Musicians tread a difficult path; that path is often rife with disappointment and dreams that crumble into dust. Each musicianâ€™s dreams are different, yet there is one incontrovertible dream that sparks inside their heads: to be on that stage feeling the heat from the floor lights, fronted by thousands of screaming fans, flailing their arms like whips, screaming till the cords of their throats acheâ€”screaming for you, the musician, the architect of sound and lyrics. And while the majority of the musiciansâ€™ dreams will never come to fruition, others will enjoy a modicum of success, while others will continue to aspire greatness by continually evolving their music, striving for perpetual perfection. One of those such bands is Dredg, a rock band fronted by lead singer and guitarist Gavin Hayes. Dredgâ€™s new album Chuckles and Mr. Squeezyâ€”set to be released May 3rdâ€”promises to rock the bandâ€™s fan base with exciting new tracks and a collaboration with music producer Dan the Automatorâ€”Dan Nakamura.
Hayes, a California native, said Squeezy was a collective effort, if not democratic one between himself and his band, where each memberâ€™s input and opinion is respected. Hayes, who writes the lyrics and guitar parts, said Squeezy was one of the quickest albums released yet by the bandâ€”written and recorded in five months.
â€œThis record is very different for us,â€ Hayes said. â€œA collaboration, really. Thereâ€™s definitely Danâ€™s (Nakamura) influence on the record â€¦ subconsciously we wrote songs about who we are.â€
But what about the albumâ€™s title?
Hayes said the albumâ€™s title originated from its engineer Tim Carter, who used to be a rodeo clownâ€”yes, a rodeo clown. Amongst the assortment of rodeo clowns there was a duo charismatically dubbed Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy. Hayes said the title of the album was a perfect fit because it represented the duality present within the albumâ€™s lyrics.
â€œIt was the one (title) we could all agree with,â€ Hayes said. â€œThe album has that split personality â€¦ Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feel to it â€¦ it parallels different lifestyles and everyday society â€¦ but itâ€™s one piece of art.â€
Hayes said it was difficult picking a track on the album he enjoyed most, but decided upon “Down Without a Fight” as his favorite on the new album. â€œItâ€™s a great song,â€ Hayes said. â€œIâ€™m real proud of the lyrics and the acoustic trackâ€”I wanted a straight acoustic track â€¦ I took a chance, but am happy with the whole record.â€
Hayes said he does not let criticism of his music dampen his spirits, understanding that in the music profession you will always have legions of fans and critics who both loves and hate your work.
â€œObviously people have polar extremes where they either love or hate something,â€ Hayes said. â€œItâ€™s interesting to see how passionate people are â€¦ but if I hated a film or something, I wouldnâ€™t write the director and say, â€˜you know youâ€™re real pathetic and suck,â€™ or something like that.â€
Hayes said one of the most difficult things about being a musician is the lack of financial stabilityâ€”similar to journalism, I might add. “Being on the road consistently is difficult, especially when you are no longer 20,” Hayes said, adding that longevity is key and you have to have the desire to do this type of lifestyle as long as possible, or you will not last in the profession. And speaking of profession, Hayes, who has been a musician for most of his young adult life, said he could only see himself in one other profession besides music: architecture.
â€œIâ€™m really into urban planning,â€ Hayes said. â€œ â€¦ Iâ€™m a real dork when it comes to creativity.â€
And that creativity has certainly aided Hayes as a musician. Of course, one of the most thrilling aspects of being a musician is being able to perform onstage in front of thousands of people who are there only for youâ€”and, perhaps, to get drunk and wild. But when he is onstage, Hayes remains focused and collective.
â€œI try to focus on the material the best I can,â€ Hayes said. â€œItâ€™s exciting â€¦ every performance is different. When I start to break a sweat, I begin to feel really good. I like the physical and emotional sideâ€”itâ€™s a fulfilling release.â€
One can expect the unexpected when performing on stage, and Hayes is certainly no exception to that rule. While performing onstage in Berlin, Hayes said he and drummer Dino Campanella were pranked by bassist Drew Roulette.
â€œTwo actors disguised as policemen came on stage and arrested us,â€ Hayes said, laughing. â€œThe fans started booing â€¦ I still have to get him back.â€
Hayes said he prefers performing overseas, believing the variegated cultures to be more appreciative of musicians in general, as opposed to the United States.
â€œThey (Europe) view music much differently over there than we do,â€ Hayes said. â€œThey believe music betters the culture and the countryâ€”there are even tax breaks for musicians. If you are performing at a club here (U.S) the owner of the club looks at you like he is doing you a favor â€¦ overseas itâ€™s much different.â€
Hayes said he measures his current and future success by longevity; that longevity, coupled with a closely knit group of friends, is what allows musiciansâ€™ tunes to become infinite.
â€œAfter I die, I want the music to carry on as long as it can,â€ Hayes said. â€œ â€¦ Iâ€™m not obsessed with record sales â€¦ I just want to push the boundaries of what I think art is.â€
Chuckles and Mr. Squeezy will be released May 3rd. And if you are in the Chicago area you can see Dredg perform at the Bottom Lounge on Sat., May 14th.