Hayley and The Crushers are a band that first came to my attention last year, when I reviewed their album ‘Modern Adult Kicks’. The band are from California, and their music is a catchy fusion of glitter, dance, rock and punk. They are a trio, husband and wife- Hayley Cain and Dr.Cain, and Action Ben Cabrena.
On Halloween, they brought out a fun cover version of Iggy Pop’s ‘Lust for Life’ which you can watch here:
I caught up with frontwoman and guitarist of the band Hayley Cain, to find out a little more about this fun band.
1. What inspires you to make music?
Hayley: Boring but true: Lately, it’s been the song writing and recording process. A few years ago, I might have said live performances, but Covid changed me. We have a small studio setup at home and making demos really is where the magic happens. These demos are not fancy. I do them on Garageband. Let me just say they take a lot of imagination to understand from the outside (many times I am the only one who knows what I’m actually going for). I’m inspired to translate an entire story or world of emotion into a two minute package. Of course, the real puzzle is ensuring the song has solid hooks and interest. I enjoy the entire craft, start to finish. My writing and editing brain is put thoroughly to use, which is satisfying. It also doesn’t hurt knowing that, when we’re ready, we can head to Kitten Robot Studio in LA to throw down the real deal. Our producer, Paul Roessler, encourages us to be ourselves fully and embrace it all, the good, the bad and the ugly! A little ugly goes a long way.
We don’t want to cover up our shortcomings, but instead celebrate what makes the Crushers unique. We are poolside glitter trash. At our core, myself and Dr. Cain are songwriters and storytellers and bringers of fun. Each song is its own little universe and it’s cool to inhabit that world for a period of time. Once the song is released, the world disappears for us but becomes real to the listener.
2. What is the best description of your music that you have ever read/heard in a review?
Hayley: demonic version of The Go-Go’s or “like Bazooka Bubblegum on the bottom of your combat boot!”
3. What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you at a gig?
Hayley: How much time do you have? A dancing hot dog costume guy showed up once in the Pacific Northwest. One time, an older man brought a random printed-out photo of me from the internet and wanted me to sign it. He looked like he had a lot of bodies buried in the basement! There have been dogs that have jumped on stage (I don’t condone that–their poor ears!). One time, our friend moshed so hard he broke his arm! We’ve had many dance contests on stage where people compete for the “Pineapple crown” or merch. That’s always wild.
We’ve had little kids on stage dancing. We’ve played in a public library with kids who were moshing and kicking up balloons, so that we could head-butt the balloons back into the audience while we played. We’ve created “pool parties” out of cardboard and trash with our artist pal Neal Breton.
Once, I met legendary English roadie Pete the Roadie, during a show my old band did with FLAG or Jello. I can’t remember who we were opening for, but it was a bigger act. He said that the American food he’d eaten at the venue was so greasy it made him puke. But then he heard our band (Magazine Dirty) playing our set and it totally revived him and “brought him back to health.” That always stuck with me. I am still very proud of that!
4. If you could collaborate with any artist, past or present, who would it be and what would you work on together?
Hayley: It’s different depending on the day (and the interview). Today it is Lee Hazlewood. But mostly because I want to ask him so many questions. I want to know if he had a sense of humour about the eccentric stuff he was recording in the 60s. He strikes me as a talented producer who was not very talented as a singer, but said “fuck it” and did his own thing anyway. He was a reluctant and somewhat off-putting front man, which is why he did so well when paired with Nancy Sinatra, who was off-putting in her own special way, which is why it all worked so well together. I think that’s very brave of Lee, especially since I don’t see myself as some kind of fancy singer or musician. He leaned on his strengths, which were to write and produce wacky, wacky stuff and not think too hard about what critics might say about it.
I want to understand his thinking and his attitude toward music and the industry. It’s obvious he had a lot of friends in high places and could pull a full string section at the drop of a hat. Did he find all of this absurd or was he a stone-cold hipster who took it all very seriously? I guess there is a documentary on him out there, so maybe I just need to watch that tonight to quell this burning itch!
5. Do you find that being a married couple affects how you work together as a band?
Hayley: The only difference is that each of us knows that we aren’t getting out of the band or the relationship alive! It’s way easier to keep a band together when you have taken a solemn vow in front of all your friends and family. But seriously, I guess we enjoy our time working together now more than ever. Dr. Cain likes to say it took us ten years to learn how to write harmoniously together. In some ways, that’s true. We’ve never been more collaborative. It was worth it.
6. What made you choose to cover ‘Lust for Life’?
Hayley: You caught me on a truthful day. So here it is: We were asked to do the song for an ad! Our publishing company needed this particular song for an advertisement that was going to be picked up for an athletic brand. Getting a big payday in music is rare. So we recorded it over two days as quickly as possible. I had an ear infection at the time, it was awful.
Anyway, the brand chose our song to be in the commercial (yay), but then the other side wanted to renegotiate the price, so it all fell apart. We had recorded the vocals to be very upbeat, perky and sing-songy, as requested. Now that we weren’t going to sell the song, we knew we could do it our way, the Crushers way. So we roughed it up and added an element of fun and spontaneity.
I love Dr. Cain’s grizzled vocals and how in the end the guitar goes in and out, like we’re playing on crappy gear. That was a nice touch by John Miller, who mixed the song and deserves a lot of credit for how great the song turned out. Some might say this sounds like a mistake, but we felt it fit the spirit of the song. Obviously, the song now represents our love for Detroit, which is our second home.
7. What do you enjoy most and least about playing live?
Hayley: The stage is its own planet. I like that we get to create an energy all our own and share it with the audience. Sometimes, we have the challenge of changing the vibe of the room. Some rooms are cold and weird. That’s a fun fight to have with the audience, though. We’re basically like, “You are going to enjoy this whether you like it or not!” There’s always a handful who end up cracking a smile in those situations, even if they hate our guts or think we are corny. Afterward, I get to meet everyone at the merch table, which is fun. All that is good.
I don’t love the part where I have to fiddle with my gear and tape my in-ears down so they don’t fly out of my ears. I just wish I could plug it all in and have everything sound and work the same from venue to venue. But I know that’s the kind of thing only crazy pop stars enjoy.
8. If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
Hayley: So much is wrong with the industry. But here is one thing that really keeps me up at night. I’d like to bring back the important role of promoters. We need them. Bands are promoting gigs and tours 100% DIY (we certainly are). It would be cool to have someone helping out in each market with putting up fliers, building bills and generally caring about the success of shows. This is what promoters used to do. I know it’s a tall order, as there is no money in that job anymore. But I can’t be an expert in every town. I don’t know every little quirk about a particular scene or market. Us little guys need boots on the ground! In that vein, maybe I’d bring back street teams, too. A good old fashioned street team is hard to beat. Who else is going to plaster your stickers everywhere?
9. If you could give any aspiring musicians a piece of advice, what would it be?
Hayley: Keep putting out music. Do A – work or even B+ work if you have to. Get it done, get it outside of your brain. If you’re not cringing, you’re not growing. Every year, you want to make something so cool you think it’s the best thing you’ve ever done (even if your true fans continue to adore your earlier, wonkier recordings). You’re doing great.
10. What is the most important thing about your band/music that you think people should know, especially those who have never heard your music?
Hayley: Our tour manager, Peanut, is an adorable elderly chihuahua with a heart of gold. She comes to some of the shows, so if you ever see us live, feel free to inquire about her! I’ve taken many folks over to the fan to meet Peanut. She’s a true angel and has a way of capturing the hearts of everyone who crosses her path!
Thank you so much Hayley, for taking the time to chat to Joyzine!
So there you have it, if you’re not convinced by ‘a demonic version of the Go-Go’s’, cardboard pool parties at gigs, or a chihuahua tour manager, to have a listen to Hayley and the Crushers, I’m not sure you have a soul. But if you do, make sure you check out their album ‘Modern Adult Kicks’
You can buy their version of ‘Lust for Life’ on Bandcamp
Interview by Hayley Foster da Silva
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