And Bonzo Wept with Joy: An Interview with Hark

Hands up those of you who remember Wales trio Taint? Aside from having our man Bonazelli throw down as the band’s biggest supporter to the tune of given up first born and oaths taken on the graves of dead relatives, the trio gave the world three unfuckwithable albums (All Bees to the Sea, Secrets and Lies and The Ruin of Nova Roma) of thunderously fant-angular, catchy beard metal that spun the highlights from everything Clutch ever had to offer with Helmet, stoner/sludge metal and the best melodies the 90s grunge scene never wrote manning the handle of the wringer it all was run through. They called it a day in 2010, but singer/guitarist James “Jimbob” Issac is back, fronting another trio called Hark. And glory be, this trio doesn’t sound much different from the other trio. Available now is the band’s debut 7″ Mythopoeia, which is limited to 300 copies. We caught up with Jimbob recently over the interhole for a quick introductory rundown to his new band.
First things first, what happened to Taint? Why did you call it a day?
[Bassist] Chris [West] and [drummer] Alex [Harries] were becoming less committed to band activity, so writing began to slow down, and their desire to tour went from minimal to zero. They have families now, which is great, but I couldn’t hang around with un-answerable questions over my head.

What were you doing with yourself – musically, professionally and personally – in between Taint and Hark? How did what you got up to impact your decision to start another band?
I had already started writing with [bassist] Niko [Ribniko] and [drummer] Simon [Bonwick] about six months before Taint’s final show. I’ve also moved into a new phase of my visual art, and have focussed on illustration. It’s incredibly satisfying to re-stoke the drawing skills of my childhood, after so many years in the digital/vector domain. I’m making up for lost time, in all areas of my creative life.

When and how did Hark get together? Tell us about the fellas you’re playing with now.
I approached Simon and Niko, with the intention of writing an album, and with the will to tour it. With Niko being from my hometown (Swansea, South Wales) and Simon from nearby Pembroke, we have good commonality, despite me being a few years older. They’re great players, with lots of imagination, song craft and chops. There are a diverse range of influences between the three of us, so it’s been challenging to write music that genuinely moves us.

In listening to the 7”, there are definite similarities between the two bands. How and where do you see the differences between Taint and Hark?
I’d say that Simon and Niko have a more complex approach to song arrangement with a more on-point way of playing. I encourage space, feel and groove, and I’m happy with the way our approaches have coalesced so far. I’ve also been exploring more vocal areas, as I’m hearing more melody in music these days. Even writing riffs based on a vocal melody. It’s just the way my brain is working these days. We’ve also put heads together, to work out the Hark aesthetic, and make sure it represents our motivations and our music, as clearly as possible.

Tell us about how things/processes are different with Hark in terms of writing, practicing, recording, touring, etc? Or are they different?
The writing process isn’t too dis-similar, in the sense that we all bring riffs, make sure that everyone likes them and work at them until they become songs. It’s been both refreshing and hard work. We’ll hopefully get out and tour more than Taint ever was able to, but are focussing on writing the rest of the album first.

What do you feel are the most valuable lessons you learned in Taint that you brought to Hark? What mistakes do you want to avoid this time around?
I’m just making up for lost time with Hark, and hope that we continue to be as active as possible, creatively and in the touring department. Taint never had a plan. We were a teenage garage band that evolved over a long period of time. I have no regrets about that whatsoever, but this time Hark does have a plan.

What is the significance behind the title Mythopoeia? Is there a particularly interesting story as to why you selected that as the 7”s title?
‘Mythopoeia’ means ‘the creation of myths,’ and it represents a lot of feelings I’ve had over the past few years, on a personal and wider level. I consider myself almost as some kind of filter that passes through life. Gathering all the shit as I go, and scraping it off in to the lyric-bin.

What’s next for Hark? And of course, Bonazelli wants to know if there’s a snowball’s chance of a Taint reunion?
We’re heading to France in November for some shows with Red Fang, and possibly KEN Mode. We have two thirds of the album written already, and are aiming to record in February. If all goes well, we’re hoping for a June release. A Taint reformation is the last thing on my mind right now. Any band that reforms within ten years of their split are full of shit.

Check out Hark online at any of the sites below and hurry if you want to score a copy of Mythopeia.