Red Hare On Redefining D.C.

Interview with guitarist Jason Farrell | By Jason Schreurs

The first thing that’s evident on Little Acts of Destruction, the second album by Red Hare—featuring members of ‘90s D.C. hardcore bands such as Swiz, Bluetip, and Sweetbelly Freakdown—is the urgency and immediacy of its 14 songs, which burn by in 31 minutes. In fact, album opener “Distractor” blazes by in less than 60 seconds, minus a short sample that announces, “Ladies and gentlemen, The Crusher!”

“There’s a lack of redundancy in writing songs like that,” guitarist Jason Farrell says. “It’s something that I’ve come back around to, as I’ve certainly been guilty of blathering on in the past with other bands I was in. I remember being especially joyed that the first song on this new album came in under a minute. I was like, ‘Perfect!’ If the point of a song was made, why repeat it in a third verse?”

Red Hare take cues from the bands they were originally inspired by growing up in the D.C. hardcore scene, the land of Dischord Records, where they have again found a home for the May 11 release of Little Acts of Destruction, following up 2013’s Nites of Midnight. “Growing up and listening to The Faith or Minor Threat, I can remember the songs being short, but they never felt cut short, you know?” Farrell says. “There’s just an economy of energy on this new Red Hare album, and I really like that.”

The four-piece are led by the enigmatic vocals of Shawn Brown, also the original singer of Dag Nasty, who have reformed in recent years. Brown, Farrell, and bassist Dave Eight also played together in Swiz and Sweetbelly Freakdown. They added former Garden Variety drummer Joe Gorelick to the mix to complete the Red Hare lineup. In the end, according to Farrell, friendship and creative collaboration with the people you trust wins the day. “I’ve known Dave since seventh grade, and I’d see Shawn at shows when I was 14, and I knew him from skateboarding. We just have a long history together in the D.C. scene and have always been friends,” Farrell explains. “Besides the friendship, you also have the working relationship. I don’t always have the most time right now, so if I’m going to do something, I want to enjoy it, and I don’t want to make it feel like work. So, I’m going to do it with people I enjoy being with.”

Aside from the tight bond amongst the members, Red Hare added the familiar ears of producer J. Robbins of Jawbox and Burning Airlines and even brought in an old buddy to do guest vocals on the fifth track, “Surrogate.” “We brought in Alec MacKaye of The Faith and Ignition, and it was cool because he is one of my all-time favorite vocalists,” Farrell says. “As far as working with J. again, we wanted to be in the same area as the first album but come back around a little bit with not such a modern sound. This one sounds a little more analog-y and burlier in a way—maybe not as refined.”

Farrell says the thing that made him most proud of Little Acts of Destruction was Brown’s performance and the subtleties these new songs brought out of a vocalist known mostly for his mighty roar. “We know Shawn has a good scream, [but] are you going to put a scream next to another scream? No. You put something else next to it, so the scream sounds even better,” Farrell explains. “Shawn has this regional Hyattsville, [a D.C. suburb], accent that I fucking love, so you put in these calmer spoken moments that are just as menacing as the screams; it brings out his regional dialect, and that makes me smile every time I hear it on this album. Everything is enhanced by contrast.”

Purchase Little Acts of Distruction here: Dischord Records | Bandcamp

Photo by Mitchell C Roberts

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