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Dhani Harrison, with his Fistfull of Mercy bandmates Ben Harper (left), and Joseph Arthur (right).
When Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, and Joseph Arthur appeared together

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Dhani Harrison on Easy Street, the Family Business, and Fistful of Mercy

fistfulofmercyharrison.jpg
Dhani Harrison, with his Fistfull of Mercy bandmates Ben Harper (left), and Joseph Arthur (right).
When Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper, and Joseph Arthur appeared together on stage for their public debut in August as Fistful of Mercy, they didn't pick a spot conveniently located close to their home base in Southern California. Rather, they dropped in on West Seattle's Easy Street Records to unveil their brightly colored collegiate rock.

"It's a cool place," says Harrison, "and we love Seattle."

On the phone while working through the closest thing to an English breakfast he can find in Santa Monica (see the first part of our Q&A), the son of George Harrison discussed a few of his other career moves, why he went into business with Ben Harper, and his hopes for the future of his father's tunes.

Why were you drawn to working with Harper and Arthur on this project?

I kind of stopped listening to music a lot when I started making it, so I hadn't listened to Ben for a few years. But it was one of those things where when the option came to play with Ben, it was a no-brainer. It seems to be more organic and more natural like it could actually stick together as a group rather than just being a collaboration. I could be in a group with these guys forever.

Did you guys hunker down in a room together or make the album via email?

We got into the room on a Monday and we worked out asses off, and by the end of the week we had the bare bones of the record.

You share writing credits, but your voice is very strong on "Father's Son." Is it safe to say you wrote that one?

The words "Father's Son" just came out more as a reference to sort of God and forgiveness. I would give [Harper and Arthur] kind of writing assignments sometimes. Like, "Things Go Around" and "Father's Son" were both, like, I came up with a subject and then everyone would go out and write their own verses.

In your relatively short life, you've done everything from front a band, conduct business with Rock Band and Apple on behalf of your late father, skateboarded, and studied physics at Brown. Are you searching for your thing, or just balancing different interests?

When I was a kid I wanted to work in design. I still work in design. Once my father died I inherited all the business side of things. It made sense to me to keep going in all the fields that I've studied.

The music industry changed so much that all of this background in design and business really helped me, because once I took over the business I kind of changed the way we were doing things a little bit in the family and tried to make it a little bit more progressive and work interactively and use all of these different new technologies that we've got to combine together, to have music in video games and design, and digital deals. Now I have people running stuff for me and with me, and I can actually relax a bit more and just be more of an artist. I'm still wearing like 20 different hats.

Do you have the same kind of pessimistic or negative labels that seems to be driving the public narrative right now?

There's a place for major labels. I just think the industry got a bit detached from the art side of things. I am pretty down on major labels and that's why I do everything myself. But in order to do something yourself, then you have to become a label. But once you do become a label, then you see it from their perspective a little bit more.

As you continue to bring your father's catalogue to more progressive levels, as you brought the Beatles to "Rock Band," do you see working to bring the Beatles to iTunes or even the Beatles and Harrison catalogues to Rhapsody?

I can't speak on behalf of Apple; I can only speak on behalf of the George Harrison side of things. But I hope to continue pushing these things forward in the future on whatever platform is the most accessible for the people to hear the content.

 
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