Interview: Ian Patrick Harris, Creator Of EDWARDIAN ROCK BAND The Iron Boot Scrapers
Where are you from originally?
“I was born in Banbury. My father was in the Foreign Office, so they were most of the time posted abroad, so I spent time in Detroit in the 60s, and later on in Israel. For my schooling I was sent to boarding schools, which I hated, and was the odd kid who didn’t fit in, and quite bullied. I’m not asking for any pity. It shaped me into the person I am now, which I’m quite content with.”
How long have you been in Brighton, and why did you make the move?
“I moved here from Dartington, in Devon, where I did my music degree. After finishing my degree I spent another year in Totnes (the local town), but finding I wasn’t getting ahead I decided to move to more active parts. Also I was doing a lot of busking, and the constant rain in the SW was hard. I was either going to move to Bristol, London, or Brighton. The SE has the lowest rainfall and also I had a close friend here, so that’s why I moved to Brighton. I’ve been here about 20 years now.”
How old were you when you discovered your love for music?
“Being a shy child and not able to fit in music was a consolation. I enjoyed my solitary practising. I started trumpet at 8 years old. I moved onto classical guitar at about 13 years old, but then took up bass guitar, as I noticed there was more of a demand for bass players in Melody Maker, the National music broadsheet. Also I wanted to be like Geddy Lee, the bassist in Rush.”
When did you start to put the Iron Boot Scrapers together? And how did you go about it?
“The Iron Boot Scrapers evolved from a stilt walking band that I created and had it’s first gig 2000. This stilt walking band wore large fanatical costumes and played at mainly corporate events all over the world. About the time of the credit crunch some of my musicians who worked for me started moonlighting and doing their own stilt walking band secretly, and contacting all my agencies, that I worked for, and undercutting my prices.
Rather than compete I sack them, hired new musicians, and took to the streets with the Iron Boot Scrapers. The reason for the sousaphone, brass and banjo was that they are loud portable instruments that worked well with the stilt walking. I carried on with this instrumentation to the streets. Initially we went out in kind of mix and match outfits, but I hit upon the blazers, boaters and whites image because I wanted something that looked friendly, nerdy and not off putting to those persons who might want to hire us for weddings and functions.
I went through rapid band line up changes, but that is only natural when you haven’t got lots of bookings. As more bookings come in, as now, musicians are more lightly to stick with you.”
Where did the inspiration for stilt walking come from? I didn’t see that one coming!
“Well, I used to go busking by myself in George street, also I used to do Salsa dancing at a club, and one of my dancing partners ran an entertainment agency. I was thinking of ways to ‘up’ my busking takes and I thought a ‘giant’ character would do the trick, so I started busking as a giant Mr Punch (and Judy) character with full prosthetics and all. I suggested to this lady, of the entertainment agency, the idea of a stilt walking band and she said she thought it was a good idea, so I created said band. I got lots and lots of work from lots of entertainment agencies, just not the one the lady worked for… Just a money making idea of a desperate muso really…, and it worked.”
What were your influences? Who were your inspirations?
“As to music I love Tom Waits, The Tiger Lillies, Motorhead, The Electric Light Orchestra, AC/DC etc…, as to busking bands I was influenced by the great street band Swervy World. I eventually had Stephane Spitz, the leader of Swervy, in the band, but he left because he was totally turned off by the idea of pursuing original music, which is somewhere I wanted to go after conquering the covers market.
What are the different obstacles you’ve faced in order to be where you
are today with your music?
“Finding the right musicians, keeping them, replacing them. Generally that. Once you’ve got good musicians, and they’re working as a tight unit the world is your oyster. Then keeping the momentum going. Right now the thing is to keep the spirit of the musicians up with the dream of successfully making a career out of original music, which is just around the corner.
What style/genre of music do you play?
“With the covers all styles that will get a party going; rock, dance, disco, rap, metal, Boy/girl band etc. With the originals people have seen us as Steampunk. This is not a genre we willing take on. It is too limited. We are our own thing. Edwardian Rock, if you like. Basically we play a mixture of modern rock instruments and antiquated instruments, such as sousaphone and brass, and then write solid pop/rock tunes with them. Call it what you want.
When people usually ask what genre we are I point them to a video of us, as that is easier than trying to describe us with words.”
What are a few of your greatest music related accomplishments so far?
“Persuading the musicians to write and record the first album with me, and then do the videos. The 2nd album will be greater than anything so far.”
Any future projects in the making we should look out for?
“Yes, the 2nd album and plenty more gigging.”
Where can we find the Iron Boot Scrapers tunes?
“You can buy our music HERE!”
What do you hope to achieve through your music?
“An enjoyable and exciting life, and playing to larger and large audiences all around the world.”
What other extra curricular activities do you enjoy?
“Looking after my daughter, walking my dog, and arguing politically on Facebook.”
Do you plan on staying in Brighton? Or are there far corners of this
world that you hope to venture to soon/one day?
“Because of my daughter I’ll probably stay in Brighton; if we become successful enough I’d like to move to the US.”