Spencer: Did any events or series of events lead to the formation of Haybaby? Were there other bands with similar members or anything else that influenced bringing the band together?
Haybaby: I feel like our origin story is not super interesting. I used to play drums in a band with Zach Ellis, our original drummer, his girlfriend Micha, and our buddy Caleb. When Zach and Micha broke up, we asked Sam to join and we became Haybaby. Caleb moved to Boston shortly after our formation. Originally, Zach and I shared lead vocals and would switch instruments. I don’t think we were brought together for any particular reason other than we enjoyed playing music, and had fun doing that with each other. We didn’t set out to sound any particular way, we just naturally fell into a groove together. Zach had a unique style of rap-singing and is kinda silly in general so our earlier material reflects a lot more of that. But Zach is a wandering hippie child magic flower and can’t be kept in New York so it ultimately didn’t work out. He’s making music under the moniker The Adventures of the Silver Spaceman and we still enjoy making music together.
S: 2015’s ‘Sleepy Kids’ is your first full-length release, but it was preceded by a handful of EPs. How has the band evolved sonically over the course of these releases and what has remained constant?
H: Having Zach leave was really tough because we have always written all of our songs as a group. Our earlier EPs go back and forth with our vocal interplay and have a looser, lighter, almost hip hop feel with Zach’s influence. After Zach left, Mike stepped in and he has more of a tight, dance pop style which you can hear on a lot of the album. Jeremy, our drummer now and forevermore, is kinda all over the place, and our first trained drummer. He is a jazz school dropout with a taste for metal and trap. We’ve definitely been leaning heavier and doomier with him and it’s fucking awesome. Though who knows, maybe the EP after ‘Blood Harvest’ will be super pop. Overall though, we’ve always tried to keep it weird and honest, and that’s probably what ties it all together.
S: ‘Sleepy Kids’ also helped form your relationship with Tiny Engines. What about Tiny Engines do you enjoy most and were you big fans of the label before working with them? Who are your favorite bands on their roster?
H: We actually got in touch with Tiny Engines through our good buddy Justin who used to be in It Looks Sad, which is also probably my favorite band on the roster. I love working with them because at the core, they’re really just two dudes who love music and vinyl and are down to make it happen for their bands. Plus Chuck lets us crash at his place and play with his kids when we tour through Charlotte. Honestly I hadn’t heard of Tiny Engines before they asked if we were interested in working with them but I know absolutely nothing. Like I probably couldn’t list more than five labels in general so….
S: This will be your first trip out to the west coast as a band. Are there certain places you are looking forward to most – whether it is seeing or playing?
H: Yeah it’ll be our first time past the middle point! We’re actually super stoked for FUNZONE because hitting balls with sticks is clearly the best thing and it doesn’t happen all that often over here. I’m also excited for La Jolla because I had a really good clam chowder there once. I have a lot of Jehovah’s Witness family outside Seattle and I’m excited to see my grandparents and have them all come see me scream. I can already hear my grandma saying “ohhhh why do you have to be so loud?” Other than that we are very eager to do national parks-y stuff. Sam and Jeremy haven’t been to the west coast at all so they wanna go hug big trees and do the route 1 thing. We have a couple days off around cool spots so we’re definitely gonna get all up in nature because New York is super gross and smells like pee and garbage all the time. And we’re deeeeffffinately stopping at some wineries.
S: Is there any show experienced that sticks out the most or comes up the most in conversation, positive or negative?
H: Oh god, so many terrible shows. And so many good ones. We don’t actually talk about shows except for the day after. I personally don’t remember shows as much as I do the good people involved.
S: What is the biggest thing a fan or stranger has ever done for your band?
H: Psh it’s gotta be Tiny Engines wanting to sign us. Nothing better than someone saying “WE BELIEVE IN YOU HAVE SOME MONEY!” There’s also a person who likes to tweet at us, which is always nice. Sup @paggank
S: In Santa Barbara, we have a small but dedicated music scene with not a ton of bands and very few venues. How would you describe the Brooklyn music scene to an outsider? How would you compare it’s legitimate venues to those doing DIY shows?
H: Hoo boy. There are probably one million bands in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is pretty big and I imagine there’s a separate community in south Brooklyn but most of what we know is concentrated in three neighborhoods in north Brooklyn- Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Bed-Stuy. Williamsburg has your big fancy venues like Rough Trade and Knitting Factory. The sound at those spots is amazing but the room is so big it can be tough to fill. There used to be an awesome pocket of great DIY venues and warehouse type spaces (R.I.P. Death By Audio/Glasslands/285 Kent) but Vice moved their headquarters to that block and bought out all the spaces and shut them down : / We all live in Bushwick, which now has the stalwart few old crew of well-organized DIY spots like Silent Barn and Shea Stadium. Palisades and The Gateway are newer but great. There are also smatterings of random basement, gallery, and house shows that happen around Bushwick and Bed-Stuy which is exciting. We throw shows at our house (Haybaby Cat Farm!) from time to time too. As far as bands go there are definitely many separate clans that all kinda mingle, mix, and split by genre, age, hip factor, and level of enthusiasm. But over all, most people in the scene are super supportive and beautiful and kind. Unless you’re a shitty person or making bad music or both.
S: Lastly, the question we always ask touring bands: which bands would recommend to readers from your area that they may not have heard of?
H: Well Dumb Wolves are awesome. Super haunting vibes with a guitar/sax/drum thing going on. There has been an influx of sax activity in bands here and it’s really exciting. Parlor Walls also have a similar setup and they’re phenomenal. Just so interesting. We’ve also been trying to play with Lushes, who are a mathy two-piece that makes your brain stretch. I fucking love The Yin Yangs. They put on the best stomping sweaty live show. I’ve probably been to dozens. Trevor from Dances got me my job and his band is kinda like Weezer the way oil paint is to crayons. Really beautiful harmonies. Jeremy’s roommate is in Shark? and just started this awesome project called Sodium Beast. We just have such a great community of super talented people that I am so grateful to know and play with. I’m in a girl gang that plays music called granny and I love it because gang vocals, duh. Jeremy’s in a boy band called Dad. Sam plays solo, which is super cool because you can hear him sing and play guitar and he’s got this soft little baby bird voice and can stretch seven frets on an acoustic guitar and fingerpick like a mother.
Haybaby’s first full-length release, ‘Sleepy Kids’, is available from the band via their website (haybabyband.com) and through their record label, Tiny Engines. They will be playing at FUNZONE in Santa Barbara on Saturday, March 26th with local bands Promblems, Gloom Me and Toe Waving.