Harvey Brown

An interview with band Harvey Brown
by Karli Norton
September 2014

From left, Alex Smith, Chris Frey, Jake Phelps, JD Skenadore outside Green Bay's Lyric Room.

From left, Alex Smith, Chris Frey, Jake Phelps, JD Skenadore outside Green Bay's Lyric Room."Harvey Brown by Rachel Wolfe-Micek"
photo by Rachel Wolfe-Micek

Prepare yourself, because this band is anything but expected.

The first time I saw Harvey Brown I was thrown off by the strange array of stage props: lava lamps, a garden gnome, a picture of a T-Rex, a Michael Jackson vinyl, a large cut out of Brittney Spears and even a poster for Jurassic Park. I had no idea what I was about to experience. As the four band members finished setting up, I scanned the packed room and realized just how many people this band brought in. The energy in the building was already alive and dancing. Then the count-down kicked in and suddenly I was taken up and away with this energy and found myself dancing. As the night went on I began to understand that it wasn’t supposed to make sense, it was supposed to be confusing, fun, and alive. It was supposed to be new and unexpected. It was supposed to be Harvey Brown.

Being unexpected is maybe the only thing that you can expect from Harvey Brown. Recently, I sat down with Jake Phelps (vocals), Alex Smith (guitar), Chris Frey (bass) and JD Skenandore (drums) before the band performed an open mic set at downtown Green Bay’s Lyric Room.

Harvey Brown works as a four piece, they complement each other and it allows them to be ‘essential and pronounced’ as Alex and JD describe it.  Bassist Chris states that being a four man band, “forces the band to play tighter and more creatively.”

Although Alex, Chris and JD have been playing together for roughly six and a half years, the actual creation of Harvey Brown didn’t come to be until two and a half years ago when Jake was introduced into the group. And in typical Harvey Brown fashion, their meeting was completely unexpected. After a small show that Alex, Chris, and JD performed at, the guys met Jake outside by a bonfire and enjoyed a small jam session.  With Alex and Chris playing their acoustics, Jake starting spitting lyrics and JD drummed along on Alex’s guitar.

Jake had a cassette player that night and happened to record the whole thing. The earliest of Harvey Brown is still on some cassette – who knows, maybe these tapes will be released like Bob Dylan’s basement tapes, someday.

What really got the band going was attending small little events on Wednesdays that Chris recalls being named “Live and Loud.” Harvey Brown would perform with metal bands, never knowing what to expect for turn outs or appreciation. Now, the boys are being asked to play gigs with bands they looked up to (and still do),when they were starting out.

I wish I could inform readers and potential audiences of what they can expect at a Harvey Brown show. I wish I knew how to properly describe the style of Harvey Brown. Imagine if Phil Collins had four children that grew up watching only Jim Carrey movies, were all skateboarders and listened to a combination of blues, punk, and metal. Throw in some classic 60’s and 70’s and you will have the illegitimate sons of a rock and roll star that make up Harvey Brown. Does that make sense? It doesn’t to me either. But it works and it works damn well. All I can say is these guys are good and they vibe well.

Harvey Brown just came out with a live album called “Live at the Lyric Room” that can be found in local Green Bay record stores or online. They are currently working on a new album for early 2015 and have started a book club for all those that are interested. The members would love to give a special thanks to Will Curl from Hearanow Records, family, friends, and all the support they have received.

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Harvey Brown Online:
Facebook Record Label: Hearanow Records

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