Harlow Embraces Their Shock-Rock Roots

Harlow, based out of Los Angeles, used their appearance on VH-1's "Bands on the Run" as a springboard to further their music career. The show has introduced them to a new fan base and opportunity to tour.

"It's given us a fan base we wouldn't have had before," said singer/guitarist Amanda Rootes. "It enables us to make a living." The band now receives 300 e-mails a day. They sent a compact disc and bio to VH-1 after hearing about the show from different people. The band was told they wouldn't be used at first, but VH-1 later changed its mind.

Rootes was playing in a punk rock band in England called Fluffy when she met up with Pat Smear, who would later help the band out. Fluffy was touring with his band at the time, the Foo Fighters. Smear became a fan of Fluffy and wanted to eventually do further work with Rootes. He eventually produced Harlow's debut album "Harlowland". "He really liked Harlow so he got involved in it," said Rootes.

The band has toured extensively since the show ended. Rootes said the band has only had one day off in the last four weeks. "Bands on the Run" clearly helps bring people out to Harlow shows throughout the country.

The experience overall brought growth to the band, but Rootes said it wasn't a mirror image of what touring is really like. "I think it made us closer as a band," she said. "In some ways it prepared us (for touring) and some ways it didn't. It was kind of like touring, but also in some ways wasn't like it at all."

The show taped the lives of unsigned bands chosen from ones throughout the country. They were given competitive missions that showed their ability to promote themselves and compete against each other musically. The Texas band Flickerstick, eventually won the competition by winning a final battle of the bands.

Rootes said she is still in contact with the other bands who did the show. "We speak to them all a lot," she said. "Flickerstick was really cool. Soul Cracker was actually really cool. When they were off the show, they were really cool to hang out with. When they weren't competitive they were really cool."

Rootes writes most of the band's lyrics, but gets help on some songs, lines and titles. "I need to sing things that mean something to me," she said. "If they write something, I have to buy it. It's the same for everybody. I don't tell them what to play." Rootes focuses on personal lyrics. "I always try and write things that mean something to me," she said. "It makes the song more real. It can be anything, happy or sad."

The band has a wide range of influences from Black Sabbath to P. J. Harvey. Though their sound is based on loud, crunchy down down-stroke power chords, Rootes still considers Harlow to be a rock band over a punk band. "I think we're a rock band, because we're really into the show in a Kiss kind of way and we have an Alice Cooper guitar sound," she said. "I think we're very influenced by big stadium rock."

Playing in clubs, hasn't stopped them from attempting to produce the stadium rock effect. "We even have pyrotechnics now," said Rootes. If clubs allow, the band will treat their audience to seventies shock rock throwbacks like smoke bomb lighting and other effects.

Josh Davidson

Josh Davidson has written music feature articles for Jersey Style and served as the Jersey Shore rock columnist for Steppin' Out Magazine. Other music writing credits include Aquarian Weekly, Jersey Beat, Backstreets and njcoast.com. He has written free-lance for the Asbury Park Press' Community Sports section and has written featured articles for its news section, as well as covering campus news and sports weekly for the Signal, the College of New Jersey's (formerly Trenton State College) student newspaper. He has worked as a staff writer for The Independent, and his work for Greater Media Newspapers has also been published in the News Transcript. He is a former beat reporter for the Ocean County Observer who presently is a news writer for Symbolic Systems Inc. supporting the US Army's Knowledge Center. His music writing covers a vast range of topics, from the current cover band craze, highs and lows of the original scene, to the early days of the Jersey Shore rock scene in Asbury Park. He is also a musician, having written hundreds of songs as a singer/songwriter, and playing them out as a solo/acoustic artist. He has also played with cover bands, including It Doesn't Matter, and several original bands, including as the guitarist for the solo project of singer/songwriter Dave Eric. He continues to work on solo material and is presently the guitar player for Jersey Breeze.