Tonight, June 17, Dear Rabbit is releasing its latest record, In a Desert Without the Book at the Hi-Dive. The album features a collection of existential explorations cast in gypsy folk pop songs. Dear Rabbit delivers them with a combination of passion and delicacy of feeling. The project is often just singer/multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Rence Liam, but for this show he will be joined by Grant Sabin and Alex Koshack of Briffaut as well as David Strackany of Paleo. Following the Denver appearance, Liam will kick off a nine week tour across the country, including a set at Missoula, Montana's Total Fest, an event that has hosted many Colorado-based bands since its 2001 inception.
Prior to adopting the name Dear Rabbit in 2010, Liam played in a band inspired by the eclectic, experimental pop music with his friend Nat Hua. The duo used various names, including Punk Rock Gods, Be Thou My Vision and finally Pachisi Champion -- the latter a reference to the original Indian name of Parcheesi. Hua moved back to his home state of Florida in 2009 and Liam, completely unsure of his musical abilities, nonetheless received Hua's blessing to continue with the band name and the music.
"He was like, 'You can do this,'" recalls Liam. "I didn't know how to sing or anything really. But I was at all the show supporting stuff and people would always come to me for booking. They already liked me as a person and when I showed up without him they were okay with that."
As a duo, Liam had already somewhat accidentally cultivated the musical abilities and skills that would serve him well in his current project.
"I learned to play piano but I mostly played bass for him," says Liam. "We were into that whole Neutral Milk Hotel thing and he would let me borrow instruments. I found a cornet at a pawn shop for $22.50. I learned to play that, the accordion and the trombone. I had a lot of fun just learning all these instruments at once. I thought it would be fun to play a trombone and a tuba, and it just kind of fell into place. It's not like I had to be really good at playing those instruments, because if you can play two or three notes, that may be all a song needs."
Liam met Strackany early on in the development of Dear Rabbit and took some cues from him on establishing an extended tour schedule. Since his first real tour in September 2011, Liam, initially unsure whether or not he could handle life on the road. But he has found that that quasi-nomadic lifestyle suits him.
"Somehow I just adapted," says Liam. "I'm thankful that I meet good people. I feel that the music world I'm in feels very populated by people with good hearts. In different ways they make sure I'm taken care of -- little things like having a place to stay. It works out somehow, I don't know how. It seems like people I meet are fairly honest."
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If you'd like to contact me, Tom Murphy, on Twitter, my handle is @simianthinker.