5 minutes with Sara Harrington

Sara Harrington is an illustrator and casual musician based in Norwich. She played trumpet in Faintest Idea for four years, and also played in a bunch of pop punk and folk bands such as Block Fort and Let’s Go Nowhere. Right now, she’s best know for her funky portraits, making artwork for bands and labels, and making her own nerd-infused merchandise to flog at Comic Cons and Print Fairs. We got to know her better.

How did you first get involved with the punk rock community?

Corr, a while back! I started playing gigs when I was 15 in the Medway Towns with my solo project, Damsel (RIP). We had a really great record shop in Chatham called Sounds Perfect and I basically used to go in each Saturday, pocket money in hand, to see what I could get, and I found out about gigs from there. I pestered every sound person and promoter I could find until they let me play. 

It was through doing that that I met loads of people like Mike and Paul Smith at Be Sharp – back then they were doing gigs in Gravesend and I was basically at every gig I could get my hungry teenage hands on! Eventually I moved to Norwich for uni and found the ragtag bunch of misfits that made the local scene there and instead of focusing on my Illustration degree I joined a load of bands and fucked off on tour!

What’s your favourite album of all time (and what do you love most about it)?

I musically crush on a lot of albums, and regard myself as a fickle lover. Like most people it’s hard to commit to just one, however I will say Panic Prevention by Jamie T is one of my favourite albums of all time. 

I love that album most because of how it opened my mind to how punk doesn’t have to follow a certain look or sound – typically Jamie T isn’t regarded as punk and, at the time I discovered the album as a teenager, I was mostly listening to pretty standard cut and paste punk and rejecting all music that didn’t have a double feature in Kerrang! I love how he fucked with genre, using it almost like a painters palette. He pulled so much influence from the sounds and culture of working class youth and subculture and made something new. In particular his vocal delivery is something that was a huge influence on me – its got an arrogance and poetry to it that I think is just punk as fuck and still excites me. The songs still resonate with me today, I find that they ignite a strong sense of place, like I’m still in my shit Dockside town bunking trains to get to gigs.

Who’s your favourite new band right now?

I’m a right old dinosaur when it comes to discovering new music – I am always the last on the uptake! Right now I’m really enjoying listening to SLØTFACE – they’re a Norwegian band that have been kicking around for a bit, I’ve been listening to their 2017 release Try Not To Freak Out

Though my fave new band are Problem Patterns from Belfast – their last release is just a glorious kick to the teeth of riot grrl revival. I’m hoping to catch them in Belfast next year as I’ve heard their live shows are incredible – for their EP launch they hosted a prom and that just sounds like it was a lot of fun!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received about music?

My grandad once told me to learn some Buddy Holly songs and other covers that people would like in pubs because that’s how I’d make money from music. Needless to say I have since ignored that good advice and continue to make no money at all.

Musically, what’s been your proudest moment?

My biggest musical brag was when I got to tour Japan with Faintest Idea. When you tour as much as we did, you almost get used to the notion of playing somewhere far from home to a room full of well meaning strangers in some tiny Belgian town. But Japan was another level – we were 6000 miles from home and sure that no one would know or care about our music, but we were really looked after by Yousuke and Waiki at RNR Tours who know how to book incredible gigs. Everyone who saw us was enthusiastic and passionate about live music in a way that I hadn’t experienced for a long time – the second night we played Tokyo the people who had come to the first gig had learnt the synchronised dance moves that we used to do in the brass section. No one ever learnt those moves! That was pretty damn special.

Who do you most admire in the scene at the moment?

I have a lot of admiration for the people who are slogging away at running a DIY record label, or making a band or fanzine or podcast happen whilst still clocking in with their shitty jobs. It’s fucking hard out there to keep up momentum whilst also trying to hold down a day job. Holly from Hell Hath No Fury is always killing it, I love what they are trying to build in terms of their ethos to bands with womxn, trans and non-binary members. They are a real force to the scene, I like that they put their money where their mouth is from supporting campaigns such as Solidarity Not Silence to also building a database of bands to give to promoters that say ‘there are no women in bands’.

What have you got coming up that you’d like people to hear about?

I just quit my job, like yesterday, to pursue illustration full time. At the moment I’m building up my print and merch shop and I’m real excited about my provocatively Remain ‘All I want For Christmas is EU’ cards. It’s my dear wish this festive season that you poke the familial bears and make your racist great uncles hang a leftie card on their mantelpiece. Buy one in my shop and help me out-run my looming dread of working for the retail man again.

Also, I’m writing music for my new band Petty Treason, you can find us nowhere yet, but everywhere soon when I start spamming everyone in my life with the songs I wrote about learning to surf and teenage crushes. Follow me on my Instagram if you like brash artwork and the occasional post about my aggy rescue dog Solo.

Check out Sara’s work on a variety of platforms:

Website – https://saraharrington.co.uk

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sarajharry/

Shop – https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/SaraJHIllustration