Amplif[ie]d | Fox and the Red Hares
By: Natalie Bates
Late on a Thursday night in the middle of January, I journeyed to The District in Redlands to check out the Inland Empire-based band, Fox and the Red Hares. Unsure of what to expect, I discovered they would be the last band on that evening, and so I settled in for the long-haul, partaking in the evening’s drink specials. After sitting through a few of the open-mic-night style acts, my spirits were low (to put it gently). But as soon as Fox and the Red Hares started playing, my faith in music was restored. With an on-stage energy unparalleled by most other modern bands, Fox and the Red Hares put on a show that was well worth the wait.
Often characterized as “R.A.G” music (rock/americana/goth), the sound of this eclectic band is a blend of dark alternative americana, punk, country (old country, not new country), R&B, folk, goth and soul. During one song, the keyboards were reminiscent of psychedelic 1960s music, and in the next song, they sounded like a Baroque-era harpsichord, all paired with a heavy rhythm section and a thoroughly rock/alternative guitar line. The result was a completely unique sound that kept the audience entranced, never quite knowing what would come next. One thing is for certain if you experience a live Fox and the Red Hares performance—you will definitely never be bored. After they finished their set at 1a.m., the talented and entertaining members of Fox and the Red Hares sat down and told me about how they got their start.
Hailing from Riverside, Rialto and Redlands, Fox and the Red Hares is comprised of Justin Lee Fox (lead vocals, guitar), Jose Nevarez (drums), Ryan Neal (bass) and Lucas Schneider (keyboards, harmonica). Drawing inspiration from artists/bands such as Nick Cave, Johnny Cash and Tom Waits, Fox decided to start Fox and the Red Hares after playing in bands in the post-punk scene. Fox stated, “I was like, no, I need to get a group of guys who are really talented and play traditional dark music.” Schneider added, “And that was how he pitched it to me too. Every two weeks he was like, ‘Lucas, why aren’t you in my band? You’re the only guy I know who likes Nick Cave as much as me.’”
Nevarez and Fox had met years prior, when they were playing in another band together. When that band split up, they decided to keep jamming. Fox approached Neal in one of their favorite local bars, knowing Neal was a great bassist and asked him to jam with them. The band originally started out with a different keyboardist, but before even making it to one show, the keyboardist was replaced by Schneider. And so Fox and the Red Hares was born.
The songs of Fox and the Red Hares go beyond just being good music—they tell a story. Using themes such as murder, darkness and love lost, their music can at first seem morose, but it also possesses a lighter side, adding in themes of love, hope and redemption.
“I don’t know what any of the songs are about, cause I don’t listen to a word Justin says,” jokes Schneider. “Seriously though, Justin will bring a song to the band and say it is about one thing, and the band will take it and say, nope, it’s about this now and totally change the mood of the song.”
Fox agrees, “I write the basics, the guys take over, and from there, just greatness comes out. It’s a good collaboration. That’s why it’s Fox and the Red Hares: otherwise, it would just be Justin Fox. I write something, and the guys come in and make it more beautiful.”
The best example of this meeting of the minds and collaboration is the single “Last Letter from Queensland” off their upcoming album. Fox originally wrote the song as a dark ballad about a father exiled to a penal colony who is writing a letter to his loved ones back home, begging them to care for his son since he is no longer able. Fox said, “When I brought it in, the guys took over, and it became more of a sea shanty, more of something you could dance to.”
“You were very protective of it,” Schneider stated, “but we were like, nope, it’s a sea shanty. People are going to drink beer.”
Image Source: Facebook.com/FoxandtheRedHares
But yet the end result of that collaboration became what Fox considers to be the best song he has ever written. Incidentally, I would have to agree—it was my favorite song they played that evening at The District. I only wish that I had known the lyrics so I could’ve sang along and hoisted my beer in true sea shanty style. A single of “Last Letter from Queensland” just became available to purchase through their website.
Their debut album, “Flightless Bird and Other Tales,” was released on November 5, 2015. A limited edition wax-sealed digipack of the album can be purchased at shows, or the digital album can be purchased online through their website, or at iTunes, Spotify, and all other major online music streaming services. You can also check out their music and see a list of upcoming shows at reverbnation.com/foxandtheredhares.
Fox and the Red Hares regularly play at several venues throughout the Inland Empire, including Mission Tobacco Lounge and Inland Empire Brewing Company. Inland Empire Brewing Company even made a beer for the band, called the Red Hare Lager!
So what does the future hold for Fox and the Red Hares? Their next album is currently in the works, and they plan on sending out press kits in the hope that they will be signed by a record label. When I asked if they had any last words for our readers, Nevarez said, “Come to our live show, watch us on stage.”
And thus concluded our interview. Or so I thought . . .
“Okay,” said Schneider, “now you can ask us those weird questions, like if we were on tour and our plane crashed in the Himalayas, who would we eat first? Cause I would eat Ryan.”
Neal responded, “I would eat you first too.”
Fox added, “Yeah I would have to agree. I don’t have enough body fat.”
Schneider continued, “Plus Ryan and I drink the most, so we would probably taste the best . . . ”