Harmful If Swallowed: Fusion’s Finest

There’s been rock ‘n’ roll, pop music, rap, rhythm and blues, classical and every genre in between. From the beginning, music has been classified as this or that in hopes of finding the perfect audience for each genre to make sales. However, now we’re hearing something different. Fusion is a huge part of music and we rarely ever have just rock or just rap. This is where Harmful If Swallowed. comes to bat. They’re a pop/rock band from Los Angeles, Calif. with a lot of punk rock influences to bring a bit of fusion to popular music.

Harmful If Swallowed started out in the 2000s – a time that will forever be remembered as the glory days of pop/rock and pop/punk music. Bands like Green Day and Weezer helped pave the way for other artists like Harmful If Swallowed before the pop/rock explosion of the 2000s. It just so happens that these are the same bands that Harmful If Swallowed has actually toured with, too..

“It has humbled us and made us appreciative of every opportunity we get to play in front of people. It has also given us a crash course in getting along with each other and taught us to always be prepared for the unexpected…Valuable lessons for any band,” the band explained to music website Lost in the Sound about touring with big names like Bad Religion, Weezer, Green Day and KoRn.

The band is comprised of four members – Greg Martin on guitar and vocals, Josh Loren on percussion, Carlos Nieto III on bass and backing vocals and Brian Martinez on rhythm guitar. However, this wasn’t always the band. It started out with brothers Martin and Loren who placed an ad in LA Weekly to find some musicians to help fill out the band. That’s where they found Nieto – someone whose chemistry with the band was undeniable.

However, the guys couldn’t just rely on chemistry to make a band. Something that Harmful If Swallowed as a whole stresses is the importance of hard work and being unique. This starts with the band’s name.

“The cool thing about the name is that is can be viewed in different ways. Anyone can take away whatever they want from it since it can be political, sexual, punk-rock, several different ways. You can play around with the imagery a lot,” Nieto said with Campus Circle, a paper and website that started out at the University of Southern California.

The fusion of genres can be the best and worst traits of any song. If there’s too much, a song is unreachable and extends to no audience instead of a broader audience. If there’s too little, it’s not really fusion anymore. The key to this comes in the influences. Extending your influences beyond just one genre – even the one that matches your own work – is something that Harmful If Swallowed manages well. Though their sound is definitely in the pop/rock range, their influences go beyond that.

“Bad Religion, Face to Face, and Fugazi are big influences due to their unique song structure and melodies. We also like to sample rap songs from the 90’s, which sample songs from the 70′s,” the band said to music and news website Kick Acts.

Of course, music is about music. At the end of the day, you can’t rely on the gimmicks, your band name or the bands you’ve toured with to keep afloat. It all comes down to hard work and practice.

“Like anything else, you have to put the work into it in order to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That being said, the music scene out here in LA seems to thrive when it happens organically and for the love of the music and not for the money,” the band explained to Lost in the Sound.

So, according to Harmful If Swallowed, it should be organic – love what you do and do it well. It takes work – no gimmicks or tricks.

-Geneva Toddy