I N T E R V I E W
Justin Harris of Elider
by Ian Duggan
Inchworm were a popular Hamilton band in the mid- to late-1990s. While Scott Brodie (bass) and Rob Talsma (drums) headed to England, guitarist Justin Harris moved to Japan to teach English in early 2000. HUP talks to Justin in Kyoto about his musical adventures since leaving Hamilton, and in particular his solo project Elider.
HUP: How would you describe the sound of Elider? If Inchworm had continued longer, do you think the Elider songs would have entered the Inchworm repertoire, or are you aiming to do something quite different?
Justin: When Inchworm were playing in the ‘90s, I had some songs that I always intended to be solo songs — perhaps on more personal topics, or just unsuited to the band for some reason — they just seemed different to me. After the band ‘went on hiatus’, I found myself in the paradoxical position of having the ability to set up a small home studio, but less time to record. So I have been recording these Elider songs for a few years now. I think some of the later ones would have become Inchworm songs, and indeed a few may do so. Also, one of the songs that is on the [planned upcoming] Elider album was actually an Inchworm song, but was never recorded. As far as a description, they are just me trying to write what I love; layered pop rock songs, melodic, and many featuring strong danceable rhythms.
HUP: You began working under the moniker while in Hamilton in the late 1990s. How did the Elider project initially come about, and how many songs do you have under its belt under this name?
Justin: I only ever played a couple of times solo when I was playing with Inchworm. Once in Christchurch as a support ‘band’ for us at the Dux de Lux because we didn't have a support band, and once at the then-called JBCs [now Nivara Lounge] with Anna Coddington. I came up with the name Elider later. I was trying to avoid the problem that we had with our Inchworm name — that being how there are multiple ‘Inchworm’ bands around the world. I searched the dictionary looking for a suitable (in meaning and appearance) word from which I could then morphologically derive a new word. ‘Elide’ seemed suitable because the song writing process is about elision, deciding what stays in the song from a whole lot of possible stuff, and dropping the rest. Adding a suffix to it created a new word that I guess means a person who elides, who edits for brevity.
I have 4 albums worth at 10 or 11 songs per album, plus a few so maybe 50. The problem is time, and money. Luckily I have a wonderful friend in [sound engineer] Scott Newth, who has been helping me do what I can't do... taking my song ideas and recorded tracks and mixing them so they sound much better.
HUP: In early 2015 you recorded a number of Elider songs at Hamilton’s The Porch Studio. However, only one song — the 49 second ‘Difference’ — has so far appeared on Soundcloud. When can we expect to hear the rest?
Justin: The songs I recorded at Porch were mostly songs for a second album, with Scott Brodie on bass and Ben Cole from the Datsuns on drums. Given that I haven't got the first one out, it could be a little while. The first one, however, is basically finished and Scott Newth is hard at work on the final mixing, so I hope that it will be ready for April. It will be a mix of old and new. ‘Difference’ is the first song I wrote, so it's an adult now, and probably has a couple of kids! The songs from the first album were all recorded by me in Osaka and Kyoto. Ben did a day of drumming to the existing tracks for me, and then the next day Scott B joined us and played bass on a whole lot of other songs as a ‘band’ for a second album.
HUP: Have you been involved in other bands since moving to Japan?
Justin: I have an old man band here. At present, myself and a Canadian friend Chris Corrigan. We call ourselves ‘The Permanent Residents’ — which is actually a fact — and we play Inchworm-esque layered pop rock songs with emphasis on melody and rhythm. We practice in the basement of an international school in Kyoto and we have a penchant for writing new songs each time we practice, recording them to iPhone and then doing the same at the next practice, so we have quite a repertoire of probably 40 to 50 unrecorded songs. We have done a few semi-proper recordings which can be heard on our Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-permanent-residents
On a completely different tip, I'm also in a taiko group based in Kyoto.