Most of my childhood memories consist of fishing local neighborhood ponds or climbing atop pine trees to sway with the upper branches. During those days I knew that type of barefoot childlike freedom that has long fell victim to the boredom of my digital adult existence i.e. never ending emails, app updates, yelp reviews before spending $7 on my cappuccino – Its almond milk! Upon discovering Ponytails, I found myself pining for that familiar feeling of unbounded child-like abandonment. The most simple and innocent type of freedom that leaves you full of laughs and rediscovered love for who’s company you find yourself.
I should take a minute to differentiate something; Ponytails does not fall into the category of travel and adventure porn that so often pollutes our Instagram feeds selling us the latest in nylon compact hammocks. Instead, they dive head first into those pure elements of rock and roll by cutting through the gray and fanning that small flame for unrestrained freedom and the courage to follow those forces of the heart, predictability be damned.
When frontman Harvey Merritt isn’t scaling granite walls near Squamish BC, he’s cutting hair and writing songs in Vancouver with his buddy and guitarist Travis Goeres, the musical creative force behind Ponytails. Their friendship began over 5 years ago during a low point that commonly results in the forging of brother like friendship. Eventually, they would snag a few other friends for bass (Liam Less) and drums (Simon Furminger) and begin the tumultuous process of formulating their sound. Last November, Ponytails released their first EP, marking just 10 months since the band has played together. Which is an impressive feat considering the EP has an original tone that leaves you banging the drum kit on your steering wheel and singing along with Harvey’s chorus lines “Breaking hearts ain’t easy” in the track Pieces. There’s the feeling at any moment, the whole thing could rip apart at the seams that has me coming back for repeat listens, trying to pinpoint what element of their comradery keeps the songs glued together.
I can’t be sure rock and roll is your thing. Perhaps at some point though, you ditched yoga for a weekend at the lake with friends where you tried mushrooms and stared at the moon for an unknown number of hours. Wherever you find yourself this weekend, preferably away from the grid, Ponytails deserves a spot on your playlist.
Follow the band on Facebook and Instagram @ponytailsband. If you happen to catch yourself in the Vancouver area, catch the band live later this month. Continue reading our interview with Harvey and Travis below!
June 22 – Fox Cabaret
June 24 – Lucky Bar (Victoria)
June 25 – The Cambie (Nanaimo)
June 26 – Royal Canadian Legion #65 (Tofino)
1. How did the band originate and whats the story behind the name, Ponytails?
Travis – They’re both connected actually. Harvey and I are both barbers and had been working together on and off for about five years. The off end of it tied the band together best as we both were drinking and doing drugs quite regularly. I was a little better at keeping it in check and ended up firing Harvey from the place we worked.
Harvey – I knew I was gonna get fired, but I was surprised I didn’t get punched!
T – we both ended up quitting (drugs & booze) everything around the same time as leaving the place we worked at. Sobriety gives you a lot of free time, and over thanksgiving Harvey and I went to Tom lee and I heard him play drums for the first time (I play guitar) and just knew we had to make music together. Oh fuck, and the name.
H – we were both growing our hair out and one day made a joke we could be the ponytails, we kept talking about our band and referring to it as the ponytails.
T – once we started getting people to play with us when they’d ask what our name was and we’d just say Ponytails.
2. How long have you guys known/played together? Are you all from the Vancouver area?
T- we’re both from all over, I was born in white rock though but went to school in Alberta.
H – my dad was in the military so I’ve moved around a lot
T – we’ve been friends as long as we’ve known each other, and I’m one of his five best friends.
H – he doesn’t camp or rock climb or leave his house much but I still spend more time with him then anybody else on this little blue marble! Even though he’s a little late in the friend game, it doesn’t change the love.
T – we started playing together in January of 2016 with a homie Harvey met in rehab.
H – third time stuck
T – (laughs) Liam, he’s an amazing musician.
H – and Simon came in later. We love them.
T – they’re always in the pocket, on the beats and between the sheets!
3. I had originally discovered Ponytails through Harvey’s climbing Instagram account. Being an outdoorsman and climber myself, I hear a lot of free-spirited/nature influence in the tunes. How much does nature and adventure impact the band and its sound?
H- I’m not very good at writing metaphorically so the songs are pretty direct to my life experience. lyrically, they start at a low point and end when I realized I’m not the times Ive lived through but how I got through them on my own. I decided to start climbing in a dark point in my life. I was fresh off a divorce and drinking a lot. I had broken my leg that year and was spending a lot of time on the couch watching Netflix and abusing painkillers. I started getting obsessed with watching climbing documentaries and kind of just decided that was going to be my path. I wanted to live free, but at the same time not run away from the challenges that came with that life. It didn’t all happen at once, and i failed more than a few times, but to me it’s like climbing. It’s not about getting to the top of something, theres no hidden secret to be found on a summit. It’s about the process of the path you take along the way and what you learn from it.
T- I live vicariously through said statements and although it’s not how I choose to spend my time (fairly new father and business owner) I am super proud of Harvey’s growth in the past two years.. I’ll write a decent enough solo to accompany any of his adventures!
4. The EP sounds amazing in both tone and overall production. How do you guys approach the writing process in both musical structure and lyrics? Had you discussed musical influences?
T – we argue a lot about all of it.
H – we have different approaches to writing and how we get from A to Z.
T – I like 60’s-70’s jam bands and he likes popish music of the same decades.
H – he doesn’t care for lyric structure just the in between bits
T – we both like (for the most part) all the same music
H – just different parts in each song. Some songs are tough to write, some aren’t.
T – some songs take 15-20 minutes, others take 6 months+
H – we either totally agree or completely disagree
T- and we fight like brothers so it gets pretty gnarly at times.
H- for the most part I do the lyrics and melody. In the past I had only made a few pitiful attempts at writing and usually abandoned them quickly, but this time I had a story to tell and I just stuck to it.
T- then I chart the chords and we find a groove with the band.
H- after that it’s noodles and juice!
5. When can we expect more released tracks or a full length album? and when can fans catch you next in the Vancouver area?
H- we’re still writing new material and testing it in a live setting. We plan on hitting the studio in the fall but will spend more time in post as we want this to hit a lot harder than our EP
T- were at the Fox Cabaret next on the 22nd of this month which is also our first year anniversary of being a band! We update our dates regularly on www.ponytailsband.com as well as our Instagram at @ponytailsband we hope to see you all there!