“We started the band with one constant intention of always being experimental, and never setting limits or boundaries."
That experimentation, according to Sleepy Hahas’ Pat Butler, will soon continue as the ever-evolving group is ready to release its latest LP “From the Bottom of a Wake Lake” later this fall. Led by the founding members Butler on guitar/vocals and Phil Shore on keyboards, the band has seen about as much change, on both a sonic and personnel front, as you will see out of a local group.
“In the beginning, we were very interested in classic/desert/garage/blues psych bands like the Black Angels, the Velvet Underground, the Black Keys, Ty Segall, QOTSA,” Butler said. “Since evolving, playing with new musicians and working with new producers, I like to think our sound has expanded rather than changed. We use a lot more sonic layering, sampling, electronics and synthesizers now, and it really adds to a more orchestrated sound, rather than maybe just basing a song off a riff.
“When it comes to personnel, Phil and I joke that at any given local show we go to, there's usually more ex-Hahas than current Hahas,” Butler continued. “We've had a few great musicians and good friends come and go over the past few years, but as we've gotten more and more serious, members have left. It's kind of weird to look back on all the friends who've come and gone when we're currently in a position of feeling like the band is exactly where's it was supposed to be all along.”
The group’s constant state of change, er, expansion nearly found Butler and Shore relocating to Athens, Ga. earlier this year. But as a desire to grow outside of Buffalo lingered, the frontman soon realized that a local, communal growth within his hometown delivered the greater reward.
“After spending three weeks in Athens, we really fell in love with the town. We also, for a second, got caught up in that mentality that's like ‘if we move to this cool music town, we'll become successful,’" Butler said.
“We realized that the reason that a town like Athens, Austin, Portland, Seattle or wherever gained the reputation and the ‘scene’ that they have is because of a group of artists and community members started that. We took a step back and realized that that's what we have starting here in Buffalo. Everyone knows that Buffalo is on the upswing, and sooner or later, the music scene is going to have the national spotlight that any of these other cities have.
“We already have plenty of bands getting national and international attention, and soon it's going to be common knowledge that Buffalo is a major musical force, if it's not already,” Butler added. “We just couldn't pass up the opportunity to continue to grow with the city we've already grown up with.”
With the Hahas now firmly entrenched in Buffalo, naturally, it’s time for them to hit the road. The now four-piece will begin its 18-date itinerary Thursday at BJ’s in Fredonia, followed up by a tour kick-off show back in Buffalo on Friday in Nietzsche’s, with local support from the Tins, M.A.G.S. and Deadwolf.
“This is our longest tour so far, so there's a lot to look forward to,” Butler said. “We're playing the grand opening of a new Brooklyn venue called The Gateway, which is a DIY space run by a bunch of musicians that want to make a welcoming home for touring bands in the northeast. On top of that, we're really excited to visit Athens again and visit Nashville for the first time.”
With their fall quickly booking up, it just wouldn’t be the Hahas without some more changes to come in the near future.
“Our new album that we recorded in Athens with Drew Vandenberg will be out in early 2016. We also have a brand new music video for the track “En Passant” that will be out sometime this month. Other than that, expect some big announcements, and more tour dates!”
Mac McGuire is the editor-in-chief for buffaBLOG