David Hayes Project
Though his name graces venue calendars around Chicago and three stellar albums, even David Hayes himself might tell you that his true growth as a performer and songwriter has come from places and people outside himself. Whether its bandmates, family or those he teaches music to nearly 50 times a week, Hayes continues to mature, learn and balloon his talents. He's that rare performer where referring to his sound as a constant work-in-progress isn't a detriment, but a selling point.
It took Hayes quite a bit of time to take music seriously, as the Rockford native quit piano lessons twice at the ages of 5 and 10, convincing himself he'd play first base for the Cubs instead. "I always had a good ear for music though and it wasn't until junior college that I decided to buy a guitar and become a musician," recalls Hayes. "My boss at a construction site was a great guitarist, and he taught me some classic rock songs and riffs from the Beatles and Rolling Stones. I also started to take theory classes and private piano and classical guitar lessons at Rock Valley College."
He transferred to Columbia College in 2001, and it's from here on that Hayes began to meet those he could make music with for years to come, but more often than not, Hayes was joining bands instead of leading them (such as Chuck's Electric and Audio 55). "For a while, I tried to find myself musically. Having learned a bunch of genres at school, and wanting to play a bunch of them prolonged it, I think," mentions Hayes. "It took a while for me to be OK with repeating myself, which would turn into my sound. I also spent a lot of time learning and trying to get better. Getting back into music late in my life was a cause for that. But this is why I love teaching, I got to keep on learning. I started maturing and getting better." Recording Christmas-themed songs also "helped me become a better arranger and re-arranger of music."
Hayes' brother died in 2010, shortly before Hayes had asked to borrow money from him to master his debut album In With The Old. This life event heavily influenced his second release, Out With The New (2012) but due to band members having children and settling down in new houses, Hayes was unable to play many shows in support of the album.
This year, Hayes is back with Epics, a wildly-eclectic batch of sonic wizardry and emotional highs. His McCartney influence is pleasantly apparent on cuts like "Backwards" and "Persistent Memory," while Led Zeppelin and The Doors get nods on the hectic and crushing "Crazy."
Some songs even deal with, or involve, local law enforcement. The blazing rocker "Paranoid" covers being called (and eventually pulled over) by Chicago Police, being asked if he murdered someone earlier - his car's make and model matched the description of a suspect's - and the recording of instant classic "Black" even drew the cops to the studio: "I guess Lakeview didn't appreciate the loud power chords at midnight," jokes Hayes, who mentions a window being open at the studio leading to a run-in with police. "I looked up during mid-take to see the police in front of me. I raised my finger saying 'One second,' and continued the take. We were scared shitless, They asked us to stop and left. The adrenaline was pumping after that, and there were other magic moments when recording this album.
Rock band setlist (near 60 min. and there’s more Originals for a longer set) 1 Crazy 2 Black 3 Persistent Memory 4 Odyssey 5 Backwards 6 After All 7 La Dee 8 Love Makers 9 Paranoid 10 Behind you 11 Video Star 12 Myself 13 Rerun 14 Billie’s Hill Sometimes cover 1 or 2 songs (set time pending) Beatles Van Halen, Daft Punk, Pink Floyd, etc.) Acoustic set Solo, duet, trio +(60 min) 1 Backwards 2 Black 3 Persistent Memory 4 There Is Always Something 5 Rerun 6 Odyssey 7 Eternal Flame (Bangles) 8 Love Makers 9 Crazy 10 Happiness 12 Myself 13 Paranoid 14 Behind You