Just nipping in ahead of a joint headline show in Belfast’s Black Box on Saturday night, we caught up with Joel Harkin and Brodie Milner for a quick chat. The Belfast show is part of a co-headline tour with dates in Dublin, Hull, Glasgow & Manchester still to come.
Joel Harkin is well known around Belfast, the Letterkenny songwriter has recently released some of his best work to date. Latest single, the gorgeous ‘Iniskeel Parish Hall’ features vocals from Daisy Allen and Brodie long before we hear Joel’s voice join in the melancholy. Hull based Brodie Milner is making a return to Ireland, his driven songwriting is a fine pairing with Harkin’s alt-folk leanings.
Tickets for Belfast and beyond are available here.
Well, how did this tour come together?
Joel: Brodie was over with us in Ireland at the very end of last year for new year’s and we had both been chatting about wanting to tour in the next year and maybe a month or so. Later we were talking about it again we thought it might be a good idea to go on tour together. Very much looking forward to hanging out, playing shows and killing two birds with one stone.
Brodie: It’s funny actually. I first met Joel at a random gig I was playing a support slot at in Leeds. He came bounding over with his smiling face and good craic, telling me that I should come and play a show in Belfast. Naturally I thought he was 8 pints deep. Thankfully he wasn’t. We played the Belfast show together, and had so much fun I demanded we do it again (but for longer).
Any big touring tips?
Joel: Do things as cheaply as you can. Make sure everyone on the tour gets paid (even if they have to wait for it), we are all workers after all. But aye do other things on the tour as cheaply as you can; bring packed lunches and stay in your mates couches/baths. Feeding and housing two bands can be costly aye, so be frugal where you can.
Brodie: Get organised. The more you plan before a run of shows, the less you can stress about peripheral admin on gig day. Stay on top of your budget. Undertake the typically rock and roll job of building a decent costing spreadsheet. And please, for god’s sake just have as much of a good laugh as you can. I almost ruined my first tour by worrying about things beyond my control. Don’t be like me (a good rule in general).
Who would you bring if you could each add another artist to the tour?
Joel: I’d like to take my band on the rest of the tour. We’re playing all of the Irish dates as a full band but taking them over to Britain just wasn’t feasible this time as much as I’d love to have them there with me. But if the answer to the question can lay outside the realms of possibility on an impossible scale I’d like to bring Gregory & The Hawk with us. She has played in Ireland before but not since 2009 I don’t think and I’ve never seen her live before so I’d love that.
Brodie: Not an artist, but my grandad is very jealous that I’m over here drinking proper Guinness – would be cruel to not bring him along as interim band manager.
What’s your favourite song of each others?
Joel: It is very hard to choose just one, sham. The one that sticks out the most for me is ‘hedonist’. Whenever I had first met Brodie it was at a gig in The Library in Leeds and he played it and I was so blown away by the song and his performance I goes up to him after his set and says “mucker you have to come over to Belfast for a show”.
Bless him he thought I was pished and chatting out of my hole but I hadn’t touched a drink all night, I was just excited and in good form. So maybe ‘hedonist’ although ‘I Can’t Complain’ is a very strong contender too. Too many class tunes to choose from.
Brodie: After I first came to Belfast, I played Joel’s album Never Happy pretty much every day on repeat. It sank me into a deep sadness (complimentary), and in that sadness, the song ‘Charlie and Deirdre’ made me the saddest of all (no really, complimentary). It’s got a great arc sonically, and lyrically Joel writes emotion in such granularity. 10/10 would sad again.
What can we expect from your shows?
Joel: All the usual things. The saddest songs I could manage to write and loads of chat. So much chat that one could also expect a bit of harassment from my band towards me in the form of bullying for being too chatty. I’m a chatty gal, what can i say?
Brodie: Less charisma than Joel. More nudity.
At this point we bravely handed the interview reigns over to Joel and Brodie…
Are you looking forward to playing in Ireland again?
Brodie: Any excuse to leave Hull is a bonus. Added points if I get to drink good pints in the process. Can’t wait to come back.
If you could bring only one album, one film and one type of food with you on tour what would they be?
Brodie: I would bring Anais Mitchell’s Hadestown and give the band a dedicated role to sing along to. We’d watch Withnail and I, and Owen (on drums) would eat from a bag of rocket with his hands. He did that on the way here and I’ll never recover.
Fuck, marry, kill: Me, Paul Mescal, Rahzel (SSX Tricky)
Brodie: Fuck the lot of yas.
If you could write a song with anyone who would it be?
Brodie: Beyoncé. I barely pass as a singer at the best of times. Imagine writing a tune with someone who has that vocal range. Make it happen.
If the body and blood of Christ is bread and wine, what’s the body and blood of Joel Harkin?
Joel: Football Special and Deirdre’s butternutsquash pasta. God bless.
Fuck, marry, kill: Connor Oberst, me, Elise Riggs (SSX Tricky)
Joel: Ah fuck. Marry you, fuck the cartoon and kill Conor (sorry Conor ily)
Are you mad at me?
Joel: We’ll talk about it when we get home.