Amidst some of the most notable jam bands and the thriving live-electronic scene, Denver is exploding with a number of up-and coming indie-rock bands. This week, we sat down with Jr. Rabbit, a four-piece project with a laid-back attitude but a serious vision. Singer-songwriter and guitarist Ryan Howell talked to us about the band’s formation, their new singles, and what rehearsals can look like. Read on:
Tell us a bit about Jr. Rabbit. How many people are in the band and who plays what?
I’m [Ryan] on guitar, and I lyrically write most of the music. Shayne MacLaughlin plays lead guitar and drums, Stephen (Eski) Edwards plays bass guitar, and Tyler Moyer plays the drums.
How did you all meet and form Jr. Rabbit?
It mainly started with Tyler and I last year jamming and writing originals, and [we] took it from there. It’s sort of an open project- we let a lot of people in on the recording process. Another cool fact is that me, Tyler, and Shayne are all from the East Coast and all met up around 2012 when I was in Colorado on tour with a different band. Three years later, I moved out here to start my own thing and it sort of went from there.
How would you describe your music?
Musically we try to work on dynamics- most of our songs are three to four chords. Personally, I try to just write things that are relatable. I try to relate to the inner-emotion of the person in our songs.
What inspired the name Jr. Rabbit?
Honestly, there’s not a cool story, I wish there was. I was driving one day and that phrase just popped up in my brain and I thought it flowed nicely, and it was just something that stuck in my head.
Who are your main influencers?
I vocally reflect off Deer Tick and definitely Modest Mouse. We also gain a lot of influence from Classic Rock, which is instilled into all of us… that’s what we grew up listening to with our folks. But we all have different backgrounds. Eski grew up on AC/DC and Tyler and I grew up on Funk.
We’re getting good overall- we’re not just trying to make it a catchy song lyrically, we’re trying to make it something that other people can relate to but maybe are afraid to express. “Rain to Wine” is about addiction, and I’ve struggled, and I know friends who have struggled. Songs like that make it okay for other people to talk about that problem, and if not at least it’s a sigh of release for someone who’s going through the same thing. That’s sort of why I got into music- I felt like someone else was writing what I was feeling and it made me feel less alone.
What has been your biggest challenge since working together as a band and how did you overcome it?
Showing up on time. Shayne is always on “Shayne Time,” as we call it. But other than that the challenge is trying to believe in what we’re trying to do and hoping to see that catch on. We’re not doing covers; we’re mainly originals, so the biggest frustration is for people to get on board with our originals.
What are your band rehearsals typically like?
It’s mainly a little bit of everything. At first we usually just start jamming, whether it be a cover song or just improv. We do at least one improv jam per show to just create something in that moment. Then we’ll typically go through our new stuff and end off on the stuff we all know to make sure it’s polished and sharp.
Where has Jr. Rabbit played recently, and which venues are in the books?
We’ve been playing at this place called Maddie's Biergarten in Castle Rock. They’ve got the full setup with a stage and soundboard, and they gave us residency there for all of March. We’ll be in Denver and Fort Collins in June.
Where would you guys like to be with your music career in 2020?
Hopefully in a place where we’re making a living off of it, wherever that may be. I want to be playing for anyone who wants to listen to real, genuine, authentic music. But we’ll see, everything takes time.
Keep up with Jr. Rabbit here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.