Harrison Craig, the winner of the second series of The Voice, is one of the top performers set to perform Surfers Paradise LIVE – a free three-day musical event celebrating a diversity of genres on the Gold Coast – it really is set to be something spectacular. Currently hard at work on his third studio album, I spoke to the 21-year old about the new record, Mother’s Day, Josh Groban and all things Disney.
You’re performing at the Surfers Paradise LIVE – what can you tell me about it?
We’ve been rehearsing now for one month and it’s just been an absolute blast! I’ve got a big band coming up with me and we’re going to be doing tracks off my last two albums, and some tracks from my new album that I’m just recording at the moment. It’s a really good place to have this kind of three day event and everyone behind it, the teams, are just great, so I’m just really pleased to be there.
You’re a young guy – Surfers is practically a young person’s playground. Being a three-day festival, will you have time to check out the sights?
I do fly up there quite often, but I’ve never had the chance to explore the theme parks there so I really need to do that. We won’t be up there until the morning of the last day and then we perform that afternoon, and then go home the next morning. It’s all a quick turn around for everything like this.
You’re performing on Mother’s Day – is your Mum upset that you won’t be around to help celebrate her special day?
It is, it is Mother’s Day! I said that, we were rehearsing yesterday, I was just mucking around, and I said, “Ladies and gentlemen, it’s great to be up here for Mother’s Day” and my drummer, he was like, “Oh my God, Mother’s day! Oh no! Mum’s going to be so upset!” so I think I’m going to have to buy flowers for the whole band’s mums and just apologize.
Maybe we [could] all just call our parents at the same time and be like “Mum, this is for you, your song”. I don’t know – or maybe we’ll record a little message for them. That’s a pretty good idea. But, either way, I’m going to make sure that my mum is spoiled, even though I am not there on the day to spoil her in person, but I’m sure my brother can arrange that if I leave him with some money. I can be like, “Hey Connor, take Mum out for a great breakfast or lunch or something”.
Last year you did a series of Mother’s Day concerts as well. Did you miss Mother’s Day last year also?
No, I was here for Mother’s Day, which was good, but all of these things fall on important days. And I know Mum’s like, “Oh, you’re not down here on Mother’s Day? I can’t believe it”, and I’m like, “Sorry Mum, no. I can’t help it” sort of thing. But no, she’s okay with it. She’s pretty cool. I think we’ll do maybe some kind of lunch the day before with my Nana, and maybe spoil her with flowers, really nice wine and good company. It’ll be nice. I hope so. If I’m really sad when I get up to Surfers Paradise, lunch didn’t go very well. (laughs)
Is it easy to go out and not get recognised on the streets?
It depends. I recently just got a pair of glasses – not for any other reason than because I really actually need them. But if I put them on, sometimes you can get the sort of two take “Who’s that?”, “Do I know that person?” sort of thing.
You mentioned how you’re currently recording your new record. What can we expect?
Well, this new record is the path that I’ve wanted to take for a while. I mean, I’ve touched on that sort of crooning, swing vibe in the past two records, during my tour as well [and] while I was on the show, but I never really ever got to flesh it out. Which for me, was something that I really wanted to do, so I’m glad that now I can actually create a record now with the crooning and the swing style that I’ve always wanted. This is really, for me, coming into my own, I guess, in terms of where I want to be musically for the rest of my life.
Have you written some original songs for the album?
[We’re] still finalising a few tracks but they’ll be the last I do on there. There might be a few originals there but right now, it’s a lot of great swing from the last, from really 1930 to about 1970 – so some incredible stuff and working on that with Chong Lim. We’re just recording it all now [and] I’m very pleased with the way it’s coming along now.
You started working on it back in 2015, is that right? Why is it taking so long?
It’s one of those scenarios where you come up with a great idea but it’s just not the right time to put it out. I was traveling and recording here and in LA for probably close to a year and a half, which was great, because the experience and the people you get to work with it’s really unparalleled, which is great.
But I think I just wasn’t content with what I had at the time in terms of the record that I wanted to produce and I really just wanted to make it even greater, so I opted to wait. And I think that’ll be rewarded with the some great music. I’m working really, really hard on it and yes, it’s taken a long time and that really annoyed me, but that’s just the way these things work out sometimes. You know, it’s kind of like the concord – it’s taken a while to get it right. But then, when you do get it right it’s gonna really change the way people look at you in a really good way, so I’m really happy.
It sounds like it’s going to be something really special and the time taken can only make it better. I think, also, coming off of a reality television show you’re always trying to kick that stigma and constantly trying to prove yourself as an artist.
I think so too because you need to be able to define who you are, and who you want to become too, because you can’t just be that person from that TV show. And I don’t want to be – I have larger goals and dreams for the artist and the person that I want to become. Being on a reality TV show, that was a great launch pad but it’s just the very beginning of what I hope will be a lifelong career.
You auditioned for The Voice with a song from Josh Groban. Josh recently toured Australia, did you get a chance to see his show?
I actually saw his last show when he was here, but not this time around. It was really good actually and I really enjoyed it. I work with the orchestra that he had, we do a lot of work together, so I always pass on my hired stuff to them. And they’re always like, “Yeah, Josh says hi, he wants to know what you’re up to”. But I’m looking forward to catching up with him in a longer way next time he’s here.
Josh was here promoting his new album Stages with the tour of the same name, which features classic musical numbers. I know you kind of touched on it with the Disney Under The Stars tour but is musical theatre and songs from musical theatre something you’d like to explore?
I do like musicals and I think it would be great, probably not right now for me – I’m really comfortable moving forwards the way I am and I want just increase that constantly, but somewhere down the line that would be really, really fun. It’s a great style and a really great working environment too because you meet so many talented people that have written musicals and plays and such great songs that last a lifetime too, so it’s one of those things that I look forward to doing one day but probably not right now.
Speaking of Disney Under The Stars, do you think there’s any chance of redoing the Disney concert?
I think there is a high chance. People really seemed to enjoy it from what I could tell anyway, and I really did too. It was just so great being up there – the choreography and the run of the whole show. It’s very friendly to every single person. It really just depends if there’s room for it in the market moving forward, but I think there is.
The last show, it was pouring the whole show. I said to Kai, Chong Lim’s son, ‘”Oh, it’s so hot! I just wish it would rain so it’ll cool everything down” and then it started to rain as soon as we got on stage. We were slipping and sliding around the stage, which was great fun, we did have a great time, but we could have broken some legs for sure! (laughs).
Were there any songs that you wanted to sing – but had to leave out?
Well, I actually had [“Go The Distance” from Disney’s Hercules] in to do it, and the show was actually too long, so we had to cut one of the songs. A few of my songs were much of the same, so we decided to cut that one – much to my dismay. But I said to Chong, “you owe me one song in the next show that we do together and it’s my choosing and you have no say” (laughs) So we’ll see how that flies the next time. But I really wanted to do it.
It was really, really great with the crew at Disney. They are a great team, and everyone is really talented, so it was great to be a part of it. Just a huge learning curve. You spend so much time with them, then you learn why they do particular things in a particular way or how they’ve come to where they are at the moment. It’s really interesting to see how everyone operates. We’re all very unique and different. We all got along really really well, and we all still talk, so it’s great.
Thank you for chatting and best of luck with everything!
Thanks. Everything is going really really well. I’m just working really really hard and looking forward to the show on the 8th of May.
Previously posted at the AU Review