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Sean Nelson performing with Harvey Danger, 2005
|Origin||Seattle, Washington, United States|
|Genres||Indie rock, punk rock, alternative rock, rock|
|Labels||Phonographic, Kill Rock Stars, Slash, London, Sire, Warner, Island, No Sleep Records|
|Associated acts||The Long Winters, Sleepy Kitty|
|Past members||Sean Nelson
Jeff J. Lin
Harvey Danger was an American indie rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1993, and rose to prominence in 1998 with the single "Flagpole Sitta", which is also used as the theme tune to the British sitcom "Peep Show". On August 29, 2009, the band played its final show at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle. The band's debut album, Where have all the merrymakers gone?, has sold over 500,000 copies, with "Flagpole Sitta" still receiving regular airplay around the world. On July 29, 2014, 17 years to the day after its initial release, Where have all the merrymakers gone? was re-released on vinyl as an LP by the independent record label No Sleep Records.
- 1 History
- 2 Band members
- 3 Discography
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Early years (1992–96)
Harvey Danger began in 1992 with University of Washington classmates Jeff Lin and Aaron Huffman deciding "it might be fun to start a band." Taking their name from a phrase graffitied onto the wall of the UW student newspaper office, the duo played house parties and bars as they were until the following year, when they invited Evan Sult to be their drummer. Despite his complete lack of drumming experience, Sult agreed, bringing along his own similarly inexperienced classmate Sean Nelson.
The foursome played their first show on April 21, 1994 at the now-defunct Lake Union Pub; Sult and Nelson, both under 21, were only permitted entry during the set. That summer, the band moved into Nelson's student house together and began holding band practices in the basement. The band had little money and their drum set for their first few shows consisted of nothing more than a laundry bucket, 3 hubcaps, and a jar of pickles. More shows at the Lake Union Pub and other low-rent Seattle clubs followed, leading to exposure in The Seattle Times.
As the band began playing more shows at increasingly reputable venues, their songwriting gained momentum. In 1994, the band produced a six-song demo tape, sold at shows for $3. When three-quarters of the group became unemployed in 1996, they decided to devote yet more attention to the band, moving to another house and renting a rehearsal space. Their shows continued to improve, to the point of becoming regular weekend performers at the Crocodile Cafe.
The band recorded a three-track demo tape with producer John Goodmanson, which failed to draw attention from uninterested major labels, but found its way to Greg Glover, a London Records intern who ran his own small label, The Arena Rock Recording Company, Glover expressed interest in releasing a 7" single, and Harvey Danger provided him with an additional three songs—including "Flagpole Sitta"—also recorded with Goodmanson. On the strength of these, Glover agreed to bankroll a full-length album.
Merrymakers and initial success (1997–98)
Where have all the merrymakers gone? was released July 29, 1997 to local critical acclaim. The record performed well on college radio charts, and sold steadily in Seattle and New York, among other cities. By the end of the year, however, the band felt as though the record had lost its momentum and the group began to contemplate breaking up. Shortly before taking January 1998 off to contemplate their future, Nelson gave a copy of Merrymakers to KNDD DJ Marco Collins. Within weeks, "Flagpole Sitta" had become KNDD's most-requested song.
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Influential L.A. radio station KROQ-FM picked the track up, and stations across the country shortly followed suit. When Greg Glover of The Arena Rock Recording Company was hired at Slash/London Records, Harvey Danger were signed to the label. "Flagpole Sitta" made Billboard magazine's Top 40, and appeared in a number of films and television shows. Its video got heavy rotation on MTV and VH1. The song also became famous globally as one of the most memorable songs on the soundtrack for the film American Pie, despite not being on the official soundtrack sold in stores. It also appeared in the movie Disturbing Behavior and its trailer. More recently, the song was used as the opening theme to the British sitcom Peep Show for the second series and onwards.
The band toured extensively from March through December 1998, playing headlining and support gigs with some of the most popular artists of the year, and appearing at many radio festivals. Merrymakers's second single, "Private Helicopter," was released in the fall of 1998 to lukewarm reception, and in December, Harvey Danger began writing songs for their follow-up album.
Delays and King James Version (1999–2001)
Harvey Danger began production of their second album in March 1999 at Albert Grossman's Bearsville Studios, near Woodstock, New York. Slash/London was unusually uninvolved in the recording process, a harbinger of what was to come. After three weeks of recording at Bearsville and several more weeks of recording and mixing in Seattle and Los Angeles, the band submitted the record, King James Version, to their label, and waited. What the band refers to as "elaborate corporate reshuffling" began almost immediately after they finished their album: mergers and acquisitions among record labels left them and their record in limbo for over a year, not knowing to whom they were signed, nor when KJV would be released.
Attempts to release the album on then-fledgling indie label Barsuk Records fell through due to legal complications, a tour with The Pretenders fell through due to lack of label support, and, just when the band was about to give up, newly reorganized London/Sire Records released King James Version on September 12, 2000. Reviews were strong, but buzz was almost nonexistent: sales of the album were slow, and the single "Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo" performed poorly on radio and MTV. For the album's supporting tour, Nevada Bachelors guitarist Mike Squires was added as the group's live guitarist as well as The Western State Hurricanes founder John Roderick on keyboard.
Harvey Danger played a "final" show in Portland on April 21, 2001, seven years to the day after their first show, and quietly disbanded for an undetermined period.
During the hiatus Jeff Lin returned to school, Evan Sult relocated to Chicago and joined the band Bound Stems and Aaron Huffman formed the group Love Hotel. Sean Nelson recorded and toured with The Long Winters, the group formed by former Harvey Danger live member John Roderick, and worked on solo material, sometimes with Lin and Huffman (actually recording several unreleased songs, among them covers of songs written by Harry Nilsson for a future release entitled Nelson Sings Nilsson). He wrote for the weekly alternative Seattle newspaper, The Stranger; Nelson also became a partner in Barsuk Records and a DJ for Seattle's KEXP. The idea of reforming Harvey Danger was raised several times, but rejected.
Nelson, Huffman, and Lin entered a studio together for the first time in three years to record two new song ideas, with Nada Surf's Ira Elliot accompanying on drums. The session went so well that the trio agreed to begin writing music together—with "no strings attached". Sult, busy in Chicago, was unable to return, but sent his blessing for Harvey Danger's reincarnation.
April 21, 2004 saw both the 10th anniversary of Harvey Danger and their first show since 2001. With Nada Surf opening and Elliot again filling in on drums, the band played Seattle's Crocodile Cafe to a rapturous audience. Die-hard fans and long time message board members flew cross-country, from as far away as Middletown, NY, Cleveland, Florida and Baltimore to witness the long awaited reunion. The show also previewed songs that would be part of the new album: "Moral Centralia," "Wine, Women, and Song," and "War Buddies."
Free of pressure, expectations, and a major label, the band found itself renewed and rededicated to making music. They recruited Seattle-based drummer Michael Welke, formalized their return as a band, and performed with their new lineup at the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle in the summer of 2004. The year ended with the self-release of a five-song EP, Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes) and another sold-out show at the Crocodile.
Little by Little... and breakup (2005–09)
In February 2005, Harvey Danger entered Robert Lang Studios to record their third album. Joining them again was Goodmanson, accompanied by Steve Fisk. The recording process ran smoothly, and Little By Little... was released on September 13, 2005, five years and one day after King James Version.
Citing "a long-held sense that the practice now being demonized by the music biz as 'illegal' file sharing can be a friend to the independent musician," Harvey Danger released their third album, Little By Little..., as a free download via BitTorrent a week after its release, and directly from the band's website (mp3) a week after that. Within two months of release, the album had been downloaded 100,000 times, while the first pressing of physical copies (packaged with a disc of bonus material) had nearly sold out.
Reviews of the album were mixed, but mostly positive. Pitchfork Media gave the album 6.9 (of a possible 10); Allmusic granted 3.5 (of a possible 5); PopMatters wrote: "If Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone is a rebellious kid kicking over trashcans in his neighborhood, then Little by Little seems to be that kid all grown up, taking out the trash, putting the lid on tightly, getting in his Jetta, and driving to work." Treble.com wrote: "Little by Little is one of the most pleasantly surprising albums of the year and one that truly displays the intricate and clever songwriting of a band in its prime." Threeimaginarygirls.com said: "Little By Little... deals with complex issues like politics, religion, and relationships on an intelligent level that's both challenging and accessible." The album's first single, "Cream and Bastards Rise," made Rolling Stone's "Hot List." It was also released as a downloadable song for the "Rock Band" video game series on Oct 7, 2008.
On July 25, 2006, Olympia-based label Kill Rock Stars rereleased Little by Little... with a slightly altered track listing (songs on the bonus disc and main album swapped places). This release was much more widely available, and the band set out on its first national tour in five years in support of the album. On October 10, 2006, Barsuk Records released "Little Round Mirrors" as a maxi-single/EP with four B-sides.
On May 28, 2009, the band announced, "After 15 years, three albums, hundreds of shows, and far more twists and turns than we ever imagined possible, we've decided to put Harvey Danger to rest. The decision is totally mutual and utterly amicable." Harvey Danger played eight farewell shows in August, the last three of them in Seattle. The band closed with the last song it wrote, "The Show Must Not Go On". The song has since been made available for download on their website.
Recently Harvey Danger officially released The Dead Sea Scrolls B-side collection and final single "The Show Must Not Go On" for free on their website.
Where have all the merrymakers gone? vinyl release (2014)
Nearly two decades after its release, Where have all the merrymakers gone? will be re-released, on vinyl, as an LP, for the first time, on July 29, 2014 by the independent record label No Sleep Records.
The packaging for Where have all the merrymakers gone? LP will feature new artwork, designed by Huffman, Sult and Nelson, using the iconic house from the original cover art now updated to reflect the passage of time, now surrounded by freeways and skyscrapers.
From No Sleep's website: "Harvey Danger emerged from the garages and basements of mid-'90s Seattle playing music that walked a line between indie rock and pop punk, with an uncommon emphasis on clever, heartfelt lyrics. They never sought worldwide notoriety, but managed the best they could when it was thrust upon them. Simply put it was four kids ... who created a song and an album that made a mark on rock music and whose pleasures have only deepened with time."
In preparation for the upcoming re-release, singer Nelson wrote a foreword looking back on the album and its unexpected success.
“Under the long shadow of 17 years’ worth of memory, I must say that listening back to the 10 songs that changed everything for us is a bracing sensation. To hear the person you were when you weren’t yet who you are now is to understand how little you understood, and to recognize how little you even could have understood. This is doubly bracing when you consider that the person you were then had everything riding on the depth of his understanding. It’s tempting to be hard on your past self, the one who made all those idiotic mistakes, who scorched so many friendships, who insisted he knew exactly what we was doing while steering car after car into ditch after ditch. And yet, temptations aside, it feels a lot better, and in a much bigger way, to hoist hindsight’s binoculars to your deteriorating eyes and spy something you love.” The full essay by Nelson can be found in the liner notes of the vinyl LP.
- Sean Nelson – vocals, keyboards (1993–2009)
- Jeff J. Lin – guitar, piano, violin (1992–2009)
- Aaron Huffman – bass, guitar (1992–2009)
- Evan Sult – drums (1993–2001)
- Michael Welke – drums (2004–2009)
- Rob Knop – keyboards (2005–2009)
- Harvey Danger (1994) (Cover: photo of saucepan in kitchen sink full of dry ice. One-sided J-card, printed on color laser printer.) Self-released.
- Harvey Danger (1996) (Cover: twin red arrows pointing upward. Red and black printed on off-white paper.) Self-released.
|1997||Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?|
|2000||King James Version
|2005||Little by Little...
- Dead Sea Scrolls (2009) Phonographic
- Harvey Danger (2000) London/Sire (Circuit City exclusive)
- Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas (Sometimes) (2004) Phonographic
- Cream and Bastards Rise (2005) Kill Rock Stars
- Little Round Mirrors (2006) Barsuk
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|US||US Main||US Mod||CAN
|1998||"Flagpole Sitta"||38||33||3||9||50||57||Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?|
|1999||"Save It for Later"||—||—||29||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|2000||"Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo"||—||—||27||—||—||—||King James Version|
|2005||"Cream and Bastards Rise"||—||—||—||—||—||—||Little by Little...|
|2006||"Little Round Mirrors"||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2009||"The Show Must Not Go On"||—||—||—||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.|
Compilations and soundtracks
- Fuel: A Compilation (1997) Arena Rock Recording Company – "Carjack Fever"
- Now That's What I Call Music! (1998) PolyGram/Universal – "Flagpole Sitta"
- 200 Cigarettes Music from the Motion Picture (1999) PolyGram – "Save It for Later"
- Soul Survivors Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2001) Gold Circle Records – "Authenticity"
- Otis' Opuses (2006) Kill Rock Stars – "Cream and Bastards Rise"
- "Flagpole Sitta" (1998)
- "Private Helicopter" (1998)
- "Save It for Later" (1999)
- "Sad Sweetheart of the Rodeo" (2000)
- "Gale Musician Profiles: Harvey Danger". Answers.com. Gale. n.d. Retrieved 2 June 2014.
- "Biography Harvey Danger". Tune Genie. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "allmusic ((( Mike Squires > Overview )))". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "Harvey Danger's Breakup Announcement". HarveyDanger.com. 2009-05-28. Archived from the original on 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2009-05-29.
- "Harvey Danger's Concert Schedule". HarveyDanger.com. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
- "Harvey Danger Downloads". harveydanger.com. Retrieved 2011-05-19.
- "Harvey Danger Rock/Alternative positions". RPM. Retrieved 2010-07-28.
- . www.officialcharts.com - Harvey Danger http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/4918/harvey-danger/ - Harvey Danger. Retrieved June 9, 2015. Missing or empty
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Harvey Danger.|
- Harvey Danger's official site
- Rock and Roll McDonald's, Jeff J. Lin's blog, with background information and analysis on the free release of Little By Little....
- Harvey Danger collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- Harvey Danger on Allmusic
- Review of Where have all the merrymakers gone?
- Harvey Danger interview with Globecat Music Blog 06/21/08
- Harvey Danger at the Internet Movie Database