MAY 10, 2010 | The Summit | Columbus, OH
Photo by John Danner
Some people say you should never meet your heroes. I most certainly didn’t consider Harlem to be one of mine. However, I had been digging on their album “Hippies” for weeks before I found out they were coming through Columbus. After following them on twitter, I assumed they were going to be laid back, somewhat wacky, engaging guys. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When I turned on my television a few nights before this interview, I was met with a pleasant surprise. One of my favorite rock and roll movies was on. “Almost Famous”. As silly as it seems, since I first saw that film, I knew I wanted be some form of a music journalist. Now I’m starting to think that movie was on specifically to prepare me for the events of this particular evening. When I posted the description of JackinthePocket to say “socially awkward interviews” I never expected it pertain to the painful interaction I had with Harlem. I may be screwing myself over for being so straightforward. But, I truly believe in giving you the entire absolute story, no matter how damaging it may be to my attempt to make a career as a music journalist through the often vilified blog medium. I’ve NEVER been so fired up after an interview where I’ve felt the need to immediately write down my response. The need to convey the disrespect I felt was overwhelming me. As soon as I returned home I immediately flipped open my laptop and began to furiously type.
When I went over the audio footage today, I could hardly understand anything. Coomers, Jose, and Curtis were talking over each other and going off on tangents that didn’t make any sense. Sometimes Coomers would break in after being silent and make an inappropriate remark. Jose would try to redeem his response while shooting him a scolding look. I asked what it had been like transitioning from being independent to working with Matador Records.
Coomers: I don’t know?? It’s like weird people in an office building.
Jose: They’re pretty nice. I mean, I don’t think these people would be working in an office building unless they could use their business expenses to go to shows and drink.
Coomers: They’ve got some weird sexual stuff going on there…
Jose: Coomers…!!! Delete! Delete! Delete…
It got worse as it went on. I felt I could have been asking the wrong questions. Coomers was sitting cross legged in a chair across from me and repeatedly rolling his eyes and running his hands through his hair in unabashed annoyance. Curtis and Jose seemed to feel the tension, but played along as their band mate tried hard to turn the interview back upon me. Jose volunteered some decent answers. We discussed their adventure in Bloomington, Indiana the night before. After I tried to get some more fun stories out of them.
KP: You guys seem to get into a lot of shenanigans. Who would you say is the biggest trouble maker?
Curtis: We all get into our own individual trouble.
Coomers: What kind of trouble do YOU get into?
KP: I try to stay out of trouble. [Laughs] But this is supposed to be all about you guys.
Coomers: About us?!
I decided to switch gears and asked a stereotypical interview question, “What has been your favorite gig so far?” Coomers groaned and started playing with his hands. I couldn’t tell if Coomers was aching to get the interview over and done with or add his own two cents to the whole ordeal. I uneasily ended the interview by asking them if they had anything to add, or any last words.
Coomers: I don’t know? You want us to give an epilogue to your own interview?!
When it came time for John take the photos, the tension was high. Coomers was visibly irritated, and wouln’t look into the camera. None of them followed John’s creative directions. Coomers even blurted out, “I’m not fuckin’ doin’ that!” when he asked them to stand back to back. Jose and Curtis just mumbled refusals in comradery. John’s photo above completely captures the whole ordeal.
I was steaming when I got home. A fellow blogger friend consoled my frustration by sending me examples of Coomer’s treatment of the press. It seems he thinks its a joke, a waste of time. He obviously considers himself to be one of the greatest musicians of all time, and no one can tear him down from his high horse who trots upon delusional clouds of grandeur. I guess I can’t take it personally.
Harlem’s “Hippies” is a damn good record. Make sure you pick up a copy here.