Tuesday, August 18, 2015


The Haves are a charismatic band in Columbia, SC.  Part Chili Peppers, part Beasties, part Rage Against the Machine - they not only rock you out, they're a positive influence on the local scene. There have been many musicians who have inspired change and The Haves could be in that number.  I was lucky to have Mike Young agree to an interview.  I want to start by thanking him for taking time to share with the readers.

I love the name, "The Haves" and your symbol.  How did you come up with them?

The original phrase comes from the novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha where his sidekick Sancho quotes his grandmother saying, ‘in this world there are only two types of people- the haves and the have nots.’  As for the reason for naming the band ‘The Haves’ we have two main themes- social critique and organizing.  A major influence comes from Paulo Freire's book Pedagogy of the Oppressed to highlight the origins of social inequalities that stem from structural issues. I attempt to use a multivocal approach where I take on the persona of both the oppressed and the oppressor to demonstrate how the ideologies function and also how both qualities can take form within the same individual, differing scales and dimensions of oppression. For there to be a haves there must be a have-not, otherwise there would be no basis for comparison to create your identity in relation to another.  So, I ask how did domination become so naturalized? The logo is intentionally male, white, and western (with a class element- the tie) to bring in patriarchy and feminism with a global reach by using a recognizable symbol which possesses meaning and power that isn't explicit. So also, how do we learn to be the way we are and think the thoughts we think? I critique institutions, discourses, etc. then finally I hope to generate motivation and desire to make positive change that incorporates the well being of everyone involved- anarchist principles: equality, no hierarchies. Even our black and white color scheme is related to anarcho-pacifism, with the occasional use of red- syndicalism, voluntary organization/association/action/cooperation. So, awareness of the mechanisms, peaceful non-participation in damaging activities (being and setting the example) with the hopes that structural changes will result. I focus primarily on greed and free-market ideology and business practices since they are the main engine that drives how people come into relation with one another and how the ideologies can become adopted, co-opted, and rejected. 

How did the band meet and how long have you been together?

Luke and Will met in graduate school at USC and Matt was looking for people to jam with and start a band.  They played together for over a year and put an ad out on craigslist for a singer.  I had only been in South Carolina a couple of months (I moved here to go to graduate school at USC) and looked for rock bands that needed singers.  January of 2012 I tried out, and they invited me back.

How would you describe your sound?

We have heard people make incredible comparisons about our sound and I like knowing that we can bring out a little bit of everyone’s background in music.  We have heard people say they hear from Gang of Four to Yes.  But Luke always has great adjectives to describe sounds so I will try his style of description- spacey, quacky, ranty, crunchy, funky, groovy, and tasty.

Other than the didgeridoo, what musical instruments do you play?

I tinker with a few instruments- harmonica, djembe, maraca, megaphone, tongue drum, conch shell, and the rain stick.  I am trying to work as many of these into the band as I possibly can, trying to keep it weird ya know what I mean?

Who writes your songs?

We have an interesting writing formula.  We all contribute ideas and input, but Luke and Matt take the lead.  Typically Luke will have an intricate bass line in his head and Matt will tame it and give it a bit of a groove.  We try things out and see what sounds best- Will tries a beat and if we hear something else we’ll pitch it, I write patterns to the riffs before I write the lyrics, if the patterns aren’t fitting the guys will tell me to try something else.  We all listen to each other and respond well to each other’s ideas.

Would you tell us about the song "Whisper in Your Ear"?

Whisper in Your Ear is about hegemony (the active participation in one’s own subordination, the adoption of the values of your oppressor).  In this song I explain the ‘get ahead’ mentality and how it is meant and measured by its exclusivity.  I first take on the voice of a guide instructing an individual that for them to succeed they must convince those below/after them that they need to stay in their position, but it must be voluntary ‘to play this game you gotta program who’s behind in line to think that its just their fault for not getting ahead’.  Then I patronize and scoff the individual for believing the guidance with the lines ‘was it a surprise to find yourself behind? You thought these rules were meant to include you?  You’ve been fooled, back in line, victim’s fault’ and that is what is whispered in ears.  

Who are your musical influences?

I’ll get the obvious out of the way up front- Rage Against the Machine is by far one of our favorite bands and it shows in our style, but we have many more influences that you can pick up on if you listen.  We like incorporating elements of different genres from progressive hard rock to metal to funk to reggae.  Other bands that have spiced up our musical soup- Primus, Rush, Deftones, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tool, among others.

How do you channel such amazing energy on stage?

First of all, thank you.  I’ve seen a lot of bands perform and I always enjoy the most energetic singers and I would like to be what I want to see.  It seems to get the crowd excited and it’s a lot of fun for me.

What would The Haves consider being a success?

I would say seeing that we made a positive impact.  Whether that impact is through our music and people connect with it and love to rock out with us, or through the community building we are trying to encourage through the local music scene, or having people question their reality and inspiring people to make a difference/change in their own lives.

What can we expect from the band for 2015?

We will be recording three new songs (Obey, Bottoms Up, Petals in the Wind) in the next couple of months and will be releasing them in a couple different ways.  Two of them (Obey, Bottoms Up + Charlie Chaplin was an Anarchist) will be on a compilation album we are collaboratively putting together with other local bands in Columbia (Stardog, Emory Lane, and Cigar Box Opera).  The local music compilation will feature 3 songs by each of the bands and we will have them available at our next show- May 9th at Art Bar.  We will all be playing that night, it’s going to be a great show. Hope to see you there, as well as you, dear reader.

What word of advice would you like to give the readers?


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