The Rare Occasions’ session last week started with shattered glass. Not because of any ear-piercing opera vocals from the band (although that would be impressive, it doesn’t really match their flavor of indie-influenced garage rock), but because one of our studio lights tipped over. However, the two guys (just one half of the Rare Occasions), guitarist Brian and bassist Jeremy, were completely unfazed.
It’s not surprising that the laidback band would be so comfortable in the station. The Rare Occasions won Rock Hunt in 2014 and was a staple of the local music scene before that. This was their tenth interview with WBRU and their third time on HomeBRU’d (see their previous sessions here and here).
For this session, the band toned it down a notch, but even with just half the members present they conveyed their signature sound: dense, punctuated by staccato chords, overlaid with hushed vocals. Without keys or drums, the guitar and bass take on even more character.
“My guitar is in the shop. This is Peter’s [another band member’s] guitar,” reveals Brian. The first song is heartfelt, unexpected, slow, and moving. Brian’s voice is elastic and floating, yearning but upbeat on the longer notes. The quick guitar punches contrast with his voice with a tinge of anger. “Halfheartedly,” the second song, appears sweet and mournful, yet, again, it doesn’t back down. The voice and instrumentation balances the complex emotion of each song.
The band has an intellectual, perfectionist approach. They continually retune, practice chord progressions, and keep trying to improve the sound. On the third song, Jeremy decides, “I don’t feel like playing bass on this, I think I’m gonna mess around on the acoustic guitar,” revealing their improvisational approach.
In the absence of drums, the guitars are used rhythmically. “Such Is the Way” is mellow, but it features a low-reverb on the guitar evocative of old Westerns. Brian and Jeremy harmonize with their voices — “Gone are the days where I know that you love me, darling. You don’t.” — and with their guitars, layering one on top of the other.
The band concludes with a super speedy 5 in 95. This may be their tenth interview for the station, but they keep getting better. Check it out below!
And, of course, come out to Waterplace Park on Friday, August 7th at 7:15 for their free show opening for In the Valley Below!