‘Runaway Kids’ Harbour ready for their big escape
By Corey Mouch
The Beginning: Small Towns, Talent Shows, and The Monument
“There ain’t no looking back now,” proclaims a confident Harbour in its newest hit, the anthemic Runaway Kids, a song the band hopes will define the humble past it has endured and bright future it has ahead.
Harbour, a 5-piece indie rock unit, hails from the farmlands of Lebanon, Ohio, about 40 minutes outside of downtown Cincinnati. With catchy hooks, melodic guitars, thundering rhythms and unique vocals, the band’s potential certainly transcends its humble beginnings. The remarkable stage presence and energy possessed by the band’s members helps to bring songs to life in amazing ways.
We don’t often see rural towns like Lebanon lending a hand to pop culture, but Harbour hopes to change that. However, things hadn’t always been this way. Back in 2010, local Lebanon drummer Harrison Miller formed an early version of the band with a very different identity: The Monument.
It wasn’t until a very specific moment that the band we see on stage today began to take shape. Ryan Green, the band’s frontman, wasn’t even aware of The Monument until he caught their eye in an interesting situation—a high school talent show. “They saw me at a talent show in high school and asked me to be in their band,” Ryan says. And in the end, it was that simple. The newly formed band started playing small shows around Cincinnati and eventually needed a bassist to cover for them during one concert. Levi Snyder, a friend of Ryan and Harrison, happened to play bass, but was committed to another band long-term.
Not for long.
“We stole him,” Ryan tells me during our conversation. “We tried out a few members, borrowed Levi from another band, and we ended up stealing him,” he says with a laugh. From that moment forward, Ryan, Levi, and Harrison were The Monument.
Evolution, Experimentation, and a New Identity
In Ryan Green, Harrison Miller, and Levi Snyder, The Monument had found its core members and began making waves in the surrounding areas of Cincinnati. Key track Sanibel was written during this time as The Monument, a fan-favorite song the band still plays at nearly every show to this day.
The Monument, though, focused itself just as much on radio-friendly tracks like Sanibel as it did on more emotional, experimental efforts like City Under Water and What Happened to Us, two deep tracks that represent the band’s exploration of different genres.
“We had experimented with several different sounds as The Monument,” Ryan explains. “We saw which songs people were latching on to and enjoying the most. So… our sound started to transition more towards that style of music.”
After building a loyal fan base, releasing multiple studio efforts, and garnering major successes such as emerging victorious in The Underground’s annual Battle of the Bands in 2014, the band made an unexpected left turn. The Monument was no more. The successes and groundwork laid from the last years would instead gave way to a brand new identity.
In the Spring of 2014, Harbour was born.
A Fast Start: The Debut Album, Live Energy, and a Growing Community
The Harbour days began with a bang as the band added longtime friend Matt Starcher as their lead guitarist and released their masterful self-titled debut album in Spring 2013, consisting of staple tracks “Over It,” “Yachts & Canoes,” “What I’m Looking For,” and many more. All of a sudden, what was once a small-town Lebanon band skyrocketed to Cincinnati relevance as they were invited to share the stage with dozens of great artists at Bunbury Music Festival in 2014.
Aside from playing Bunbury, Harbour spent the next two years playing plenty of notable local venues such as Bogarts, The Madison Theater, Madison Live, and Rohs Street Café, sharing the stage with national acts such as X Ambassadors, CRUISR, Seabird, BoyMeetsWorld, and more. Outside of Cincinnati, the band was excited to embark on small tours across Ohio and Indiana, as well as making an appearance at CMJ Music Festival in New York in early 2016.
Harbour’s unmatched stage presence and energy helped the unit gain a huge local fan base in a very short period of time. Ryan, the aforementioned lead singer, is known to climb on rafters, trees, and sound systems while singing at the band’s shows, naturally drawing plenty of awe from Harbour’s loyal fans. Between climbing, crowd surfing, and keeping the crowd engaged, Harbour simply has a blast on stage.
Fans from all over Cincinnati and the surrounding areas have come in numbers, with each show being bigger than the last. Harbour’s With Love EP Release Show, held at a local Dave & Buster’s, was so crowded and energized that the venue had to stop letting people in the door. The band also became the first Cincinnati act to sell out Madison Live, drawing 350+ screaming fans to the intimate club setting.
One thing has become clear with Harbour since its origin: They’re growing fast, and they’re here to stay.
Present and Future: Runaway Kids, The Madison Theater, and New Album
Since selling out Madison Live with its indie rock anthems, stunning stage presence, and relatable message, Harbour has added longtime friend Marshall Sallee on guitar and backing vocals to complete its new 5-piece lineup. With Marshall on board, the band continued full steam ahead to release its most layered, memorable, and impressive track yet: Runaway Kids.
“Life’s too short to take it slow,” the band cries passionately in the song’s unforgettable chorus overtop of silky guitars and sensible synth layers. The song feels like the beginning of a new era for Harbour—an era of incredible growth and progress as a band. With the central idea of Runaway Kids being about making the most of our youth and striving to reach new heights, Harbour has never been in a better position to make a splash in a big way.
Even with the spectacular release and attention around Runaway Kids, the band has remained humble, keeping their heads down and focused on putting on fantastic shows for their loyal and devoted fans, whom the band endearingly refer to as “Harbour The Fam.” The hard work and effort put forth by Ryan, Harrison, Levi, Matt, and Marshall finally culminated in the biggest show of the band’s career to date—a Christmastime headliner at The Madison Theater just outside of downtown Cincinnati.
“The first time I knew something big was going to come from [Harbour] was actually at our most recent show,” Ryan says of the huge December 17th Madison Theater gig, boasting support from BoyMeetsWorld, Northbound, and Nick D & The Believers. The band started the show with impressive, energized tracks both old and new, showcasing what fans have come to love about Harbour from day one as well as what they can expect from the band’s next step. The show reached an epic climax when the band busted out arguably its most beloved song to date, Sanibel, about two-thirds of the way through the show. The band finished strong with Ryan Green surfing the crowd as he sang during the final act.
“The atmosphere was different than it’s ever been,” Ryan continued, telling me more about the show. “I remember thinking during our 2nd or 3rd song that we’re turning over a new leaf and that it’s going to pick up even more once [the new] album comes out.”
Speaking of the new album, Harbour is hard at work. Previewing new tracks Get You High, Hell Yeah, ILY, and more at their Madison Theater headliner, the band has shown an incredible step forward while still retaining its signature sound and energy. Fans can expect a major evolution from the band, but the new music has proven that the Harbour we have come to know and love is still intact, and as strong as ever.
As to the new album, Ryan is very forthright with me: “We feel like we’ve finally found Harbour’s signature sound,” he says confidently. “Our new music is as excited as we’ve ever been about a batch of songs… Can’t wait to bring them to life in the studio this spring.”
Lessons Learned: Fun is Contagious
Throughout the last six years, the members of Harbour have endured a journey to musical relevance unlike any other. From a small town high school talent show to headlining the Madison Theater, the group has plenty of stories to tell—and hope to tell many more as they push forward in their musical career.
“I think the most important thing we’ve learned is to never put too much pressure on anything,” Ryan candidly explains. “Never let anything become so important that you stop having fun doing what you love the most.” It’s a telling insight from someone who’s seen it all as an up-and-coming musician. To take your passion too seriously is to slowly lose that passion altogether; something Harbour has managed to avoid, as each time they step on stage they appear to have more fun than the last.
It has been a heck of a ride for the group over the years, with a slow and steady path to where they are now. Through all of the hard work, though, the band has never failed to have fun doing it.
“Fun is contagious,” Ryan says as we finish our chat. “Never lose that.”
Harbour’s music, including new single “Runaway Kids,” is available on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, and other major music retailers.