those SK jams turned into Harrowed songs. Duggan had always wanted to steer SK into a more holy terror kinda vibe and despite it having nods to that it never quite quenched his thirst so I’m glad Unholy Majesty happened.

All the members of the band are a little older with adult responsibilities (kids etc) how difficult do you find that to balance with your desire to be creative and play music?

I’m not gonna lie, its tough. There has to be a lot more planning and logistics now.

With both your brothers and even your dad involved in music, does sibling rivalry ever raise it’s head between your endeavours? I have always thought you and Dan had very similar relaxed demeanours whereas Jamie is most definitely cut from a different cloth. What went wrong with him and why did I become his defacto baby sitter?

There never has been sibling rivalry, we very much support and respect each others musical endeavours, but there was a time where we would flat out refuse to be in a band with one another, it was just a no go. We got past that when Dan and I did The Deep Blue together and after that Dan and Jamie did UnMaj. Being in a band with the old man is a different story altogether, we love him but….just no.
I can’t comment on why Jamie is the way he is but lets just say that he has a very different way of looking at life and he sometimes needs a helping hand with looking at a different perspective on things. Having said that he is very different now Laura has made a man out of him…so……….
Last time we spoke you were working on some new tracks for Harrowed….what’s in the future there?

We are in full swing of writing for a new LP, and we’ve recorded two new songs for a split with The Art Of Burning Water which should be out later this year. We’re trying to play shows as much as we can and plan a few tours for later in the year and next year.

You said to me when you stayed over recently that Harrowed is the first band you havve been in where you feel like actually liked what you were playing. Why spend time doing previous bands if they were creatively unfulfilling? what makes Harrowed different~?

That wasn’t a completely thought out or accurate statement because thinking about, it I’ve been involved in many fulfilling and fun projects, namely The Deep Blue, The Decline, and Santa Karla. I do feel though that Harrowed is something I can fully express myself in the way that I play. Its almost like all of my musical endeavours up to this point have contributed to how I play today, which is how it should be, you should always be pushing yourself.

We are both native sons of Margate. Despite it’s tawdry state there is something strange about the place that I have never quite been able to put my finger on and I think that manifests in a lot of the music and art that the locals create. How has growing up in Margate tainted your creative perspective?

When you’re young, growing up in Margate, and you’re walking down the street, and a guy walks past completely naked with a toilet seat over his head, you kinda get numb to strange and messed up things going on around you. I think that the music and art scene can’t help but soak up that atmosphere of the place. A feeling of both comforting familiarities and jarring edginess, if that makes sense.

I know Into Inferno was a real labour of love for you guys but it’s an incredible record and you should be proud. Did it ever feel like it was NEVER going to come out..tell us the back story to that record.

As I said before I think, some of those songs were going to be on an SK record, when Duggan moved away we carried on writing and it took a good year and a half to fine tune them as we only really got to jam every two to four weeks! It was a labour of love but we believed in what we were doing so much time almost became irrelevant. After all that we spent two days in the studio recording drums and a guitar track and then I took it and recorded the rest. It was a good process and we are really proud of what we did.