Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Home”?
I wrote this song purely for my own enjoyment, not really imagining I’d put it on a record or even play it at shows. For a while I was hesitant to write anything that even pretended to be country music, since it seems credibility within that genre is so wrapped up in the identity of the artist. I’m a born and bred New Yorker- sort of the demographic antithesis of a country singer. These days you can throw an ‘alt’ in front of ‘country’ in order to skirt around that but even so, it sat on the shelf for a while before I decided to just go with it.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
I wrote the song just after I returned from a trip to Texas, visiting a girlfriend-at-the-time and hunting for swimming holes, as one does I guess. There was plenty of country music around, and lots of that railroad snare drum. I was into the tradition of road music and love the archetype of the rambling man. I think most songwriters take a stab at that kind of song, it feels compulsory.
Anyway, my dad used to talk about friends of his who would go down south and come back with a ten-gallon hat and cowboy boots, wear them for a day and then never again. I guess this song was my musical version of that, except it stuck. I’ve never ever been able to wear hats, so for the best.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
There’s actually a video of us hanging out and rehearsing the song up on YouTube, but nothing fully fleshed out. The main goal right now is to get this EP into as many ears as possible. However, I am aware the people will revolt if they don’t get their daily content infusion, so I’ll try not to let them down on that front.
The single comes off your new album Ghosts – what’s the story behind the title?
Ghosts is a song I’ve been playing for six years or so. It was the first single on the EP and is a personal favorite. I didn’t think too much about it to be honest, I just wanted that particular song to set the tone for the record and be the title track. Luckily it frames a lot of the other songs nicely, partly because it’s pretty thematically broad and partly because I’m still chipping away at similar questions after many years writing music.
How was the recording and writing process?
My original plan for this EP was to go into a good room for a day with my co-conspirators Tim Lappin and Nathan Terry, get clean drum and bass tracks and do the rest on my own in bedrooms, living rooms, rehearsal spaces or wherever it was relatively quiet. That’s the self-releaser’s super-saver plan, which felt necessary because I’m not signed and studio time isn’t cheap.
We spent an afternoon recording “take away” drums and bass with Abe Seiferth over at Transmitter Park Studios in Greenpoint, about 15 minutes from my old place. Within a day or two, Abe’s love of the songs, his ideas for them, the quality of the tracks (and the tape machine he had just refurbished) convinced me to stick around and finish the record at Transmitter, which was the best choice I’ve made recently.
How have your Philosophy studies influenced your music?
There are plenty of philosophy students that get caught in the weeds- people spend years trying to solve thought puzzles and become pushy disciples of one thinker or another and argue for argument’s sake. It’s all cool stuff, so if you have an interest in ideas and theories it’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and never really come back. That’s why the stereotypical, self-complacent philosopher is a relatively common thing.
Whether or not you become an academic or lose a little bit of your grounding in reality, you do inevitably take away certain skills: writing and thinking clearly, figuring out what makes ideas good or bad. I’ve become a much better writer, and I’m also much better at calling bullshit, including my own. Being able to really think critically about your work is massive. It’s the mindset I took away from that field that’s really been most valuable, at least for somebody who always intended to play music.
Known for blending Americana and Country together – did you get to play with other styles on this material?
I’m not a country singer and I’m probably too self-absorbed to write real Americana. However, I do love the country paletteand I borrowed from it quite a bitwhile making this record. Twoof the songs on the EP definitely display that. I thought a lot about Sturgill Simpson and Johnny Cash and Townes Van Zandt during production, they’re true songwriters’ songwriters.
The other tunes point more to my bread and butter, which Abe once referred to as “dreamy ballads.” I was also listening to tons of Roy Orbison, Elliott Smith and Andy Shauf during that month or so and probably identify more with those guys overall.
All of this is to say, “other styles” is probably the best way to describe the bulk of my music. Unfortunately, the bulk of my music hasn’t been heard by anyone at all, but hopefully it will be at some point and this will all make more sense.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I tried to step outside of myself when I was writing this one since I’m by no means a rambling man, though I have traveled a little. Some of it is based on the little time I spent in Texas and in the south. Otherwise, I think Trout Fishing in America made love to Delta Momma Blues in my brain and that lovechild wrote the lyrics.
Any plans to hit the road?
That would be fitting, wouldn’t it? Short answer is yes. Long answer is, I don’t have a van or gas money but I most definitely have the desire, and would consider myself some mild form of a failure if I didn’t play this music outside of New York City in the very near future, so that’s what I’m going to do.
What else is happening next in Hayes Peebles’ world?
I just moved into a new apartment and my next big life goal is to find a way to play my beloved, butterscotch-colored telecaster everyday without enraging everybody around me. Not optimistic on that front.