Episode 131: Michael Hays
Air date: 3.18.2015
Musician Michael Hays has come a long way since his formative years amidst the humid pines of southern Mississippi. Just about the time when many of his classmates clung to their roots and started families, Hays set out for Austin, Texas - the fertile musical mecca that doubles as the capital of Lone Star State. He did what nearly all young guitar players do… he started bands and worked odd jobs to keep himself fed. But Hays soon figured out that as cool and supportive as Austin was, he needed an even bigger pond to hold his aspirations, so he packed up his life and continued west to California. Los Angeles’ complex and diverse music scene offered myriad opportunities and Hays availed himself of as many as he could find. He became a founding member of the venerable local band, The Larks, and taught guitar lessons and repaired accordions to pay the rent. One band led to another, and he wound up doing stints in the Neighborhood Bullys and We Were Indians as well as contributing to Richard Thompson’s Sweet Warrior album. Recently, in the fall of 2014, Hays released his first proper, eponymously titled, full-length solo album. The twelve tracks that make up the record showcase Hays’ considerable talents as both a guitarist and a writer of inventive Elliott Smith-meets-Wilco melancholy pop. Guitar tones veer from classic tube amp grit to 12-string jangle and then off to atonal Robert Quine atmospherics. Tight and inventive Big Star-esque chord changes give way to familiar and comfortable grooves with just enough country-flavored pedal steel to ground the whole hotwired experience. Also in 2014, Hays relocated back to Austin, but his new music makes it obvious that he has deep and enduring musical roots in Southern California.