Interview with John Harris of Otherworldly Entity
What was the beginning pint for your music career? How did it all start?
For me, I started really young. I started taking piano when I was about 7 years old. I wasn’t really good at it, and it felt like a chore. I enjoyed making things up, but I didn’t follow instructions well. When I was 10 years old, a close family friend named Mike VanCott offered to teach me guitar. My parents weren’t totally sold on the idea, but they bought me a cheap acoustic guitar. Mike was in the airforce, so he was all over the place. So he taught me over a Webcam, but we’re taking around 1997, so the quality was awful. But we kept on it. The first song I ever learned completely through was Glycerine by Bush, and Mike was impressed when I learned how to sing it and play it at the same time. It’s been 20 something years since then, and Mike is still one of my close friends, supporters, and fans, and I appreciate what he did to get me into this crazy industry when I was just a kid.
Was there any bumps on the road? What kind of challenges did you have to deal with?
Of course, there were tons of issues. One time, when I was 11 years old, I had an accident with a pocket knife and cut through three fingers on my left hand. They had to reattach the fingers in the emergency room and told me that the tendons would never work correctly again. After a couple months of recovery, I got on a video call with Mike, and told him that my fingers didn’t work anymore and that I couldn’t play guitar. Mike, being Mike, told me that he doesn’t like excuses, and he started pushing me to use my hand, to form the chords, to play the scales. I regained full use of my fingers again. I always look back on that, on how my music career could’ve ended right there. How it would’ve been much easier for Mike to let me quit. He wasn’t getting paid to teach me, he had to set his life aside to do it. It was the perfect opportunity to get out of that obligation, but he didn’t. He stuck with me and pushed me.
What was the most fulfilling and satisfying moment so far?
That’s so hard to pinpoint. But i have to go back to a moment in my adolescence. It was such a defining moment for me, and I wouldn’t have chased this dream so far without it. In 2001 I had a band n and we were playing a small, acoustic, open mic type thing at my high school. We had planned to play one song, and even though I was the youngest in the band (14 years old), I was the front man and lead singer. Getting up to play, I had never been so terrified in my life. We got up in front of everyone and stared playing, you guessed it, Glycerine by Bush.
I had my eyes effectively glued shut. There were maybe 50 people sitting around tables in the room, of all different cultures, religions, races, and backgrounds. I was lucky enough to go to a very diverse public high school in DeWitt, NY. I was afraid of the judgment, I was afraid of the fact that probably more than half of the room wouldn’t even like the song, let alone our rendition of it.
When we arrived at the bridge of the song, I opened my eyes, and everyone in the room was standing up singing along with me. For that moment, it felt like there were no differences, no barriers, we were all totally and absolutely united. The struggles of every individual in that room were forgotten for a brief moment, and we all just sang together.
I’ve been chasing that ever since, and it’s the single most defining moment in my life, not just as an artist, but as a human being.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
Dark. We truly believe that when we appreciate the darkness, it makes the light so much brighter.
What is your creative process like?
Our process is very organic, especially since Shawn Washer joined the band in 2022. We want to feel the music. We can start with drums, vocals, guitars, bass, it doesn’t matter. We can start at any singular point, and like the big bang, each song can explode into the universe that exists within it.
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
There’s always so much drama going on. I know I told a story about high school, but I’m a grown man now, and I don’t like the high school level drama that seems to always be around. This is an industry of very, very passionate people, so energies and emotions are always high, but so are egos, and the drama that comes from those egos needs to stop.
If you were asked to give a piece of advice to upcoming bands, what would that be?
Always be real with yourselves. Don’t believe the hype that you’ve created in your little bubbles. None of us are ever really as big as we think we are, but if we keep our egos in check, appreciate the opportunities we have in front of us, we’ll all be fine.
What has been the best performance of your career so far?
It’s hard to pick a singular event out, but for me personally, it would have to be when we played with Infected Rain in Rhode Island at Fete Music Hall. We were called into that show very last minute, with only a few days to plan a 6 hour trip, lodging, and everything. Our drummer Shawn had a broken foot at the time, and had yet to play a live set with us because we had to cancel our show with Cold because of Shawn’s foot. But we packed up and headed to Providence, and it was such an incredible experience. Infected Rain was so amazing to us, and everyone at The venue treated us like royalty for coming in so last minute. The place was absolutely packed when we went on, and the crowd was amazing. Shawn, with a broken foot, killed the set for his first show as an Otherworldly Entity. That show, that weekend, it just sticks out so much in my head.
If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing now?
I already do so much! I’m a fashion and jewelry designer (JPHii DESIGN), I’m sc award-winning photographer, and I’m a florist. But I can’t imagine not being a musician.
What is new with the band at the moment? What are you currently working on and would like to share with the world?Our new EP Psilocyborg is coming out (or may already be out when this goes live) and we are thrilled with how it came out. We really want to hit the road and tour more this year as well.