INTERVIEW: Symmetry’s Jared Hara
Posted on 13.10.2016
On the occasion of World Sight Day, we interviewed Jared Hara, the guitarist of Symmetry, a Los Angeles band with a big UK following, and are currently planning their next UK tour. We spoke to Jared, who discovered his talent for the guitar when he lost his sight at the age of 11, about their new single, the challenges and advantages of being a blind musician, and the importance of accessible venues. Plus, read to the end to find out how you can get involved in our new project on visual impairment and the live music experience.
What’s the story behind your new single & video Gotta Wake You Up?
We like our songs to always to be open to interpretation. With everything that is going on in the world… people could use a “wake up call”.
You’re working on a new album, how is that going?
The new album is going great. This album will be an extension of our EP Cure. We have added some new tracks and are aiming to release this winter.
What initially drew you to start making music? When did you decide to start pursuing music seriously?
My passion growing up was ice hockey, every waking minute I was not in school I was at the ice rink with my friends or my team. When I was 10 and 11 I was captain of a traveling championship team. So after I lost my vision at 11 I was lost as to how to fill the void. I looked high and low to find that missing piece. I tried the acoustic guitar first and it just wasn’t exciting enough for me. Six long months later I went with my Dad to try out an electric guitar and with a great amp. I was hooked from day one. I practiced 8 hours a day and took it seriously from the beginning.
You’re an accomplished guitarist, how did you develop your skills?
Practise, practise, practise… with love for it! My Dad use to say the guitar had become my 3rd arm I loved it so much! Also surrounding myself with musicians who are better than me.
How did the band come together originally?
We were very fortunate to connect when we all ended up in LA at the same time – Mike, Will and I went to Musicians Institute and Max was a local.
Symmetry's new video Gotta Wake You Up
Have you faced any barriers as a musician due to your visual impairment?
When I was attending music school, as the first Blind student there I faced troubles with a few classes that dealt with sight reading. I think though with music your ear is your best friend so I felt like I had the upper hand.
As a visually impaired musician, are there any adaptations you’ve made to the way you do things on tour?
It’s super important to be organized and keep things in their place, especially because you’re moving from place to place daily and your suitcase is your home. On stage I mostly play without shoes to help me keep my bearings – so far it has worked, I haven’t fallen off stage as of yet!
You’re big fans of the UK and have toured here a number of times, including at venues on our Charter of Best Practice. How important is it to you that the venues you tour are accessible?
Charter of Best Practice is an awesome program! Accessibility is very important so that all people can enjoy music. A building should never be the reason for anyone to not be able to enjoy or experience something entertaining. Life has enough obstacles!
We’re currently in the planning stages for a piece of research about visual impairment and the live music experience, looking into how venues and festivals could be improved. Both as a performer and as a music fan, are there any changes you would like the music industry to make for visually impaired customers, and for artists?
Awareness! Among the staff. Be aware that not everyone is drunk – someone may actually be Blind!
What would you say to a venue that doesn’t provide information about access on their website?
Have you been approached by any fans with a visual impairment – do you consider yourself a role model?
Fans that are visually impaired have approached me and they have told me I am a role model to them, which is absolutely an honour. But at the end of the day I’m trying to be just like them, I live my life the best I can which comes with good days and bad days. Nobody is perfect. It is hard to look at yourself as a role model when you are just trying to make the best out of your own situation. If I can help anyone on my journey as well, or if anyone refers to me as a role model or an inspiration, I am absolutely honoured.
Symmetry are supporting Attitude is Everything in our new project, reaching out to music fans with visual impairments. We’re interested in speaking to people about their experiences of attending live music events to feed into a new guide for venues and festivals on how to be as accessible as possible for people with visual impairments. We want to collect good experiences, bad experiences and tips for how things could be improved from the customer perspective. If you or someone you know would like to contribute to this project, please contact Jacob either via email or over the phone on 020 7383 7979.