How do you define a rare occasion? For me it is something that I don’t think about every day. But when it happens, it makes me feel like I am living my life. And that’s what we are here for – to live our lives.
The band formed in 2013. They are composed of lead vocalist/guitarist Michael McLaughlin, drummer Chris Imbusch, bass guitarist Matt Stone, and keyboardist Zachary Cohen. The group grew out of a friendship between McLaughlin and Stone, who had attended college together in Providence, Rhode Island. After graduating, Stone moved to New York City, while McLaughlin stayed behind in Providence. While there, he began playing guitar with Cohen, whom he knew from his days at Brown University. In addition to being friends, McLaughlin and Cohen shared musical interests, and soon became interested in starting a band together. In 2013, the foursome recruited Imbusch, who had been drumming for local bands since 2007.
After many months of jam sessions, the group finally settled on a name – The Rare Occasions – and began writing songs. By summer 2013, the band had finished recording their debut EP, Feelers, produced by Joe Chiccarelli. The band signed with Equal Vision Records, releasing it on May 6, 2014. The EP received generally positive reviews, and was named one of the best EPs of 2014 by Absolute Punk. In October 2014, the band released their followup single, “I’m Not Gonna Die”, featuring guest vocals from American singer-songwriter John Mayer. The song peaked at number 13 on Billboard”’s Adult Alternative Songs chart.
In 2015, the band released their first full-length album, titled The Rare Occasions. It was recorded over two years at the band’s own studio, The Rare Occasions Studio, located in Providence, RI. The album features guest appearances from American rock musician Dave Grohl (of Foo Fighters), as well as members of the band Modest Mouse. The album debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling 11,000 copies its first week. The band toured extensively throughout North America and Europe in support of the record, including opening slots for artists such as The Lumineers, Mumford & Sons, and The Civil Wars.