John Harvie Shares About Influences, Fraternities, and "told ya."
Louisville-born and Nashville-based pop punk artist John Harvie released his debut album, told ya., on August 26, 2022.
Growing up, music was ever-present and ultra-important in Harvie's life. Sonic influences both from the church and from his pastor father fueled his hunger for music. His career took off after his comedic coughing fit-cover of Fall Out Boy's "Sugar We're Goin' Down" went viral on TikTok and soon, record labels and executives were reaching out from all corners of the music industry.
Harvie dropped stand-out single "Bleach (On the Rocks)" in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, receiving praise from fans, critics, and fellow artists, including lil aaron, who remixed the song just weeks after its initial release. The single, which remains one of Harvie's most streamed songs to date, mixes classic distorted guitar riffs with an earworm vocal tagline. The sarcastic sonic cocktail showcases Harvie's witty lyricism, with references to a lethal concoction of heartbreak, angst, and alcohol.
"Alaina"'s infectious melodies and deep pocket during choruses make it another Intersect top track from told ya. Harvie immortalizes his affections for his Tinder-turned-Snapchat relationship in the upbeat, two-minute anthem–the pop punk love letter we all wish someone would write for us. The playful tune spins a tale of lust and infatuation in the internet age of filters, FaceTime, and fake profiles.
"I put you in a song so you won't ever forget me"
The steady solo guitar intro of "Paint My Lips" sets it apart from other songs on the LP. The tune's slower tempo and laid-back feel creates a break in the consistent high energy of the preceding tracks. The memorable rock ballad brings new dynamics to told ya., highlighting Harvie's depth and finesse as a songwriter. The soft acoustic intro of "Not Another Song" sets listeners up for a pleasant surprise when the artist calls for an energizing, full-bodied instrumentation. In signature John Harvie fashion, "Not Another Song" good-naturedly pokes fun of the countless songs written about lovers past, present, and future. One of Harvie's best vocal performances on the album, the song is sure to be playing on listeners' minds and lips for hours on end. Harvie's attention to detail and impressive delivery on the album as a whole makes it one of the top pop punk releases of 2022, rivaling those of Machine Gun Kelly and Fall Out Boy.
We spoke with John Harvie about his influences, support from his fraternity, and latest album. Read the full interview and check out told ya. below. Let us know what you think.
At what age did you start playing music? Who or what first inspired you?
I've been singing for as long as I can remember, but I started playing guitar and writing songs when I was ten. Putting my acoustic guitar in drop D tuning, playing power chords, and making rock songs was always my favorite thing to do. It was therapy and always a constant.
What role did music play in your childhood and family life?
It was a huge part of my life. It's funny because nobody in my family is musical other than me and now my brothers, yet the love for music in my family runs deep. My dad turned me on to all the music I used to listen to; he used to be a huge Def Leppard head and a Metallica junkie, but on the way to school we'd be listening to Muse and Linkin Park. It was definitely helpful growing up in the church because the songs are so well-written and simple. Church songs and metalcore taught me everything I know about song structure.
Growing up, who were your favorite bands or artists? How have those favorites changed over time and influenced your own music?
I have a solidified top three... it's Linkin Park, the Foo Fighters, and Fall Out Boy. Those were the bands who truly helped me get into my own type of rock music. Later on in my childhood I'd be listening to the Eagles, Rascal Flatts, Bruno Mars, and all the hardcore and metal/emo music you can think of. I just recently got into this 90s hip hop phase, too, but I digress... all these bands helped shape the music I make today. I think what I like the best about most of the bands I listened to growing up was that they always adapted. It didn't necessarily feel like they were ever hopping on trends; they always did what they wanted to do and created the curve.
Why pop punk?
To be completely honest, I always loved pop punk and was always in a "punk" band growing up. I never stopped making rock music because that's what I loved and then Machine Gun Kelly dropped this little album called Tickets To My Downfall. It felt like the freshest take on music I had heard in a minute, so I had the idea to take what I liked about that record and just throw some more of my Fall Out Boy roots on it, while topping it all off with pop hooks and country lyrics. It was a perfect storm... I never sacrificed my artistic integrity and people have really enjoyed my version of trying to freshen up that type of music.
"It was a perfect storm... I never sacrificed my artistic integrity and people have really enjoyed my version of trying to freshen up that type of music."
What was the significance of the fraternity you joined in college as a support system?
Honestly, I never saw myself as a fraternity guy, but it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My mental health was really bad at the time and I had never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I was the football player who loved emo music, top 40 pop, and singing. I just never felt like any groups fully accepted me because a theatre kid would think I was a douchebag and a football player would think I was fruity as hell for wanting to be a singer.
The fraternity opened me up to a bunch of dudes that accepted me for who I was and what I wanted to do, and they would help me sell out all my rock shows in college. They would mosh and scream all the words. It felt like such a rock 'n roll environment. We were and still truly are my brothers. The vice president in my fraternity is now my stagehand and playback rig person. One of my pledge brothers is the bassist in my band–Who'd have thunk it!
How has social media, TikTok in particular, impacted your career?
I almost didn't post my first viral video because I messed up, so it's a great example for all young artists out there... Post your shit! Even though I coughed and it was hilarious, I absolutely nailed the cover and people really seemed to enjoy my voice. If it weren't for that video and the next two blowing up, the labels would have never hit me up. I had just dropped out and was working at UPS, and I found out that my video went viral while I was at work. I had a label executive hit me up.
That was what started it all. To be honest, I didn't have the songs to be signed and build leverage yet, so I started working my ass off to write strong songs and put up numbers by myself before going to a label that could help me out even more. Social media is such a necessary evil, but I just look at it as a creative way to connect with people through my art. I love talking to people every day about how my music has impacted them. It's like a big family with thousands of people.
"I love talking to people every day about how my music has impacted them. It's like a big family with thousands of people."
Talk us through the concept and songwriting process of your latest release, told ya.
told ya. was a crazy writing process because I didn't know I was writing an album yet. I was literally just trying to write some heaters to pitch to labels and ended up writing over 60 songs for the project. I fell in love with writing even more than I had before. We just wrote songs about the time I was in and there was such a youthful, exciting energy about the songs because that's what I was feeling at the time.
I've always been good at writing melodies and song chords and beats, but I always struggled with lyrics. One of my great friends, Spencer Jordan, changed the way I write words forever. He has nine cuts on the album and was really my big brother when it came to figuring out what I wanted to say, how to word it, and finding when to be metaphorical versus silly and on the nose. On top of that, I would just put my own melodies and cadences on it.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
The most challenging part of the album process was singing these songs. I really pushed myself because I want to be one of the best rock vocalists to ever do it. I feel like, because of autotune, the art of the singer has been dying a bit, but I want to use it as a tool because so much cool music has come out of it. Preparing my voice for this record was a challenge but now I'm able to pull it off live every night without a hiccup and I'm proud of myself for that. On this next record, I'm gonna push it even further.
If you have one, what is your favorite song on the album?
My favorite song on the album probably has to be "Alaina". It was the first time I had written a lot of a song by myself that felt completely me. Then, Spencer, Knox Morris, and Andrew Gomez helped me put the final touches on it. It's the highlight of the set every night for me personally, and it determines whether the show was sick or it sucked. It still gives me the goosies.
"It still gives me the goosies."
What’s next for John Harvie?
I'm going to start dropping more music early next year. I love pop punk, but I'm going to stray away from it because, to be honest, I just don't want to make it for myself for another album cycle. The new music will have elements of pop punk, but it's going to go down more of a new wave grunge route... Think Nirvana and Weezer if they made a baby with lots of pop elements and more raw and emotional lyrics. This next record will definitely be a little darker in some parts because of what I was going through at the time, but the songs feel huge and anthemic. Don't worry though, I've got some sick pop songs on there as well.
"The new music will have elements of pop punk, but it's going to go down more of a new wave grunge route... Think Nirvana and Weezer if they made a baby with lots of pop elements and more raw and emotional lyrics."
Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you?
The city of Philadelphia has the greatest sports teams of all time and after the Phillies win the World Series and the Eagles win the Super Bowl, I'll give you all the best music you've ever heard.
PS: I've got a song remix with Charlotte Sands coming out in early November, so keep an eye out for that!