Harry Hookey, the story.
When I was 14 my Dad had a car accident which meant he drove a hire car around for a couple of weeks,” says Harry. “Someone had left a copy of the Sergeant Pepper’s album in the CD player. That was it. I was hooked. I played it till the CD literally melted.”
Learning to play guitar from his Dad Steve when he was sixteen, Harry, his two brothers Jack and Sam and Steve started The Hookey Family Band, playing an eclectic mix of covers in pubs throughout hometown Gippsland in rural Victoria, inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and Leonard Cohen. As Harry developed as an artist he can count Paul Kelly, Warren Zevon and John Lennon as key songwriting influences, but maintains that Bob Dylan was pivotal to bringing him to where he is now.
Harry’s cut his teeth as a solo performer in the noble art of busking on Melbourne street over the past 5 years as well as winning competitions with punk rock band, The Bystanders, an outfit he formed with 6 other law students. Performing came naturally for Harry and whilst he and Jack were backpacking overseas they tried their hand at playing in the US scene.
“Our first US gig was in a strip joint in New Orleans”, he laughs. “Jack and I would travel from town to town, see a sign outside a bar saying ‘Live Music’ so we’d go in and see if we could get a spot.”
With a burning passion steadily growing he started to wonder if this could ever be more than just a distraction from the study books. After winning a high profile song writing competition and gaining widespread recognition from the music industry and audience members alike, Harry put a law career on the backburner and went full tilt into his own musical journey. Harry produced a quality debut EP Old Noise with producer Matt Fell, featuring the single ‘Don’t You Ever Treat Me Like a Fool, ‘ the hauntingly beautiful ‘Audrey’s Song’ and the quirky, dark ‘Misdiagnosed’.
A solid debut effort, it showcases his songwriting talent and musical diversity as much as highlights the scope of where he may go next. “I think of songs all the time. It’s a mental exercise for me – I do all the drafting in my head. I don’t really spend a lot of time writing things down. I always run them live, even if they’re not completely finished to see how they sound – normally when I’m just background music at smaller gigs and no one is really listening!”
“I hope my songs resonate with every kind of music lover on some level”, said Harry. “I feel very privileged to be in a position of possibly being able to bring some form of happiness or comfort to someone.” This philosophy obviously struck a chord with the judging panel of the International Songwriter’s Competition based in the US, as in 2012 Harry won first place in the unsigned category for his song ‘Misdiagnosed.’
Harry has showcased his music at the Americana festival in Nashville TN, opened on a national Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson tour, a national Busby Marou tour, and performed with artists as diverse as Tim Rogers, Mick Thomas, Doc Neeson and Ash Grunwald. His live reputation is building steadily as he makes his way around the country from gig to gig, cutting his chops at festivals and intimate venues alike. Deni Ute Muster, Sale Music Festival, Gympie Muster, Foggy Mountain Jam, sold out Tamworth crowds in 2012 & 2013, a residency at St Kilda’s Veludo Bar and spots on the Oz Artist Stage at CMC Rocks the Hunter. He recently did a stint of songwriting with the inmates at Roebourne prison in Karratha WA.
Harry has just finished his first debut album with Nash Chambers producing and brothers Jack and Sam performing.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be where I am and am so happy and proud of this first album. I am loving every stage of this journey – I never want to be the tortured artist.”