Ben Harper trusted his instincts when it came to dissolving his band of 10 years, the Innocent Criminals, and forming a new one, Relentless7. The decision paid off. Their debut disc, White Lies For Dark Times, is a heavier soul-infused rock album that he says needs to be turned up “a notch and a half more” than you usually listen to music.
“This was nothing contrived, nothing predetermined, on any level, which is the best part, and we’re still going, ‘This is happening to us?’ We’re so thankful and appreciative,” says Harper.
Ben Harper and Relentless7 — Harper, guitarist Jason Mozersky, drummer Jordan Richardson and bassist Jesse Ingalls — bring their uncontrived rock to the Molson Amphitheatre this Saturday as part of the Virgin Festival. “I’m having the time of my life musically, there’s no doubt about it,” says Harper.
As dedicated as he is to this new band, because he’s the one signed to Virgin Records, contractually he had to go by the full name Ben Harper and Relentless7, he says. “I’d prefer it to be Relentless7, but I don’t pout about things like that. I’ve got another couple of records (to do) with Virgin and maybe at that point we’ll just shift it to Relentless7.”
In the meantime, he can’t say enough about his bandmates, Harper has been friends with Mozersky since helping his then-band Wan Santo Condo land a record deal in the late ’90s. Years later, Harper invited him to play guitar on Please Don’t Talk About Murder While I’m Eating for his 2006 double album, Both Sides of the Gun. Mozersky told him about Richardson and Ingalls, and Harper was intrigued enough to get them in the studio too to play on Serve Your Soul.
“It was such a defining musical moment for me that I knew I had to revisit that chemistry at some point,” says Harper. “I toured with the Innocent Criminals for Both Sides of the Gun, and made and toured (2007’s) Lifeline, but I always knew I needed to get back in a room with these guys to see if it was what I thought it was.”
And what it was helped shape White Lies For Dark Times.
“They’re from Texas and they’re young, so they appreciate indie rock, and they appreciate blues and country and all the things that make Texas Texas from Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys to Lightnin Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble,” says Harper. “So they’ve got all that, but they’re also very experimental with tones and sounds and textures.”
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