Speaking with the members of the Austin trio, Harlem, in their hometown over bloody marys is like flipping through an encyclopedia.
In addition to the absurd cultural touchstones they bring up, the musical acts that come up in conversation include ABBA, Buddy Holly, Slash, the Cure, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and the Black Crowes.
“I ran into that guy one time,” says singer Michael Coomers of Crowes frontman Chris Robinson. “I had just read an interview where he had said something to the extent of, ‘I invented punk rock,’ and I was like 16, with a little mohawk or something, and I said, ‘You didn’t invent punk rock, you’re a douchebag,’ or something sh—y, and my girlfriend looked back and said that Kate Hudson was holding him back from beating me up.”
This is as apt of a representation of Harlem’s attitude as anything. They know their history and they feel very strongly about it, and their approach is aggressive, but somehow comical at times.
Their new album, Hippies, features songs in a style that Metro has dubbed “Oldies on Drugs”; tunes that owe their structures to 1950s and early ‘60s rock ‘n’ roll but will effortlessly include cuss words and drug references.
“If I could be your darlin’ you’ve gotta start fallin’ for all the bullsh— that I give you,” sings Coomers in the track, Be Your Baby.
“There’s only so many patterns that you’re gonna hit with that six-stringed piece of wood,” says Coomers.