Dhani Harrison has known Jeff Lynne his entire life. But this summer is his first time touring with the Electric Light Orchestra. “I’ve played with him live, but I’ve never played with him in his band,” Harrison says. “I played with Jeff and Tom [Petty] a lot — things like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the night they did dad’s induction. But their band is fantastic, this version of ELO.”
Harrison has been opening for the band since June, playing his solo music to packed arenas across the country. “It’s been standing ovations,” he says excitedly. “My walk off music every night is the intro to ‘Rockaria!‘ I get this beautiful, operatic way of leaving the stage. It’s very funny.”
He’s been playing his new single, “Motorways (Erase It)” to the crowd every night. A psychedelic track with a robust beat, the song was inspired by Harrison’s drives into London from his home in the countryside. “It’s become almost inaccessible to me,” he says. “It took me three hours to get in and three hours to get out, when it should take 20 minutes. Years and years ago on the way in to London, Banksy had just written on the side of the motorway in big white letters, ‘It’s not a race.’ I was using it as an example of how the future is going to be.”
The opening line to the track, “All those dreams they take from you when you’re young,” comes from Harrison’s perception of childhood. “I guess everyone is pretty perfect when they’re young,” he speculates. “All of our imaginations are still in tact, we haven’t been programmed yet. A lot of that is taken away from us by the time we’ve been through school and by the time we’ve got a job. I think we all spend the rest of our lives trying to return to that, that sense of curiosity and childlike innocence and dreams and imagination. It’s only with that that we can get to the next level as beings.”
With the help of Big Black Delta’s Jonathan Bates, “Motorways (Erase It)” was recorded in a single day. The single will be included on Harrison’s sophomore album, a follow-up to his 2017 debut In Parallel. The new record will be released as soon as Harrison is done completing it — if he can ever take time off his rigorous schedule from performing and scoring music.
Harrison is so busy he hasn’t even seen the movie Yesterday. “I deal with all of the approving of the tracks and things, and I really like the idea of the story,” he admits. “I just haven’t seen the film yet. I only just got to see Avengers: Endgame the other day, and I’m the biggest Marvel fan ever. I’m a bit behind … I’m sure I’ll see it once it comes onto the airplane or hotel screen.”