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A Dirty Dozen with HAYLEY CRUSHER CAIN from HAYLEY AND THE CRUSHERS – October 2023

| 31 October 2023 | Reply

According to a recent press release: “Covering [Iggy Pop’s] ‘Lust for Life’ felt like a way to say thanks to this city, even as we continue to make ourselves more at home here,” says  frontwoman / guitarist Hayley Cain of melodic punk band Hayley and the Crushers about their cover of the song (out today: Halloween 2023 via Kitten Robot Records) in tribute their new home base of Detroit. Enticed by the eclectic music scene, cheap cost of living and touring possibilities, the band recently began splitting time between San Luis Obispo, California and The Motor City. Married team Hayley Crusher Cain and bass player Dr. Cain ESQ release the lively cover on the heels of their 2022 album, Modern Adult Kicks a powerful blend of retro-futurism, classic pop radio and their pretty-in-punk attitude.” We get Haley to discuss new music, influences, and more.

1. Tell us a little about your latest release. What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through? Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

First thought might be: The Crushers have no right to cover Iggy Pop. I mean, we’re a sunny California band, OK? It was a mischievous idea. Thankfully, we know how to take a song to its limit with levity. This is like the West Coast take of the classic tune written by Pop and Bowie. The back-and-forth vocal might give a nod to X or Blatz, but really the dual vocal is a product of the fact that Dr. Cain and I are both “lead singers” and cannot do background vocals to save our lives. It’s funny, because Iggy delivers it all very straight, very monotone. It’s an ironic deadpan lounge act, which creates this cool contrast with the bouncy swing of the song. Of course, we had to make it rowdy and fun. The first time we attempted this cover, we ended up with something more akin to Katrina and the Waves “Waking on Sunshine.” We showed the demo to mayor of rock n roll Detroit Nikki Corvette, and she essentially told us to abort mission!! So we recut and retooled, allowing the song to go more off the rails—which is how we roll, anyway. Interesting enough, this gritty song has a positive message. When you listen to the lyrics, which are deranged (who hasn’t had it in the ear before?), there is this element of kicking substances and greeting the day with renewed zest. I am sure some nerd will tell me otherwise, the song is about banging dope. But my friends know I’ve been off alcohol for about nine months now and hearing this song has taken on a new vibe for me, personally. Let me have my moment! Maybe it hits different for them too. Even at our most punk, we always want to create an element of hope in our music.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

Maybe I am weird, but I never wanted to be a musician as a kid. Sure, I had MTV but I knew I wasn’t the next Britney. I wanted to be a writer, and I am a writer. But when I saw what the right words could do when paired with music and singing, it was like writing, turbo-charged! I knew that music was a direct ticket to connection with the universe; I knew this because I could feel it when I listened to the rock radio, KROQ, the oldies radio, KRTH 101. Any time I felt alone, these voices were there to remind me I was actually part of this vast human experience through space and time. There is no quicker trip! I quickly went from writing in my journal to writing songs on guitar. I didn’t care who heard it as long as I was writing songs and putting them into the ether.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

At 13 I had a guitar teacher who gave me a lot of cool CDs and tapes, Clash, James Brown, and everything in-between. When I saw Joan Jett at the Mid State Fair around the same time, wrapped in leather and coaxing the very norm-core audience into singing “Now I wanna be your dog!” I realized what words plus music plus attitude could achieve. She was a woman in charge. I felt charged by her. It has been an evolution from there.

4. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

It changes daily. Probably John Doe from the band X. I’d like to do a Buck Owens-style country album with him producing! I’ve been writing country songs lately.

5. What is your favorite activity when out of the studio and/or not on tour? What do you like to do to unwind?

Dr. Cain and I love traveling in our van and stopping at Elks Lodges for the night. We love swimming in new pools! He surfs a lot and I adore thrifting and vintage. I am a huge home chef and entertainer in the kitchen. I make fancy meals with lovely vintage plates and invite my friends to enjoy themselves. My dad does that too, and I got it from him. Now that we split our time in Detroit, and don’t have a real kitchen or entertaining space, I really miss making elaborate dinners!

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

We sound like the junk scraped out from the bottom of the pool after a really good summer party: “Poolside glitter thrash.” There’s probably some gum, some lipstick, a swizzle straw, some colorful jewelry or pins that fell off. A reviewer once said we sound like a demonic version of The Go-Go’s (“with more facial hair and meth”). I love that one! We often get compared to 90s bands like Letters to Cleo, and I guess I can kind of see it on certain songs, like Jacaranda. Our production and recording style is more polished when compared to some of our peers. We aren’t afraid of pop. When people say we sound like Riot Grrl I get very confused. I think “you must have seen us live and I must have been yelling/barking because I couldn’t hear the monitors or there were no monitors.” Nothing against that style, but I just don’t hear it!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

There will be no singalongs. No hugging, No learning! Dr Cain is driving the van whilst listening to 90’s pop country played at a reasonable volume, slaying at Dig Dug or pinball. Hayley is doing her makeup in the van, listening to a podcast on a walk with the dogs, at the thrift store near the venue or having a deep philosophical conversation with the venue staff. Our Midwest band: Ryan is grabbing beers for everyone and cracking wise, Gabriel is being helpful, smooching his new bride and making sure all the bands load their gear in. West coast band: John is most certainly petting our chihuahua Peanut and geeking out over the sound gear of the club, Sam is probably arriving just in the nick of time with his signature good natured vibe, so you just want to give him a noogie. Action Ben is always eating something bigger than his own head or doing something very unwise with a skateboard!

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Stars, they’re just like us! But still, I do fall for it like everyone else. You fall for the mystique and the myth! Josie Cotton, who runs Kitten Robot Records, comes to mind! I guess also meeting Kira, our producer Paul Roessler’s sister. She was in Black Flag and she is on our label, too. Just a lovely and delicately-boned human with these bright spritely eyes. All I could say was “HI. I LOVE YOU.”

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

You get to see the best gas station bathrooms on earth! I jest. Just the act of making music rules. Sometimes, when you meet people who know the words to your songs, you feel like you will live forever. We played a show in Wisconsin where literally nobody showed up…but the door guy knew all the words! It was worth it!

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

“What makes a great Italian sandwich?” I’ll tell you. And it’s controversial. Get some fresh baked rustic bread, Italian seasoning, oil and vinegar, pepper and salt, a reasonable bit of high quality salami and prosciutto, light spread of pesto, pepperoncini’s, green leaf lettuce, heirloom tomato and a little house made mayo.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I would have flown out and opened for Screeching Weasel in 2019 at the Chicago House of Blues instead of playing my scheduled show in Seattle with bands who complained about the order of events. Crying emoji here. Really biffed the landing on that one.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

This will change daily too, but at the moment, No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. It cannot be beat in hooks, inventiveness and energy! If I went back to be a fly on the wall for some of my favorite 70’s/80’s punk bands I know I would be bored, because a lot of those early recordings are happy accidents (which are great, but unrepeatable). Like Agent Orange using trash can lids for percussion on “Living in Darkness.” It’s all very cool, but not very intentional. Same goes for Phil Spector—I don’t want to see someone doing coke and waving guns around. For pure nerdy production snooping, and to see just how the engineer made so many sonic elements come together with such a fresh and dynamic radio-ready result, I prefer to give my elementary school self something to squeal about. Eeeeeeee!






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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