Dhani Harrison on Debut Solo LP and Missing Tom Petty: 'I Definitely Haven't Felt Any Loss Like This Since My Dad'

Josh Giroux
Dhani Harrison

Dhani Harrison says the spirit of the late Tom Petty help drive him as he launched his first-ever solo album, In///Parallel, during the week of October in the wake of his good friend's death.

Harrison -- whose father, George Harrison, was part of the Traveling Wilburys with Petty -- postponed a number of media engagements after Petty's passing on Oct. 2 but went ahead with others, including an appearance on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!

"We were going to cancel everything 'cause we were all so sad, and then we thought Tom would want us to go out and play loud and turn that shit up and play hard and loud and get on with us -- Don't bore us, get to the chorus," Harrison tells Billboard. "So what's what we did. We just carried on, and we're just keeping on keeping on."

Like so many, Harrison was deeply affected by Petty's death and spent "a lot of time" in the immediate aftermath with the Heartbreakers and Wilburys mate Jeff Lynne. "They're my family, and they've always really looked after me, ever since my father passed away," Harrison says. "Yeah, my heart's broken. It's tremendously sad and absolutely heartbreaking. He's one of my best mates. It hasn't hit me yet how much I'm going to miss him. We were all so close and as families we hung out, the Harrisons on the Pettys. They've been neighbors and my friends, my family, so it's a huge loss... I think in my community and in my life I definitely haven't felt any loss like this since my dad."

Harrison plans to ease some of the pain through his work with the upcoming In///Parallel. The 10-track set comes after a pair of albums and another two EPs with is band Thenewno2, as well as the soundtrack for the 2013 film Beautiful Creatures, and a release with the indie "supergroup" Fistful Of Mercy and collaborations with Jonathan Bates (aka Big Black Delta).

"Ever since [Beautiful Creatures] I've been composing and going a lot of stuff for TV and movies, and it gets confusing for everyone. They have enough to worry about; they don't need to worry about the name of your band," Harrison explains. "I went back to just composing under my own name, and that led to me making a lot more stuff for myself. I started bringing this record I was working on to Paul Hicks (of TheNewno2) and to Jon Bates and the guys in Big Black Delta and they all said, 'We love this record, but this is your record. We hope it gets the release it deserves, and we think you should do it under your name.'"

Harrison wrote songs for In///Parallel with Bates as well as Hicks and Camila Grey, who also appears on the album along with Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins and Mereki. "I really approached it a lot like story a movie; I just wanted to really sit with the story in my head, the experiences I've had and let all the scenes move forward from my life," Harrison says. "I didn't want to limit myself in any way to structure or anything... I wanted it to be strong, and I wanted the story to be told however it needed to told. And it stayed really similar from beginning to end, it wasn't like it was [heavily] edited or rearranged."

That community of players will also be featured on Harrison's upcoming tour, an eight-date run that begins Nov. 8 at the Knittng Factory in New York and will also feature Strokes bassist Nioklai Fraiture's Summer Moon.

"We all share common bandmates, and with Big Black Delta and Merki's band as well -- everyone that's performing on my record, basically, save for Jon Bates," Harrison notes. "So everyone's doing double duty, which is kind of fine. It means we'll be able to hang out together, 'cause we've all been making records together for a few years now. We all hang out together at the weekends and we go on holidays together, so it's a really cool group of people -- some of the most lovely people I've ever met in my life, and really great musicians. So it'll be like a family on the road, which is great."