Harum Scarum - 23/01/2007

On January 12 Canadian melorockers Harem Scarem released their new album which has been available for purchase in Japan since november 22. The band’s eleventh studio album is entitled ‘Human Nature’ and it is safe to say that this album has a significantly more melodic sound than its predecessor ‘Overload’. Through the years Harem Scarem has proven itself more than once in the AOR scene with classic albums such as ‘Mood Swings’ (1993) with its solid, melodic rock sound, varying melodies and strong riffs, followed by ‘Voice Of Reason’ (1995). The following albums were characterized by a melodic hard rock sound, even leaning towards modern pop and rock bands. In 1999 the band decided to continue under the name “Rubber”, resulting in a self-titled album (even so it was released under the name Harem Scarem in Japan). This change of name was, however, not quite satisfactory and so, in 2002, the band released the album ‘Weight Of The World’ bearing their original name (in Canada they decided to stick to the name “Rubber”). In August 2003 the album ‘Higher’ sees the light of day. This album appears to be a logical successor to ‘Weight Of The World’, as it returns to a solid mix of modern and melodic rock. In 2005 Harem Scarem releases the album ‘Overload’ which is received with mixed feelings by the media. The band then decides to cater to the wishes of their fans, which results in the release of the album entitled ‘Human Nature’.


Recently I had the chance to ask guitarist and keyboard player Pete Lesperance about Harum Scarum’s new effort, so here we go!


First of all I want to congratulate you with your new album. So lets talk about your new album “Human Nature”.
Thanks very much!!


How did you launch into writing the material for ‘Human Nature after your previous album, did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing.
Once we knew what direction we wanted “Human Nature” to take we approached the writing the way we usually do.


Had all the songs already been written before you entered the studio, or have there been a lot of changes during the recording sessions?
Because we have our own studios, the writing and recording process are intertwined. Most of the tracks from the writing/demo were replaced but there were some overdubs that were kept from the demos.


Did you have a certain idea of what you wanted to do on ‘Human Nature any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album.
When we started working on “Human Nature” we knew it was going to be a record for our die-hard fans in the way that it was recorded more in the spirit of our earlier albums and would have more elements of the old school Scarem.


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?



Who was responsible for writing the songs on the new album, can you tell me something how Harum Scrum works?

Harry and I started coming up with stuff individually then brought in our ideas and started putting the pieces together. Creighton actually co-wrote the song “Don’t Throw It Away” for this record as well.


You recorded this album in the Vespa Studios and Hope Sound, was this a conscious choice and what was the reason u used two different studios?


They are our studios so of course we record there. I did all the Guitars and overdubs at my studio (Hope Sound) and we did the Drums and Bass at Vespa. The backup vocals were done at both studios. Harry also did some of the lead vocals at his home as well. We always work this way, because we own these studios.



How did the recording process proceed and how much time did you spend in the studio?

All total ‘Human Nature’ was about 5 or 6 months in the making including writing.


Was it not hard to produce your own album, as it meant having to criticize your own band members?

No, it’s what we always do and there’s really no criticizing to be done. We all know what we are going for and just enjoy the process. We are most at home in the studio so it’s very stress free for us.


On this album you seemed to go to the more traditional Harum Scarum sound, you really got closer to the sound of the ‘Mood Swings’ album. Was this a conscious decision?

People have wanting a record that sounds more like ‘Moodswings’ since we made it and though I don’t think this is “Moodswings 2” as a record, I think we captured more of that spirit and attitude then any record we’ve made since.


Did you already received any feedback on the new album yet and what do you personally think about this album – are you satisfied with the outcome or would you liked to have changed anything in retrospective?

We are very happy with this record and it has been getting some great reviews so I can’t say that there is anything at this point that I would change. Ask me again in a year and I may have changed my mind.


Could you please describe the implications the title Human Nature’ has for you, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it.

In the case of this record ‘Human Nature’ is about taking risks or chances when you just can’t help yourself even though there may be dangers involved. The cover illustrates it…we all like to play on the railroad tracks, metaphorically speaking. Also we tend to like to tie in a song title from the record with the album title.


Who wrote the lyrics for this album and can you tell us something about them?

Harry generally writes most of the lyrics but there are always some songs that we collaborate on as well as involving Creighton on the track he co-wrote. The lyrical content ranges from relationship oriented songs such as “Caught Up In Your World” to more positive message songs like “Give Love/Get Love” to songs that explore different sides of the human experience such as “Human Nature” an “21”


Do you have your favorites on Human Nature’ songs that you think are somehow above the others?

My personal favorites are the title track and “Caught Up IN Your World”.


Harum Scarum has a long history, this is your 11th studio album, how do you see the future of this band and what can we expect from Harum Scarum in the near future?

We are starting to talk to promoters about some tour dates in Europe and Japan for late spring early summer.


Can you explain why you changed your band name into Rubber a few years ago, what was the reason and why did you changed it back?


There were a couple reasons we changed the name to Rubber. Firstly, the music had evolved into something that didn’t even sound like Harem Scarem any more and secondly we wanted to have a shot here in Canada. Harem Scarem was thought of as a hair band and radio programmers wouldn’t play our stuff. When we changed the name and let the music speak for itself we ended up with a top 40 hit here with the song “Sunshine”. We changed it back because that’s the kind of music we were making again.


What is your opinion about the AOR /melodic rock scene these days, do you miss something?

In all honesty I don’t really listen to melodic rock these days and don’t really know what’s going on in the genre. I know there are still some great artists like TNT and Jeff Scott Soto but I’m not that familiar with most of the bands.


Is there anything you want to tell us after these questions?

I’d just like to thank anyone that has supported Harem Scarem over the years and we hope you like ‘Human Nature’!



Pete Lesperance


Thanks for the interview!

Harem Scarem is:
Harry Hess: Vocals, keyboards, guitars
Pete Lesperance: Guitars, keyboards, vocals
Barry Donaghy: Bass, vocals
Creighton Doane: Drums