Half Past Two // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
Half Past Two are an eight piece ska band based out of Orange County, CA. High school marching band friends turned long term bandmates, Half Past Two have worked with Aaron Barrett of Reel Big Fish (both on and off the stage), played a run of shows with The Toasters, and have solidified their place in the local music scene over the past decade.
Half Past Two consists of vocalist Tara Hahn, guitarist / vocalist Max Beckman, keyboardist / guitarist / vocalist David Parris, lead guitarist Cameron Hallenbeck, bassist Mark Anderson, drummer Dan Evans, and Ali Peale on Tenor sax while Dr. Zack Wisti is on Alto and Baritone sax.
This lively group creates energetic music that will make you want to move your body to the beat and sing along to the songs. Their most recent release, Camp Slushtone, came out this past summer and includes elements of punk, pop punk, and reggae sprinkled in with their traditional ska sound.
"Proximity" is a bold track to kick off an album with, however the six songs that follow it keep up the momentum without sounding monotonous. In fact, each track explores different genres while sticking to a solid ska base, thanks to the solid horn section, upbeat rhythms, and vocal patterns.
With parts of "Proximity" venturing into the pop punk world, specifically in the guitar riffs backing Tara's vocals during "I know, I know your history / It could fill a library / Who would treat you better? / This girl, if you let her," the entire song will keep you moving, weather it's bopping along while listening through headphones, or dancing and singing at a live show.
While heavy on the horns, "So Cal Summer" dips further into pop punk waters that enable the song to stick out as a clear summer anthem, specifically in the chorus that's carried by Tara's sleek, polished vocals. Think carefree summer nights meets dream paradise vacation: "We’ve got sunshine, the Pacific sea / Holding on to you / Holding on to me / The nights are dark, but oh so warm / Our minds higher than the palms / Singin’ all our favorite songs." These lyrics easily stir up feelings of cruising around with your pals, blasting your favorite tunes through the car stereo, and watching the sun set at your favorite beach.
"Choosing Sides" shakes up the mix with clear reggae vibes that act as a simple accent to the track rather than a backbone. With chilled out vocals and a slower paced tempo, this track seems to reach out and effortlessly cross over into different genres without overdoing it.
The track "Gone Tomorrow" sticks out a bit, as it's vastly different than the bands established sound-- the song opens to the sound of good friends sitting around a campfire in the middle of summer without a care in the world. With the only instrument being an acoustic guitar, this song definitely seems out of place, but not necessarily in a negative way -- it's just not expected.
Half Past Two are a band that I'd like to see more of, specifically with tour dates outside of just the West Coast -- they've solidified their sound, earned a solid fan base, and have the necessary energy to draw new fans in with just one listen.
Q: Since you have known each other since High School, at what point did the group decide to "get serious" in regards to making music a priority?
A: While the band has always been a hobby, it’s one that we’ve always taken pretty seriously (except when we’re making stupid jokes and puns on stage!) We’re always aiming for "bigger and better" so 2017 was our busiest and most productive year yet.
Q: Being from the West Coast, I'm sure that you've played your share of popular local venues. What was your favorite venue to go to shows at prior to playing it yourself and why?
A: In high school you could find us and our friends at Chain Reaction in Anaheim most often. Unfortunately they don’t host many ska shows these days but in the early to mid 2000's every midsize band came through there with the bigger bands playing House of Blues a few minutes away at Downtown Disney.
Q: What are your bucket list cities to play in, and are there any specific venues on that list?
A: We made a semi-serious proclamation that we’re going to tour Japan in 2020. It’s a tall order but I think we can pull it off and we gave ourselves a few years to figure it out.
Q: Camp Slushtone is an all around fun album -- which track is your favorite to perform live?
A: Definitely the first track "Proximity" (and a quick poll of the band says we’re all in agreement). It’s the current opener to our set and always sets an upbeat, exciting tone for the rest of the performance.
Q: When writing songs, what would you say is the key to finding balance between all of the ideas that each member has in mind?
A: Everyone has to be on the page that the best idea wins out. It doesn’t matter who comes up with it, if it’s better than what’s there already, it gets changed. Sometimes we hit an impasse where we’re totally split between two choices and we kind of trade off who gets their way.
Q: What can we expect from Half Past Two in 2018?
A: We just wrapped up a six-day tour supporting The Toasters (our first tour in almost 10 years!) and we have a lot of exciting shows planned at home as well. Additionally, we’re planning more music videos and some new and (we hope) interesting ways to present some of our songs.
You can stay up to date with Half Past Two on Facebook