On the radar: Curtis Harding

The punk-channeling soulster who's mates with Mastodon

YouTube : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_hnRfoh_4M

Michigan-born, road-raised and Atlanta-based. That's the story of singer-songwriter Curtis Harding, thanks to a childhood spent with his mother, Dorothy, performing gospel songs for everyone from church congregations to city gangs.

"It gave me exposure to different people and music," he remembers. "We travelled cross-country constantly. To me, I was just travelling with my family, but it was a tour built into her spiritual belief system."

Punk equation

Eventually, when Curtis hit 15, the family put down roots in Atlanta, Georgia, but the music didn't stop and a few years later punk rock entered the equation.

"At first I would hear The Ramones at school or see a friend's t-shirt," says Curtis. "Then I really started getting into that music when I was venturing into clubs in my early 20s."

Punk music led, as it so often does, to the guitar. "I was a late bloomer in a lot of regards," Curtis admits. "When I started playing guitar I was in about my mid-20s and it was out of necessity, because I couldn't find anyone to play with me and I wanted to write my own songs."

Fortunately, he seems to have a knack for it. Debut album, Soul Power – powered by Curtis' Fender Strat and DeVille amplifier – is the summation up his self-labelled slop 'n' soul sound. All hook-laden, soulful rock 'n' roll with a sense of punk minimalism and 'Stones-y in-the-pocket-ness.

Gravitational pull

"It was another situation where I couldn't facilitate what I wanted to do at the time," explains Curtis. "I wasn't doing anything other than writing for other people and trying to do collaborations. I was just like, 'Fuck it!' So I just recorded my solo record and people gravitated towards it, man."

Among the gravitating types is Mastodon's Brent Hinds. Introduced via mutual friend Cole Alexander (The Black Lips), Curtis and Brent hit it off and a side-project (tentatively dubbed 'Us') is now in the works.

"It's definitely guitar-driven – given that Brent Hinds has something to do with it"

"It's completely fun," says Curtis of the collaboration. "It goes all across the board and, as you may guess, it's definitely guitar-driven – given that Brent Hinds has something to do with it. The two songs we've got are anthems. You'll be able to hear them in arenas for years on! [laughs]"

Until that happens, we're very happy to make do with Soul Power.

  • For fans of: The Black Keys, Michael Kiwanuka, The Black Lips
  • Hear: Freedom
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