George Harrison’s son Dhani Harrison tours behind his first solo album
Dhani Harrison initially hid behind his family name in a band called Thenewno2 given that the son of Beatle George Harrison wanted to be taken seriously on his own musical merits. He also wanted, he said, to get his music heard “without people having some preconceived idea or comparing you.”
“Would you compare Michael Douglas to Kirk Douglas? In acting it doesn’t seem to have the same comparison or stigma attached to it, but in music, for some reason, if you were Keith Richards or Mick Jagger’s son, I could see how people would be like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to be as good as The Rolling Stones.’ Well, who’s as good as The Rolling Stones?” Mr. Harrison, 39, told The Washington Times.
Mr. Harrison, who will perform at the U Street Music Hall Tuesday, said comparisons between himself and his father, who died of cancer in 2001, are unfair. But it’s something he has come to expect.
“They definitely did that with Julian [Lennon] and Jacob Dylan,” he said of the scions of John Lennon and Bob Dylan, respectively, who have enjoyed thriving musical careers of their own.
Mr. Harrison recently released his first album as a solo artist, “In//Parallel,” in which he tries out experimental sounds of electronica that meld with more traditional rock elements on tunes like “Never Know,” “London Water,” “Admiral of Upsidedown” and “Light Under the Door.”
“Ulfur Resurrection” bears a hint of ELO, which is perhaps not surprising given that Jeff Lynne used to be in the supergroup The Traveling Wilburys with George Harrison.
Mr. Harrison touts such acts as Portishead, Orbital and Massive Attack as among the other influences whose stamp has found its way onto “In//Parallel.”
“I was composing a lot, so [the record] started from the composing angle rather than coming from the band angle,” Mr. Harrison said, adding he was always drawn to the eerie electronica of the “Blade Runner” score by the Greek artist Vangelis who also wrote the film for this year’s sequel.
Earlier this year, Mr. Harrison was asked to give the induction speech when ELO was officially welcomed into the Rock Roll Hall of Fame, an honor he gratefully accepted not only due to Mr. Lynne’s friendship with his father but to being his bandmate in The Traveling Wilburys.
“You don’t say no to something like that,” Mr. Harrison said.
At the ceremony, which took place at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, New York, April 7, Mr. Harrison said that if his father were still living, “I imagine he would be standing here right now, inducting ELO into the Hall.”
“I’d rather play at the Barclay Center than speak [in front of] 35,000 people,” Mr. Harrison says now, laughing. “It was definitely nerve-wracking.”
Sadly, another of The Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty, passed away following a cardiac arrest at his Malibu, California, home Oct. 2. Mr. Harrison said he has spent a great deal of time with Petty’s band, The Heartbreakers, in the time since their late frontman’s passing.
“I haven’t seen anything affect people so much as Tom’s death since my dad passed away,” Mr. Harrison said of the outpouring of grief from fellow musicians and fans, adding that “Tom’s daughter is like my big sister.”
Mr. Harrison has played on “Conan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to support “In//Parallel.” Mr. Harrison, who will bring his own band to U Street Music Hall, said the experience of playing with other professional musicians will translate not only into a fine night for himself but also for the audience.
“It’s a fun ride,” he said. “I’m having a really great time playing with them, and it’s getting better and better. It’s one of those things that once it blasts off, it’s really powerful.”
Mr. Harrison makes his home in Los Angeles, where he says he misses the “really good bread” of England and the low voltage of American electrical outlets taking too long to heat up his cup of tea.
“The great thing is that Bristol Farms has a whole English section, and it’s right across the street from my house,” Mr. Harrison said of the upscale L.A. retailer.
Although he has long made California his home, Mr. Harrison will always be the son of a Beatle one whose compositions changed popular music forever.
What, if anything, does Mr. Harrison believe his father would think of “In//Parallel”?
“I think he’d like it. I mean, he’s my dad,” Mr. Harrison said. “It’s kind of a biased question, but at the same time, I think he’d be stoked.”
Dhani Harrison plays at the U Street Music Hall Tuesday evening. Tickets are $20 by going to TicketFly.com.