Harry Styles is on one hell of a roll, but will it last? His producer and co-songwriter Kid Harpoon aka Tom Hull thinks so. And that he's also part of a guitar renaissance in pop.
“For me, you know, someone like Harry, who’s obviously having an incredible year, it’s like, let’s stop seeing this as like a one off and let’s have a run,” Hull told Rolling Stone in a new interview. “And this is a moment where you’re creatively in a real zone. Everything just feels connected and you might not be forever, you know?… You can’t really get much bigger. You can, but it’s very minimal. But what you can do is just get better. He’s carved out a space for himself and let’s just explore that more. And what I would love is just to keep building.
Indeed, Hull – who has worked on all three Styles albums to date and contributed to them as a musician too – is reaching for the benchmarks set by alternative icons . And not necessarily pop ones.
"When I look back at, you know, whether it’s Talking Heads or, Radiohead and even Tom Petty, those artists went on a run where they just knew they were in a creative stride and they just went for it. And that’s what I hope for going forward with Harry is that whatever it is next, let’s not try and second-guess it, or do anything based on what we’ve done before. Let’s just try and do something new and land somewhere exciting."
Whether that will happen remains to be seen but there's a wider potential positive Hull eludes to, and it's undeniable back on Styles's 2020 hit single Watermelon Sugar for starters; the guitar is very much reporting for action in pop.
“I remember having a conversation with an A&R man… it must have been seven years ago,” Hull told Rolling Stone's Music Now podcast in an episode on the making of Styles's latest album, Harry's House. “And I remember him saying guitars are a really hard sell on radio. And now, guitar is everything. Like, you just hear it everywhere. Even people like Steve Lacy, who’s incredible, and then to Olivia [Rodrigo] – I think she’s phenomenal.”
Is the British producer overstating things? Hull is in the eye of the pop storm working with artists including Lizzo and Florence And The Machine, and he's had experience as a solo artist himself, so he's got a better perspective than many but we cautiously (read: cynically) think it could be an overenthusiastic summary right now. Still, things do come around in popular music and we know the six-string has proved to be a timeless creative tool that's discovered by every new generation.
Check out the full Rolling Stone podcast below, where Hull also reveals the Strokes were an influence of Harry's House hit As It Was, how Styles directs riffs with his collaborators and why he thinks the singer doesn't get enough credit for his lyrics.