Dhani Harrison could have started releasing records well before he was 30, but the small matter of being a Beatle’s son made him cautious about the musical career path. Now, with the upcoming debut release from his band thenewno2, he’s embraced the inevitable.
“I did everything I could to not be a musician,” Harrison tells Billboard.com. “I went to university (Brown), I worked as a designer, I competed in Olympic sport (rowing)…and I ended up being a musician. It’s in the DNA, I guess.”
That said, Harrison — who’s recorded with his father’s band Traveling Wilburys and on his last album, “Brainwashed” as well as collaborating with Jakob Dylan, Rooney and Wu-Tang Clan — also brought some lessons he gleaned from his father as he and creative partner Oli Hecks started working as the thenewno2, whose “You Are Here” comes out March 31 after several different “soft release” incarnations online.
“I think I learned a lot about not buying into a lot of hype,” Harrison says. “I wanted to be a kind of faceless entity; I didn’t want to be Dhani Harrison and the Muppets or something like that. I don’t ever use my name for anything in terms of getting the music heard. My dad was always, like, ‘Be a musician but don’t be famous (because) you lose all your freedom’. He did a really great job of keeping me out of the press all my life, but I feel like I’m ready do to do what I want to do, and this is it.”
Harrison is also looking forward to another release this year — “The Beatles: Rock Band” interactive game that’s due out Sept. 9 and marks the Fab Four’s first entry into the digital music distribution realm. He’s been intimately involved in the project and promises it will feature “stuff that has never been heard, never been released,” though he’s not at liberty to reveal specifics.
“I took the project to Apple and sort of convinced everybody to have a presentation,” says Harrison, who was used as a model for some of the game’s characters. “My job description is…being enthusiastic. We’ve been working on it for the past two years. This is the first one that is going to be totally, historically accurate. It’s been a real headache, but it’s been the most enjoyable work I’ve done in my life.”