Hayes Peebles - Sound In The Signals Interview

I recently had the chance to interview Hayes Peebles. We talked about his upcoming EP, switching from a solo artist to a full band, and some of his early success. Check out the full interview after the jump!

First off, thanks for the interview.

Always a treat!

You are back in New York working on a new EP. What has the recording process been like so far?

Being back and putting all my focus into music again feels long overdue. As far as the process goes, laying down tracks and the day to day stuff in the studio has been the easy part. Things have been flowing really organically and I’m lucky enough to be working with some really talented people, which takes all the tedium out of it. The hardest and longest part of the process was picking four songs out of ten years worth of music and really thinking hard about how they should sound and sit together.

One thing that is different compared to your previous music is that you are playing with a band. You used to be a solo artist. How does having a band change not only your live show but also the writing process of these new songs?

My writing actually hasn’t changed at all, I’ve always loved arranging and creating parts for a full band, and I always hear a full instrumentation in my head, even when I’m playing solo. Only now that I have a band can other people hear that stuff too, and see that there’s  more behind these songs- the listener can be a part of the complete vision of the tune as well, which is a relief. I think that makes the live show way better and does more justice to the music I make, which up until the band always had these empty spaces floating around waiting to be filled in.

What has been your approach to these new songs and what are you trying to accomplish with them?

Two of the songs on this EP are five or six years old- stuff I wrote when I was 19. One of the challenges (but also one of the fun parts) of finally releasing music after all this time is figuring out how much to lean on older music that really never got its day in the sun versus the new songs that feel more exciting because I created them more recently. So there are going to be two ‘oldies’ on the album and two brand new songs and each one displays a different side. The goal is really to cement my sound and perspective but give people variety too, show whoever cares that there are going to be straight up boozy, country style road songs and there’ll be lush slow-burners about existential dread but that they can all exist together in this cool way.

Do you have a timetable for when you might release the EP or a possible title for it yet?

Haven’t found the right title yet, and there’s still plenty of work to be done once tracking and mixing comes to a close. But I think it’s safe to say the EP will come out in the fall, or at least before it gets bitingly cold. I want it to be in everybody’s hands as soon as possible, but without rushing it.

Have you played many shows with the new full band line-up? If so, how have the shows gone? When you play live do you play under your name only or is this full band project going to be under a new name?

I’ve been playing with the band for over a year, maybe even approaching two. It’s been very dreamy- a case of every show getting better and better. These guys, who are also on the record, Tim Lappin and Nathan Terry- they’re great friends and such great musicians and they’ve helped move this project along an insane amount. So, we’re still called Hayes Peebles- I guess for simplicity’s sake and because some people somewhere might know the name -but it’s definitely not just me anymore and that comes through in the music.

You had some early success and a lot of media coverage at a young age. Since then you've done various other things. I know you went to college and traveled some. What is it like being back in New York and back to creating music in the city?

I had some really cool opportunities as a teenager, met a lot of amazing people, shared bills with some artists I really love and admire and learned that there are at least a few folks out there who are into what I do. Between then and now I never stopped writing or playing shows. Some of those early experiences are definitely filed in the unforgettable category, but I was also still just a kid and I never really carried that attention around with me too much- just wanted to keep writing music and getting better at it. I made kind of a half-hearted promise to myself not to end up back in New York, but people have a habit of ending up where they came from, and I’m lucky that my hometown happens to host one of the biggest music scenes in the world. Really, I just feel like I’m back home doing what I’ve always wanted to do, I just took my time getting around to it.

Have any of the people, either fans and/or journalists who originally saw that coverage when you were younger, been showing interest in your new music now that you are back?

The beginning of my musicianhood coincided directly with this teenage rocker trend in New York City. There was a lot of hype around kids getting out and playing shows at bars and dressing cool and acting more adult than they really were, and being a 14 year old who was regularly writing and performing I guess I fit the part. That trend died out a long time ago, and the attention died out with it, which didn’t bother me since it was pretty superficial to begin with. Being plugged into various music scenes, you learn quickly that musicians can become big in two days, but they can also fade away just as rapidly. Our media consumption and our interests are unabashedly and almost exclusively trend-oriented, in broad strokes but also on a literal, algorithmic level that creates what I think is a really diluted form of passion and engagement. My dream has always been to keep my head down and write music for myself, in the hopes that others can connect with it in a more meaningful and enduring way. The attention I got when I was a teen singer/songwriter rather than just a singer/songwriter was inherently fleeting, and I think that’s just fine.

Do you ever play any of those old songs from Condense live anymore? Any chance you might ever re-work some of those original songs with your new line-up?

I actually played a small solo set at Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg the other week and played the title track from that Condense EP and had a great time doing it. I think my music has come a really long way since 2008, but I still love and believe in a lot of those songs. I have so many new sounds and ideas materializing right now that I’m not too focused on retrofitting things that have already been released, but I really do hate leaving songs behind when they’re worth it. It’s all on the table.

I guess that wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Thanks again for letting me get all self-indulgent, and keep an eye out for the new record, it’s on the way, I promise.

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1 comment:

  1. Good interview with Hayes Peebles. Saw him with his band at Rockwood Music Hall in July - Great show! His sounds and influences have definitely evolved since his teen years and the band gives his music new depth and an added richness to the original songs he's still rolling-out at his shows. Psyched for the EP to drop.