Stomping With The
The Valley’s Premier Protest Band Will Release New Album Feb. 22 Amid The Growth Of Their Emerging, Innovative Blend Of Acoustic, Punk And Politics
John Luther of The Haymarket Squares. Images by Jeff Moses.
<— Previous Page
The European tour not only brought some political and protest opportunities, but it also lead to one of the Squares’ personal favorite shows in Wageningen, Netherlands.
“It’s a college town in Holland and we got there and it was near the end of the term. There were a bunch of Americans there on some kind of exchange program and so this bar was just packed and there was basically this manic circle of dancers the entire night. They just got louder and stompier and more enthusiastic as the night went on and they got more drunk,” said Sunman.
While some bands may shy away from confined spaces where the audience is right on top of them, the Squares thrive on it.
“Energetic people in a confined space taking your energy and enthusiasm and feeding it back to you. It kind of builds and builds,” said Oxborrow.
They like the closeness so much, the Squares still enjoy house shows because of their intimacy and intensity.
“House shows can be so awesome, you know. You’re usually in kind of a confined space with hopefully a lot of people and so there is all this energy and these people like right on top of you and the show that John is talking about you could actually feel the floor bouncing,” said Oxborrow.
“Dude I thought we were going to fall through the floor,” said Allred.
“That would have been amazing,” said Luther.
“It was an old wooden floor and it was actually rising and falling by a couple of inches with all these people jumping up and down,” said Sunman.
“We’ve had some really awesome shows at totally non-commercial spaces like Firehouse and Trunk Space,” said Oxborrow.
“Conspire, too,” said Luther.
“I like playing shows that are free mostly because then anyone can come and I don’t have to say, ‘Hey come pay ten bucks to see my band,’” said Sunman.
Though the Squares enjoy the energy and vibe of the free shows, for the perks the Phoenix quintet turns to The Crescent Ballroom.
“In Phoenix, Crescent is probably my favorite place. I’m a sound freak and the sound guys are attentive and don’t try and mix us to sound like some metal band,” said Allred, “And there’s always beer in the fridge in the green room.”
Even as their popularity grows and they get invited to play bigger and bigger shows, the Squares still maintain their roots in downtown Phoenix’s arts district.
“I like playing at Lost Leaf except for the fact that it’s a terrible venue. It’s a terrible venue, but it’s a fun place to play and I love the bar. It’s my neighborhood bar and free to get in, ya know, so even though on the technical side, the musical side of things, it’s a terrible venue, it’s an awesome bar and I really like hanging out there and playing there,” said Sunman.
Their neighborhood bar is absolutely an important place for a band whose favorite song to play is titled “Let’s Get Fucked Up,” and at the end of the day as political as the Squares get, they still hope to make fun and fast acoustic music to dance to.
“We like to think that the people find something to enjoy and they’re maybe inspired or entertained,” said Oxborrow. And for the future expect, “more of the same. More touring, more shows, maybe, finally convincing Megan (Neff) or some other violin player to join us, probably a lot of broken strings.”
The Squares are even bringing a drummer back into the equation for tracks like their newest “Let’s Start a Riot.”
“I was really adamantly opposed to a drummer for a long time ‘cause drummers suck mostly, most drummers play too loud, they can’t control their volume” said Oxborrow. “Chet Baker said ‘it takes a really good drummer to be better than no drummer.’”
A drummer they liked, Josh Garber, who played with the band in live shows and performed on their newest album, “Righteous Ruckus,” due out Feb. 22, eventually left the Squares to pursue projects to combat human trafficking in Lithuania.
After Garber, the Squares went drummer-less for a while until Oxborrow met Aaron Hjalmarson.
“I’m in this band called North Brother Island with my friend Dario. We needed a bass player to play a wedding gig and Dario knew Marc,” said Hjalmarson. “Marc was a cool enough guy, and eventually he invited me to play on some stuff.”
“I went with ulterior motives to become better acquainted with Megan Neff, their violin player, to get her to come play Squares’ shows with us occasionally which has worked, and then in the process I discovered this awesome drummer,” said Oxborrow.
“[Hjalmarson] is not afraid to bash a Nazi skull,” said Luther, referring to the dangers that come along with playing the protests that the Squares often do.
Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
The Haymarket Squares, Sheriff Joe.
Cinnamon Girl Take a walk on the macabre side and meet two people who begin a relationship that will evolve to explore the depths and highs of pain, fear, sex, and blood while pondering the unsolved dilemmas of remorse.
Horizon Rising Episode 12: “A Federal Case” — Despite the best efforts of the White House to control and manipulate the dreamtalkers, the president and his chief of staff find themselves between a rock and a hard place.