10 Questions with Alex Casnoff of Harriet

Written by  Published in Interviews Wednesday, 25 January 2012 11:50

Chances are you haven't heard of HARRIET or their recent single, "I Slept With All Your Mothers", but Alex Casnoff, former member of Dawes is hoping that changes. He is a bit testy in the interview, but perhaps that is what happens when you are so determined to make something work. Sometimes when you're so close to something you can't understand why someone wouldn't get it. He speaks often of his attempts to grow…grow as a band, grow into their name, grow as a songwriter. While the name is odd for a group and is likely to cause confusion they have a unique sound and perhaps in the near future you'll be hearing of Harriet and wondering who she is, only to learn that it's Alex Casnoff and company. Here are 10 questions with Casnoff:


Matt De Mello What is the origin of the name Harriet (in regards to your band not asking for Oxford's origins)?

Alex Casnoff: It is my grandmother’s name minus an extra "te". My mom suggested it, and I immediately said no. I ended up liking the idea of being named, and making it work, growing into it. You have to make it work, same as you do in your life.


MD: Dawes is on a huge up tick, playing Coachella & whose album was even considered by some to be one of the top 10 albums of the year. Do you feel any need to be competitive with them considering you left the band last year?

AC: No I don't think we have to be competitive with Dawes. I learned a lot from that band, Taylor is a great songwriter, his attention to detail is really inspiring and the only push that comes from that is me wanting to keep growing. I'm grateful to my experience in that band and I think our sounds are inherently uncompetitive.


MD: How would you describe your sound?

AC: We sound like the Americana of the retro-future.


MD: With songs like "I Slept with All Your Mothers" how seriously do you expect to be taken?

AC: “I slept with all your mothers” isn’t a joke song title. There's a dark humor in the narrator’s inability to control his feelings and shut his own lips. The song is not a gag though, so I think we expect to be taken very seriously with a song title like "I slept with all your mothers".


MD: Who do you think wins the Super Bowl?

AC: I just wish Prince were playing the halftime show again.


MD: Better Piano God: Fats Domino or Jerry Lee Lewis?

AC: I like Randy Newman, Brad Mehldau, and Bernie Worrell.


MD: Favorite ethnic food style (Mexican, Ethiopian, Italian, etc.)?

AC: Mexican food, maybe due to proximity.


MD: Are your songs a collaboration together or written in stages and then put together?

AC: On the EP I wrote the songs, and then we worked out parts together, but it was recorded before the band was solidified. I still bring in songs, but it's becoming a lot more collaborative in the way they come together.


MD - What is your on the road guilty pleasure?

AC - I don’t find I have too many pleasures I feel guilty about.


MD: What level of fame makes you cringe enough to want to stop making music?

AC: I found it really inspiring that a band like arcade fire who doesn't rely on the radio won best album at the Grammys last year. I am not interested in being too cool for school, or on the fringe. I'm interested in the mainstream becoming more interesting, and if we could be a part of that process I would be incredibly happy.


Follow me on Twitter - @MattkDeMello
Last modified on Thursday, 26 January 2012 14:09
Matt De Mello

When I was a kid I remember listening to Bob Dylan's lyrics and thinking I want to write like that someday. I followed the musical evolutionary steps from '80's pop, to 90's grunge and gangster rap, I found myself in a quandary in the late '90's and turned to classic rock and alt-country. That was my finding Buddha moment. I discovered greatness in the crackling vinyl sounds of Exile on Main Street, Grievous Angel and Nebraska. I found myself inspired by Nirvana, Pavement and REM. It was this inspiration that led me to write about music. It's the only thing I've ever felt truly comfortable doing. I love music, all music from Miles and Coltrane to Bruce and Dylan. From Nirvana and Pearl Jam to Beethoven and Brahms. From Jimi and Janis to Dre and Pac. I go to shows in San Francisco quite often and love discovering new music. If you have a hot tip on a band or like what I'm saying email me at Matt@BestNewBands.com or follow me @MattKDeMello

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