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LOSTATSEA.NET > FEATURES >

December 19, 2002
For Our Last Trick…
Pulling the Rabbit from the Hat

The odds are stacked against the members of Year of the Rabbit, though a conversation with lead guitar player Jeff Garber doesn't show the telltale signs of mounting pressure. Featuring former and/or current members of Failure, Shiner, ON, Castor, National Skyline, and Cupcakes, Year of the Rabbit is the closest thing to a super group that independent rock has seen in years. In a few weeks the bands Electra Records debut will hit store shelves and all their cards will be revealed, in the meantime, Jeff took a few minutes to answer some questions concerning Year of the Rabbit's origins, operations, and plans for the future.

How did the Year of the Rabbit project get off the ground? In other words, when and how did you meet Ken Andrews, Tim Dow, and Solomon Snyder?

JEFF GARBER: TIM CAME TO A NATIONAL SKYLINE SHOW IN L.A. IN THE SPRING OF 2001. HE HAD JOINED "ON" AND I WAS REALLY HOPING HE WOULD BRING KEN TO OUR SHOW. KEN DIDN'T SHOW UP, BUT TIM AND I HUNG OUT, AND I THINK HE TRIED TO GET NATIONAL SKYLINE ON THE "ON" TOUR THAT NEVER HAPPENED. I'VE KNOWN TIM SINCE OUR CASTOR/SHINER DAYS, AND I WAS STOKED HE WAS IN L.A. PLAYING WITH ON.

ABOUT A YEAR LATER, NATIONAL SKYLINE HAD BEEN SIDELINED AND I WAS WAITING TABLES IN CHICAGO. TIM CALLED ME OUT OF NOWHERE AND TOLD ME HE AND KEN WERE STARTING THE NEW ON RECORD. HE HAD PUT IN A GOOD WORD FOR ME AND BEFORE I KNEW IT, I WAS ON A PLANE TO L.A. FOR MY TRYOUT. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I JOINED THE BAND, MOVED TO L.A., AND WE BEGAN WHAT WAS TO BECOME YEAR OF THE RABBIT. WE DIDN'T FIND SOL SNYDER UNTIL SUMMER 2002.

How did Sol Snyder get involved?

WE HAD BEEN SEARCHING FOR A BASS PLAYER FOR OVER A YEAR. IT WAS VERY DIFFICULT TO FIND SOMEONE IN L.A. WHO WASN'T IN IT SIMPLY FOR THE MONEY. LUCKILY, SOL MOVED HERE FROM CHICAGO AND HAPPENED TO BE UNEMPLOYED & BAND-LESS. WE HAD ALL SEEN HIS PREVIOUS BAND "CUPCAKES", AND WE KNEW HE'D BE A PERFECT FIT. WE INVITED HIM DOWN FOR A SESSION, AND HE WAS HIRED IMMEDIATELY.

So what was your attraction to joining Year of the Rabbit?

I WAS A HUGE FAILURE/ON FAN. I WAS SHITTING MY PANTS WHEN KEN CALLED MY HOUSE FOR THE FIRST TIME, SO....

Has there been some sense of urgency or need to finalize a long-lasting musical outlet amongst the group since all of you have been through band break-ups with Castor, Failure, and Dow's exit from the recently deceased Shiner?

I THINK SO. KEN REALLY MISSED HAVING A BAND TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF OF, AND I WAS IN THE SAME BOAT MUSICALLY. AFTER CASTOR, I ALWAYS THOUGHT I WAS BETTER OFF ALONE, BUT IN THE END, IT'S ALWAYS BETTER TO HAVE A FEW GUYS IN THE ROOM TELLING YOU THAT YOU SUCK, OR THAT YOUR GREAT. I NEVER REALLY THINK OF US AS GUYS FROM OUR PAST BANDS. ASIDE FROM OUR FAILURE TENDENCIES, WE DON'T WEAR OUR PASTS ON OUR SLEEVES. WE'RE JUST CONCENTRATING ON THE FUTURE.

Has there been any pressure, while making the new record, to live up to the sound of past projects?

NOT FROM US, I THINK OUR OLD FANS WILL ALWAYS COMPARE OUR NEW STUFF TO OUR OLD BANDS, BUT TO BE HONEST, WE NEVER THINK ABOUT IT.

Does it feel like Year of the Rabbit has become its own entity yet, or do all of your past projects still factor into the sound?

DURING THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS OF MAKING THE RECORD, WE STARTED TO FIND OUR OWN "SOUND". WE WROTE A COUPLE OF SONGS AS A BAND, AND I THINK THE NEXT RECORD WILL SHOWCASE THAT SIDE OF US MUCH MORE. I FEEL LIKE I'M IN THE BAND I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE IN.

What was the songwriting process like?

90% OF THE SONGS WERE WRITTEN BY KEN. HE BASICALLY WRITES HIS GUITAR PART AND HIS VOCAL, AND THE REST OF US LAYER OVER THAT. TIM, SOL, AND I ARE FREE TO WRITE OUR OWN PARTS OVER THE SONGS. WE WROTE A COUPLE OF SONGS AS A BAND, AND I THINK WE'LL DO ALOT MORE OF THAT IN THE FUTURE.

Where was the album recorded?

KEN OWNS HIS OWN STUDIO, AND WE CAN BASICALLY TRACK ANYWHERE WE WANT. WE DID SOME OF IT AT KEN'S HOUSE, BUT MOST OF IT WAS RECORDED IN A REHEARSAL SPACE IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES.

You have recently signed to Elektra records, what factors made you decide to choose them over the other labels that I am sure were courting you guys?

I'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO BE ON ELEKTRA. WHEN I WAS A KID, MY FAVORITE BANDS WE'RE ON ELEKTRA. I WAS A HUGE CURE FAN, AND MOTLEY CRÜE WAS THE SHIT WHEN I WAS IN JR. HIGH. ELEKTRA SEEMED TO BE THE MOST STOKED ABOUT US, AND I LIKE THE FACT THAT THEY DON'T HAVE A SHIT LOAD OF OTHER ROCK BANDS. I THINK WE CAN GET MORE ATTENTION FROM ELEKTRA, RATHER THAN A LABEL THAT HAS 30 OTHER ROCK ACTS.

Have you been surprised by the quick public response to Year of the Rabbit? Though it's been in the works for awhile it seems like the whisper turned into a whirlwind of public discussion, shows and record label interest.

NOT REALLY, IT ACTUALLY SEEMED LIKE IT TOOK FOREVER TO GET THE BAND GOING, BUT IN REALITY WE GOT SIGNED VERY QUICKLY. WE SIGNED WITH ELEKTRA AFTER ONLY 5 SHOWS, BUT WE HAD BEEN PLANNING SHIT FOR A YEAR. WE HAVE A GOOD LIVE SHOW, AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THAT'S STILL THE MOST IMPORTANT THING A BAND CAN HAVE. WE'RE VERY LOUD, VERY TIGHT, AND WE HAVE COOL LIGHTS...

Will the band members' other projects- National Skyline, ON, et cetera- still be pursued or are they on permanent hiatus?

WHO KNOWS? THINGS TEND TO GET REALLY BUSY WHEN A BAND PUTS OUT A RECORD AND TOURS. I'VE BEEN TRYING TO DO SOME NATIONAL SKYLINE STUFF, BUT IT'S HARD TO CONCENTRATE ON TWO THINGS AT ONCE. WE'RE TRYING TO WRITE NEW STUFF FOR Year of the Rabbit, AND KEN AND I PRODUCE AND MIX OTHER BANDS ALL THE TIME, SO IT'S TOUGH.

The National Skyline project always seemed a bit fluid. Has it been abandoned?

IT'S NOT ABANDONED; I JUST CAN'T SEEM TO FIND TIME TO TRAVEL TO AUSTIN AND WORK WITH JEFF DIMPSEY. I'D LOVE TO HANG WITH HIM FOR A COUPLE OF WEEKS AND KNOCK OUT A RECORD, BUT THERE'S NO TIME.

Why is the Champaign/Urbana/Chicago scene so damn incestuous, and how has that influenced your music over time?

I USED TO LOVE THE ILLINOIS SCENE, BUT I'M SO FAR REMOVED NOW, THAT I'VE FORGOTTEN IT. I HAVEN'T BEEN TO CHAMPAIGN IN 2 YEARS, SO I'M TOTALLY OUT OF THE LOOP.

What is your most memorable rock music story?

ONE TIME KEN AND I WENT TO A PARTY IN THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS AND THERE WERE MEMBERS OF TOOL, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, AUDIOSLAVE, BECK, AND GOD KNOWS WHO ELSE WAS THERE. I REMEMBER THINKING THAT IF THERE WERE AN EARTHQUAKE, MODERN ROCK WOULD BE FUCKED.

So what are Year of the Rabbit plans for the immediate future?

WE'LL BE TOURING FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR, AND HOPEFULLY THE RECORD WILL BE SUCCESSFUL. OBVIOUSLY, THE RECORDED MATERIAL IS GETTING OLD TO US AND WE WANT TO DO NEW STUFF, BUT WE GOTTA TACKLE THIS RECORD FIRST. HOPEFULLY WE'LL MAKE A FEW RECORDS AND SIGN OUR NAME ON A FEW WALLS.

SEE ALSO: www.yearoftherabbit.net

--
Mark Skipper
Mark Skipper currently resides in Nashville, TN where he can be found skipping shows, drinking Guinness, making bad home recordings, and complaining about how much music sucks these days.

See other articles by Mark Skipper.

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