On the road
Back Harlow Road
Back Harlow Road is not a normal band. They don’t practice in someone’s basement but in a storage shed in Sparks. When they went on tour, they didn’t stay up all night with the ladies; they discussed all the ways you can use the word “beef.” And rather than a club or bar as their interview location, they chose Denny’s.
“We’re not really good at things most bands do, like on-stage banter,” says guitarist Jared Hirshland.
“And we don’t know the names of our songs,” adds lead vocalist Andy Perkins. “We just make the sound of the beginning of it.”
Before the interview, they tear through three songs in quick succession in shed #44 at U-Store-It, grinning at each other from time to time. What makes Back Harlow Road really abnormal is that there appear to be no egos involved; they are just five friends having a good time together.
“Nobody is trying to be a rock star,” says Hirshland.
Rounding out the group are guitarist Alex Cardenas, drummer Chris Jimenez and bassist John Benson. All members are 24 years old, save Perkins, 22, and all met at McQueen High School.
“Our sound is post-hard-core rock, like a lot of the stuff that came out of the Midwest in the ‘90s.” says Benson.
The band got started in 2002, when Hirshland and Jimenez wrote a few songs in one of their moms’ basements. Their first show was later that year, and in 2005, Perkins replaced original singer Troy Elizares, a friend who now plays bass in another band. “Usually, I’ll come up with a few guitar riffs, then Chris will sit down with me, and we’ll hammer them out,” says Hirshland, describing the band’s writing process. “We never wanted to be the type of band that told each other what to play.”
The band is represented by the Reno label Humaniterrorist. In October 2005, they recorded a five-song EP at the Pus Cavern in Sacramento. “We had like two years worth of songs and felt like we needed to accomplish something as a band, so we recorded something,” says Jimenez.
After a post-recording slump, the band started writing new songs and took their act on the road, playing in Elko and Fallon—causing a huge speeding ticket in the former and the infamous beef conversation in the latter.
No matter what Back Harlow Road is doing, it seems they are always having a good time. “Even when we’re mad at each other, it’s still funny,” says Hirshland. “It’s like the mad person is putting on a show, and we’ll start pushing all their buttons.”
They cite their main influences as underground bands from the Midwest, such as Mock Orange and The Casket Lottery. Even lyrics take a backseat to the music. “We think of our vocals as more of an instrument, a part of the music, rather than a pulpit to preach our ideas,” explains Hirshland.
Back Harlow Road performs almost every weekend and is currently in the process of recording again. In other words, these five guys are together almost every second of the day. Perhaps the best way to explain their bond and philosophy on music is to look at the inspiration for their name. “Back Harlow Road” is the road the boys in the movie Stand By Me walk down to find the dead guy. A movie about a group of friends looking for adventure and a good time—Back Harlow Road exactly.