Punk bands and Full Monty release fit for Small’s bar
Although he’s 11 years older than his bandmate, bassist Bob Gibson says he’s admired Dan Harness since before the younger musician was old enough to drive.
“You could see a lot of songwriting ability in him already the first time I saw him at (age) 15 or 16,” says the Dearborn Heights-based Gibson. “Then when I saw his next band at (age) 18 or 19, it had already progressed incredibly. He was already past anything I had been part of at that age.”
Harness, now 22, of Lincoln Park, is the main creative force behind the punk trio Full Monty. The group’s sound is hard-edged, but always distinctly melodic, breathing emotional nuance into Harness’ strongly personal lyrics. The band will play a release show for its first full-length album, “Bombay,” on Thursday at Small’s bar in Hamtramck.
Also featured: politically outspoken Chicago punk band Voice of Addiction, making a Detroit stop on its summer tour; Voice of Addiction; St. Clair Shores-based ska band CbJ and Detroit-based pop-punkers Smash the Jukebox.
Harness started Full Monty in 2014 as a solo acoustic act, more recently adding Gibson and drummer Danny Bolterstein to the lineup. As a solo act, Harness says his musical aesthetic was unintentionally “way more folky,” but for his 2015 EP “Mousy,” he rounded out the sound. Harness sang and played guitar, bass and drums on the record, and singlehandedly produced, mixed and mastered the production.
Harness’ versatility arises from an abiding fascination with playing and producing music, going back to when he watched the Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over” concert film on VHS at age 8. Harness soon began guitar lessons and taught himself to play bass and drums by the time he was 12. His production skills came later as he studied Bryan Griffin, a Mount Clemens-based producer who had worked on some of Harness’ early recordings.
“I just liked playing music, so I wanted to know how to do everything,” Harness says.
Music also presented a valuable support system for Harness through what he describes as an “alienated” young adulthood. Growing up in rural Howell as a gay man of half Mexican heritage, Harness says he often felt out of place. But he found a crucial outlet in music — particularly punk, ranging from classics like the Ramones to ’90s staples like NOFX.
Harness says while the local music community “welcomed me open-armed” as a gay man, his lyrics are still deeply questioning of himself and the world in general. On the “Bombay” track “For Lack of a Better Title,” Harness sings, “Take me to the place where I can’t just sit here / And make a difference behind an oversized 58-inch screen ... Pick my feet up and get me on the team.”
So why name the band after a famous musical about male strippers? The unusual name also is inspired by Harness’ untempered sense of introspection. When Harness originally started his solo acoustic project, he considered naming it Montie, after the street he lives on. But his partner suggested Full Monty because of the “stripped-down” nature of Harness’ music and lyrics.
“It’s basically me, completely, fully naked,” Harness says. “I was like, ‘You know what? That’s kind of better than anything else I could ever think of.’ ”
Patrick Dunn is an Ann Arbor-based freelance writer.
CbJ, Voice of
the Jukebox and Full Monty
8 p.m. Thurs.
10339 Conant, Hamtramck