In-Session takes a look at rising college musicians across New England. In this session, get to know Trash Rabbit: the experimental band taking on Berklee School of Music.
A good reason to start a band is because you love making music. A better reason to start a band is because your junior year of high school is starting to get angsty as fuck and the best coping mechanism is equally angsty music. In this line of thinking, the best reason to start a band is if you love making music and have the angst to back it up. At this point, let me introduce Trash Rabbit.
Trash Rabbit got its name from a late-night drive during which the future band members almost hit a raccoon. As the car swerved to avoid the animal, a friend shouted “Trash Rabbit!” Mena and Nick, two-thirds of Trash Rabbit who I recently met up with, couldn’t quite explain why this moment was so hilarious, but they assured me it was. They all decided then and there that this phrase was a good band name. Accordingly, when it came time to choose a name, they fell back onto the old joke, never overthinking any of it.
It’s their lack of overthinking that makes Trash Rabbit particularly exceptional. While each member of the trio is an incredibly talented, multi-dimensional musician, they didn’t become a band to show off their skill. Rather, they became a band almost by accident; Nick met Mena as a “new student at [their school]” when she heard him playing drums. Nick recalls Mena excitedly deciding that they had to form a band while he, at first, thought she was “crazy.” Yet, singer and guitarist Mena followed through, bringing drummer Gibran and bassist Nick together to play their first gig during October of their freshman year: a “Teabarn” run by their school’s art magazine. Back then, their repertoire: they only”played covers and random events for the next two years and never practiced outside of it.”
That all changed during their junior year, when Mena began to feel that the band could be doing more: ” We had no original music, and so we weren’t really a band.” She wrote three songs “on a whim” which, while initially were written “chill” were warped by the time the band members were in; “It was junior year and our lives sucked.” This state of mind warped the style of music the band was interested in playing. They started to sound more “emo,” using music to deal with things in one of the few ways suburbia allows. Nick wrote some songs as well and, steadily, they all realized that “this could be something.” Nick jokes, “Well, we wrote some music, and then we wanted to write more music. So, we wrote more music, and we had to keep writing music after that.”
Now, the sound remains shaped more by what the members are feeling. The band isn’t subscribing to a single sound as much as it’s letting the members’ experiences and interests drive each new production. That first album, Trash/Cable, drew heavily on Mena’s influences and her desire to “be the next Radiohead;” it’s full of songs that are perfect for the moshing shows Trash Rabbit routinely plays across Boston, depending deeply on thrashing guitar and loud drums. The album came together as wildly as the band, fueled by a one-week sprint of recording that happened in the same week as their final exams.
Their second project released the summer after the band’s senior year of high school, stepped back from this style. The band describes their sound on Boy Problems as more “experimental, pop-y, and a lot less punk.” With the angst dissipating, they’ve reached further into their other influences, changing their sound as they refine it. Additionally, this album was produced much more professionally than their first one (due to a professional set-up they were able to access through a training program) signaling how quickly the band is growing. Now, each band member has begun work on their own album of covers that highlights each person’s unique inspirations. While the release date for this project is far away, it illustrates how vast and varied the members’ interests are. For a band that sounds pretty heavy when you catch them at a show, there’s a remarkable amount of other influences behind their music. Nick notes that he “has a list of bands that everyone keeps telling [him] to listen to, but [he] doesn’t want to get into them just because everyone else is.” For Mena, this list maybe serves as a bit of a sore spot — she counters that “the list just seems like a list of all of [her] favorites like Sonic Youth and Radiohead.” Nick’s personal music taste leans more to jazz, which actually helped bring the trio together in the first place.
The trio originally met via their high school’s jazz program, which helped teach each of them the skills that made their own band so successful and, eventually, got them all into their dream school of Berkeley. As Nick jokes, “We’re all going to music school together because we’re a band!”
With Trash Rabbit staying together from high school to college, they already have an advantage over the Boston music scene; they’ve known since high school how to book shows and attract a crowd. As they continue into the next chapter of their lives together, they’re already planning to play as many shows as they can, all the while improving their sound. In fact, the band is currently on the lookout for a guitarist who, Mena jokes, can’t have a big ego. “There’s only one asshole per band, and it’s me.”
That said, Trash Rabbit considers the community around the music to be one of the most vital parts of playing and performing. As much as they’re about the music, they’re also about the world that forms around the music. The touring they’ve done has been possible because of their closeness to other performers and connections across the Northeast. They are part of a larger effort to create and promote spaces where everyone can come, mosh, listen, and enjoy as a collective. Additionally, so much of what makes them great is simply the relationship between the band members. They work hard, but they’re also ready to just “see where this all goes.” And, really, there isn’t room in any article for the number of jokes, side stories, and reflections that you get in a talk with Trash Rabbit.
I guess you’re going to have to trek out to one of their many shows for yourself and wrap yourself up in the energy of it all. Look out for more from Trash Rabbit by following their Instagram and listening to their music here.