An interview with Asheville's Harvest Records, turning 10 with a festival next weekend | Music

An interview with Asheville's Harvest Records, turning 10 with a festival next weekend

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A decade ago, Harvest Records opened doors in Asheville. In the years since, Harvest has expanded beyond just a record store. Under the Harvest Records banner, Mark Capon and Matt Schnable run the shop, put out records and occasionally book shows. A major feat for Harvest arrives next weekend with Transfigurations II, a festival that celebrates Harvest's 10-year anniversary with artists including The Clean, Endless Boogie, Angel Olsen, Hiss Golden Messenger and dozens more. 

We caught up with Harvest Records co-founder Capon about Transfigurations II and Harvest Records' place in Asheville's culture. You can still get tickets to Transfigurations II here.

INDY: Transfigurations happened first with the fifth anniversary. How did you decide a festival was the best way to celebrate?
MARK CAPON: We’ve booked shows essentially from when we opened—in-store shows and club shows around town, etc. When we were getting to the five-year mark, we were just like, "Y’know, let’s step it up and try to throw a miniature festival," because Matt and I really are into that challenge. It was great, but it was also very exhausting. We said, "We’ll probably do it again in 10 years.” Here we are.

How did the lineup come together?
We started making a list of bands and artists that we would love to have probably over a year ago. A lot of those are bands that we’re friends with, or are familiar with, or that we’ve done shows for or worked with before. People like Steve Gunn, William Tyler, Reigning Sound, Angel Olsen: These were all people on the lineup that we’re tight with. And then, of course, we also had plenty of dream artists, people like The Clean or Mudhoney. We hit up all these people at some point. You just see what sticks.

A lot of people are unavailable. A lot of people need too much money. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it was pretty fun, because we curated it to our liking. So we’re really excited about everyone that’s playing. We don’t book anyone that’s like, "Oh, maybe we’ll sell tickets.” I mean, we are worried about selling tickets, but I’d rather book a festival. If we’re going to celebrate 10 years of Harvest Records, then we should book bands that we really care about that are close to our hearts.

It seems like you curated it to be a festival for people who are already really interested in music.
We were hoping that there’s enough people out there that are similar to us in what they’re looking for out of a festival. 

Name some of the difficulties in putting together this festival?
A lot of challenges have been logistical. We’re doing the one day in Marshall, which is an indoor-outdoor thing, so that’s certainly territory that we haven’t really covered before in our previous years of booking shows. We’ve never messed with outdoor stages and PAs and getting alcohol permits. That’s still our biggest challenge, trying to nail down the logistics. But we secretly love that sort of thing, too. We like the details and trying to keep it as organized as we can. With something like this, there’s always going to be the monkey wrench thrown in, a hurdle to jump over. There still might be. Maybe a band is going to cancel the day before. You just have to be prepared, mentally, to be like, "Well, this thing is going to be great, regardless. This thing is going on regardless."

Do you have any plans to expand your operations with Harvest?
We don’t have any plans on expanding our enterprise any time soon, because we’re at a good place right now as far as the size of the shop, first of all. There’s always ways that we can tweak how we operate, whether that’s putting more stuff online, building new racks and having more stuff, opening up our basement and having basement sales more often. Right now, it’s hard to imagine that we’re going to try to expand anything any time soon. I can’t even really think beyond the festival right now.

Harvest is a cultural hub in Asheville. Was that something you expected?
I wouldn’t say we expected it, but I would definitely say that was a goal. When we opened, we had this goal: "OK, we’re going to have art on the walls, band posters. We’re going to do shows, do this and that and these sorts of special events." We want this to be more than just a retail record store. Certainly, looking back 10 years later, if some people would consider us a centerpiece, that’s really flattering, because that’s what we were trying to do.

If we were in a different town, maybe it wouldn’t have worked out. But I feel like Asheville, from day one, has been a very supportive place to be, both from the customer base and the community. It’s a town that embraces that as much as anywhere I’ve ever been. We all try to help each other out when we can. I know that every city has that sort of scene, but I feel like so often, it’s fragmented or underwhelming. But in Asheville, it’s very palpable, and from day one we felt that. 


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