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GROOVES: As he prepares to turn on to TV, Xfm DJ Steve Harris talks sofas, Smiths and 'Shambles

Steve Harris (right) and Piers Hernu

Published: 16 August, 2012

HOW do you measure how rock ’n’ roll somebody is? “By the number of their tattoos?”, ventured XfM DJ Steve Harris when challenged on this last week.

Harris, who lives in Belsize Park, presents the station’s afternoon show and has just launched a new TV programme.

He has his true muso dedication etched in indelible ink on his own body. He is mates with Peter Doherty, has interviewed almost everyone worth interviewing in the indie/rock music field and drinks in the Camden Caners cliché hangout, The Hawley Arms.

And while he once used to live with Justin Hawkins (The Darkness), he now resides across the corridor from veteran broadcaster Nicholas Parsons, who keeps him in check.

“He looks after me so I can never get in trouble because he’ll tell me off,” says Steve.

“He’s coming on the TV show in a couple of weeks. He’s a legend. He doesn’t have much of a concept of music radio so he asks me ‘how’s the music going, Steve?’. I think he thinks, even though we have so many chats, that I’m like Carl Cox or Norman Cook or something, that I’m a DJ.

“I say, ‘no, I’m on the radio, I talk’. He says, ‘what do you talk then?’ I say I talk in between the songs. He’s so brilliant.”

And it’s not just his neighbours he’s happy with.

“My measure of success is to manage to stay in Belsize Park. If I manage that I’ve done alright,” says Steve.

Together journalist Piers Hernu, his friend for more than a decade, Harris has just launched new TV show Hernu ‘n Harris: Unhinged on Sky’s Controversial channel.

Venture to Quinn’s on Kentish Town Road at 9pm on Thursdays and Harris and friends are likely to be caught watching their show back, having convinced the bar staff to turn over to channel 200.

Speaking from outside Quinn’s after one such night, Steve’s in good spirits.

“This TV thing is kind of a blank canvas,” he says. “They’ve given us an hour to do what we want.

“The guy behind that channel listens to me on the radio so we sold them an idea of me and Piers on the sofa, having a chat like two mates.

“We live two streets away, we know each other inside out.

"It’s rough around the edges but it’s quite a real-life chat show, getting people on, not necessarily famous, but who sound interesting.

“We’ve got this running soap opera of having Peter Doherty on every show because we know him and his manager well – pre-rehab in Thailand and this week having come back.

“He’s doing well, looks well, spending time between Paris and London, writing a lot.

“Filming for him is massive. He’s just done this film with Charlotte Gainsbourg. He’s a big deal in France, they love the romance of it all, the romantic poet element. He’s very charismatic, looks great on camera. The next film is him playing a kind of Parisian ruffian.

“I think he’s got to work hard to get into shape and get a six-pack. They love him so much in France, quite A-list directors are writing parts for him, there’s a really different reception in France to here. 

“I know he’s writing a lot of songs. I can’t wait for the next album he releases, whether it’s solo or ’Shambles or Libertines.”

Steve’s tattoos are dedicated to Morrissey, The Clash and The Libertines – a band to which he gave his youth. He recalls a recent experience, which may well make him think twice before choosing where to get his next tattoo done.

He says: “I was drunk and that’s why I wanted a tattoo. My first-ever Smiths-related album that I love is called The World Won’t Listen so I went to this random one a few weeks back.

“I was a bit worse for wear but having done the tattoo that’s going to be on my arm for the rest of my life, he’s done an exclamation mark at the end – the one thing Morrissey would never do, any song or album, would be to put an exclamation mark at the end.

“So it’s gone from a very stubborn statement of intent The World Won’t Listen – it’s now, The World Won’t Listen!”


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