The Fjord Awakens: Local Band and ‘Star Wars’ Fans Harrison Fjord Get Ready for a Big 2016

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Products of the Chandler Unified School District, the musicians in Harrison Fjord play tunes that are just about as diverse as the actor behind their name.

“Harrison Fjord was formed with the intent to never have a genre,” says lead singer/ guitarist Mario Yniguez of the jazz-influenced psychedelic rock band. “I called everyone and said, ‘Can we be in a band where we don’t have to write music like everybody else?’

“It sounds a little pretentious. I don’t mean it to be like that. I just wanted to be able to do whatever we want. We can play jazz, sing whatever we want to do—everybody play bongos—whatever is fun or entertaining. Nobody’s ever going to leave the band or anything because they’re out of things to do.”

With all the hype surrounding the opening of “Star Wars: Episode VII—The Force Awakens,” it’s easy to assume that the band named itself after the charismatic actor.

That’s not so, Yniguez says.

“It was by complete happenstance,” Yniguez says.

“Someone mentioned an assembly line, then someone brought up Harrison Ford. After that, it was Fjord.”

That’s not to say the collective isn’t fans of the legendary films.

“Every single person in the band is a diehard ‘Star Wars’ fan,” he says. “We’re whole— simply put—nerds. Everyone is dying to see ‘Star Wars.’ We have tickets already.”

When they’re not being nerds, the musicians are rehearsing for upcoming shows, which includes a Wednesday, Dec. 23, gig at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix. The band also includes Dallin Gonzales (vocals/tambourine), Taylor Morriss (guitars/vocals), Jonathon Sheldon (bass/ vocals), Kevin Paul Mandzuk (keys), 17-year-old Jacob Lipp (woodwinds) and Matt Storto (drums). Mandzuk is a material science major through Barrett, The Honors College at ASU. The rest of the musicians attend Mesa Community College to study music.

“We’ve had the opportunity to play Crescent Ballroom five or six times, which is pretty cool,” Yniguez said. “About a year ago, when we were getting back into gigging, we would have just loved to have played the Crescent Ballroom. It was a little bit of a dream.

“Now it’s pretty regular for us. We play there more than other places.”

The Wednesday, Dec. 23, gig will include a nod to Christmas.

“We’re going to be doing a couple new songs and a Christmas song,” he says. “We’re going to have a special Christmas deal where we’ll do some antics and some weirdness.”

The show will end the band’s 2015 run, and prepare it for next year, which is going to keep Harrison Fjord busy. In the forefront is working on a new album.

“There’s not a whole lot known yet,” he says. “It’s going to be a sampling of a lot of the stuff we do, but a little jazzier and weirder with vocal harmony. It’ll be electronic in some way. It’ll be more of an EP kind of thing. It’ll be very colorful and big. I’m excited.”

The band is thrilled about its forthcoming video for the song “Approximately 906 Miles.” It was filmed in Payson.

“That video will be what I’m most proud of,” Yniguez says. “I can say that. That’ll be the release that I and everybody in the band is most excited about. Freddie [Paull] who does all of our video stuff did it. He’s just incredible. So artistically genuine, just ahead of his time in many ways. He’s done a lot of very cool stuff with it. I’m happy with the audio and stuff like that.

JARED AND THE MILL W/HARRISON FJORD AND BEAR GHOST
Crescent Ballroom, 308 N. Second Avenue, Phoenix, 602.716.2222, crescentphx.com, 8 p.m. Wednesday, December 23, $15 to $17

 

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