Harper Lines fronts high-octane, Phoenix-based band Harper and the Moths, which boasts a unique soul-tinged, sometimes synthy indie rock sound with a New Wave flavor. Lines has been an active member of the music scene for the last 15 years. He listens to everything from Motown and disco to modern indie rock, pop and soul. Though his music taste is hard to pin down, one thing’s for sure — he’s definitely got a closet full of dancing shoes and a robust compilation of classics in his record collection.
TOP 5 FAVORITE SONGS OF ALL TIME
“Heart It Races,” Architecture in Helsinki
“I worked for a shady PR company for a year and one of the hippest people I’ve ever met (Erika Delemarre) thought I would like them. I dare you to listen to this track and not love it — this band basically picked up where the Talking Heads left off. Every time I hear the first 10 seconds of the song, I’m all in and my mood shifts immediately.”
“Rebel Yell,” Billy Idol
“Yes, it’s an incredibly simple song that almost any musician could write — but the tone of the guitars, the rhythm section and the personality and delivery of the vocals make it priceless. If you don’t know who Keith Forsey is, now is a good time to make the connection — Forsey produced the first two Idol records and was absolutely instrumental in shaping the soundtrack to the 1980s. Not only did Forsey help shape Billy Idol’s musical career, but he also co-wrote ‘Flashdance… What a Feeling’ and co-wrote some of the biggest film soundtracks of all time: Ghostbusters, Beverly Hills Cop, The Neverending Story and The Breakfast Club. The track ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’ was originally intended for Billy Idol (he declined) and later made famous by Simple Minds. ‘Rebel Yell’ is everything I love about Billy Idol and Keith Forsey in a beautifully crafted track.”
“Rock the Casbah,” The Clash
“This track is incredible — the drummer, Topper Headon, originally wrote the music and lyrics but was fired for drug problems right around when the track became an enormous hit for the band. Joe Strummer rewrote the lyrics to be less pornographic (Headon had originally wrote it as a sexual song about his girlfriend) and was inspired by their manager, who was complaining about all the songs on Combat Rock dragging past the four-minute mark into raga jams. Strummer wanted to include the raga line ‘The king told the boogie men you gotta get that raga drop’ because he knew that raga/disco records were banned in Iran. Technically, the song is about performing music people can dance to as an act of political defiance in support of humanism.”
“Let’s Dance,” David Bowie
“Damn, where to even start? Nile Rogers (guitarist of Chic) co-produced the record with Bowie and helped shape the disco guitar sound on the entire record. Bowie referred to the record as ‘a singer’s record’ because he didn’t end up recording ANY guitar tracks on it. Stevie Ray Vaughan and Nile played on all the tracks, with Vaughan stepping in on the solo. The movement of the rhythm section and the horns creates something transcendent, immediately identifiable and hooky as all hell. Not to mention, of course, the perfect vocal performance of the late and great David Bowie.”
“The Ghost Inside,” Broken Bells
“How can you not love Broken Bells? The combination of Danger Mouse’s production/arrangement and (The Shins’) James Mercer’s guitar and vocals is something really special. It’s not quite disco, not quite indie rock, but it feels timeless. The lyrics on the band’s first record call out the typical entrapments of 20-somethings’ search for love and personal fulfillment in a delicate and personal way that can haunt the listener. This song is about a man who is in love with a woman who protects herself from the world by placing value in currency, which is safer to obtain than a true connection.”
PREFERRED WAY OF LISTENING
“Spotify for streaming, vinyl for my personal collection, headphones when taking notes on mixing.”
DESERT ISLAND ALBUM
“This is definitely the toughest question for any musician, largely because I don’t know if I want a soundtrack to my isolation and impending death or a soundtrack to my eventual survival through rescue.
If I’m going to live out the rest of my life on this island with no hope of survival, I’d pick The Beatles’ ‘White Album.’ It’s got exceptional expressions of pure joy (‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,’ ‘Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?’ ‘Back in the U.S.S.R.’), mixed with morose, contemplative tracks that examine the human condition (‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’ ‘Happiness Is a Warm Gun,’ ‘Blackbird’). I feel like there’s a dramatic balance on this record, which would help me either retain my sanity or accept the inevitable.
My second choice would be Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. This record is absolutely brilliant and the storytelling is unparalleled in the folk/Americana rock scene. Though I wouldn’t consider it a ‘light listen,’ the orchestration is phenomenal and the vocals and lyrics emote in a way that I have and always will connect with. Upon every listen, I would be reminded of my family and friends, and it would probably inspire me to continue to write my masterpiece (regardless of the fact that it might never find an audience).”
WHAT ARTIST WOULD PROVIDE THE SOUNDTRACK FOR THE MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
“I’d want it to be a record featuring Dax Riggs with co-writing and production from The xx because David Bowie has ascended to the great beyond.”
GO-TO GUILTY PLEASURE OR CLASSIC KARAOKE TUNE
“My favorite karaoke tunes to perform are Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ or The Darkness’ ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love.’
My favorite guilty pleasure song is Cameo’s ‘Candy’ because Larry Blackmon’s vocals have so much personality. They found a way to create a pop love song infused with synth-funk vibes and the lyrics are hilarious. ‘Strawberry! Raspberry! All those good thangs!’ LOL.”