The Hara are a band whose incredible live show and impressive social media presence (57.3K Instagram followers and counting) has earned them a loyal army of fans. Fans which aren’t in short supply today as they kick off their voracious set on the Viola Beach stage. 5pm on the smallest stage is usually a relatively quiet affair but not today. The band’s energy is infectious, singer Josh Taylor struts around the stage, commanding the crowd like a leather clad ringleader. If mosh pits, crazy outfits and the frontman scaling the stage are your thing you need to catch The Hara on their upcoming tour.
So you’re very busy, men, you have played two festivals today, how was that? Did you manage to save some energy?
Josh – I think Zack’s had a good time he’s cracking open a beer.
Jack – Yeah, we tried to conserve it a little bit at Slammy D (Slam Dunk) before, but it’s hard to conserve it when you’re the best band in the world.
Josh – Yeah. Slam Dunk this morning they were crazy right. We came off stage and were like, I don’t know what Neighbourhood’s going to be like. The bar was set so high, there were loads of people going for it, bloody hell it was mental. We came here and thought there might be a few people you know; they might get into it. Went out on stage, and there was arguably a better crowd than Slam Dunk. Massive mosh pits, chanting The Hara, they were on it.
So you’re a band that clearly thrives off playing live, how did you cope with the lockdown and not being able to play?
Zack – I cried for about six months.
Josh – You know, we kinda got used to it.
Zack – We adapted really well I think in the face of, you know, a literal global pandemic. As a live band you can either let it ruin you or adapt. We shifted our focus and it was actually quite nice because we were touring so much for about two solid years. We’ve always been quite prominent on social media, but we took time to really focus on it, on different platforms and stuff and tried to really grow. As a result of that when live gigs started to open up again, we were higher up on the bill. We’d gone up the ladder without doing one gig, so it’s all about being adaptable.
I know you did a live stream gig; how did that go?
Jack – We did yeah, that was our first one and it was crazy because we did a sign-up thing and there were about ten thousand sign-ups, it was mental.
Just by looking through your Instagram, it’s clear to see that you have a lot of dedicated fans, which is amazing for a band that’s not really been around for very long.
Jack – We were thinking about this before, we’re in our fourth year as a band now, which is nothing. But we also have had a year and a half out really because of the pandemic. So technically we’ve only been doing this for like two and half, three years.
Zack – We love interacting and making sure our fans feel like they are part of it and that’s just come across over the past year. We always say as soon as somebody sees our show, even if they’ve never seen us before. Like you said, we’re a live band and I think that’s it. Then we’ve got them. People tend to stick around, and then they’re part of The Hara madness.
Josh – We love winning new people over. Before we do any festival, any gig, we always go out there, even if these 10 people that give you the best performance, win them all over. And that’s the only goal.
How did it feel being a part of the historic Download Festival pilot event this year?
Josh – That was our first gig back! We played to a tent of about 7000 people it was packed out.
Zack – It was crazy, I think it was a collective dream to do. I mean, literally, just to do a major festival, and that was the first major festival we’ve ever played, as well as our first gig after 18 months. I was so nervous, we were terrified.
Jack – We thrive in that moment though. We always say if there are things against us, which always seems to be the case (laughs). We seem to do well in that kind of moment, fight or flight, I guess.
So I think your latest single ‘The Fool and the Thief’, explores themes around mental health and self-expression. What was the inspiration for the song?
Josh – Well, me and Jack were in Barcelona, when we wrote it. Zack joined us over zoom.
Jack – It started with a drum beat, something a bit 21 Pilots style. We always seem to have different influences, which I think you can tell in our music, all different kinds of stuff. We were going on hikes in the morning when we were in Barcelona, and when we came back one day, we were listening to 21 Pilots. So, I started playing the beat you can hear in the verses. We just built it up from there and added some nice little guitars and then we spent a day on the vocals and that was it, you know, pretty much done straight away.
Josh – In terms of themes, mental health and all that kind of stuff is what we tend to talk about in our songs. Because it’s important and I think it’s the one thing we really believe in. With our performance as well, being so animated and crazy on stage, almost through our performance we’re telling people fucking do what you want. Have a good time, because it’s a crazy world out there, you know?
The lyric “Didn’t know there was a front-line till’ I had face/20,000 friends who just looked the other way ” is interesting what does it mean?
Josh – That’s a reference to social media and how everyone has got so many followers, so many friends and all that. But at the end of the day, do they really care, you know? Yeah. Who’s actually important, you’ve gotta keep them people close. Deep stuff. (laughs). I think we wrote it from the perspective of a young kid growing up in this social media life and struggling.
Jack – If you listen to the lyrics, we were using a lot of army and war imagery. In all that social media stuff you’re at war with everybody and your own mind.
You said that the song started with a drum beat. That’s quite an unusual way to write a song is that your usual writing process?
Jack – It changes a lot. We tend to get to all the music first. We usually have a basic beat down, then get a big fat riff down then just keep pushing it and pushing it.
Zack – We’ll talk about what we want to write, not necessarily a thematic idea, like a sonic idea. We might say we want a softer vibe, or hard and aggressive or really crispy or whatever. Then we’ll kind of snowball the idea and talk about themes.
Jack – You think of songs like ‘Animals’. That was funny because our agent at the time was like, “Oh, you need to write a really mainstream radio-friendly song that samples other artists”. We went into the studio and was like no, let’s do the exact opposite. The heaviest thing we possibly can. Animals came out of that and it’s one of our biggest songs.
You’ve managed to cram in a lot of shows and festivals since the re-opening, Download, Slam Dunk, Reading and Leeds, have you had any time to watch any other bands?
Jack – We watched Post Malone at Leeds Festival that was unreal. That’s the thing, our musical taste is so broad. We love metal and jazz and everything. We appreciate good music, we don’t just like heavy bands. We saw You Me At Six as well, we’re friends with them, Max produced one of our songs. We had a writing week in London and the label said, “Can Max from You Me At Six join the session?”. We were like what! Yes, of course, he can! We’ve got another song coming out very soon with Max actually. So that’s an exclusive but we can’t tell you what it’s called!
Keep up-to-date with The Hara on their socials below…