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Ha the Unclear - Coastella Interview: Ha the Unclear

14 Dec 2018 // An interview by eidirbs

Auckland pop-rock act Ha The Unclear released their new album Invisible Lines during 2018 and they'll be performing at Coastella 2019, which is taking place on the Kapiti Coast on 23 February. Bridie from Muzic.net.nz spoke to Michael about their name, instruments and favourite kind of venue:

Where did the name Ha The Unclear come from?

I was working a pretty terrible office job at the time we decided to change our band name. I was going through a big existentialist phase, so I had the Nietzsche quote “when you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you” tacked to the wall of my cubicle. For me, it was a bit of a play on that, like what else can you do when confronted with absurdity but laugh at it? Laughter is an effective coping mechanism.

How did you come to form the band? Was it a case of friends coming together to make music they like?

Paul, Ben and I played in another 5-piece band together that was largely 10-minute songs and instrumentals. When that finished up, I had a bunch of time and wrote a couple of more pop-oriented EPs and recorded them in my bedroom. We thought it would be fun to play them live and we kind of became a band without any expectations, just to play some shows around Dunedin.

You have a very distinct vocal sound that comes from the fact your Kiwi accent comes through so strongly. Was that a decision you made on purpose?

Yeah it was something I started doing pretty early on in my first band. I was starting to write about local Dunedin places and it felt wrong to pronounce them in any other way than the way would say them in conversation.

2018 has been a great year for the band with honours such as making the shortlist for the Silver Scrolls. What do you hope to achieve with 2019?

We recently recorded a track with Sylvia Massy as part of the New Zealand Producer Series so we will hopefully plan something around that. I’m slowly working on songs for the next album and we have more touring in the pipeline.

What’s special to you about your instruments? Is there any brand loyalty in the group or does anyone have a certain instrument with sentimental value?
Paul and I both play Squires but that’s because we’re too broke for a real tele and a real jazz. The closest thing to a gearhead in the band is probably Theo and he plays a G & L. I have a short scale ’59 Guild Freshman that I love but it got so battered up from touring that it’s been banished to a corner of the bedroom for writing only. Ben’s dad Chris collects a lot of drum gear so we’ve been really lucky to have access to a lot of vintage drums when we’re in Dunedin. Notably, an amber Ludwig Vistalite that I think is a 70's model.

What’s your favourite kind of venue to perform in?
Be it an old hall, a house or a club. House parties are the most fun, but a good club venue is just stress-free.

What’s the ultimate goal for Ha The Unclear in the future?I don’t think there’s an ultimate goal. I mean, enjoying and being present in the process is important whatever the future is. You write and then perform, and hope that you make some meaningful connections. I feel like worshipping and anticipating any kind of end would miss the forest for the trees. So, just staying on the ride really.

How can people follow what you’re up to online?



More info on Coastella


About Ha the Unclear

Ha the Unclear (an anagram for Nuclear Heath) initially formed in Dunedin under the moniker Brown. It is off-kilter alt-pop music with vintage overtones and interesting angles: "I've always been your coffee table, shit I've seen some things. Heard words I can't repeat. I'm mute, I'm rimu, I'm loyal" (Secret Lives of Furniture), "The holes in the roof are made from stars/We'll die wondering what we are" (Kosmonavt).

Full-length album Bacterium, Look at Your Motor Go was released September 2014 after a string of singles (Apostate, Secret Lives of Furniture, Growing Mould).

Michael Cathro is joined by Paul Cathro, Ben Sargeant and Theo Francis to deliver songs and stories about elderly regret, a coffee table's infatuation with its owner, tricycling through a New Zealand suburb, pondering the imponderable and the effects of catholic school.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ha the Unclear


Invisible Lines
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Bacterium, Look At Your Motor Go
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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