It all began with swirling winter surf trips in Cornwall and raging acapella jams to Audioslave. Now, Bristol-based indie outfit Dead Fast Hares are less than two weeks away from launching their melodious debut EP Miles Ago, with a launch party and live show to follow at Bristol’s Rough Trade record store on 16 August. The record shop is known for hosting intimate in-store performances from ones-to-watch alongside massive names, and Dead Fast Hares’s Rough Trade show is sandwiched between the likes of Deaf Havana and Full of Hell.
In the space of a year, the post-rock four piece has moved swiftly (…) reaching the semi-finals of The Fleece’s Underdog 2017 Battle of the Bands, to playing The Louisiana
In the space of a year, the post-rock four piece has moved swiftly from an eye-opening first live set (in aid of Surfers Against Sewage at The Boardroom) and reaching the semi-finals of The Fleece’s Underdog Battle of the Bands in 2017, to playing The Louisiana. The latter experience (as warm up for Bristol’s Amber Lights) described by Dead Fast Hares’ singer-songwriter Tom Howl Fields as a real high point in the group’s development, reflecting an increasingly honed and ‘hopeful’ new direction.
Comprising Fields, lead guitarist James Gillard, drummer Freddie Holland and bassist Matt Roberts, Dead Fast Hares have crafted a distinctive dark and dreamy sound. Recent influences arrive in the form of Explosions In The Sky, Luke Sital-Singh, Interpol and even Nidingr’s wake-up black metal. For this writer, Dead Fast Hares’ live sound also rustles up fond flecks of The Postal Service and Elliott Smith. In short, Bristol music scene followers heading to the Dead Fast Hares EP launch at Rough Trade can anticipate a varied sonic encounter, rich with dynamic beats and bass, energising guitar solos and emotionally-evocative vocals.
Laying down the tracks at Cornwall’s CUBE recording studio with experienced producer Gareth Young earlier this summer was ‘incredible’, says Roberts.
‘Writing and performing music as a group regularly puts you through the full spectrum of emotions. The highs are amazing and the buzz lasts for days. When it’s tough, you really have to grind out and get through it. Seeing everyone refine those wild creative energies into something professional and productive taught us how much we’re capable of in the right setting and with a good producer. It was a hugely creative process that pushed all of us to new levels.’
Seeing everyone refine those wild creative energies into something professional and productive taught us how much we’re capable of in the right setting and with a good producer
As a unit, Dead Fast Hares are highly adept at creating a keen lyrical hook and earworm. Teased EP track Flawless is a perfect case in point, the chorus staying with you long after listening. The track exposes vocalist Fields’ mesmeric range, a defining feature of the group’s output. And that’s not just in sweeping from his opening low register to much higher notes, but his ability, along with the wider group, to evoke vulnerability one minute and soar the next. ‘Flawless is my favourite track of the EP’ says Gillard. ‘It was the most recent thing we’d been working on when we went into the studio and it came together quite quickly.’
As for the EP as a whole, ‘each song in the EP has a different feel and hopefully shows the range of our sound’ Holland explains. ‘It’s all post-rock crescendos and crushing, hooky riffs with brooding melodic vocals and keys. Less heavy than when we play the tracks live, but there’s all the same energy in the records as we put in on stage’ Roberts adds.
there is an undercurrent of finding moments of good in the bad or mundane; melancholia with hope
For vocalist Fields, a fan of a good night-time drive, Miles Ago offers ‘a touch of otherworldliness. I’ve listened to it mainly in the car, usually at night, and that just feels right’ he says. ‘I think there is an undercurrent of finding moments of good in the bad or mundane; melancholia with hope. Those are things I can get behind.’
Meanwhile, EP single Gunbearer and Guide, released earlier this month, offers the listener a whole other journey to Flawless, in the realm of ‘surf-rock noir’ says Roberts.
Fields expands: ‘I feel like Gunbearer and Guide has been in my life a lot longer than its existence as a song. The experience described is one that has persisted and enthralled me. To see it form into a song that takes that journey lyrically, with the music transporting you to the lonely roads from past and future, means I think it will hold a special place for me for a long time to come.’
Dead Fast Hares’ debut EP Miles Ago will be released digitally on 28 July, and will be available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon. To register for the launch party at Rough Trade Bristol and for band updates from the fast-rising band, visit deadfasthares.com.
If you can’t wait that long, they’ll be warming up for Amber Lights this Wednesday at Thunderbolt Bristol.
Words by Daisy Blacklock
Photos by Mark Adkin and Peyton Izzie Connor
18 July – Amber Lights + Dead Fast Hares (supporting),Thunderbolt Bristol
16 August – Dead Fast Hares EP launch, Rough Trade Bristol