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INTERVIEW: Haymakers

Hi Dustin, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

GREAT! Thank you so much for chatting with me! It’s been a fun, busy year. It’s been awesome to get Haymakers’ album out and finally be in a position to tour and start building the band’s fan base outside of our home area.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Moonlight On The Mountain”?

I wrote “Moonlight on the Mountain” a few years ago with our guitarist, Tom Page. When I first came up with the idea for the song, I had it in my head as an old-time Appalachian blues, sort of in the style of guys like Dock Boggs and Clarence Ashley. Once we started playing it with the band, it took on a new life with our bassist, Mark Foley, giving it almost a groovy jazz vibe on the upright bass. It became this spooky, ethereal thing, but still had some drive with Ted Farha’s mandolin providing a strong back beat. We felt like we had a very cool, unique song and, luckily, people dig when when we play live.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

I was making an all-night drive through Utah, going south down I-15 with the Wasatch Mountain range off to my left. It was this crystal clear night and the moon was shining brilliantly on the snow-capped peaks in a way that made them almost glow with this blue-silver light. It was a really a breathtaking sight. I guess I was inspired because the lyrics of the chorus “There’s moonlight on the mountain so high”, immediately started coming to my mind.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Well, as is often the way with bands at our level of the game, we are broke as hell! So, unfortunately, it’s not in the budget to make a new video right now. However, there is a great live video of us performing it on a TV show called “Wichita Sessions”. Folks can search for it on youtube, or even better, come experience the song at a live show! 🙂

The single comes off your new self-titled album – why naming the album after the band’s moniker?

The new album is our debut recording, so we figured going self-titled was appropriate, as we are kind of introducing ourselves to the world outside of Kansas.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process differed from song to song. Most of the original tunes were collaborations between myself and Tom, or group efforts by the band, but a couple are older songs of Tom’s that we re-arranged for me to sing. There are also a handful of traditional songs to which we’ve given our own spin, and in some case written some of our own new lyrics, which is a lot of fun. As a string band that draws so heavily on traditional American music, a big part of what we do musically is working to add our voice to those traditions.

Tom recorded and engineered the record at his studio, Top Tone Studios, in Wichita and I think he did an outstanding job.  The recording process was very gradual. Because of the circumstances of everyone’s crazy busy lives at the time, it wasn’t a situation where we were able to bury ourselves in the studio for a week or so and hammer out the record, so did what we could when we could. Because we self-produced, we had a lot of time to experiment with different ideas, so some of the songs evolved during the process and we would decide to go back later record them again. We also added Dennis Hardin (octave mandolin/resonator guitar) to the band while we were in the process of recording. Dennis brings so much to the table that we knew a lot of the songs we had already recorded would benefit from adding him. I have to admit that there were times when it felt like we were never going to get it done, but in the end it all came together and we were very happy with the finished product. We learned a lot in the process that will definitely influence how we make the next album.

What role does Kansas play in your music?

I think being from Kansas plays a big role. Just being located in the geographic center of the country means a lot of different musical influences meet here. I think that’s a big reason why we’ve taken such a cross genre approach stylistically. I think it also influences our songwriting. Just like with anyone, our everyday surroundings and experiences definitely serve as inspiration. “North End Sunset” is a great example. It’s full of Wichita imagery.

Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?

In a variety of places. It just depends on the song.  “Love Passin’ Me By” is about a love that never happened because of my own mistakes. “Spent the Rent” is kind of a funny story inspired by an old friend’s poor money management. Songs are everywhere. It’s all about finding a good way to tell the story and set it to music.

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! We’ve been touring pretty frequently in the Midwest for the last year, and have recently started to make inroads into the mountain states and the South. This fall, along with closer to home dates in Kansas, we also have shows scheduled in Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. People can check out our tour schedule on our website at www.haymakersict.com.

What else is happening next in Haymaker’s world?

Currently we are in the process of writing songs for a new album, which we plan to start recording in the next few months.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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