I began writing songs in 2004 for a class in college. One of my fellow classmates liked the songs and suggested we make an album. We recorded Big Amazing Songs at ESS in Chicago while I was still in school. It came with an activity book and a little pencil in the spine. Around that time I started to play with some amazing musicians who made the music sound way better than it probably ever should have. I recorded The Myth of Heroics with Emmett Kelly (The Cairo Gang) a few years later.
Art school gives one the feeling that they have the license to do anything, I think. At some point I found myself in Nebraska at the Kimmel Harding Arts Residency as a composer. There I wrote my third album, Hesaidshesaidthatswhatshesaid, teaming up with LeRoy Bach (Wilco) and singer Nora O'Connor (The Decemberists, Andrew Bird) to record the album in 2012.
Chicago is full of great musicians doing their own thing. In 2014 I asked some of my favorites to sing on a series of duets with me. Pretty Girls Don't Just Talk to Me is the result. I asked Sam Wagster (The Fruit Bats), who's played bass, guitar, keys and sometimes pedal steel in every band I've ever had since 2004, to produce the record. Pretty Girls comes out this year.
Sometimes I perform live with Sam, Dan Mohr and Gillian Lisée, calling ourselves The Jeff Harms Singers. You can hear us sing together on Pretty Girls as well.
I like when natural and human drama have to vie for signifigance in life and in songs. Like in "Who Let the Dogs Out", is he being dissrespectful to women or is he portraying himself as a dog? or like when Bob Dylans sings "I waited for you on the running boards, near the cypress trees, while the springtime turned Sloooowly into Autumn."
Probably more than you wanted to know, but there you have it.
Between albums, and during actually, I run around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I am a multi-disciplined sort of person, involved in making film, visual art, music and performance. Lately I've been making cartoons. You can see my films and artwork at www.jeffharmsart.com. Or you can listen to the music and just forget I mentioned the other stuff. It's embarassing, really.
* you are listening to myself, Charles Rumbach (Drums), Sam Wagster (Bass), Dan Mohr (Piano) playing the song Dorsal Fin live at Daytrotter. You can listen to the whole Daytrotter set at daytrotter.com
...the last few times I've seen him, I've been riveted by his songs... an ability to understate everything—lyrics, melody and instrumentation—while creating a layered song. As a person, Harms is also very understated. He doesn't understand or acknowledge how much people revere his songs. Some of the baddest musicians in Chicago, including Leroy Bach, formerly of Wilco, are all too happy to play with him in any situation.—Mix Tape Riot