Versatility is a prime example of artistic growth, and Harrison Dolan has been diving into it in his own way. Outside of being the drummer of the Providence funk soul band Grizzlies — which started at the University Of Rhode Island — the Mahopac, New York native and former Kingston resident has been exploring all sides of his artistic talents with his solo music. It’s a wide-ranging approach that has more to do with capturing the feeling and the moment, rather than abiding by a certain style. His latest single “I Always Will,’’ released on Feb. 12, is his latest installment in this vibrant endeavor. An electronic aesthetic encompasses the track while echoing guitars set the structure.
We recently talked about Dolan’s inspiration behind the song, learning from collaborations, enjoying having different outlets and an EP he’s putting out.
Rob Duguay: “I Always Will” has a bit of a pop and new wave vibe to it. What inspired this particular sound?
Harrison Dolan: I’m not really sure. I wasn’t going into it thinking of doing a new wave song. I just put it out and people labeled it as that, and I’m happy that people can put those positive associations with it. On the outside of it, I’ve been growing more open to mainstream pop type of stuff because I enjoy the catchiness of it. If you listen to any type of song from Post Malone or Lil Nas X or artists like that, it’s going to be built on the earworm aspect of it, you know?
HD: I think it’s a very useful tool that I personally enjoy using as a songwriter. With every song that I write, I try to have some semblance of catchiness.
RD: Did you collaborate with anyone in particular on this song, or did you do all of the instrumentation and arrangements yourself?
HD: For the most part, I did it myself. I was into the mixing process and almost done with the song until I realized the bass on the track wasn’t cutting it. I hit up my friend Jacob Ott who plays bass in a funk band out of Brooklyn called Jungle Fiction and he contributed his bass skills to the song.
RD: Musically the single is a bit different than your previous single “Dogma” that came out last April, which leans more toward hip-hop and jazz. While writing this new track, did you have a concrete vision going into it or did it just come out the way it did in an organic way, where you were just feeling things out and experimenting?
HD: It was definitely more of an organic type of way. A lot of the time the music I make is pretty calculated in the tone that I want it to have but I never try to limit it to a certain genre. “Dogma” is the first song I ever made when I got Pro Tools and I’m happy with how it came out, but I’ve definitely progressed quite a bit since I was working on that track.
RD: I can totally see that. What do you think is the major difference for you personally between what you do with your solo material versus what you do behind the drum kit with Grizzlies? When you work by yourself, it’s obviously you and your own mind fueling your creative engine, where in Grizzlies you’re working with others. Do you prepare yourself any differently or do you get into a different headspace between the two outlets?
HD: No matter what angle I’m going at with music, I’m always going to give it 100% or my energy. But the songwriting process is very different because, like you said, when it’s my solo stuff I have all the creative input, and when I’m with Grizzlies it’s definitely a collaboration. Josh [Zenil], Cynthia [Munrayos], Emily [Iwuc] and Mike [Villani] each bring influences and I love that; I enjoy having those different outlets.
RD: Those other influences also must keep your skills fresh when it comes to creating music with the band. Do you plan on releasing any more music this year?
HD: Yes, I have a three song EP titled Forget Me coming out that has “I Always Will” on it, and it’ll be released on Feb. 26. There will be vibes on top of vibes for a little bit more than 10 minutes. I tried to explore different sounds while making the record including synths, beatboxing, conga playing, rapping and a lot of different guitar tones.