Harvey Danger was a rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington in 1992, and rose to prominence in 1998 with the single "Flagpole Sitta." On , 2009, the band played its final show at the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle.
Sean Nelson ? vocals (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)
Chuck Robertson ? photographer (1997 ? 1999)
(1992?1996) Early years
Harvey Danger began in 1992 with University of Washington classmates Lin and 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 , 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 1995, 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, a demo tape which drew attention from some generally uninterested major labels and the very interested Greg Glover, a London Records intern who ran his own small label, the Arena Rock Recording Co.. 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.
Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone? was released in July 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 a KNDD DJ. Within weeks, "Flagpole Sitta" had become KNDD's most-requested song.
Influential L.A. radio station KROQ picked the track up, and stations across the country shortly followed suit. When Greg Glover of Arena Rock Recording Co. 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.
(1999?2001) Commercial decline
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 , 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.
Harvey Danger played a "final" show in Portland on , 2001, seven years to the day after their first show, and quietly disbanded for an indefinite 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 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.
, 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." More live shows followed, including appearances at the Sasquatch Festival and Bumbershoot.
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.
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 , 2005, five years and one day after King James Version.
(2006) Little by Little... Lives On
On , 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 , 2006, Barsuk Records released "Little Round Mirrors" as a maxi-single/EP with four B-sides.
On , 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," scheduled for release as a free download in September.
Internet release of Little By Little...
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.
All Harvey Danger lyrics
- Carlotta Valdez
- Flagpole Sitta
- Humility On Parade
- Jack The Lion
- Loyalty Bldg.
- Meetings With Remarkable Men (Show Me The Hero)
- Old Hat
- Pike St. / Park Slope
- Pity And Fear
- Pity & Fear
- Private Helicopter
- Problems And Bigger Ones
- Problems & Bigger Ones
- Radio Silence
- Sad Sweet Heart Of The Rodeo
- Save It For Later
- Sometimes You Have To Work On Christmas
- Terminal Annex
- The Same As Being In Love
- (Theme From) Carjack Fever
- Why I'm Lonely
- Woolly Muffler
- Wooly Muffler
- Wrecking Ball
- You Miss The Point Completely I Get The Point Exactly
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.