High Hopes: We Are Harlot

“All great lead singers are a bit insane,” says Jeff George. The We Are Harlot guitarist is comparing the band’s frontman, Danny Worsnop, to former boss Sebastian Bach. “It was great playing with Sebastian, but my heart was in my own music. And with this band we’re best friends. Danny’s got a million-dollar voice but he’s also certifiably nuts.”

A 24-year-old with almost eight years of US-based, cocaine-addled rock-star life under his belt, Worsnop is nuts. That million-dollar voice brought him fame (and took him Stateside) with metalcore darlings Asking Alexandria. Now, the cocksure wunderkind is embracing his true calling – the exuberant, blues-rooted 80s licks and straight-up, hard rock’n’roll of We Are Harlot.

“This is the first time I’ve felt I can just be myself singing,” he explains of his rugged, soulful performance. “The really heavy music was something I had to learn, whereas this is what I’ve been brought up on. It’s in my blood.”

Worsnop, who grew up in Yorkshire, has a blues singer grandfather and parents who introduced him to Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones, and his past is steeped in classic rock. He spent a period playing trumpet and violin in an orchestra, before being snapped up in 2008 to front Asking Alexandria.

George, meanwhile, grew up in Detroit, ingesting the likes of Kiss and Van Halen from pre-school age. Influence from Eddie Van Halen, along with the other guitarists including Nuno Bettencourt, gleams through We Are Harlot’s self-titled debut album. “I was Ace Frehley every year for Halloween,” he laughs. “I saw Kiss when I was five with my mom. The worst seat in the house, but I was mesmerised.”

Following an inebriated meeting at a New Year’s Eve party in 2010, Worsnop and George became roommates, and began writing the genesis of We Are Harlot – alongside a lot of boozing. Initially it was to be a Worsnop solo project, but the involvement of George, then bringing in bassist Brian Weaver and drummer Bruno Agra, swiftly made it a full band. Their only regret now is that the album couldn’t be released when they completed it – more than three years ago. “But it is the music industry – there’s a lot of interests and red tape,” George sighs. Still, with the release finally looming, initial omens seem promising. “When we got signed they said: ‘You’ve got five, six, seven hits on this record,” George remembers.

Their Aerosmith-meets-Def Leppard gusto – teamed with current melodies and edges of brutality – bodes well for their Main Stage slot at Download this summer. Hopefully, Worsnop says, the band offer something for everyone: “There’s things from R&B and gospel, you can tell we’ve listened to a whole lot of Pantera.”

“Ultimately its fun!” George adds. It’s blues-rooted, it has swing. But we still have this modernness, so it sounds like 2015.”

We Are Harlot is out on March 30 via Roadrunner.

For Fans Of…

“You can listen to Hysteria top-to-bottom and it’s solid,” says We Are Harlot’s Jeff George. “A lot of people hear our history and think this’ll be a really heavy record. And it’s not. That’s kind of how Hysteria was. You had a lot of songs that weren’t that heavy, but then you had songs like Pour Some Sugar On Me too.”

Polly Glass
Deputy Editor, Classic Rock

Polly is deputy editor at Classic Rock magazine, where she writes and commissions regular pieces and longer reads (including new band coverage), and has interviewed rock's biggest and newest names. She also contributes to Louder, Prog and Metal Hammer and talks about songs on the 20 Minute Club podcast. Elsewhere she's had work published in The Musician, delicious. magazine and others, and written biographies for various album campaigns. In a previous life as a women's magazine junior she interviewed Tracey Emin and Lily James – and wangled Rival Sons into the arts pages. In her spare time she writes fiction and cooks.