Earlier this year I stumbled upon a band the caught my attention quickly. Ex Cops offered a sound that was fun and exhilarating. I was immediately hooked on their tunes. To this day, I take a break from whatever I am doing when one of their songs come on. The duo comprises of talented musicians Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding. Via a simple reach out, I was able to get in touch with Brian and he shared with me his musical adventure.
Music was thrown into Brian’s life early on with a bit of a religious inclination towards the medium. “In high school it seemed like an idealized world. I read print editions of NME and treated them like the New Testament. I wanted to be Graham Coxon or Rivers Cuomo. Then it became something I knew I could do and get on labels and put out the music I wanted to the way I wanted to (which is the only way I have ever done and will ever do). So, I feel lucky in that facet. Music is that ‘thing’ that always made sense to me. I never wanted a nine to five job and I love hotels, so…” I guess it all worked out in the end for Mr. Harding! All the hotels will be happy with his presence.
Through his music, Brian shared with me his favorites. “I really still love the first Ex Cops EP ‘White Women.’ It was made in an immensely chaotic and disgusting time in my life, but there was beauty somewhere in there and I think I captured a little bit of it. There was a freedom there. Bushwick was still exciting. I didn’t understand it at the time, but making a dirty loose abstract painting was what I wanted to do and I think that EP is the result. My other thing is the track Rooms on ‘Daggers.’ This song went through a few changes over a year. Amalie’s performance on the outro is stunning, and the beginning of the end is my favorite two seconds of music we have recorded.”
Brian has enjoyed every minute of performing and has had some great stories to tell. “Personally, I can’t believe I got to play at the Hollywood Bowl in Daniel Johnston’s band. That was a Matrix situation. It was pure joy. As a band, I’ve always wanted to perform in the desert. We came close to this when we played Pioneertown. There was something in that sky. I want more of that.” Even though he has been a performer, it has not always been easy. “Playing on food poisoning we got from Indian food in Louisville, KY was pretty brutal. I will not share the details.” I think we can all get the gist of that experience, what a trooper.
Given the musical climate today, Brian does not really have a clear answer on his views of it all as an industry. “I don’t know how I feel. I don’t think anyone knows how he or she feels. It’s an open-ended Wild West hustle… kind of situation right now. Artists don’t know if they want to be on labels. Labels don’t know if they want bands. I feel like there is some genuinely exciting stuff coming out. I just talked to some friends at dinner about ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ and how it’s a work of art we can’t stop listening to. I think there are some good bands out there, but there is no Nirvana. There is no Smashing Pumpkins. I feel a drastic lack of anthemic spirit level music, but it’s all cyclical, right? We should have a really important band or artist appearing in the next three years. Streaming music or piracy is a non-issue for me. It’s like the war on drugs. It’s a product that’s out there and people won’t stop doing it. You can only choose to work with it and adapt like a semi intelligent realist. The people making the most money in music today are the people who don’t play music.”
As his ambitions grow, Brian gave me a glimpse of his hopes for new projects. “… I want to score. I live in the woods and watch a movie a day. I understand or feel a kinship to modern cinema more than modern music right now. Such exciting things are happening in the medium and I would love to make a soundtrack. I just saw Heaven Knows What by the Safdie Brothers and it blew me away. I just did a little piece for the new Joel Potrykus movie, which I’m really excited about. I like hip-hop, too. Hip-hop is the only remnant of punk rock that we have right now.”
Influences are plentiful for Mr. Harding. He shared with me a few. “Perfume Genius, Neil Young, Ty Segall, Kendrick Lamar, Miley Cyrus, Pusha T, Ariel Pink. I really like that Tobias Jesso Jr. album and I love the show Difficult People.”
Currently, Brian is living the simple life. “I’m living in the Hudson Valley and working on some recordings. Amalie is working on Myrkur in Denmark.” I love the simplicity of it all. Well, there you have it folks. Brian Harding of Ex Cops in all his glory. If you are not a fan of Ex Cops yet, I recommend you jump on the train. You will be pleasantly surprised at their addictive tunes and will be overjoyed to jam out this fall. Give them a listen!