Harletson isn’t chasing fame — just the music


By Emily Bingham   

Talented kids strive for it. Struggling artists long for it.

Harletson doesn’t even want it.

The three-man band isn’t trying to be famous. To them, the fame – if it comes – is simply a byproduct of the music.

“We’re not greedy guys, we just wanna play music. That’s all we need,” said Weston Wilson,  a member of the Los Angeles-based pop-rock band. They’ve only been around for about a year and a half, but their proximity to fame reflects a more experienced band.

The band, which also includes Jackson Singleton and Nathan Harrington, was on tour with Sabrina Carpenter for the past month. Like the band, Sabrina is based out of L.A. and asked the guys to open on her tour for the East Coast dates.

“She’s super awesome to just let us be on it,” said Weston, standing outside of Buffalo IronWorks after their first show in November. Wearing just a green short sleeve T-shirt, he looked cold, obviously not used to the chilly weather.

“Yeah, she’s great,” agreed Jackson, as his shoulder length light brown hair rustled in the wind.

Harletson is hoping to be great too.

Harletson’s current set consists of all covers plus one original, “Say Our Goodbyes,” which describes their move to California. Prior to tour, they were in the studio nonstop writing and recording songs of their own, which they say describe as “ just us, it’s just who we are, the three of us.” They plan to release new music in January of 2017.

Each hailing from east of the Mississippi, they moved to L.A. with one goal in mind: making music. Nathan was the first to make the jump. In 2013, he entered L.A.’s open-mic scene hoping to make a splash. Two years later in 2015, both Weston and Jackson joined him. They had seen each other around and bonded over their similar music tastes they all picked up from home.

“Our different places and our different backgrounds have definitely contributed to our music combining into one unique sound,” said Jackson who is originally from Orlando. He grew up where “being in an indie band was cool,” a contributing factor to his taste in music. Back in Florida, he had a band of his own. For him, he always knew music is what he was going to do, so when he moved to California after high school, it didn’t come as a shock.

“I finished high school — barely,” he said. “I was terrible at school. My parents pretty much knew that I was just not gonna do the college thing because music was just everything to me.”

Weston also began music at a very young age, but never thought it would become anything more than a hobby. When he started singing, he didn’t even think he was any good. Music had a big influence on him. He grew up in central North Carolina listening to the blues his grandpa liked, but he always thought his path would be more traditional. His plan was to become an oral surgeon. He enrolled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His plans were solid; he even had a parking pass. That was until he changed his mind.

“I thought, You know what, I need to do something, like I can take a year off and go to L.A. and see what happens,” he said. “Then I did, and then this happened, and I can’t even see myself going to college now. I was gonna be an oral surgeon and now I’m playing guitar.”

Nathan was surrounded by music all his life. He grew up in a family with musical background and began writing music and playing guitar at 11. He started pursuing a career in music at 15 when his family uprooted their life in their hometown of Chicago to move to L.A. His family is still with him in California today and he credits them “the reason I am where I am today.”

For Harletson, it’s always been about the music, but they’ve picked up a lot more than perfect harmonies along the way. They’ve developed a love of touring, they’ve discovered truths about what it means to be in the music industry, but most notably, they’ve created a lifelong friendship.

They just wrapped their first tour, an experience that taught them a lot.

“I think the biggest thing we’ve learned is just that we can do it,” said Jackson.

Weston added: “It’s working, and seeing that it actually works makes us feel good. Actually playing shows, seeing people actually get into it and like the songs, it’s really refreshing because we didn’t know if it was gonna work, but we can do it and it’s going well.”

When we chatted after their first show of the tour in Buffalo, they were the most excited to see the crowd every night. Now a month later, those crowds have turned into an ever-growing fan base.

“This tour has been really exciting because it’s made the interaction with the fans better,” said Jackson, an interaction that has required ongoing attention – thanks to social media –  but has been rewarding.

“It’s just so hard now, because none of us are really that great at it [social media], but we’re trying to get better,” said Weston.

The guys, each 19, pride themselves on being very easygoing and laid back. They tweet gifs, post pictures with family, and share their regular teenage problems — all things that the mostly teenage audience can relate to. Sometimes those fans look up to them for advice, but the guys are careful in how they respond.

“We get messages everyday from kids that are saying ‘I’m struggling with this, I’m struggling with that,’” Jackson said. “We can’t be the people who are the counselors to everyone all the time. We try, but we just can’t.”

As they spend more time in the music industry, they recognize that the traditional idea of fame isn’t what they’re going after.

“I think that fame is kind of fake,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things where it’s there and then gone. I think that what really matters is that our music comes across to people. We just want to make music for a living, that’s our dream.”

Weston added, “I don’t think any of the three of us really care about fame. If it comes, it comes, but it’s really not a big deal. If fame brings the music out and the music can change people, then I would love to have fame for that reason.”

Harletson has not only been successful in manufacturing music and memories, they’ve made something that isn’t as easily produced in a studio: a brotherhood.

They call themselves exactly that: brothers. They attribute a large part of their success to being such good friends.

And exactly like brothers, sometimes they fight (mostly about girls, they joke).

“Only one person can like this person!” Weston said.

“There have been some brawls,” Jackson said, laughing.

“If you get in my way, I’ll knock you out,” added Weston.

“We’re brothers,” Jackson said. “Whether you get mad at them one day, they’re still your family.”

So what’s next? After they recoup from this tour, they hope to join another. And of course, doing what they do best: making more music.

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