The frontman of HARES – Rob Skipper – is admiring the venue’s colourful artwork through a huge pair of 3D glasses that hang off the wall. “This is brilliant,” he enthuses, seeing the blurry, headache-inducing images come to life. Fitting then, that the last gig he played with HARES was at a gallery opening. “Playing at an exhibition launch is a bit different to the usual thing,” he muses, “I suppose the crowd were more attentive. It’s good to be involved with any kind of arts scene, as that’s what gets me going and inspired.” Although not a solo project, Skipper seems to be very much the driving force behind the band. He and drummer Adam Sullivan work in a similar way to MGMT; they write and record music together as a pair, but there’s currently a “roster of bass players” and other musicians who collaborate for live performances.
While Skipper is well known for playing fiddle on songs by Larrikin Love, Jamie T and Patrick Wolf, his violin has “taken a back seat for the moment”. The sound that HARES have crafted draws inspiration from bands like Pixies and The Cure, and is quite different to Skipper’s previous band, The Holloways. Upbeat melodies and jangly riffs remain on some tracks, such as “Coastlines”, but on others Skipper has chosen melancholic lyrics and heavier, multi-layered guitars. “Lyrically, the music is inspired by a classic lovesick kind of songwriter like Lee Hayes,” he explains, “but with the guitars, I want them to be quite abrasive,” he adds, citing the Jesus And Mary Chain as a major influence. Skipper is also a fan of Roy Orbison, and in the video for “Pink Radio” the Doo-wop aesthetic is evident. The band are decked out in pristine white outfits with matching instruments, and sing into vintage microphones. However, like much of HARES’ songs, the duet retains a contemporary feel – it’s less Sonny and Cher, more Julian Casablancas and Regina Spektor.
Skipper has ambitious plans for the future of HARES, but he’s taking a cautious approach. “I’ve self-produced a body of work – almost an album’s worth of material – which we’ll be getting out as a purely DIY, independent release,” he says confidently. This enthusiasm for working independently stems from a negative past experience that has made Skipper realise that signing a record deal doesn’t necessarily guarantee success, and it certainly doesn’t guarantee happiness! “It’s taken two years to shake off a bad record deal and it’s prevented me from working,” he says. “That’s the risk you take when you get signed,” he continues, his face softening as he ponders the bittersweet situation. “When I celebrated signing a big record deal, I never thought that I’d also be celebrating when I was tearing up the deal!” he says, laughing now.
It surely won’t be long before the men in suits from various A&R departments start approaching HARES, proffering important documents for them to sign. Hopefully, this time Skipper will only have to celebrate once.
HARES release their EP, Coastlines, on 20th February 2012.