Never Come Down
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Never Come Down

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"Hargo Won a Was"

“We just won a huge battle of the bands called ‘Gimme the Gig,’” says soulful world-rocker Hargo, whose self-named band scored a music video and recording session with celeb producer Don Was as part of a TV pilot taping.

Sponsored by the Ford car company, Gimme the Gig initially taped entrants performing (Hargo’s set was in Del Mar) and solicited online votes to narrow down a dozen contestants, who then competed in front of Was. “We were allowed to play two songs, ‘Forget Everything’ and ‘Regeneration X.’” After being asked to repeat the latter tune (from their full-length Out of Mankind), “Don Was came up to us and said, ‘Man, that was beautiful, the beginning almost has a Krishna Das kind of gospel chant, and then it really rocks!’”

After the 12 bands competed, “We all lined up in front of a Ford Focus, which had been outfitted with a recording console by Mad Mike from Pimp My Ride, and Don announced, ‘I’d like Hargo to stick around for the next day to record and shoot the video.’ It took a second to sink in. We were thinking, Wait, he wants us to come back tomorrow? So, that means we just won?”

Their song “Regeneration X” and the accompanying video were taped on the same day last month, with the audio portion recorded by Was from the Focus dashboard. “The console that was built into the car was really cool, and they outfitted it with a couple of Distressor compressors and some mic preamps, all analog, to give it that real vibe. I have to say I was kind of skeptical at first, but it actually worked very well. We tracked the song live with the rhythm section, overdubbed some guitars and vocals, and now it’s being mixed [by Grammy-winning engineer Krish Sharma].” The TV-show tapings are airing this month on KTLA, with plans to market them as a network or cable pilot.

Hargo estimates, “To shoot a video like the one we did for Gimme the Gig would have cost $100,000, and we own a hundred percent of both audio and video. Ford is working with iTunes and some other outlets to really push the track we recorded, and we get all the royalties.

“They’re acting almost like a label back in the day, but without stealing your publishing.” - San Diego Reader


"Happenstance Leads Hargo to Phil Spector"

He didn't know it at the time, but when 22-year-old songwriter Hargo sent his music to fellow admirer of John Lennon's catalog, it set off a string of events that earned him production contributions from none other than Phil Spector.

It all started with a conversation with Mark Elsis, the director of Lennon documentary "Strawberry Fields: Keeping the Spirit of John Lennon Alive" and founder of John-Lennon.com. Hargo, whose given name is Hargobind Hari, had sent Elsis a demo version of his song "Crying for John Lennon"; the filmmaker decided to add the track to the ending credits of his film. In the midst of production, the director got a letter from Spector's estate expressing interest in contributing an interview to the film.

The crew was invited to the reclusive producer's California castle in February for a six-hour interview -- and Hargo was invited along. "At the end of filming, Mark says to Phil, 'Hey, you should hear this beautiful song that's at the end, I think you'd enjoy it,'" Hargo tells Billboard.com. "We listen to start to finish in his [billiard] room and Phil says, 'That's a wonderful song' and 'That's something John would've written.' I hardly knew how to respond to that. It was so awesome."

Hargo asked if the famed Beatles collaborator would produce a final version of the song for the movie and, a few weeks later, Spector agreed. It would be Spector's first production credit since engineering Starsailor's 2004 effort "Silence Is Easy" -- and his last before going to trial for murdering actress Lana Clarkson.

Hargo entered the studio with Spector (and producer Graham Ward) in March for "Crying for John Lennon"; he described Spector as "clearly focused," though he was "very shaken up about" the impending trial. However, Hargo was "beyond pleased" with what came out of the recording sessions. "After I heard the final version ... it was just surreal, like hearing my own song for the first time. It sounded unbelievable. The Wall of Sound [technique] was unmistakeable."

Listeners will have to wait for the movie's release to hear Spector's handiwork, as the song will not be available as a commercial single. The film was originally scheduled for an August release, though no new release date has been announced as the makers shop it to various film festivals. Curious fans can check out the demo version of the track via Hargo's Web site. The young artist is currently working on tracks for his third album. - Billboard


"Happenstance Leads Hargo to Phil Spector"

He didn't know it at the time, but when 22-year-old songwriter Hargo sent his music to fellow admirer of John Lennon's catalog, it set off a string of events that earned him production contributions from none other than Phil Spector.

It all started with a conversation with Mark Elsis, the director of Lennon documentary "Strawberry Fields: Keeping the Spirit of John Lennon Alive" and founder of John-Lennon.com. Hargo, whose given name is Hargobind Hari, had sent Elsis a demo version of his song "Crying for John Lennon"; the filmmaker decided to add the track to the ending credits of his film. In the midst of production, the director got a letter from Spector's estate expressing interest in contributing an interview to the film.

The crew was invited to the reclusive producer's California castle in February for a six-hour interview -- and Hargo was invited along. "At the end of filming, Mark says to Phil, 'Hey, you should hear this beautiful song that's at the end, I think you'd enjoy it,'" Hargo tells Billboard.com. "We listen to start to finish in his [billiard] room and Phil says, 'That's a wonderful song' and 'That's something John would've written.' I hardly knew how to respond to that. It was so awesome."

Hargo asked if the famed Beatles collaborator would produce a final version of the song for the movie and, a few weeks later, Spector agreed. It would be Spector's first production credit since engineering Starsailor's 2004 effort "Silence Is Easy" -- and his last before going to trial for murdering actress Lana Clarkson.

Hargo entered the studio with Spector (and producer Graham Ward) in March for "Crying for John Lennon"; he described Spector as "clearly focused," though he was "very shaken up about" the impending trial. However, Hargo was "beyond pleased" with what came out of the recording sessions. "After I heard the final version ... it was just surreal, like hearing my own song for the first time. It sounded unbelievable. The Wall of Sound [technique] was unmistakeable."

Listeners will have to wait for the movie's release to hear Spector's handiwork, as the song will not be available as a commercial single. The film was originally scheduled for an August release, though no new release date has been announced as the makers shop it to various film festivals. Curious fans can check out the demo version of the track via Hargo's Web site. The young artist is currently working on tracks for his third album. - Billboard


"Hargo Seeks to Offer Musical Inspiration"

There’s a good reason that even the most seasoned pop-music fans have difficulty naming any American Sikh rock artists.

“That’s because there aren’t any!” said Oregon-born singer-songwriter Hargobind Hari Singh Khalsa, the leader and namesake of Hargo, one of San Diego’s most promising bands. (Apart from the obscure group Roving Sikhs, whose lyrics are sung in Hindi and Punjabi, Sikh rockers are almost unheard of, even in India.)

"Typically," Hargo explained, "the majority of Sikhs are of Indian descent from Punjab, which is where I went to school for a year when I was 16. The kind of music they would play or listen to is traditional Indian classical music, or Bhangra, or hip-hop. The white American Sikh kids, I don't think a lot of them are comfortable in that environment. When I was in school I needed an outlet, and hearing albums by (rapper) Tupac and (shock-rocker) Marilyn Manson had an impact on me."

Hargo, who was born and raised a Sikh, performs Saturday at the Belly Up with his three-man band (which, for the record, sounds nothing like either Tupac or Marilyn Manson). Sikhism is an Indian religion that promotes equality between men, women and all religions, eschews intoxicants and espouses honest, truthful living.

“A lot of times, people see me onstage and they are confused,” said Hargo, 27, whose long beard and turban make him stand out in any rock-music venue.

“They think: ‘Who is this weird character in front of me?’ When they find out I’m not (Hasidic reggae singer) Matisyahu, or a Hare Krishna, they are surprised.”

The real surprise, though, at least for anyone who hasn’t yet heard the still mostly under-the-radar Hargo, is the uniformly high quality of music he and his band deliver on their 12-song album, “Out of Mankind,” which came out in February. It was preceded by a 2010 EP, "The Faint Glow," and a 2007 album, "In Your Eyes."

The thoughtful songs Hargo expertly performs on "Out of Mankind," are clean, crisp and melodically rich. While the group's influences are alternately apparent and subtle — from Radiohead and Prince to The Beatles and Sly & The Famly Stone — they are able to build on their inspirations with freshness and vitality. The band is also adept at mixing and matching influences from different eras, be it Talking Heads or Beck.

"That was an inadvertent influence. I love Talking Heads," Hargo said, "but I never set out as a songwriter to do anything like that."

Hargo bassist John Jolley, 24, nodded in agreement.

"We all have our own influences," he said. "Some of us may love Talking Heads, but not listen to them. Radiohead is a bigger influence on us and they took their name from Talking Heads. It's all connected at end of day, if you want to play great music." - San Diego Union Tribune


"Hargo Khalsa Discusses Hargo's New Album, 'Out of Mankind,' and Working with Phil Spector"

Out of Mankind is the culmination of Khalsa's journey -- a hook-filled masterpiece of layered guitars, dense vocal harmonies and creative sounds that recalls John Lennon, Cat Stevens and Smashing Pumpkins -- all while speaking directly to society's "outsiders." - Guitar World


"Hargo Khalsa Discusses Hargo's New Album, 'Out of Mankind,' and Working with Phil Spector"

Out of Mankind is the culmination of Khalsa's journey -- a hook-filled masterpiece of layered guitars, dense vocal harmonies and creative sounds that recalls John Lennon, Cat Stevens and Smashing Pumpkins -- all while speaking directly to society's "outsiders." - Guitar World


Discography

Never Come Down: (as yet untitled album) - 2014

Formerly as HARGO:

Out of Mankind - 2012
The Faint Glow EP - 2011
In Your Eyes - 2005

Photos

Bio

Never Come Down are a rock/psych band from Cardiff, CA. Dubbed San Diego's "rock shamans" for their haunting melodies, driving beats, distorted guitars, and thought-provoking lyrics. The band is a unique blend of personalities and cultures drawn from a diverse range of musical styles and influences. The four-piece originally formed in 2010 under the name HARGO, taken from frontman Hargobind Hari Khalsa's name who had been touring his solo project. The band toured extensively in 2011 and 2012, as Out of Mankind, HARGO's debut record, was receiving accolades in the the press. The bands most recent success includes winning Ford Motor's and Don Was' contest, 'Gimme the Gig'. After winning they went on to record 'Regeneration X' with Don Was in May of 2012. Now fully formed under the new name Never Come Down, the band is preparing to record and release their debut album in Summer 2013.