R'n'R: Worth The Pain - An Interview With Hailey Hayes

Some things are worth the pain. Hailey Hayes will tell you that living your rock and roll dream is one of them.

I met Hailey Hayes through a mutual admiration for one of my guitar heroes. When I found out she was also a musician/singer, I wanted to know more. I noticed three things when I first heard Hailey's music.

One: She's got something to say and isn't afraid to say it.
Two: There is a sense of raw energy that is missing from so many of today's vocalists in her delivery.
Three: I felt compelled to share it with anyone who loves rock'n'roll.

At first glance, you may confuse her for a young Joan Jett. Don't blame her for looking like one of rock's greatest icons - Hailey is no copycat. Her music has a sound of its own and that becomes obvious when you listen to her vocal range as well as how she constructs her songs. 

Hailey agreed to answer some questions for Playing With Chaos and tell us a little bit more about herself and her music.

Playing With Chaos (PWC): When did you know you wanted to be a rock musician and who have been your biggest influences/inspirations?
Hailey Hayes (HH): I've wanted to be a musician since I was 11 years old, but the rock category didn't fall into it until a few years ago. I've always had a soft spot for the music. I remember being 6 years old and dancing to "No Satisfaction" by The Stones. I grew up singing things like Streisand, and playing in an orchestra, but when I was in my sophomore year of high school I had really gotten into rock music with my main inspiration being Joan Jett. I knew I had an old cheap acoustic guitar laying around somewhere, and around 2am that day I decided to search for it and just teach myself guitar. That night sort of started it all for me. I then became determined to get my first electric guitar, amp, and start teaching myself. So I'd say I knew in my early to mid teens that that was what I wanted to do. I had a lot of inspirations besides Joan though. I was really into Pat Benatar, AC/DC, The Stones, The Runaways, the list goes on.

PWC: You've recently released some music. Tell me how long you've been working on this new music and what your plans are for 2014.
HH: Yes, the new music is currently available for purchase or download through my Bandcamp account and my ReverbNation account, where 50% of the profits goes to the charity Fender Music Foundation to help bring forth music education. I'll have them available on iTunes soon as well. Each song has been a little different as far as time spent on it. "I Feel" was originally the first song I wrote by myself a couple years ago. I used to play it with my old band but it was never officially recorded until beginning of this year with a fresh new twist on it by working with a new drummer, lead guitarist, and bassist. "Normal" was one of those songs that just spewed out one day end of last year that I wrote in a matter of minutes. "Worth The Pain" was mostly written in a day with a few changes along the way. For the most part, they were all written at a quick pace with minor changes as time went on. This year I'd like to get a lot more done. I want to record more music, get to touring more throughout California, and I'd love to expand out of California as well. I'd like to have some more merchandise available for my supporters. 
PWC: What does your songwriting process look like?
HH: One of my idols once compared songwriting to homework: you just have to sit down and do it. Sometimes it's very true. When you have a job and multiple things to do throughout the week it's easy to get distracted. There are times I vaguely think about a lyric or rhythm, and I have to motivate myself to go and do as much as I can. Sometimes I can sit through the whole process and almost finish a song, sometimes I have to come back, build on it, and revise. It's usually just me sitting on my couch or on the floor with my guitar, a notepad, and a pen. I'll usually record audio or videos of me practicing or writing, to help remember beats and rhythms when I come back to them later.
PWC: Some musicians practice for hours while others only play when they're on stage. The music industry has some virtuoso musicians who have been classically trained, as well as some brilliant musicians who are self taught. What does your practice regimen look like and how did you get started playing guitar?
HH: I really do think I should practice more than I do, but I try to practice or write as often as I can. I'd definitely consider myself a self taught guitarist. I can't read sheet music for guitar. I learn by ear, tabs, or watching videos online. I knew a lot of musicians were self taught, and I figured with all the resources there are such as the internet, why pay for lessons? This doesn't mean I think that's the wrong way to go about learning, I just think everyone's different and so is their situation. This doesn't mean I haven't had my fair share of music theory, however. I was classically trained through an orchestra playing violin for 6 years. Guitar is something I just decided to try on my own, and I'm very happy with it.
PWC: We're big gear heads here, so I'm going to ask you what your live/studio rigs look like and what they're comprised of.
HH: I primarily use my red 60th Anniversary Fender Stratocaster. It's really become my baby. I started using Ernie Ball strings on it, until a recent change for recording when someone suggested I try D'Addario XL. They've been working pretty well for me. I have one other guitar I don't use quite as much, but it was my first electric so I still treasure it, not to mention it was a gift from one of my friends in high school. It's a camo green Dimebag Darrell signature Washburn. I started with a really basic no name brand 12 watt amp given to me by a friend just so I could get the jist of things until my 17th birthday when I received a 40 watt Mustang 2 Fender amp from my parents. I'm looking into buying a new higher wattage amp soon.
PWC: Fans of Roni Lee may recognize you from her recent music video for "I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are." How would you describe that experience and how did you come across such a unique and cool opportunity?
HH: Roni and I had discussed the music video since shortly after we first met, a little over a year prior to actually starting the music video production. I had originally got in contact with her by accident through an almost domino effect of mutual friends on Facebook. We eventually added each other and met shortly after at one of her shows at the Whiskey A Go Go in Hollywood. I knew of her because she was the original writer of the song "I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are," when she was in Venus & The Razorblades managed by Kim Fowley. The Runaways covered the song adding a lot of popularity to it especially when it was featured in the 2010 film The Runaways. She is one of the sweetest women I have ever met, and we kicked it off as great friends immediately.  I definitely look to her as not only a friend and mentor but a mother figure, and the whole experience of doing the music video was so thrilling. It was my first time being a part of one, and I had made a lot of friends during the process. She brought a very fun, easy-going feeling throughout the entire project, and I believe it should always feel that way when doing these things. Music is about having fun and expressing yourself, but sometimes when doing big projects people forget that.
Hailey with Roni Lee
PWC: Today's music industry is a changed landscape from the 1980's and 1990's where rock bands ruled on the airwaves of radio. There were only 3 rock albums that sold more than a million copies in 2013. Where do you see rock and roll headed in the next 5-10 years? 
HH: I've always claimed I was born in the wrong decade and many agree with me. I continue to hope to be a part of a big returning movement to get rock back to the mainstream. This music is too good to die. I think listening to music that actually requires the artists to play instruments just makes it that much more exciting. It has so much more energy, and an amazing raw feeling to it. I'm very hopeful to see it come back just as strong within that time period. There was a musical that came out not long ago called "Rock Of Ages" and it was all purely rock music. I was beyond happy to see it hitting theatres and other people were just as excited. I think if the music is presented to the people, they'll eagerly jump for it. It's just getting it out there.

PWC: If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be and why?
HH: If I could work with anyone it would be with Joan Jett. She is one of my biggest inspirations as an artist and a person. I've had the pleasure of meeting her multiple times in the last couple of years. I think she influences my music a lot, and it would be an amazing experience to work with her in any shape or form.
Hailey with one of her inspirations, Joan Jett

PWC: Is there any message you'd like to give to your fans/supporters?
HH: I just want to say thank you for everything. Just being able to say I have "fans" or "supporters" is enough to really boggle my mind. We're all human, and we all have times of doubt, but all of the supportive comments and reactions have really helped keep me twice as determined to stick to my goals as an artist. You have all kept me positive and brought me hope. So thank you to everyone who has been with me throughout my current journey and those who are just now joining. With you guys, I will never give up.
There you have it ladies and gentlemen. Hailey Hayes is on the verge of making her dreams come true. You can catch up with her on Facebook and be sure to check her out if she plays in your town. While you're waiting for a gig, you can check out her music at ReverbNation and Bandcamp. If you're a fan of Joan Jett, The Runaways, Pat Benatar, or any good rock'n'roll, you won't be sorry you did. Run! Go do it!