John Harvey has spent much of his life performing music — from playing in a new wave band in the ’80s, to joining local musicians in Bend in recent years to playing jazz and Americana covers.
But even after decades of playing all types of music, Harvey had never released any material under his own name. That changes Friday, when his debut EP, “Second Chances,” will be released.
“I’m honestly very proud of myself,” said Harvey, 63. “I felt it was time to launch.”
“Second Chances” is a brisk, five-song collection of folksy indie-pop with a slight country twang. The rootsy, melodic tunes are a bit like a poppier version of Wilco — a group Harvey says he listens to a lot. But he didn’t want to narrow his influences down to any specific bands.
“It’s not like I’m really listening heavily to a particular artist,” he said. “I listen to a tremendous amount of music, which makes me an odd duck in my age group.”
Some of the EP’s songs are about breakups, like the pleading “Second Chances.” Harvey said his 2014 divorce did have an influence on his songwriting.
“Going through that and coming out the other side, through loss and forgiveness, we become more human,” he said. “Some of the things are about new beginnings and redemption and definitely some longing.”
Another song, “Your Truck My Trailer,” was inspired by living through the COVID-19 pandemic.
When lockdowns began in the spring of 2020, Harvey noticed friends leaving town for a while in RVs and trailers. He figured he could turn that idea into a cute romantic tune.
“Being single, I thought, if I could find someone who has a trailer, I could buy the truck,” Harvey said.
After being born and raised in Boise, Harvey started his music career after moving to Seattle right after high school. He and his brother started a band, Moving Parts, that earned some success locally in the ’80s.
“We were the s–t up there for a while, in terms of packing the local clubs, getting local airplay,” Harvey said.
But as the ’90s began, Moving Parts’ new wave-adjacent sound quickly fell out of favor as grunge, the angsty style that would come to define Seattle rock, took over. That shift — along with Harvey getting married and having a kid — marked the end of Moving Parts, he said.
“I remember once, an A&R guy from Epic Records came to see us, and he had to leave because he had to hear this band called Soundgarden,” Harvey said. “I knew it was changing, and I left the band at that point.”
After a long career doing public relations in Seattle, Harvey moved to Bend in 2011. A year later, he got back into performing music locally — first as a part of a Django Reinhardt cover band, then as part of the duo Jupiter and Teardrop.
The latter group disbanded in 2016, so Harvey began working on his songwriting skills. He attended Song Camp at the Sisters Folk Festival, and joined groups of fellow songwriters who would meet and critique each others’ songs, he said.
Before COVID-19 hit, Harvey began playing unfinished versions of his “Second Chances” songs live at The Commons Cafe in Bend. He said it was a great place to workshop songs, as crowds there actually paid attention to musicians.
“There’s not a lot of rooms in town where you play your songs and people are listening,” he said. “As an unknown songwriter, and you’re trying to gauge an audience, you want feedback.”
Harvey said he isn’t too focused on playing the finished tracks live at the moment. But when the pandemic subsides, he might return to The Commons to play “Second Chances,” he said.
Harvey doesn’t anticipate taking another 60-plus years to release another solo record.
“I’m already writing for the second EP,” he said. “I’ve learned so much about myself as an artist, I just feel like I’m getting started.”
John Harvey’s EP, “Second Chances,” can be found on all digital music platforms, including iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music, starting Friday.