The Hague creates music that ebbs and flows with its own singular logic, abandoning easy categories in favor of a wide-open approach that moves in all directions at the same time. You’re soon drawn in by the clash of industrial noise and delicate melodies; guitars that dance between acoustic finger picking and thick power chords; soaring vocal harmonies that shift from melancholy to jubilant and arrangements full of dynamic shifts of volume and tempo. The music is rock, but the band’s epic sound tips its hat to country, pop, jazz, post rock, punk, early R&B, classical and 90’s underground sounds. “Our songs are all over the place,” the band says, “We have grungy post rock, up tempo dance songs, pop punk and alt. country songs. We’re likely to include anything that comes to mind when we’re playing.”
On stage, in the studio, and in the songwriting process, The Hague is a collaborative effort, with every band member contributing to the final result. Drummer Jesse Tranfo and guitarist Shawn Steven grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, playing punk and metal, but wanted to create a band without preconceived limits. They’ve been playing, writing and recording for four years and Samsara’s nine expansive tracks show the band at the peak of their power. “This album is darker and more layered than anything we’ve done,” Steven says. “It’s a headphones record, as much as a rock album. “The band says the sound of Samsara is “quiet music played loud,” a description that perfectly fits their wide-ranging approach.
Steven and Tranfo started The Hague in 2009. “We wanted a band without boundaries, where we could play without worrying about it fitting into a genre or a scene,” Tranfo explains. “Shawn and I grew up together and, when we ended up in Portland, we wanted make songs that were fun to write and play, without worrying about the end result.” Tranfo played jazz and classical music in junior high, but joining a rock band changed his life. Steven wanted to play jazz guitar, but got sidetracked by The Smiths and punk rock. He played in a few bands growing up, but concentrated on honing his chops until starting The Hague.
With all band members in place, the band began a rigorous schedule of songwriting, recording and touring, venturing up and down the West Coast several times and as far east as Boston. They’ve been released three EPs and two albums including, The Hague: Live from the Banana Stand, which had local media hailing them as “the future of the Portland music scene.”