Sounds x Interview: Haybaby

Richmond and Brooklyn – based band Haybaby are a trio of musicians that “play honey-ass heartbreak crooning sometimes screamy sludgy pop and slop rock that will make you have some feelings.”  Made up of Leslie Hong, Sam Yield, and Jeremy Duvall, Haybaby is gearing up to release their latest full-length record “They Get There” June 7th via Tiny Engines.  While currently in the midst of their national tour promoting the record, Haybaby took time to answer our questions about the making and meaning of “They Get There.” 

Can you tell us about the making of your upcoming record “They Get There?” 

We started writing this record about three years ago.  We continued working on it through a lot of personal and political upheaval – from Leslie’s move from New York to Richmond to help her parents get through her father’s ultimately fatal battle with cancer to the repercussions of having a sexist white supremacist as president. All that turmoil definitely had an effect on our writing. A lot of the songs are about calling up and confronting legacies of harm. At the same time, we worked hard to make a record that constantly pushes back against despair, sometimes with joy or tenderness, sometimes with rage. The name comes from the very first review we got from some Brazilian blog, which was basically one line that translated to “Haybaby – They Get There,” and after all these years that phrase really stuck with us. It felt right after all we went through.

I love that the line of a Brazilian music blog ended up being the name of your record.  How is this album different than past Haybaby albums? 

One difference is that we allowed ourselves more room for lushness and layering on this record. In the past we’ve tended to be pretty spartan about how we arrange harmonies and guitar parts and so on, leaving space for each instrument to say its piece is still really important to us. But this time around we were a lot more ambitious about bringing in backing vocals and guitar loops and complex arrangements in a way that, we hope, still leaves all the different elements in conversation rather than talking over each other. 

Nice – I love the harmonies on the released tracks “Total Bore” and “Get Down.”  Your cover art is really cool too, (the burning car illustration) who did it and does it have any specific story or meaning to it? 

It was made by an artist named Leslie Herman (@leslie.herman) – his work is great, check it out! One of the smaller vicissitudes we went through while working on this album is that our tour van was burned to a crisp while it was parked in the alley behind Leslie’s house in Richmond. It seems to have been a random act of arson; luckily no one was hurt but we did lose a bike and a lot of drum hardware. We were really overwhelmed by the support of our friends and community who helped us replace the van afterwards. Something about this pointless visitation of destruction and the warmth with which those around us helped us to, quite literally, keep going, to stay on the road, seemed right for this album. 

Perfect.  What kind of music were you all into at age 14? 

Leslie was listening to a ton of Sixpence None the Richer and Thursday, Jeremy was a Phish-head, and Sam was really into filling a laundry bag full of ripe oranges and listening to it flomp down the stairs. 

Haha, a melting pot of inspiration! If Haybaby was an animal what would it be and why?

Probably a lowly porcupine who a little girl named Bess finds when she runs away from home but little does she know he’s secretly the prince of all the realm who has been transformed by an evil wizard who was jealous of what good hugs he gave so he turned him into a creature who could never hug again and he and Bess live in a burrow together solving mysteries and telling tales and helping forest critters who’ve been menaced by the evil wizard. Buy our record to find out how they find the answer to the biggest mystery of all (it’s friendship)!

YESSS. You all live pretty far apart from each other, how do you make it work with writing, recording, touring?

A lot of bus time, long solo drives, and dedication. The distance really forces us to make use of and value our time in a different way. We always write together, and the recording process was very drawn out and takes countless back-and-forth trips. The flip side is that it gave us a lot of space and time to really flesh things out. Touring is easy, we just meet up and go!

You are currently on tour promoting the record, any specific cities or venues you all are especially excited about? 

We’re really excited to get out west again, it’s been a while since we’ve been to the west coast and we’ve always had a blast out there – plus it’s wild to see how much the country changes ecologically as you travel in that direction. We’re also very stoked to play Vancouver for the first time; we’d never been to Canada until this April, when we played Toronto and Montreal. Those were both wonderful places, so we’re feeling optimistic Vancouver will be three for three. We’re also excited to see our friends and label buddies (shoutout to Tiny Engines <3) in the southeast and midwest. We are also excited to be playing some cities we never have before! Basically everywhere, is what we’re saying.

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