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[AltWire Interview] Harkland: “We Try to Be The Hardest Working Band Around”

Harkland are an independent Alternative Rock band based out of Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and founded by lead vocalist and singer-songwriter Paulie Knakk. After performing as a band for over two years and touring the local Lehigh Valley circuit, Harkland managed to score the lucky opportunity to open for the Philadelphia, PA based Silvertide in September, becoming the first local band to perform at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center in Bethlehem, PA.

This past November, Harkland was selected to be the opening act for Weezer when they performed at the Sands on November 23rd, 2013.  AltWire caught up with Paulie a few days after the show to learn more about the band, their live shows and what fans can expect from Harkland in the year ahead.

Read our interview with Harkland’s Paulie Knakk below:

AltWire [Derek]: Your band just achieved two very big accomplishments in this past month. Not only did you perform in front of a crowd of over 2,500 people but you also opened for Weezer! How did this lucky opportunity come about, and how did it feel to perform at the Sands?

Paulie Knakk [Harkland]: Well, we’ve been performing as a band for about two years now and doing everything we can to gain and grow our following. We were asked to open up for the Philly band Silvertide back in September and we knew this could make or break us. We sold as many tickets as we possibly could and we were told that “didn’t go unnoticed.” Two months later, we got a call asking if we wanted to open for Weezer on a 3-day notice. Practice started the next day.

AW: While your opening set for Weezer was only 30 minutes, your band typically performs 3 hour long shows when on your own. That’s a pretty long show in comparison to the average concert! What typically goes down in your average solo Harkland show?

PK: Everything goes down at a typical Harkland show. We perform covers and originals..Mainly covers though. We play everything in alternative-rock fashion but cover every genre from rap to country to alternative rock to reggae. Probably 85%-90% of our shows consist of mash-ups and medleys we’ve created using cover songs from the different genres.

AW: Musically your band is self-described as an “original-cover band”. Do you prefer performing original tracks or covers more, and will you continue to do covers even if future fame allows you to perform your original tracks just by themselves?

PK: Originals, hands down. Moving people with our music is the best feeling in the world. Covers are a necessary evil in this business. It was our way to gain a following while making money. We re-make and really put our own spin on any cover song we do to keep it interesting for ourselves and the people we’re performing for. We’ll probably throw a few covers in our original sets for fun, but that would be the extent of it.

AW: How far along are you in recording a debut EP/LP? Can we expect to hear a full length from Harkland anytime soon, and have you been speaking with any record labels?

PK: We are in the writing and fundraising stage currently. We have started a fundraising page at www.gofundme.com/harklandmusic and have had an extraordinary out pour of support from our friends and family. We’re looking at recording an extended EP consisting of about 7 songs. Who knows though, it might turn into an LP! We plan on releasing our first album during Spring Break of 2014. We have not been speaking to any record labels..We’ve been self-represented since day 1 and have been able to build quite the resume without assistance and we are extremely grateful for that. Not saying that if the opportunity came up we wouldn’t take it though.

AW: Some bands set lofty goals and dreams for themselves when they’re first starting out. What is your craziest goal for the band, and how do you hope to acheive it?

PK: By 26 I want to not worry about money. That’s been the goal since I started performing about 4 years ago (I just turned 24). We plan to achieve it through hard work and dedication. We try to be the hardest working band around. I’m a firm believer that success will come when you are able to show and prove that you want this more than anybody else. All four of us live by that mindset every day.

AW: What’s next for Harkland, and what can we expect to see in the year ahead?

PK: Tons of shows and lots of new songs. We’ll be releasing our album and just keep on trucking. We were the first local band to perform at the Sands Event Center and have done that twice in the past three months. Hopefully more opportunities like that will arise and we will continue to grow as a band and musicians!

For more Harkland, check out their channel on YouTube.

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