On first glance, Rabbits is not a very good name for a metal band, especially one that traffics in a fearsome mixture of late-period Black Flag sludge and lo-fi noise. But here we are. And forced to consider the animal in question, I can start to see the appeal.
On first glance, Rabbits is not a very good name for a metal band, especially one that traffics in a fearsome mixture of late-period Black Flag sludge and lo-fi noise.
But here we are. And forced to consider the animal in question, I can start to see the appeal. There is something creepy about their copious multiplying and their ubiquitous presence, something lurking beneath that cute exterior.
Rabbits’ music, however, is anything but cute. In a Portland scene that has its fair share of heavy bands, Rabbits set themselves apart with a wild amalgamation of influences—there’s a catchy, almost pop undercurrent beneath their skuzzy murk and howling vocals.
Since their inception five years ago, the band, comprised of Kevin Garrison on drums and dual guitarist/yellers Josh Hughes and Seth Montfort, have released a split 12-inch with Under Mountains and a 7-inch single, Sloth vs. Bees. Both records capture the from-the-basement intensity of their live show, and with new EP and DVD on the horizon, we should be hearing more soon.
To prepare for Rabbits’ show this Sunday at East End, the Vanguard caught up with Hughes, a Portland State student, via e-mail.
Daily Vanguard: How did the band get started? What’s the history? How long have you guys been at it?
Josh Hughes: We three have known each other for many, many years. One day we all fell into the right rabbit hole at the right time, and we clawed our way out of it as the superorganism you know as Rabbits.
The history of Rabbits is one of struggle: struggling to practice when lazy, struggling to play shows when drunk, struggling to record with no money and struggling to be heard in this sea of nonsense called modern music. Our struggle has gone on for more than five years with very limited success.
DV: Is there any particular mission or goal behind Rabbits’ music, or as a band?
JH: As a band, our primary mission is to have a good time. Our secondary mission is to be our friends’ favorite band because that is the highest goal any band can have (after “having a good time”). In our attempt to fulfill our primary and secondary missions, we have a sub-mission(!): to make other bands work very hard for their money when we are around. And our musical mission is to write simple songs to make some sense of our very complex world; simple songs to allow our prehistoric selves to break through this modern world.
DV: Rabbits generally hew to a very DIY aesthetic. Why do you favor this approach? Do you think you’ll ever sign to a label? Are there any disadvantages to the DIY method?
JH: Rabbits do have a very DIY approach for the very simple reason that when other people with less knowledge, talent and heart than you get their hands on what you have poured your wits and sweat, blood and bones into, they take it and destroy it and say that is the way it must be. Rabbits do what they want and answer to no one! (Plus no one really likes us or wants us on their label.) Disadvantages to the DIY method include needing to have your shit together, access to a little extra cash and using MySpace on a regular basis.
DV: In your experience, are Portland music fans actually open minded, or do they just love bands that sound like Neil Young?
JH: Since the ’80s and stretching into the early oughts, back when there were still only a handful of places to play, Portland has been one of the best places in the U.S. for all kinds of bands. Portland may seem somewhat homogeneous if you read about it in The New York Times or your local society pages, but if you look hard enough you can find whatever you’re looking for and more. Neil Young is great.
DV: Every time I’ve seen you play, it’s been LOUD. Do you think that’s important? Is it necessary to play loud if you want to be considered “heavy”?
JH: Being LOUD is very important. How else are the people going to hear us over all that’s going on around them? We’re not sure it’s necessary to play loud if you want to be considered “heavy,” but it is necessary if you want to be considered LOUD. LOUD is mighty, and might makes right!
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for space.