Heels & Picks: Infrared Rabbit
BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser
There’s a new band on the scene in Honolulu and you may feel them coming before you see them. Rock band Infrared Rabbit is about to launch not one, but two albums simultaneously and with those infrared wavelengths sneaking up on you, music fans would do well to get ready for the heat.
Initially formed as Catching Light, the band evolved into the current Infrared Rabbit lineup and has been recording the journey. The result is the full-band CD, “Darker” and the acoustic sessions “Infrared Light.” The latter began as a recording project from the band’s early days.
I like the idea of releasing full band and acoustic at the same time – it allows the band to showcase a full spectrum of their abilities. And let’s face it, rock fans like the sneak peek that acoustic tracks provide into a band’s creative process.
Lead singer Michelle Busekrus (née Boudreau) has a full, low voice that cuts through nicely on the tracks. Vocals can often get buried in tracks and it’s nice to see a lead sitting up front where it belongs in the mix. Having recently married Marcus Busekrus from mainstay local rock band Busekrus, rock runs in the family. Kayseph Ferreira (guitar), Joshua Edelstein (bass) and Daniel Hohu (drums) round out the band. There is a bit of a Pat Benetar thing going on here.
The band leads towards classic rock in the way they orchestrate their guitar parts, but it’s got a modern alternative edge to it. You can catch their single on Star 101.9’s Unsigned Hawaii show on Sunday evenings.
Infrared Rabbit will be celebrating the release of the two albums with a show on October 2nd at Hawaiian Brian’s. It’s an all ages event, so all the young indie rocker can attend, and support acts include Erika Elona Band, Peter Bond, Completely Insane and will feature appearances by Busekrus (band) and Kaimi Hanano’eau. The show tickets are $10 and include physical copies of both albums.
I caught up with Ferreira and Busekrus via email to find out more about the new albums and where the band is headed.
HONOLULU STAR ADVERTISER: You are releasing two albums at the same time, a full band album and an acoustic album. That’s an interesting concept! Tell us about what prompted you to go that route.
KAYSEPH FERREIRA: Well, there are a couple of reasons for this. Michelle and I played as an acoustic duo for a couple of years, but really we wanted to be in a rock band. It’s just hard finding the right people. We tried recruiting members for a while, but we just didn’t feel chemistry with any of them. We were sure though that we wanted to do a rock album since we had so many original songs that we wrote. We were eager to see how our compositions would pan out as rock songs. We decided to just do a studio album anyway with the hopes of recruiting musicians for the band along the way. When Josh Edelstein (solo bassist of “A Bass and Its Boy”) and Mike Jones (drummer of Busekrus) agreed to be part of the project, we started recording back in October 2013. Technically, we started working on the rock arrangements in September of 2013. Josh would stay on to become a full member of the band.
Over the two years as an acoustic duo, Michelle and I recorded many acoustic “scratch tracks” of our songs at Artemis Audio in Kailua. This actually greatly helped with the recording process. We only selected 10 songs to fully produce into a rock album from the large pool of songs we had. These are the tracks on Darker. We felt kind of bad for not doing anything with some of the other songs because we thought they were also good compositions, so we decided to put them on an acoustic album. That is basically what started Infrared Light, the all-acoustic album.
Although we primarily play as a full rock band now, occasionally we still like doing the acoustic thing. Its good to have that kind of duality I think. Many of our rock heroes (i.e. Bon Jovi, Incubus) do excellent acoustic renditions of some of their hits that allow you to see the song differently. So, having an acoustic album in this sense also made sense to us.
SA: The main album, “Darker,” is a classic rock with a bit of alternative mixed in. What are your influences?
KF: Michelle and I have a lot of rock influences from many popular classic rock bands. I suppose most notably Bon Jovi and Heart. From a composition and production stand point, I personally feel heavily influenced by Stone Temple Pilots, Strung Out, Aerosmith, and Andrew Lloyd Weber. But, Michelle and I listen to a lot of different artists ranging from Blues to Broadway – to exactly pinpoint every influence is impossible I think.
SA: Where did you record the album and who produced it?
KF: We recorded the album at Artemis Audio in Kailua Hawaii run by Demitri Marmash. Demitri is a great sound engineer. His studio has the tools and equipment to produce a rock album that is competitive with any mainland product. Plus, he’s just really easy to work with. Demitri Marmash, Marcus Busekrus and I co-produced the record. I was the sole producer for Infrared Light.
SA: What can fans expect at Hawaiian Brian’s for the album launch party?
KF: I think fans can expect to hear a lot of great music. We personally picked the acts for the evening. Fortunately, all the bands agreed to play. We wanted it to be an eclectic mix of tastes as well. Also, for the first time at Hawaiian Brian’s Crossroad, there will be two stages. A second stage will be set up in the back for acoustic acts between sets and when the doors open. So, there will be no “house music” or DJ, just live music from great musicians. We are so happy to have them all here to share this CD release with us. So, come to the show expecting to be entertained.
SA: How important do you think it is to hold all ages shows for Hawaii’s rock scene?
KF: Well, it certainly helps with gathering a larger audience. Plus, we know that we have some younger fans that are younger than 21. They would’ve been bummed if they could not make it due to an age restriction. Music should not be restricted to certain age groups anyway. Although some lyrics or performances may be explicit, who’s to say when a child should be exposed to different forms of art or not?
SA: What’s your favorite song on the new album and why?
KF: That’s a tough one. From a technical standpoint, I think “Heavy” is the best because it’s the most dynamic. However, Michelle disagrees with me about that. I think her favorite is “Ocean Eyes”, which is a song about her husband, Marcus Busekrus. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to do a Spanish-rock type song, so I was pretty happy with how that one turned out as well. From a personal standpoint, “Dear Fate” is probably a big accomplishment for me musically and lyrically. The simplicity behind it speaks worlds of emotion. I do not think I could do any better as a songwriter.
SA: What is coming up next for Infrared Rabbit?
KF: We want to get our music out there, do more band promoting, and do more shows in Hawaii. We like it here, so we don’t intend to move anytime soon. There are also preliminary talks about doing another album. I mean, we love to write and record, so the thought of doing more seems logical. I know we have the material to do more, but it takes a lot of work to produce albums independently and at the level we want. Let’s see what happens with the release of “Darker” and “Infrared Light.” It’s kind of an ambitious effort, but we are all quite happy with the finished product.
SA: Band name – is there a story to that?
KF: Michelle and I struggled a bit with the name. It was actually stressful to pick one. I remember going through random band name generators on the Internet with Michelle a long time ago. I think one of the search engines spit out “Infrared Rabbit.” We both thought it was cool and marketable. I mean there’s so much we could do with the name – fun stickers, t-shirts, logos, and maybe even plushes or toys. On that note, we are really happy with the artwork Rachael Uyeno has done for “Darker” and “Infrared Light.” The cute bunnies on the “Darker” album will eventually be made into stickers and show up on shirts. It’ll be cool I think.
SA: For Michelle – what other women in rock influence you? How do you feel about the current state of women in rock?
MICHELLE BUSEKRUS: I’ve always loved Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart. Their music was introduced to me by my parents a long time ago, and I remember having my mind blown by the melodies, the lyrics and the raw emotion they presented. I had a chance to see them play in Las Vegas at the House of Blues last year and quite frankly I don’t think anything could top their performance. Ann was and continues by a powerhouse. She’s what I strive to be; she’s a big inspiration.
SA: What are the main differences between “Darker” and “Infrared Light”?
KF: Aside from the apparent acoustic/rock difference, “Infrared Light” is a lot more chill. It’s the kind of CD you put in to relax to. “Infrared Light” also has some compositions from my old project called “Catching Light”. It seemed opportune to utilize the tracks. This also added another depth of meaning to the name “Infrared Light” rather than it simply being a polar opposite of “darkness”. In this sense, “Darker” is a much more serious album lyrically and musically. There is more dissonance and minor progressions. The lyrics are also not always happy. Although the subject matter of the tracks on Darker are more serious, the stories show positive transitions out of these “dark” situations… which is really embodied in the first track of the album, “Control.” It sets the tone of things to come.
SA: Will both albums be available on iTunes?
KF: Yes, both albums will be available on iTunes on October 2nd.
Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.