There is no grand plan for the Wild Hare Club. I know this comes as a shock. The objective is loose – MAKE GOOD THINGS HAPPEN. USE GUERILLA TACTICS. That’s it really.
Some of the artists and collaborators who have worked with the WHC are people who I have actively sought out and sometimes they find me. Such is the case with Smiley & The Underclass. The band’s vocalist, George Smiley, (not to be confused with his shadowy fictional namesake and actually spelled Smillie), read something on-line I’d said about having to create our own scene in a town devoid of a dedicated music venue and the sentiment chimed. Speaking to him about the band, their inspirations, (Dylan, The Clash and King Tubby are three vital musical touchstones) and their aspirations to create vital music of positive rebellion, I knew instantly that I liked the cut of Smiley’s jib.
Formed in 2014 in a cabin below a London motorway in the fertile musical ooze of Ladbroke Grove, Smiley & The Underclass are a punky reggae explosion that spent 2018 smashing up venues in the UK, Europe and Japan. They have sold out shows in Tokyo and London and packed out tents at Boomtown and Shambala Festival. Their songs are as raw as those of Slaves but as melodic as those of The Skints with a dose of IDLES-esque dystopic energy added for good measure. Their 2017 album Rebels Out There was recorded with Mick Jones of The Clash and UK reggae legend, Nick Manasseh and showcases the strength of their songs in which twin Telecasters deftly duck and weave between stepping razor vocals, the prowling bass providing the heft and the drums the propulsion.
There is a compelling urgency to Smiley & The Underclass that reflects the times we live in – the planetary chaos, the growing social unrest - but their music is undeniably positive and they have created a sound that will unite all those who have a roots rebel streak or a splash of punk rock attitude in their being.
That Smiley & The Underclass’ first venture to Hereford is in support of Extinction Rebellion Herefordshire speaks volumes for this band of young Londoners – they walk the talk and energise hope.