Mick Harris

Lull/Scorn’s Mick Harris battles a rotten cold to square up to the quick-fire question machine

Hello Mick, where are you right now and what can you see?

“I was meant to be fishing today, but I’ve got a shit cold so it didn’t happen, so I’m here in my music room in Birmingham. I could have done with a day at the river.”

‘Moments’ was originally released in 1998 as a 99-track continuous CD. This new version is 100 tracks. Why 99 first time round?

“I wanted to create these short drones and I ended up coming up with 99. I don’t know why – 19, 29, 39, 49… it just ended up at 99. When Justin at Cold Spring approached me about reissuing ‘Moments’ on vinyl for the first time, he said, ‘Could we make it 100 tracks so it’s a little more exclusive?’. So I created a new piece that fitted with what I created back in 98.”

The “moments” are all numbered, what are they moments of?

“I began collecting sounds just before leaving Napalm Death, I guess it was about 1990. I was starting to get into drones and tones, using sounds I heard every day, making imaginary soundscapes. The moments were individual pieces – moments in time, or moments of sound. They didn’t need titles, so it made sense to number them and to simply title the recording ‘Moments’.”

Where did your interest in dark ambient work come from?

“For me, it goes back to people like Eno, Hassell, Budd, the Cocteau Twins, even Hafler Trio, Zoviet France, Jim O’Rourke’s Illusion Of Safety… What interests me? I’ve never got an answer for that. People say, ‘Oh, why dark?’. Is it dark? It’s just expansive, resonating drifts, bottomless pits, cavernous spaces and huge landscapes where sound reverberates and resonates.”

John Peel has been a massive influence on you. We’ve all got much to thank him for, haven’t we? 

“I’ve got everything to thank him for. Without my cousin Peter turning me on to Peel I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. His show opened doors for me as a listener, and as a player. No Peel, no grindcore. I remember getting the phone call saying he wanted Napalm Death to do a Peel Session. All those years listening to him, then to be asked to do a session. It was a magic moment. John was a very special person.”

You rebooted Scorn in 2019, which goes from strength to strength. What keeps you interested in that project?

“Scorn only happens when I’m feeling it. It’s not something I can just come in the music room and go, ‘I’m gonna make a Scorn track’. I’m getting close to that mood at the moment. I think it’s the time of year, the darker nights. It’s my vehicle. I’m ready to get in the driving seat again.”

The stinking cold aside, how is the fishing these days?

“The river is a big escape for me. It constantly changes with the seasons. Like my music, my fishing certainly isn’t instant. It’s a challenge. It’s trying to read the water and making music is about trying to understand the mood. Is it the right mood for me to create? They have similar paths.”

You work as a tech at a music college, if only the students knew… 

“Some of the students do ask me about Naplam Death. I try and give them a little advice. I tell them to forget instant gratification, it’s a journey. Keep challenging yourself and keep pushing. Get out of your depth, it’s always the best way. That’s all I’ve ever done and I’m still enjoying it.”

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