A Beautiful Space: Mick Harris Of Scorn Interviewed

Our man from San Francisco Ned Raggett talks to the former Napalm Death Drummer and driving force behind Scorn about battling on against the odds and finally finding some peace and satisfaction. All portraits courtesy of Helen Harris

It’s one thing to be up early for an online discussion with Mick Harris, the man behind Scorn and any number of further exploratory music projects, and finding oneself still having to eat some breakfast and still feel a hair asleep as one goes. It’s another for the chatty and reflective Harris, situated in his music studio room at home, to commiserate and then outline a memory that’s something else indeed.

"I’ve battled insomnia since… 1995," says Harris with a quick pause. "I’ve only just sort of come to terms with it because it’s one of them things, there’s no point in battling because you will never get the better of it. I can only go so many days without sleep. A record of ten days, I do remember. It was sort of, ‘I think I want to go home tomorrow because I don’t feel normal here.’"

Drawing a connection between that feeling and the impact of Scorn and Harris’s work in general is logical enough, because ever since his days in Napalm Death, Harris has embraced the exploration of what is out there on an edge and beyond, normality left long behind. Scorn remains the main creative persona he’s known for almost thirty years after its start, thanks to the release of another excellent album, The Only Place, on Ohm Resistance.

The Only Place demonstrates anew that there is such a thing as a signature Scorn sound – primarily instrumental, driven by dub’s celebration of bass, beats and space, at once weirdly comforting and with a strange, forbidding edge. Yet at the same time, it’s the variations each time which makes the changes in Scorn as compelling as that central throughline, a chance to hear something unusual anew. Lead single ‘Distortion’ features one of Scorn’s occasional guest vocals courtesy of famed MC Kool Keith, adding an extra level of compelling sound, while otherwise it’s Harris again seeing what can be found in the mix on such striking compositions as ‘Ends’, ‘Something That Was’ and the baldly titled ‘Thanks For Getting Back’.

There’s a sense of a relative catchiness on The Only Place as well, a feeling that seems, at points, almost hummable. "A lot of people have mentioned the melody," Harris offers in response to this thought. "They said, ‘Mick, was this intentional?’ And I’ve said, ‘Well, yes and no.’ There always has been a little melody there. It could be a piece of percussion and it could be several basses – as I call it, "talking bass" – that’s made the melody. It’s not really a melody, but for me it was.

"I think I just had a little bit more time to think about that space, if that makes sense, just feeling a lot more comfortable with my approach to dub mixing. It’s something I’ve always experimented with and something I’ve always liked to have a little play with. Because dub experimentation, there’s no book for it. It is a matter of getting in there – I’ve always said it – it’s just hands-on.

"I can’t say yes, I massively thought about it, but I did take a little step back and say, ‘Well, come on. What are we going to do with this, Mick? It’s minimal; let’s try and work that space a little bit more. Let’s try and suck in a little bit more.’ The challenge is always there when creating, but with the nasty year that it’s been, a year and a half now, really, I finally had some space. It wasn’t the right time, was it, to get that space, but it sort of was. My head was in a real good place, and having that time, precious time, which I haven’t had for so long, I just dived in and I enjoyed it."

Harris saying this makes all the more sense given the long and sometimes tangled path of Scorn over its three decades, a period ranging from initial collaboration to solo work to a series of personal and label changes that at times caused Harris to step back from music entirely, as other needs or concerns arose instead. The full story of Harris’ own place in UK experimental musical realms still has yet to be fully told – not merely from his earliest efforts in Napalm Death, but his many other musical projects in turn, such as the cold ambience of Lull, the even more extreme rhythmic sounds of Quoit, other continuing work under the names of Fret and Monrella and more besides.

But over the course of an hour and beyond, Harris considers the many stages of Scorn, touching on notable triumphs and periods of doubt and uncertainty in equal measure, ultimately once again finding the place where he can reengage with the combinations of sound that have so compelled him over the years. "I am in my room doing my things," he reflects at one point. "It’s just my world, my little space. I don’t like to waste the time that I get, because I do work a part-time job as well. I do have family. So I do question everything, but I managed to take a little step back. That probably happened with the new recording. I’m still questioning and I’m never going to get them answers, but not questioning as much, or they’re just small questions."

Scorn as a prospect and then a process certainly didn’t come out of nowhere, and Harris draws a direct line of connection between his preference as to how to create even now – "I like to just get in and really attack it. If nothing’s happening, I’m out of here." – and his own initial starting point as a drummer.

"My first drum kit was this four-piece jazz kit I remember buying off an ex–school friend," he remembers. "I left school in 84. He was a spoiled single child, never played it. I finally bought those drums off him. A copper lived two doors up the road. It was nothing but complaints from the day I moved the drums in. My dad said, ‘Well, you just have to do it in the rehearsal room.’ I didn’t get to practice. Self-taught, with that punk attitude."

Soon after he found himself part of Napalm Death, whose collective shadow cast over decades in terms of musical impact and approaches might only rival Slint when it comes to teenagers having a bash and seeing what happened. As Harris explains, that sense of just going in and having at it wasn’t merely crucial for Napalm Death, but absolutely necessary: "We didn’t have the luxury of hours and hours of recording budgets, we weren’t that sort of band. We wanted to go in, get it down first take. And that is that sound that Napalm got. It was raw. It’s the same thing for me, the way I approach it now. The only difference is, Napalm never used to do lots of outtakes. We’d do the track, next track, next track. I think the most drum tracks took was about four hours on From Enslavement To Obliteration. Twenty-eight drum tracks, and it was like, ‘Done, right? Let’s get the next guitar down. Let’s get the vocals down. And let’s mix it.’"

Napalm Death’s subcultural impact not merely on metal but beyond was rapidly felt both in the UK and further afield, leading to what Harris calls his "big wakeup" moment, when he joined New York-based creative workhorses Bill Laswell and John Zorn in what became Painkiller. While playing around with the imagery of extreme metal to a fault – thus the infamous name and censored cover photo of their debut effort, Guts Of A Virgin – Painkiller also was a place for all three musicians to stretch their approaches in different ways, something Harris credits heavily for what soon followed after.

"I had met Zorn a couple of times," Harris recalls. "John said, ‘Right. You’re finally here in New York, we’re going to do something.’ I mentioned Bill, and this all came together. So I go to this Greenpoint Studio. Just three hours he’s booked in. Bill’s just finished one session, I think it was a Pharoah Sanders session he was mixing. They start talking. I’m not nervous, but… I’ve never been like that on stage. I feel I’m very lucky and privileged to be up there doing that. I always have, and I always will. But… in the studio it was like, ‘Wow, I’ve never done this before. We’re going to make an improvised recording.’ I’m used to a sort of structure thing, which Napalm had. Okay, here we go. Then hearing this almighty drum sound and Bill just smoking and going, ‘It sounds good.’ And I’m like, ‘Fucking awesome.’"

Harris soon planned to move on from Napalm Death, having determined what it was he felt warranted exploring further. "I wanted to work with loops, samples, the drum machine," he outlines. "I wanted this bass, low end and driving, very Public Image, which we’re not going to deny was an influence and still have big respect for. Just that Jah Wobble dry, cyclic bass that he’s just so good at and beautiful with it at that." The solution lay in a partnership with another former Napalm Death member, Nic Bullen, who Harris praises for "being very clever, musically open with everything," with Bullen contributing bass, guitar and clipped, declamatory lyrics.

"Nic was just the perfect person to go on to work with after leaving Napalm," Harris remembers happily. "It was [fellow Napalm Death veteran] Justin [Broadrick] that set that up, just in a pub where they used to go, a local alternative indie pub. My wife Helen was living at Justin’s at that time, expecting our first son, Joshua. Justin said, ‘Mick, I’ve been speaking with Nic Bullen tonight. I mentioned that you’d left Napalm and you were looking to get some sort of new thing together, and Nic would be very keen.’ That was great to hear, because I hadn’t seen Nic since February 87, when he walked out after that Napalm Death rehearsal, never to be seen again!"

Scorn’s early efforts as a duo were released, much as nearly every post-Napalm Death project was, on Earache, beginning with 1991’s ‘Lick Forever Dog’ single and the following year’s Vae Solis album. It was 1993’s Colossus which proved to be the synthesizing moment for Scorn in that incarnation, where the various inspirations evidently at work early on, including Swans as much as Public Image, turned into a harrowing, powerful experience in its own right.

"I told [Bullen] I wanted a guitarist who’s got that Killing Joke/ Cocteaus, Chrome [tone]," Harris outlines. "Just someone who has got a tone that could work again. And it just made sense. The basic idea was there [on Vae Solis], but I think we got it with Colossus, Nic plays blinding guitar. I’d already made a decision by Colossus that I didn’t really want to play the drums that much anymore. For me, playing along with the drum machine and the loops just didn’t sound right. We kept a couple of tracks on Colossus with the live drums, and it worked, so I’m glad we kept a few, but we were starting to find our feet [without them] a bit more, the sound was a lot more bass heavy."

Harris also credits producer Jon Wakelin for his work and notes some of the specifics that Bullen brought also expanded the overall scope of what Scorn could accomplish, even as Bullen himself downplayed what his abilities were. "I think the psychedelia was creeping the right way, and that was Nic’s playing," Harris explains. "’White Irises Blind’, beautiful guitar he plays. And someone who said he just noodled a little bit? I don’t even know if he had a guitar. We probably made a load of presets and chained a load of stuff together and he just went in and tweaked a few. He did what he did, and we had fun in the studio."

That gelling partnership continued and reached a new creative level on 1994’s Evanescence, once again engineered by Wakelin. The peak of Scorn’s initial phase, Evanescence showed the duo’s increasing ease with pursuing the bloody-minded sound they were after matching with a new shaded subtlety adding further elements to the dark, brooding unease of their work. Even more notably, Scorn also started to reflect further technological opportunities, as Harris details: "We’d moved on with the software and the sampler. We were starting to use Cubase, and an Akai, as opposed to the SR drum machines, the Alesis drum machines, synced up with the EPS sampler. Two great boxes, but we just felt a bit more limited with those two. We just felt a lot more comfortable with chopping samples and working samples in. Nic was feeling a lot more comfortable, I think, with the type of bass he wanted, and words that fitted."

Harris further adds that much in the same way that Bill Laswell and John Zorn had provided further inspiration, the participation of another American experimentalist, James Plotkin, added yet more to the mix. "Plotkin was a good friend of mine," says Harris, "and I introduced him to Nic. I mentioned to Nic, how about getting Jimmy on board? Killer guitarist, wanting to be back there with the loops, the guitar synth, the E-bow. Yes-influenced, as we all are, but he’s got his own thing. It just fits so well." Initial recording began in Birmingham but after Harris expressed dissatisfaction with the results they switched to Square Dance Studio in Nottingham, working quickly on what proved from the start, the majestic opening track ‘Silver Rain Fell’, to be a true highlight of mesmerizing, glowering late 20th century music.

Reflecting on the results, which would be the end of Bullen’s time with Scorn, Harris praises the other’s efforts warmly while touching lightly on the breaking point that occurred: "Lovely voice. I can’t speak about lyrics, et cetera, because that is Nic’s department, the same for art. But what I can say is, it’s a shame we never got to make a record after. We’d already totally made the decision that we were stripping it down more so it was really heavy. We’d finally got our own studio space, we were having it built. We did the tour in 95, there was a situation, and it was shit. I had to make a decision: ‘Do I walk away from Scorn or do I continue solo?’ I had to walk away from Napalm before; I’m not walking away again. I’m glad I made that decision.

"So we never got to make that record together, which doesn’t haunt me but it still bothers me, because I really enjoyed working with Nic. What a clever chap he is. Musically, sonically. He’s got a lot of good ideas, Nic has."

The next Scorn release was both a slight stopgap – 1995’s Ellipsis, a striking collection of remixes from such notable figures as Autechre, Coil, Scanner and Harris’s Painkiller partner Laswell – and a new start, being the initial release on the Scorn label. From here Harris released two more Scorn albums over the next two years, Gyral later in 1995 and Logghi Barogghi in 1996. Thinking back on Gyral in particular as his first full solo effort under any guise, Harris finds it a mixed bag as a listen but an inspiring start on a new path overall. "It was a good experience," he asserts. "I knew what I wanted to do. It’s not a perfect recording, but it started, I think for me, that extreme bass. Because it’s full of bass, one thing that is right. There’s some nice melodies actually on Gyral. The beats aren’t right on there, not the production. But it started something, that really stripped-down beat, that really subsonic bass, that little melody in there. I’m starting to find my feet as an early engineer, I guess. Sadly, I didn’t have it to share with Nic. All the equipment was brought for Scorn. But it was a good start, and I’ve still been on that path since."

After Logghi Barogghi, Harris brought Scorn to another label entirely, the Belgian KK Records, where two efforts surfaced in 1997, Zander and then later the combined live recording and bonus beats of Whine. While the releases continued the general Scorn sound, Harris himself doesn’t look back too fondly on that time, noting in particular that the seemingly disconnected ‘Beat’ section on Whine was meant to be something else entirely: "It’s a shame that things didn’t continue there. So Whine, if you have vinyl, there’s the four tracks that should have had Umar [Bin Hassan] from the Last Poets, which Bill Laswell had sorted out. That was a real mess, the way KK treated me and Bill, really badly. I think it took about a year or so before the confidence was there again for me to approach a label."

Things took a different and quite striking turn all around with 2000’s Greetings From Birmingham, the first of two records (along with 2002’s Plan B) released on Hymen, a sub-label on the German imprint Ant-Zen, whose founder Stefan Alt Harris readily praises. When it’s suggested that those albums and associated EPs are particularly interesting in their seemingly starker impact within the overall Scorn palette but still almost require a mood to get into, Harris doesn’t hesitate. "I totally agree with you. I think I set myself a little challenge. It’s still stripped back but there’s a lot more shifting happening with the beats and the bass. It was an interesting exercise and something I continued with and definitely still do to this day, using several basses to work with if you need really dirty distortion and maybe a fuzzy overdrive. I think those later jungle and certainly drum & bass influences were coming in with my bass sounds.

"That was definitely within hardware I’d shifted to. I’d moved from Ensoniq to E-mu samplers, simply because you’ve got killer filters on there, some magical sounds which can be used in a real cool way, and for talking bass and bass sounds it was just marvellous. I’d say it was very jerky. Yeah, the tempo was the same, but you are right, you’ve got to be in the right mood for it. It was as if there were five or six different tracks within one. And yet, it was purposeful. remember going out live and doing a different approach live. I had gotten an Akai MPC, so that was good. That was a fun machine to work with."

A relatively more obscure one-off followed in 2004, List Of Takers (Versions And More), released on the Polish label Vivo. As Harris explains it, the release grew out of a new key friendship with another label head entirely, Stormfield aka Derek Szeto of London’s Combat Recordings, at a time when Harris himself hadn’t worked on music in a little bit, not to mention working through a sensitive time involving his mental health. "[Derek] worked in mental health and he understood my frustrations, my anxiety issues," remembers Harris fondly. "He was always trying to push me a little bit, but always saying, ‘When you feel right. When you feel right.’ So his approach was good." When Szeto suggested creating something for a live radio set, Harris, who’d been given an offer for a show in France around that same time, the opportunity to experiment some more presented itself.

"I had to think about it," Harris recalls, "and I thought, ‘Well, I’ve got all those tracks that I’ve put together from the MPC into the laptop using Ableton, a new way of working with the eight-output sound cards or still have my eight outputs into the mixer. Maybe I can do a live jam.’ I just ran the session as I did, start to finish, and I sent it to Derek. He said, ‘Oh Mick, it’s killer. Can we broadcast it?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’m happy with it. It was a good jam, actually!’ A year later, I was approached by [Vivo] and they asked if they could release it. There’s the original release, which is a nice soft copy, and I think there was a hard jewel case for I think another 200. So I believe it’s 500, 300 for the first press. It’s a much nicer sleeve!"

Harris goes on to praise Szeto for his continuing friendship and work with him, creating Scorn’s live visuals to this day as well as some art via Harris’ Bandcamp page, releasing some Scorn EPs and collaborations on Combat, and generally credited by Harris with helping him moving through the mid-2000s and beyond to a better creative place. "I think my interest started to come back," Harris considers. "He understood certain things. Didn’t question, didn’t judge. I always felt that it was a quality and still is a major quality of Derek’s. So that’s why we are really good friends. He’s someone that I enjoy going out with live because if I do suffer an anxiety attack, he knows how to deal with it. He’s more than a friend and a pillar, he’s just someone cool to be around and talks a lot of sense, can calm me down if things aren’t good."

Bolstered by this new confidence, Harris released a new Scorn album, Stealth, in 2007, in Europe a co-release between the French Jarring Effects label and the German Ad Noiseam imprint, but in the US, very importantly, Scorn’s first formal release on the Ohm Resistance label, where Scorn has released most of its subsequent albums and singles. "That was not my first time working with [Ohm Resistance founder] Kurt [Gluck], but my first time doing a full-length Scorn record for him," Harris observes. "Because prior to that, I’d done a few drum & bass records under the Quoit guise, and me and Kurt had worked together in 99 [on the split single ‘Everything You Do Is Wrong’/’Page Fault’], which was the first Ohm Resistance EP that started the whole thing."

Continuing Scorn’s distinct path while possibly unconsciously reflecting further changes in dance music development, particularly the original murkier approaches of dubstep, Stealth is an intriguing listen still, and Harris rates it as very important as sparking a new creative fire. Harris, as he does at many points throughout the conversation, takes the time to especially credit his wife Helen, both as someone who provides her own thoughtful perspectives in general as well as having to deal with the sometimes extreme practicalities of his work. "I like the production [on Stealth]," he says with a slightly rueful smile, "considering we were in a tiny bedroom and Helen was downstairs suffering. She said she’d wait for little gaps because the fridge would just be constantly shaking and she’d just look at it and go, ‘Oh, how much longer, how much longer?’ Bless her. Patience of a saint, that woman."

Still, while he thanks the process of creating Stealth as especially important longterm, he remains divided on the overall results. "I got back on my feet with Stealth," he concludes. "It’s not perfect. I like a third of Stealth. But it was a good journey, I felt, giving me that little kick up the backside and just taking it on board again, bringing old influences in. I’d say the one thing that wasn’t there, which was definitely, ‘Yes, this I don’t want,’ there was no hip hop feel – if you want to call it loosely, but there wasn’t that swing, even though I’d always liked swing within my beats and percussion. I like movement, that groove in there. So yeah, it was a very mechanical drum machine, patterns happening and stuff. I liked some of those, it taught me something and I’m glad."

This period led into a wider variety of live performances, singles and a further album for Ohm Resistance, 2010’s Refuse; Start Fires, but in retrospect Harris also felt that around this time he was entering into another rough patch, culminating in Scorn’s November 2011 appearance at the Supersonic Birmingham Festival, which he intentionally planned as a farewell from music. "I’d already made a decision," he remembers, speaking contemplatively. "About nine months earlier, I was starting to have a little bit of a dip. I had a chance to start a job as a trainee, and I felt, ‘Things just aren’t happening, musically. I can’t push myself. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to get in touch with people and ask. I feel like I’m pestering.’

"So I had to make this decision. I’m glad I did it. It gave me a lot of skills, it helped me with anxieties overcome and I worked with a good team. Sadly it was only a six-month training trial period. I was told if anything did come up they’d let me know. And something six months later did come up, and I hadn’t been doing anything musically. I think I’d covered all my equipment up. This option came and I thought, ‘Do you know what? Go for it, Mick. Just go for it. This is your first time, your first job ever since Napalm.’ It was just that, getting into the workforce, and I think I enjoyed it up until about 2015."

Harris doesn’t dwell on the details about what happened then, saying only that "another big life turd fell on me, it made me really angry and negative, so I think I battled that for a couple of years because of a situation that happened at work." But his continuing friendship with Szeto proved to be the key for him to re-explore music step by step, though not initially with Scorn – instead, it was under the guise of one of his lesser known 1990s projects, Fret.

"Derek came round one day, I invited him, just to chill out. He knew I’d already set all my equipment up into this room I’m in now," Harris says while noting his surroundings, "it’s my son’s old room. I’d got this new machine set up, and a few bits and pieces. And you know, he just said, ‘Have you been doing any music, Mick? I’d like to hear it.’ I said, ‘I’ve been having a little play.’ ‘Oh, any chance I could have a listen?’ He pushed me, but I said, ‘I don’t mind, Derek.’ I remember him getting his phone out and he said, ‘Do you mind?’ I said, ‘Honestly, whatever, I’m just going to put it together and do what I always do on the mixing board. And if you want to record, that’s up to you, mate. Doesn’t bother me, I don’t feel uncomfortable.’ We had a little jam for about ten minutes, and typical me, I said, ‘That’ll do it. We’re finished.’

"I think we just left it for an hour, maybe we’d had a couple more drinks, I think he just had one beer. I think he just said something like, ‘Oh, yeah, some good ideas.’ ‘Yeah, yeah.’ ‘You going to finish it, are you?’ ‘Yeah, maybe. Keep it to yourself. I don’t know what I can do. I know I said Scorn had come to a stop. I’ve got no space for that, Derek, at the moment.’ But I said, ‘I want to bring Fret back.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Oh man, that’d be really classy.’"

Some time later in 2017, John Zorn had reached out to Harris to let him know about the German label Karlrecords planning a vinyl reissue of the Painkiller album Execution Ground, which resulted in Harris being in contact with that label’s head, Thomas Herbst. Harris had to disappoint Herbst by saying no Scorn material was available, but some time later he contacted Herbst again to see if there was any interest in Fret. "He just said, ‘I’d love to do that, Mick,’" Harris remembers with affection. "He just trusted me to make a record, deliver it. Thomas was a joy to work with, absolute joy. He’s a lovely guy, lots of space for music and sound. He was honest. We’re still good friends, and I think I just got into that Fret thing at the time."

The resulting Fret album, Over Depth, led to other Fret releases, including on L.I.E.S. Records, run by Ron Morelli. A live appearance during November 2018 in Berlin at Tresor that Morelli helped arrange led to a first time face to face meeting with Ohm Resistance’s Gluck and the full rebirth of Scorn. "I went out for a meal with Kurt the following day for breakfast," recalls Harris. "He asked if I had any more feeling, ideas, space to want to pick Scorn up again. I said I’m enjoying what I’m doing with Fret, this rhythmical, percussive funk, it’s still got this space to it. But there’s not enough space in it, and it was a challenge for me.

"And I thought, ‘You know what? I really need to bring Scorn back. I need to work on something slow and dubbed again.’ I said Scorn had come to – what did I call it? The steamroller has come to an end, it needs to stop. And I questioned myself. ‘Well Mick, you said it had ended and it’s reforming and I don’t like that reforming thing.’ I thought, ‘Well, you just put it to sleep a bit, Mick, you just parked the steamroller because you were out of energy, you’ve got no head space, the job, and I feel it. I need that space. I need what I get from Scorn that I don’t get from Fret. That tempo, that really getting lost in that atmosphere.’ And it was, again, simple working with Kurt and no questions."

From there, Harris has brought back Scorn with a series of releases on Ohm Resistance. The first full album was 2019’s Cafe Mor, a strong return to what can only be described as ‘that’ Scorn sound, a mixture of that space Harris described, beats and bass steadily plunging through the earth and a sense of compelling fascination, almost entrancing, in its atmosphere. It also features striking black and white cover photography courtesy of Harris’s wife Helen, a new level of collaboration. The Only Place continues the full length run, while EPs such as Feather and Distortion, the latter featuring remixes of the previously mentioned Kool Keith collaboration, further showcase Harris’s explorations in the aesthetic approach he remains most closely identified with.

"Just feeling comfortable again with that environment that Scorn brings me, that mood," reflects Harris, thinking on Cafe Mor in particular. "I did a lot of gigs after, a hell of a lot of gigs. The idea was really stripped down, and that melody is still there, but I just think I really made that space, that Scorn space that maybe I’ve always been wanting to try going back to the beginning days, creating, just not quite getting there and I’m still not there. And I’ve said this, I’m still not there, but it’s quite close. I’m quite, quite happy."

Harris concludes our conversation reflecting on many good things he’s appreciative of in his current creative and personal lives, again crediting Helen for her perspectives and the love of his family, noting the understanding of Gluck at Ohm Resistance that it’s always a case of him "still not there" in terms of artistic satisfaction, but that Gluck knows this and supports it, and appreciating what he says has been the best recording setup to work in in a long time. But above all else, with a real sense of happy anticipation, Harris says that after what’s been steadily working on music to get through the pandemic, he can look forward to what, in fact, is "the only place", as well as one of his first and longest-standing loves and interests: fishing.

"A few people have asked, ‘What is it, Mick?’" explains Harris with the hint of a twinkle in his eye about the new album title. "I’ll give you a simple, honest answer. It’s the only place where seven full days, seven days out of the year, where I relax. I sleep. I feel fresh. I get to recharge. No anxiety, and if there is it’s small. Questions are still there, but they go a little bit sidewards. That’s because I’m relaxed there. It is the only place that relaxes me, and that’s where me and the wife go every year, the same place. Something happens up there.

"Back as a kid, I enjoyed cooking. So that’s why I became a chef when I left school. But fishing, it’s just a different discipline. It’s a different dynamic. I’m very hyper, very manic. I have lots of ups and downs and the questioning. People think, ‘Mick Harris fishing? Can you imagine?’ I’m brought right down, and it’s just that special place. I like rivers because they change and we all need that change. They change with the seasons and there are changes every year. Just as you think you’ve learned something about a river, it keeps you on your feet.

"You know, the rivers reopen next week, 16 June. We have a closed season here from midnight, 14 March, until midnight of, well you can call it 15 June going into 16 June. So one second past midnight, going into 16 June, you can put a baited hook into the river and I’m so looking forward to it.

"I have a new fishing partner, which has taken a bit of time to sort out and I’m quite looking forward to that, to be honest. He’s a good old friend, an old punk rocker as well. I like fishing with someone. You just don’t know what’s going on out there these days, and safety is paramount and the rivers, you got to be careful. It’s nice having someone to fish with, to be out there with. For me, it’s just that special place, just to be out there. It’s a beautiful place. It’s just a special place for me to go, it really is."

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