For many, when you think of Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii, you probably picture beautiful golden beaches, hula dancing, and of course, Hawaiian shirts. However, Honolulu has much more to offer. For example, it has a diverse musical scene, and when it comes to representing progressive post-hardcore, there’s Mara Bloom.
Hailing from a sparse yet dedicated heavy music scene, Mara Bloom takes influence from a range of prog-metal and urban J-pop. Their debut album, ‘They Who Invite’, is a dizzying but catchy collection. Tracks such as ‘Dirty Deeds’ and ‘Hateful Little Things’ exemplify the quintet’s musical brevity and scope; twisting and turning yet retaining a melodic hook. While ‘Yomi’ and ‘Full Circle’ lean towards the heavier side of things, reminiscent of Circa Survive and A Lot Like Birds. Furthermore, ‘They Who Invite’ is conceptually inspired by a tragic tale from Shinto mythology.
Overall, Mara Bloom executes a striking and progressive set of songs on ‘They Who Invite’. It’s a dance-inducing yet melancholy collection of progressive post-hardcore.
As they look to break out of their hometown (not quite in stereotypical pop-punk fashion), we thought it’d be a good idea to speak to Mara Bloom to find out what else Honolulu has to offer.
What city are you from, and what makes you proudest to be from there?
Honolulu! The food, the many assorted cultures with deep roots in the city. There are a lot of cultures that come together and create an extremely versatile canvas. It’s always interesting because the city will be slightly different depending on where you are and what influences took hold there.
What’s it famous for and what are its people known for/what character traits are they seen as having?
It’s famous for the beaches, and they’re gorgeous, sure, but you live here long enough and it kind of just becomes part of the landscape. The tourism, of course, the weather, the melting pot of cultures. The laid-back attitude you see often portrayed in media is pretty accurate, too.
What influence has that had on the city’s music scene and the types of bands it produces?
Lots of reggae, a lot of punk and indie bands, but there’s not a lot and you kind of take what you can get in terms of shows. The metal scene has never been a particularly big or popular thing on the island, but it’s definitely there, and some passionate people are making really cool shit if you know where to look.
Are there particular genres your hometown is most associated with?
Reggae, and a little thing called Jawaiian. That’s a real thing, look up J Boog. Contemporary Hawaiian, of course, like Braddah Iz (aka Israel Kamakawiwoʻole), who did the famous ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ cover.
To you, what are the best or most well-known bands the city has produced and how do you feel about those bands?
Well, there’s Rebel Souljahz, also Bruno Mars came from Oahu. The Ala Wai Virus, All Heart. (President Barack) Obama came from here too. And Dog the Bounty Hunter is here (laughs). Not a lot of metal bands that come from Oahu.
Who do you consider the unsung heroes in your local music scene?
What local up-and-coming bands should we be listening to?
What venues in the city has your band played most often and how have they helped to shape your band?
Nextdoor hands down, and Anna O’ Brien’s. There’s not a lot of options for metal or punk venues in the city, so everyone tends to cycle through the three or four available. It hasn’t shaped much aside from our anxiety about live gear because each one is different and some don’t have the best set-up.
If you were to/if you have written a song about where you’re from, what would the tone and message of the song be?
It’d be a classic pop-punk anthem about leaving this town and your exes and whatever. It would be a bit difficult to write heavy songs about rainbows and beaches and traffic. If we had to write a heavy one, it’d definitely be about traffic. And it would not be nice!
‘They Who Invite’ by Mara Bloom is out now.