Album Premiere: Harker – No Discordance

Four years ago, Mark Boniface began a solo acoustic project under the moniker of Harker. Fast forward to 2018 and following shows alongside names such as Creeper, Boston Manor, and Off With Their Heads and a few EP’s, Harker are set to release their debut full-length, ‘No Discordance’, next Friday.

Having moulded from its acoustic beginnings to a fully fledged indie-punk juggernaut, Boniface has been joined by Tony Ware (Guitar), Phoebe Saunders (Bass/Vocals) and Matt Claxton (Drums). Together, they have created the first great punk record of 2018, and today Already Heard is hosting the UK premiere of ‘No Discordance’.

Set to be released through various independent labels worldwide (including the UK’s Disconnect Disconnect), ‘No Discordance’ is an energetic onslaught of fuzz-driven, catchy indie-punk. It sees Boniface and company embrace the sonic infection of punk’s most influential names while presenting a lyrically honest ethos that is akin to names such as The Get Up Kids and Jimmy Eat World.

Not only can you hear ‘No Discordance’ in full below, frontman Mark Boniface and guitarist Tony Ware have given us a detailed breakdown to all 10 songs.

1. Station Approach

Tony Ware (Guitar): I arranged the whole last part after the first chorus, including the noise breaks. It’s my take on James Honeyman Scott’s (The Pretenders) solo from ‘Tattooed Love Boys’. I got obsessed with that song. In the solo, he breaks it down to “riffs inspired by his favourite guitarists”. I thought that was so cool and wanted to do the same – but with noise breaks!

Mark Boniface (Guitar/Vocals): This track was built from a chorus, which had been knocking around in my bag of unused parts for ages. I and Tony sat down and sorted the arrangement together, the middle section as he said is all his idea! When he first suggested it, I was like “what the f**k”, but as he built each one it got better and BETTER.

2. Plague Your Heart

Tony: This was on a shirt design for us even before it was even a song! ‘Plague’ went through many, many, arrangement changes, mainly because it was incredibly complex to start with. I suggested we “Buzzcocks it”. Basically, simplify all the fiddly bits and that’s how we ended up with the current arrangement. It’s one of my favourites to play live, and so happy with how this came out on the record.

Mark: It was originally a shirt design, but the title was taken from a quote by a philosopher on unrequited love. I knew we had to write a song with that as the theme.

I listened to the original demo for this the other day – and it sounds so tame in comparison. The production of the guitars at the end of the finished product sound huge.

3. Black Dog

Mark: This song is based on insecurities within my relationships. I think anyone who suffers with mental health issues will see a pattern running through this song. It’s the poppiest song on the record by far, yet it has some really complex parts. A lot of the lead work was written and recorded right on the day of tracking in the studio!

4. 300 Cigarettes

Tony: This went from demo to band very, very, quickly. We barely changed a thing from Marks home demo. We thought it was just a great simple, full-on, repetitive pop song. I put the solo through a Joey Santiago blender and made it bendier.

I guess lyrically, it’s about being attracted to someone, then realising that it’s based on superficiality?

Mark: Yeah – I even think when I demoed it, I sent it over to the band and the response was “WHERE THE HELL DID THIS COME FROM?!” Nothing changed on this one, I think the only other time we’ve been able to do that was with ‘Somewhere Better’ from our first EP.

Yeah, the song’s meaning can be seen as that – but can be used in a broader spectrum, you don’t realise friendships can also be one-sided until you’re out the other side sometimes.

5. Nancy Downs

Tony: The idea there was for us to “write a song with only two chords”. We both had half a song, so we joined them together and added a weird bit in the middle to link the two together.

Mark: Meaning-wise – it’s about creating problems out of nothing and trying to fix them by stacking on other problems. Those self-help guides aren’t going to get you anywhere unless you start admitting the problem is from the inside. Interesting fact, the guitars dubbed for the middle ‘stabby’ section, we tuned all 6 strings on a guitar to ‘G’ and stacked all our noise pedals together to make that metallic sounding roar!

6. Lower Ground

Tony: We just wanted to write the simplest arranged song we could. Matt’s drum break at the end came about from telling him he was “boring”. Tim (Southsea Sound), who engineered the record, loves that drum break. Its lightweight, but we love it. It’s fun to play.

Mark: Tony yawning at Matt in practice has become a popular in-joke now, but it helped him nail that mega fill at the end. This was the last track to be put into the box. We messed about with the bridge into the last chorus but it remained largely unchanged from the demo version I first produced.

7. Caught Up

Tony: One of the oldest songs on the record, and the first song we recorded with Tim. Nate from Bad Ideas/Guts plays drums on this instead of Matt. We gave Tim a near nervous breakdown with this record, as it was recorded in stages. When he came to mix it, he struggled matching up the sounds to all the different sessions. This was probably the worst because Nates drum sound is totally different from Matts. But we didn’t want to replace Nate as he’s a great mate of ours. Plus, it’s a killer drum track!

Mark: For me, this one shows our melodic side the best. We’re still total shiny pop-emo fans. What makes this one for me is the nice waltzy lead throughout the first half of the track, it’s gold!

I wrote the lyrics to this one while listening to a lot of time travel theories/documentaries. Do we repeat ourselves? Are we stuck in a loop? Do we get to the end and then go backwards? It all amazes me.

8. Drive At Night

Mark: This song was demoed at least 2 or 3 times. The main riff had been dotted around a couple demos and the middle section I pinched from another song I was writing that wasn’t going anywhere. Then live, we chopped and changed the drum parts a lot. I hope any Ryan Adams fans who stumble across our music enjoy the reference.

Tony: Apparently, I’ve blocked out a lot of what went on with this song. Another track that’s the oldest on the record, all I seem to remember is we rehearsed it straight from the demo. However, in hindsight, this was a hard song to nail, and I remember arrangement problems with the drums being ongoing for a long time. Getting the drums sorted with Matt, and Phoebe sorting backing vocals really lifted this song in the end.

This song features heavy use of my favourite fuzz pedal, the Berkatron which is made by a company called Pickletech. All handmade, all fuzzed out to the max!

9. Sometimes Dead Is Better

Tony: We needed to write a new song quickly for a split 7” we did with No Panic Records, so I suggested to Mark we write a “big dumb punk song with a shoegaze middle-8”. This song probably came about from listening to Hot Water Music and My Bloody Valentine at the same time. When it was written and recorded, I was away – the original version was done in one day, and I recorded all my guitars at the end, having never heard the song before. Admittedly the original is a bit on the weak side, Tim really came through for us on the re-recording. Backing vocals were added by our friend Carina from Casually Dressed – who recorded separately from the rest of us.

Mark: Up the PUNKS!! Music is about inclusion, sharing and community. If you play music, don’t ever forget that. Also – if you’ve never picked up an instrument, do it. We all start at the same point. It’s just about practice and commitment. Carina has one of the best voices, I’m glad she sang for us on this one!

10. Endless Eight

Mark: This was demo’ed originally, and I remember Tony really not being into it! But as me, Matt and Phoebe all really liked it, we all worked at it as a group until we got an arrangement that we were pleased with. Our first proper run through as a band was awesome – we really worked on the build up and I think you can tell.

The lyrics are about repeating the same mistakes, we know it’s bad for us but we keep on doing it. It’s part of life, sometimes we don’t want these missteps to end because it makes us “human”. This ties in with the title quite well – google it if you want more information, as the piece of work it’s taken from I can’t really sum up in one paragraph.

Tony: LOUD NOISES!

‘No Discordance’ by Harker is released on 9th February on Disconnect, Disconnect (UK), Fond of Life (EU), Shield Recordings (EU), Fixing A Hole (JP) and Wiretap Records (USA).

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