Dhani Harrison On His New ‘IN/PARALLEL’ Album, The Traveling Wilburys, Formula 1, And Scoring Movies

IN/PARALLEL is the debut solo effort from British-born, Los Angeles-based musician, composer, and singer/songwriter Dhani Harrison. However, over a decade ago, Harrison began to turn heads as the lead guitarist and singer of Thenewno2, who received rave reviews from Spin Magazine, NPR, and Rolling Stone alike. Just as Thenewno2 started to take off among critics and industry followers, Harrison also became an in-demand composer for film and television projects alongside bandmate Paul Hicks. He also found time to form an all-star band with Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur called Fistful of Mercy, appear on a Wu-Tang Clan album, and work on a variety of posthumous projects related to his father George.

The aforementioned IN/PARALLEL was released earlier this month by the BMG Rights Management record label. While Harrison is the focus of the release, it does feature appearances from vocalists Camila Grey and Mereki, in addition to violinist/arranger Davide Rossi, Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, Sum 41 and Krewella drummer Frank Zummo, and Newno2 bandmate Paul Hicks. Four of its 10 tracks — which were recorded over the course of three years — were written solely by Harrison.

On behalf of the Inquisitr, I had the pleasure of speaking to Dhani Harrison by phone. Below are some of the highlights. More on Harrison can be found online at www.dhaniharrison.com.

I read that your new album took three years to make, but it only has 10 songs on it. Does that mean that you wrote a lot of songs for it? Or that you worked at it very slowly?

Dhani Harrison: There’s probably five to 10 songs that didn’t make it. It was written as a long suite of music. I kind of needed a long time for it to feed back into itself. It was evolving. I also would stop for long periods of time because I was recording a movie soundtrack or a television soundtrack. You would get into these long projects for 10 months where you’re doing a TV show and I wouldn’t be doing any work on my album. There were long periods of time I took off, I didn’t take that long. It’s just that I had to keep coming back to it. When you’re in the mood for playing live and you’re rehearsing for something, that’s a different headspace than if you’re writing a record or doing a soundtrack for a show or a movie. It’s also a lot of the time you’re able to work on it but you’re in a different headspace. It goes slow, to try and keep changing between modes.

Do you remember the first song you recorded for the album?

Dhani Harrison: Probably “London Water.” We were in England doing a film called Learning to Drive. It was kind of an Eastern/Western crossover soundtrack, and we had some of Ravi Shankar’s students come down and play on it. Davide Rossi, a violinist I’ve been working with, came down and played on it as well. He played the Indian violin character on the soundtrack. We were messing around, we might have recorded the intro of “Never Know” at the same time we were doing that, we had an electric violin. There’s a couple of things that would get done here and there, then it would also kind of be put away for another year.

While that was going, were you also working on Thenewno2 and Fistful of Mercy stuff?

Dhani Harrison: No, Fistful of Mercy, we started working on a second album but everyone had to go on tour. Newno2, the beginning of this record, it was a Newno2 album that evolved into a Dhani Harrison record. Albums like the Seattle Road soundtrack, which was so influential on this record, it was another great bit of vinyl that we brought out, actually, if you get a chance to get hear that soundtrack. That was kind of the last thing I did before this record, so there’s a lot of things to hear that I was influenced by.

Do you have a favorite song on your new album? Or is there a song that sums it up the best for you?

Dhani Harrison: On this new record, I definitely like track three, “Ulfur Resurrection.” I’m also a big fan of “Poseidon” as well. They’re some of the weirder ones on the record, but if you get those tracks, then you’ll really like the record.

Being that you had five to 10 songs leftover, do you have plans to put out another solo album in the near-future?

Dhani Harrison: Yeah, I don’t think it’ll be the same as this one. I think it’s definitely going to be a quicker, more band-oriented record, because I spent too long programming and got alienated on this record. I definitely enjoyed the end period of this record more, which is when everyone else came in to do their bits. That kind of left us with a new band, and a new group touring together, it left us in a different place. Whether it’s a band record or another Dhani Harrison record, it will be with the same people who I finished this record with.

As someone with a Traveling Wilburys poster on their wall, I must ask if there is any unreleased Traveling Wilburys material left, because I know you played on a few of their unreleased recordings.

Dhani Harrison: Those were “Like a Ship” and “Maxine.” They were released on re-issue of the Traveling Wilburys album, those were released and those were the two I played on. I think there were a couple of sketches [of unreleased songs], but nothing that we would finish. I was surprised that those two didn’t make the original record, which is why Jeff [Lynne] and I finished them off with Tom [Petty]. That was years ago, about four or five years ago.

When not busy with music, how do you like to spend your free time?

Dhani Harrison: I like to be in nature. I like to go surfing. I used to like skating a lot, but I don’t want to break my wrists — too much music-playing. I like to go driving. I like to go into the woods and make forts. I like nature.

Are you still a Formula 1 fan?

Dhani Harrison: Not really anymore. I dare to say it jumped the shark. It’s still incredible, but I don’t really relate to the personalities anymore. I don’t have any sort of emotional investment in it… I guess they’re more like fighter pilot athletes now. You don’t see smoking and drinking on the grid — less personality. (laughs)

So in closing, Dhani, any last words for the kids?

Dhani Harrison: Don’t be afraid of the world we live in. Try and ask questions. Never stop asking questions about why and what and how the nature of our world is made… Why it is, where you’re going to, you know? Those are all good questions. If you can’t answer those questions, then you need to go and work that stuff out, because that’s the important stuff.

[Featured Image by Josh Giroux]