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Monday, April 22, 2019

Hayley and the Crushers - COOL/LAME

Hailing from sunny San Luis Obispo, California, Hayley and the Crushers is a syrupy garage-tinged power pop trio featuring lovely Hayley Crusher Cain on vocals and guitar, Dr. Reid Cain Crusher on bass and Gabriel Olivarria more recently replaced by Benjamin Cabreana--behind the kit. Recorded with legendary punk rock producer Bart Thurber at House of Faith Studios in Oakland, CA, "Cool​/​Lame" is their sophomore full length album and first to be released by Eccentric Pop Records. If you like the Go Go's or Blondie minus Jimmy Destry's farfisa sounds, this is right up your alley and VERY recommended.

1) For the viewers of this blog who would not know you, What would you tell about Hayley and the Crushers to introduce yourselves? How long are you guys together as a band?  Who is playing what instrument in the band nowadays?

Hi, Hayley Crusher Cain, here! Hayley and the Crushers are a poolside glitter trash gang from The Crusherverse, also known as San Luis Obispo, California (that's halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, near the ocean). We have the most fun on stage, where we dance, jump off amps, and generally sweat to the oldies. The best thing anyone ever said about us is: "you're like a demonic version of the Go-Gos." I wear a swimsuit on stage because I want to let the crowd know it's time to leave the normal world behind. I play a budget model Electromatic Jet Gretsch (silver sparkle) because I always was inspired by Billy Zoom of X. Dr. Cain (bass) loves to play the heel. He is like a villain wrestler. He's a cranky punk rocker who will do anything to get a rise out of the crowd. Together, we have been lucky to work with a clutch of really talented drummers who add a lot of personality to the band, like  Gabriel Olivarria and Benjamin Cabreana. We have been known to build tropical stage sets out of trash just for fun or throw Mexican candies into the crowd for the girls who are on their periods that day. We never felt cool, so we made our own fun, and you are welcome to join us. When we are on tour, we use borrowed gear and rely on the kindness of strangers. So far, we've made a lot of good friends that way!

The band formed in the summer of 2015 when myself and my bass player (Dr. Reid Cain, Esquire) left our previous punk band, Magazine Dirty, which broke up at a casual family pizza restaurant. For a year or so before that breakup, I had started writing more surf and pop-inspired stuff that I wanted use for another group. After playing lead guitar in a pretty hardcore punk band for a few years--which was cool, because we got to open for bands like the Weirdos, Adolescents, Agent Orange, FLAG--I knew I wanted to be the front woman and guitar player, not in the background. My original idea was for an all girl band, but then the two girls I was working with ran off. Also Reid (who happens to be my husband) kept saying "I'll be in your new project!" At first I said no, because I had my heart set on an all girl group that could tour, and he had a Comic Book shop and was not able to travel much at the time. Then, I heard what Reid could do with these Crushers songs on his bass. He took my surfy pop punk songs and gave them an edge with his distorted bass lines. He had never played bass in his life. He was always a guitar player and songwriter. So, I was super impressed when I heard what he could do on bass, plus he agreed that I would be in charge. : ) I liked the fact that he had no formal training, so his bass lines are just wacky and hairy, almost like a choppy waves--you don't know where they are gong to take you. Right now the band is Hayley Crusher Cain on guitar, Dr. Reid Cain Esquire on bass and Benjamin Cabreana--more recently--on drums. However, our original drummer, who we recorded the album "Cool/Lame" with, is the mighty Gabriel Olivarria. He has had a huge influence on our sound and he had to stop playing with us due to medical issues. He is from a metal background and has a lot of power, swing, and swagger behind the kit, and you can hear his dynamic style on "Cool/Lame."  He also sings really angelic backing vocals throughout the record--which is funny, when you see this metal dude with long hair and pentagrams all over his vest. Ben, our current drummer, is an energetic guy, a really good skateboarder, and he is more about precision, which has led us to explore more straight-ahead rock n roll vibes. As a result, our new forthcoming album (fall 2019) is a tad more on the straight-ahead rock/pop-punk spectrum, but with some surfy flourishes.

2) About the latest full length record "Cool/Lame",  what can you tell about the recording process? Was this a "live" in the studio recording or a track by track recording with lots of overdubs?

First let me back up a bit. Our first full length album, "Jewel Case," which came out in 2016, also features Gabriel Olivarria on drums. We were finding our footing and our style, and although we're not crazy about how the recording turned out, you can hear us really growing and having fun and finding a unique identity. There's some 50s inspired soda pop kind of tunes but also some more garage style and surfy pop songs. I was learning to become "a singer." "COOL/LAME," our debut vinyl, felt like we came into our own. We love the way it turned out and it captures our spirit. It was a really big deal to do the vinyl. Reid and I had both done 7 inch records before with other bands, but we'd never done a full length LP (and we owe Travis Woods from Eccentric Pop records major props for helping us make this dream real). We recorded with Bart Thurber in Oakland California at his Studio House of Faith. He's recorded many Bay Area punk bands from the 90s on, including Neurosis, Swingin' Udders and TILT....honestly, there are way too many to mention. He is very detailed, and has a way of producing us with a very light hand, yet making subtle changes that take a song from an 8 to a 10. He is also an old school dude who uses analog tape. We recorded "COOL/LAME" with a "live" setup, as a band, then doubled guitars, added backing vocals, and added additional percussion (chimes, bongos, glock), and I came in and did the vocals all in one day. I have pretty minimal guitar solos, and I like to keep it really simple, so we can get it done and move on. My vocal takes on COOL/LAME are pretty much the second take every time. I think "Threat Level Red" was the first vocal take.  Bart records everything to tape before bouncing it to the computer. We had John Rogers out of Las Vegas do the master. Dave at Lucky Lacquer did the vinyl master.

3) Do you use the nowadays digital recording technology or do you guys only work with analog machines in analog studios?

The studio capture is recorded analog, on tape. The mix is done on the computer. This works for us for a few reasons. 1) It keeps us moving along in the recording process, because we don't have unlimited takes (or tracks) and Bart has to physically re-wind the tape for us to fix something (that has a psychological effect on me to just get it done right the first time). Bart has worked with tape for a long time and he has it down to a science. He also re-uses tape, so it's not super expensive to do. No, we don't think there is some mysterious magic is in this method, but when you have a good thing going, just go with it. We are currently finishing up our second album with him now. I think the only important thing about recording is getting out there and doing it. We are not snobs about analog. Just do it!

4) Is there a main composer in the band or is everybody involved in one way or another?

It goes like this: Main composer: Hayley Crusher; secondary: Hayley and Reid, third: Reid. These are historically mostly my songs, but Reid contributes some songs too. Lately we have been doing this thing where I will write either music or lyrics and Reid will do the other part, or vice-versa. We've found that this makes the songs a lot more dynamic and weird (we like that). For instance, I spent the holidays in Berlin visiting my sister. Reid sent me a guitar riff via his iPhone memo app, and I wrote the lyrics while hanging around Germany. When I got back, I wrote the chorus and corresponding riff, and we cobbled it together into a really cool song. Creating in a separate realm, then coming together to make the song great, is what works best for us. We rarely ever sit in a room and collaborate together, unless it is to discuss a specific part, like a bridge or a turnaround that needs help or something like that. After working together and playing music together for eight years in four different bands, we've finally found our groove. The best songs are a joining of two different interesting ideas, seen from two different perspectives (we are very different in our writing style, which is a good thing). The struggle of coming together, and the joy, is making it work, is why we do this. There is no better feeling. And those are our very best songs.

5) What is your favorite topic/topic that comes easily when you write a new song?

I love to write about women, but in a way that makes you go "Wait, what did she say?" My most proud line is in the song from Jewel Case, "She said you look like a child prostitute/I said mom I look cute," because that is actually something that happened to me. "Parking Structure Girl" is about a woman who seemed really miserable at her day job at a parking structure in town, and "Bad Girls" is a cover we really loved by our pal Christian Cortez. "Seventeen Strum," from the album "Jewel Case" is about my life as a teen, trying to find freedom from rural small-town existence, with a busted guitar and some gin swiped from my parent's liquor cabinet. That said, we still do a lot of party songs, beach songs--songs you could just enjoy while having the best summer ever. Then there's stuff that has more of a moodiness, like "Small Lives" or "Blacked out." Reid came from a small town in Colorado, where there was a small tight knit group of punk kids, and he later was part of the East Bay punk scene in Oakland in the mid to late 90s. I also come from a small CA town, then many of my formative teen years in Los Angele's South Bay, in an all girl band that was pretty wild. I felt like I was part of a really self destructive punk scene and I saw a ton of violence, drugs, and destruction. I had to pull myself out of depression and addiction. So, we also write from that dark place, too, and you can find it if you look for it in my songs. "Cool is the New Lame" is our take on the so-called punk scene today. When we tour we notice that there is this "I'm so bored, I'm interesting" thing happening; not unlike what was happening during 77 and the fashion took over the message. We feel like, if you're bored, say something, do something, don't just take a selfie. Take a risk. There is no glory in normcore.

6) To what kind of music did you listen to as teenagers and does it still influence your today work? What were your favorite bands as a teenager? Name 3 bands that you consider still have a influence on your own work today.

Living in a small town in California, it was miles and miles to the next town to go to the record store. My big sister liked glam and art rock like Bowie, so I knew there was cool stuff out there, but it had already happened long ago. At 13, I knew about the Sex Pistols, and I thought that was basically it, and that it was a relic from the past, like glam rock. My mom had lived in NYC in the 1970s and told me stories about seeing Joey Ramone at the movies or serving drinks to the Talking Heads while I was still in her belly. I also knew about The Go Gos, because my mom had their CD laying around, and it was one of my favorites as a little kid. So, I liked the music, but thought it was from another time, not mine. But then when I was 13 everything changed and I realized punk was a modern thing that survived the 70's and even the 80's. I was in gym class and my friend gave me a burned CD with Operation Ivy's "Energy" on it. It was burned from her older brother. Even though that CD was relatively old at the time (this was in the year 2000) it felt fresh and modern to my ears. I basically freaked out right then and there and learned how to play all those songs on guitar, which I butchered pretty bad, because ska picking is not easy! Thanks to Lookout, I found more modern bands like Screeching Weasel, which also led me to the Queers. I understood that you could be melodic and dangerous. A punk boy at school showed me Black Flag. To this day, I have a folder of guitar tabs that is mostly SW, Black Flag songs with some Clash thrown in, because my guitar teacher couldn't wait to show me the more sophisticated side of things (including one of my favorite bands, X, Stay Cats, and surf music, like the Ventures, which led me to Agent Orange--a major influence). To this day I really resonate with a fun, rhythmic, rockabilly or surf guitar vibe, a dose of snotty pop punk sass, and hardcore energy.

7) Do you have a new video on youtube featuring a track from the LP?
We actually recorded a live video for "Cool is the New Lame" in Reid's comic book shop, before he sold it. We also have a newish video for "Before the Blitz," which is a love song that is also about the end of he world, and we have a video for "Blue and Green," where I find a bearded mermaid on the beach. We also just did a super quick and fun video for "Polyester Sunday" where my friend Danielle Bagnall (who plays the MerCrusher in the "Blue and Green" video) follows me around our local swap meet. We are always making no budget videos with our phones! Just go to our Youtube. Entertainment and thrills for hours!

8) What can concert goers expect at a gig of Hayley and the Crushers? Are you playing any famous cover songs?

Reid will jump off an amp at some point and maybe unplug his bass in the process. I will probably dance a lot and shake my ass at the audience. Ben will probably start singing the "Baby Shark" song....he might even take his shirt off! We have fun. Why get on stage if you're not going to ham it up and have the best possible time? At a recent all ages show we pulled a young girl, maybe eight years old, on stage and she flossed for an entire song! It was great, although I think she got nervous halfway through. She powered through, though! We have also been known to have dance-offs and award crowns and prizes, like in the case of the Pineapple King. We had a local friend who earned the Crushers Pineapple King crown with his awesome dance moves. So we invited him back on stage to challenge someone new. It was fun. Now the crown has been passed down to a few different people! We also do an annual Summer Crush event. The last one was tiki themed. Our artist friend Neal Breton worked with us to make a tropical backdrop out of recycled materials and we invited the local drag queens to perform.

10) You describe your music as being "poolside glitter trash". Can you explain?

A lot of our song ideas come when we're at our local Elks Lodge, which has a pool. Our office is the hot tub. I think that's where it came from. We also do an annual event where we take trash and turn it into a fun stage set (we turned the trash into a "pool party" set two years in a row)...we are trashy and sassy but sparkly too. Once I started wearing swimsuits on stage it just seemed like the right description.

11) What are the plans for 2019 as far as Hayley and the Crushers are concerned?

We have a brand-new album that we'd like to release on vinyl fall 2019. We would also like to find a Japanese and European label to help co-release it. We have a 2019 Midwest Tour happening April 25-May 7 with Dougie Tangent of The Putz/Devious Ones on drums, and you can see all the show dates here: . We also want to head back to the Midwest/East Coast this fall and we would love to do some European festivals, like Punk Rock Raduno. That would be such a dream. We love to travel and we have basically packed our lives in to our van! If you want to play with us, or book us, now is the time. We are not burned out yet and we are looking to perform and record as much as humanely possible.

12) Anything you wanna add?

Yes, thank YOU Eric! : ) Also another a huge thanks to Travis Woods at Eccentric Pop records for distributing COOL/LAME all around the world, which opened us up to an incredible universe of friends who just want to dance! The Dummy Room Podcast is a source for all things pop punk and they have been extremely kind to us, as has Dougie Tangent, who helped get us on Eccentric Pop and is working as our booker/drummer for the midwest. Thanks to Mike in Tokyo Rogers who has been playing our tunes over in Japan, as well as to Rodney Bingenheimer, who gave us a good spin over at Little Steven's Underground Garage, Sirius XM. We appreciate every play. We appreciate every spin, whether on the radio or just in your living room! We are so very grateful to all the DIY bands, especially in California and the Pacific Northwest, who have played with us over the past few years and set up shows with us and letting us borrow their gear! You can find more of our stuff over at or @hayleyandthecrushers on Instagram.


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