Harvest Breed is one of those bands you should really keep an eye on. You only need to listen to any one of their songs and you’ll be addicted immediately to the six-piece group from Quebec. C-Antoine Gosselin, Philippe Custeau, Maxime Rouleau, Marco Gosselin, Sylvain Lussier, and Gabriel Lemieux-Maillé make up a very impressive band and I can’t wait to see them live one day. They have won several awards yet, for example the Alt-Country Song of the Year, and they have opened for Dan Mangan, Half Moon Run or My Morning Jacket and more. Luckily, Philippe Custeau, the band’s songwriter, was so kind and answered some questions for AMBY.
AMBY: How would you describe Harvest Breed’s sound to those unfamiliar to your music?
Harvest Breed: Most of the superlatives and hyphenated descriptors have been used and overused at this point to categorize bands and their music into sub-genres, in efforts to trace lineages, or simply in misguided attempts to have them stand out. Half of those adjectives have been used at one time or another to define our music.
I would say our sound falls somewhere between the folk and pop music of the 60s and 70s, and contemporary indie-rock. Harvest Breed’s songs are centered around the lyrics, and though typically layered and pretty involved, are also quite accessible.
AMBY: Who or what inspires you as a band?
Harvest Breed: As the songwriter in the band, I draw my inspiration mostly from my readings, whether it’d be poetry, novels, or even the papers.
Quiet observation of nature is a boundless source of admiration and inspiration for me also, as are both human arrogance and kindness in the face of this unmitigated beauty.
Although it is all but impossible to avoid the spirit of the age, so to speak, we strive to create songs that have a timeless feel to them. For that reason, and despite the fact that some songs are heavily rooted in place (geographically speaking at least), I try to steer clear of overly didactic songwriting.
We are inspired by beauty, and in turn try to make something beautiful from it which we can share with people.
AMBY: Which artists have you been listening to lately?
Harvest Breed: I’ve been listening to a lot of Gene MacLellan these past few weeks, as well as Charlie Rich, Big Star and early Bill Evans. I’m really loving the new The National record, too.
AMBY: And what song could you live without ever hearing again?
Harvest Breed: I don’t own a TV, nor do I listen to any kind of commercial radio, so even though I’m aware of what’s playing out there, it certainly isn’t being hammered into my unconscious mind daily. I’ve been making an exercise out of trying to find elements that I like or find interesting in everything I hear. Some people make it harder than others… But I’ve been finding quite a bit to admire even in Katy Perry’s hits, actually.
AMBY: “Everything Changes” is a wonderful song, what is the story behind it?
Harvest Breed: I wrote that song about a friend’s father who was having serious health issues at the time. It’s a song about growing up and growing old, about how movement and change are the essence of life itself, for good and bad. Sometimes you just wish you could pause time for a while, to enjoy things a little longer, or simply to catch your breath.
AMBY: If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would you choose?
Harvest Breed: Living or dead? Edmund Hillary, Leonard Cohen and René Redzepi. He’d cook.
AMBY: Outside of music, what do you do for fun?
Harvest Breed: The members of the band all have other endeavours that they enjoy. Sylvain is a great photographer, Max likes skiing in the winter, Marco windsurfs, and so on.
AMBY: Which three albums changed your life?
Harvest Breed: Blanket Warm by Lullaby for the Working Class, I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt (S/T)
AMBY: When it comes to gigs, what would be your dream place to play a concert?
Harvest Breed: The Hollywood Bowl!
AMBY: What are your plans for the future?
Harvest Breed: Trying harder to live in the present…
AMBY: Lastly, what’s something nobody knows about Harvest Breed… yet?
Harvest Breed: There’s quite an age gap between the youngest and the oldest member of the band. But I’m not naming names!
Thank you so much for this interview!