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A Conversation With Mick Hayes


By Ken Wallis.



Mick Hayes is a published songwriter, accomplished singer and guitarist who’s been on the Grammy ballot more than once and in a number of different categories throughout the course of his career. His interest in music starts in the blue-collar town of Lackawanna NY, a suburb of Buffalo which was once the centre of steel manufacturing throughout most of the 20th century. A seven-year-old Mick Hayes was given a guitar, some hand me down records and learned the meaning of the blues very quickly when his parents were divorced that same year. 


In his mid-teens, Mick was working by day on cars during summer break and performing in smoke filled bars for the standard musician wage by night. Not too long after that he graduated to regional shows in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Canada. By the time he was in his early 20’s he had established himself as a full-time musician and took his newly formed band around the country, eventually relocating to Georgia to explore the southeast region. However, after a few years of industry struggles Mick found himself without a band or a place to live. 


After all those years of trying to “make it” in the music industry, releasing ten albums of original material, thousands of shows, a handful of reality TV show appearances and a few misguided management contracts, the Mick Hayes we know today emerges independently! After starting his own record label in 2019, Mick released a brand-new record to glowing reviews that was recorded in only 5 days at legendary FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals Alabama and cleverly titled MY CLAIM TO FAME.


Ken Wallis asked Mick to tell him about the album and how he's been ....


Ken Wallis

Mick Hayes has a new release entitled My Claim To Fame. And it's one great album.


Mick Hayes

You bet. Thank you, Ken, I appreciate your kind words.


Ken Wallis

First of all, let's go to the title My Claim To Fame. Where does that come from?


Mick Hayes

Well, I actually had met with Rodney Hall (Fame Studios), the studio owner that are now our co owner, I should say. And I asked him if anybody had ever named their album, My Claim To Fame and he told me that nobody had. His dad opened up Fame recording studios there in the mid 60s. And he said, not that I can ever remember anybody ever came up with that. So I ran with it man, as far as I could.


Ken Wallis

Well, it's an apt title as well because the music is quite great on this particular release. If someone hadn't heard you before, how would you describe your music to them?


Mick Hayes

Man, that's always been a tough thing to kind of put it in a genre. I'm happy that the blues folks like it. I'm happy the traditional soul music fans like it. It's been compared to a couple of interesting things on the release, if that's what people hear. I mean, that's what I just want them to enjoy it. But I tend to put it in the soul and blues category.

Ken Wallis

And how do you go about writing your music?


Mick Hayes

Actually a lot of times I'll write melodies. They come first and then next time the lyrics come first and and then sometimes they come together, and sometimes I'll work on something for a couple of days, and then weeks will go by before anything happens to it. For instance, No Second Chances on the record is probably the oldest of all the bunch. And that one I think goes back to like 2014 or 2015. Lately what I've been doing is actually writing on a Fender Rhodes piano and then taking what I created and putting it onto guitar. I think it's really helped with kind of simplifying because I'm not that proficient as a piano player. And I think it's kind of caused me to create much more listener friendly melodies and things of that sort.

Ken Wallis

And I know all musicians are proud of every song they put on an album, but is there one song on this album that really speaks to you the most?


Mick Hayes

Way Too Hard, because that's actually my favourite. And it's the one that's gotten the least mentions. Yeah, I really like how it bubbles along. It's just funky enough. It's just kind of sweaty enough to feel like, you know, a Blues song with a hook.


Ken Wallis

So what do you been doing while this pandemic has been roaring around our lives? Are you spending a lot of time creating or are you just taking it easy?


Mick Hayes

Well, I was in Central Ohio actually working and then I picked up the record, the actual LPs, I've got a Groove Records and my wife told me when I got to my hotel room that night, she says it looks like they're going to close New York, you'd better get home.


So I basically canceled anything going forward and things started canceling on me. And I made it back home. And while we are waiting to release the record, we went through two public delays but there were actually a couple of delays behind the scenes while we were waiting to see, what was the right time to put this out. And I real quick jumped to Facebook and YouTube and I just released a bunch of cover songs just to keep people engaged, because I had over a year's worth of momentum built up around the release. And then as New York kind of went into lockdown, we kind of didn't know what to do. And I hired a publicist to do some of the heavy lifting for me. And then I was writing for the next release somewhat. But then I definitely got I really the wind came out of my sails. And that's actually the opening title of one of the songs that you'll hear on the next album, that there's no wind in my sails. But my publicist decided along with me that we were going to do kind of a promotional tour as things kind of lightened up. And we did, it was scheduled out to be three weeks, anywhere as far as like Mississippi River, we’re in Memphis, Tennessee, and then all the way back to Fame Studios and Muscle Shoals and we were calling it kind of the road to fame and back.


But sadly, a lot of people that we had scheduled for interviews and for meetings and things of that sort. It just started to fall apart sometimes literally while it was right in town. And that was the hardest thing. It's like, Wow, man, I'm literally in town and people can't meet with me. So at like two and a half weeks, we called it a day and I kind of hightailed my way back. to New York and here in New York, we've got a 14-day quarantine. That's governor mandated, you know, so we cooperated with the 14 day quarantine, my sentence was lifted last Monday and I've just kind of been milling around, you know, record shops and music shops and just buying records. I kind of don't know what to do with myself when I'm not playing.


Ken Wallis

Well here in Canada in Ontario, some of the bars are opening up, they're allowed to have performances of up to 50 people as long as there's social distancing. And outdoor concerts can be up to 100. So it's starting to get a little bit better. I hope I can catch you live soon. That's what I really want to see because I've heard all about your live performances and apparently you just knocked the audience right on their rears.


Mick Hayes

Thank you, man. I appreciate hearing that. It doesn't fall on deaf ears right now. Man. It's, It's so funny. I'm so used to being connected to the audience and it's just been my wife and I since like the second week of March.


Ken Wallis

Where can folks get a hold of your album?


Mick Hayes

So it's available. I started my own record label, which is kind of a story.. So that requires a couple of beers and maybe some friendly handshakes but I started my own record label called Move The Needle Music. It was actually the last no I heard when I was shopping the record, it was from a very, very, very kind gentleman, it was very far up the food chain. And he told me, man, I really wish I could help you. But I want you to know that this this music really moves the needle.


So that was it. I started my own record label called Move The Needle Music you can find it through movetheneedlemusic.com you can get the record there, you can get the CD there for those of you that still prefer the CD. It is available through Amazon, its prime eligible at most locations and It's also available through Amazon International. So you can kind of get it from either place.


Ken Wallis

And we're really encouraging our readers to buy CDs and help support the artists right now because it's a tough time out there. Mick it's been great talking to you again. Thank you so much, it's been great chatting with you.


Mick Hayes

Thank you, Ken. I appreciate everything, that goes for your readers too.


Website: www.mickhayesmusic.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/mickhayesmusic

 

 

 

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