Harry’s certainly no newbie in the rock n roll circus, having been addicted to the punk, grunge, glam rock scene since the tender age of 14. With many memorable adventures under her studded belt, to date she has experienced being whisked to Hollywood to record a duet with Motley Crue’s Tommy Lee on the album ‘Tommyland’ and recording with legendary guitarist Slash, worked with Youth, appeared on video with a reworking of the Heaven 17 classic ‘Temptation’ with Cradle Of Filth, interviewed by Courtney Love, photographed by Mick Rock for ‘Playboy’ Babe of the month. On a rock n roll rollercoaster - phew she’s almost like a cat with nine lives, no doubt about it she’s a survivor, but it’s presented Harry with a gamut of emotional experiences to write about, which she does in her own passionate, sexy and inimitable style.
She’s back after several years, with a new band, a fresh, sharp look and preparing to attack the senses with her new single I’m Not Down closely followed by a UK tour and new album. Harry’s recently had the backing of an assortment of eclectic musicians, supporting the likes of Pete Doherty, Razorlight and Gary Numan.
Checking in with Mudkiss for a spot of analysis I start off by asking Harry……"There’s so much you’ve been involved in such a short span of time but I guess I’d like to start by asking you to reveal an interesting rock n roll story about yourself".
HARRY: Wow that’s like trying to separate dust from a star!
MEL: Since the age of 14 you’ve lived a very rock n roll lifestyle yet somehow managed to bounce back where others might have fallen by the wayside. How did you manage to achieve this and what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learnt along the journey?
HARRY: Listen to yourself above all others and you will be able to navigate yourself through anything and have some amazing adventures along the way.
MEL: You have a single due for release in Nov called ‘I’ve Been Down’ and a new album ‘Turning Poison Into Medicine’. Can you tell us a little about the album and where you drew inspiration from?
HARRY: The single is out late Nov – the album is out next year. My inspiration comes from my experiences and all the glittering array of emotions that they bring out in me so I must express in my favourite out form song.
MEL: The album was recorded in L.A by multi-platinum Grammy nominated producer Luke Ebbin (Bon Jovi, Rival Schools). What was this experience like? Any interesting studio moments you’d care to share, are you pleased with the outcome? Which are the most personal tracks on the album and why?
HARRY: They are all pretty cutting to the bone personal, hate to be cliché but these songs got me out of a really bad place. I am forever in their debt and proud to have written them. I remember I locked myself in the toilet and cried my eyes out doing vocals when everyone was saying they didn’t like PJ Harvey, it made me really upset as I really love her songs. Some other stuff was going on too, but that was the straw that broke my back that day, other than that the recording was pretty drama free. I love being in the studio especially in Hollywood. I remember Take That were recording in the next studio.
MEL: Who writes the lyrics and music arrangements on the album, did you collaborate with anyone else and can you tell us about the line up of the band.
HARRY: I pretty much wrote it all myself on guitar and do all my own arrangements but I wrote 3 songs on the record with a couple of other people to leave the house and get a bit social. I like working with other people sometimes but most of the time you'll find me bent over in my bedroom by myself writing.
I have a great new line up with Hattie and Eddie who were in The Telegraphs playing with me now. I'd like to write with them also as we all get on and that’s normally a good indicator of how well the collaborations with fellow artist musicians will turn out.
MEL: I believe you were delighted to work with Slash, what was this experience like? You also dueted with Tommy Lee on ‘Making Me Crazy’. From these encounters did your career blossom as you’d hoped?
HARRY: Yeah I’m pretty happy how things are panning out. I love working with other musicians of that calibre because it’s like being a boxer and going in the ring with Muhammad Ali. You learn, pick up bit, exchange energy and its brilliant. I hope to collaborate with loads more people in the future.
Love to work with Tommy Lee again because he has such electric energy to be around, he is very inspiring. Slash was cool too, he laid down some guitar on this thing I did with Scott Humphrey and I just remember him playing guitar in front of me and his hands had so much fluidity that I was gobsmacked – very, very cool!
MEL: Most unusually you were photographed fully clothed! - for Playboy by the one of the most iconic photographers in the music industry Mick Rock. Can you tell us how you came to be dressed for a Playboy shoot?
HARRY: I just love working with Mick Rock - we met many moons ago. Playboy was doing the Music Issue and Mick had just shot Iggy for it and asked me to shoot with him for the Magazine which I jumped at. We shot it in New York in some fabulous penthouse in a hotel, I can't remember which. Anyway Mick is one of my favourite people of all time. I want to shoot with him again soon!
What’s your favourite period in music history?
HARRY: 90's as I was ‘of age’ I believe when you’re a kid the music around then will always resonate with you the most - your generation!
MEL: The music world is still dominated by men but we are breaking some ground with lots of female bands just recently. How do you make your mark as a woman in music without being a clique - do you sometimes find it frustrating?
HARRY: When I started yes, it was totally frustrating but now I think that was more because not only was I a girl but I was jailbait. So it was hard to get people to take me seriously but now I’ve got a lot of respect from my peers and the industry. I’ve somehow been accepted by the men and I feel quite supported by other artists especially in the hard rock arena. I can just do my thing which I am really grateful for and what I always wanted :) I guess it’s because I’ve never given up and never will.
MEL: Which females in music have inspired you besides Patti Smith & Janis Joplin?
HARRY: Grace Slick, Joan Jett, Sandy Denny, Louise Post from Veruca salt who I did some gigs with in California, Shirley Manson, Brody Dalle, Karen O and Courtney Love.
MEL: What would you say has been one of the great moments of your music career and the on the opposite side the lowest point?
HARRY: The greatest I don’t think it has come yet - the lowest has definitely but I don’t wanna go there.
MEL: Tell me one thing which people might not know about you and might surprise them. Are there any hidden talents or interesting facts we should know about?
HARRY: I’m a really bad painter but I do it anyway.
MEL: You've bounced back with a fresh, whole new feminine, vampish look and hairstyle, does this reflect in any the way a new you?
HARRY: Thanks that’s really nice of you to say – yes, great to cut my hair and the men which were reclining in it out of my life.
MEL: I loved the YouTube video of you singing Patti Smiths ‘Dancing Barefoot’, are you a big Patti Smith fan? Do you do any cover songs live or on the new album?
HARRY: Thanks I love her too. I was doing ‘Rock And Roll Nigger’ with my last line up. I always used to see Lenny Kaye on the street when I was growing up in NYC and he was an angel and got me passes to stand side of stage last time they played in London. I was moved at the bottom of the deep well of my soul. No more cover versions as yet.
MEL: When can we expect a tour from Dirty Harry? And will you be covering the whole of the UK?
HARRY: Yes soon hopefully October - definitely Manchester on bonfire night. A couple of big tours in the pipeline - I can’t wait!!! Thanks Harry x
MEL: Thank you for sharing some of your time, good luck with the tours, the single ‘I’ve Been Down’ and the album next year. I’ll be in Manchester for sure, we’ll see down there.
Check out the links for Dirty Harry.
Interview by Mel
Photos by Andy Wiltshire (press shoot)