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The Hague at Club 66

The Portland band doesn't want to be constrained to one genre
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Left to right: The Hague is Matt Thompson, Jesse Tranfo, Mike Moore and Shawn Steven.Photo by Justin Carothers
 Posted: 2:00 AM March 20, 2014

"We wanted to create a band where genre was irrelevant," says Jesse Tranfo, drummer for Portland's The Hague. "We didn't want to have a band that didn't play something because it didn't sound like us."

Listening through The Hague's albums confirms this. Songs run the musical spectrum from acoustic tunes to technical math-rock instrumentals. The band's 16 song live set also includes a popular '80s pop song from the movie "Back to the Future."

The Hague will play at 9 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland. There is a $5 cover.

If you go

Who: The Hague

When: 9 p.m. Saturday, March 22

Where: Club 66, 1951 Ashland St., Ashland

Cover: $5

Call: 541-450-2656

The band — which was founded in 2009 by singer and guitarist Shawn Steven and Tranfo — has gone through some big changes since the release of its 2011 album "Black Rabbit." Of the five members on that album, only Steven and Tranfo remain.

When Tranfo and Steven reconvened to work on music for The Hague's upcoming album, "Samsara," they employed bassist Matt Thompson of fellow Portland rockers Asteroid M. They later added guitarist Mike Moore to round out the lineup. Moore is the studio engineer at Toadhouse Recording Studios in Portland and was the engineer on "Samsara" before joining the band.

"We had brought on someone else to play guitar, but they left the band during recording," Tranfo says. "We have this tour coming up, so we're scrambling to find a new guitarist; someone who can leave their job for the next few months and learn four albums worth of material. Mike stepped up. He bought a whole new guitar set up to play with us."

The band continues its goal not to let any one sound define them with the music on "Samsara."

While writing "Samsara," the band reversed its songwriting process.

"We wrote the songs originally as these unfinished rough drafts," Tranfo says. "Then we recorded drum parts and wrote the songs around these drum parts.

"Normally, the drums come in after the music to accent everything else. It was cool for me to be able to dictate how these songs went."

Tranfo describes the music on "Samsara" as rawer than previous albums.

"The last record had electric violin on it," Tranfo says. "It was really pretty, but it kind of forced us to write songs that fit his parts. We had more freedom without that."

While there is no release date yet for "Samsara," The Hague has three songs from the album available to stream on its Bandcamp website.

"Since there's a big tour coming up and we've had all these changes, we felt we needed to put something up so that people know what to expect now," Tranfo says.

The band also made a music video for its new song "Neverwell."

"I really wanted to do a narrative music video like (Portland metal band) Red Fang," Tranfo says. "It's a song about struggles, so we got to make our friend's life miserable for a few hours (in the video).

"The song is also about that feeling of having a job but not a career. You're not doing what you want to be doing, but you enjoy the people you're around. Everything is going to be fine regardless; your friends are your home base and support group."


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