Wandering with Adriel Harris
“When I pick up my birth control, I read Curve,” laughs Adriel Harris sounding off with the coolest magazine endorsement ever. “It’s really interesting.” As the fair-haired foil to Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons, Harris espouses the Midwestern values of honesty, humility and effective family planning.
“I grew up in a hippie, Christian commune in Chicago. I had musical parents,” she explains. “My mom was a singer. My dad played guitar. I never had lessons. They were really afraid of turning us off to music because they were sort of forced to do lessons when they were little and they hated it for a long time because of that. There was a lot of music that I grew up around.”
Harris continues the tradition with her contributions to the new album, Death Won’t Send a Letter. The fifth track, “My Heart Would Be There,” is plenty good on the recording, but devastates live with its building climax of harmonies. “Toward the end of high school, I picked up a guitar and tinkered around on piano,” she says. “That sort of fed the fire for what I wanted to do.”
That fire can also be heard on the gospel-tinged “Born Again,” which is the band’s signature track and breakthrough single. “A friend of ours passed away in a car accident. He had a lot of friends that were in bands and so all of these bands got together to do a benefit show for some charities he was working for,” she explains of her chance meeting with Chisel. “When they took the stage, the entire room transformed into something else. Obviously, we were celebrating somebody we loved. But it was different. It reminded me of being a little kid in the basement of our church building where the commune was and everyone singing at the top of their lungs and elevating themselves to a certain place. It wasn’t like any other show I had ever been to. I turned to my friends that I was standing with and said, ‘Oh God, this is my dream project. If I could only be in that band.’ And so it was. Chisel decided to beef up the vocals for an upcoming show. Harris stepped in and the rest is history. Err, herstory.
“I like to live out of a suitcase,” Harris admits on her unique rock star qualifications. “I like the feeling of living in a constant state of motion. That feeling is comforting for me. Those are some of the practical things that I think definitely inclined me toward this kind of life and certainly prepared me for it. My upbringing gave me the intrinsic value of having a meaningful life and doing something you believe in. Not just something to prepare for retirement.”
Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons are currently on tour and heading west. They have no plans to retire. Amen.