Ward Hayden

Quick Q and A with Ward Hayden (Girls, Guns, and Glory)

Ward Hayden is the man behind Girls, Guns, and Glory.  Within a few weeks of forming the band, he led them into the studio and out came an album, then another and then another—in just three years time.  All of the music was well received and the band toured extensively.  The latest iteration of the band released a CD called Sweet Nothings and it is considered by many to be the band’s best effort to date.  As Ward relates in the interview below, the sound of the band has changed a bit since its inception – but they’re still pushing the envelope and celebrating the best of country, rock and roll, and rhythm and blues.  All rolled up into one extremely tasty sound!

To learn more about Girls, Guns, and Glory visit their website.

Girls, Guns, and Glory will be at the me&thee in Marblehead, MA on Friday, November 16.


I’ve got to ask: Girls, Guns, and Glory.   What prompted the selection of that band name?

Originally the name came to me in a dream where I saw the words written on a blackboard & a teacher was telling her students about things they’d never be taught inside the classroom. I told people about it and they seemed to get a kick out of using the words for a band name.

But, lately I’ve viewed Girls, Guns, & Glory as a cosmic trinity of sorts. I read it like a wish list or a mission statement. It’s love, aggression and triumph, but with a nice alliteration. If you’ve got Girls, Guns, & Glory what more could you need?

It’s interesting to note that the Boston Phoenix voted you as Best Roots act and the Boston Music Awards voted you as the Best Americana act.  Do you differentiate between the two “genres” or are they really one and the same?  Many people can’t quite get a handle on what either one means!

I’m not sure that I really know what it means. The genre of “Country” has changes so much over the years. What was called “Country” in the 50’s and 60’s, sounds a whole lot different from what is labeled “Country” today.

Americana & Roots have become blanket terms for music that can’t find a home anywhere else. Seems like having a banjo or upright bass immediately labels an act as being Americana.

And I’m happy to be labeled as such. We call a lot of early American styles of music our inspiration: hillbilly boogie, western swing, traditional country, etc. But, lately with so many acts being labeled Americana we’ve tended to distance ourselves from the term because it doesn’t really explain what it is that we’re doing. The best description I’ve found yet it Retro Rock & Real Country.

Like the sounds that came out of Sun Studio in the era of Elvis Presley, Charlie Feathers, Johnny Cash & Carl Perkins. Early rockabilly with a little more thump and twang.

And let’s not forget that you won the WBCN Rock & Roll Rumble in 2008.  Would you say that your music has changed since those days?  

Our music has changed some since those days. We still perform all the songs that we were performing back in 2008, but our catalog of original material has expended quite a bit over the past few years.

We’ve also had lineup changes in every position in the band, with the exception of me.
The current lineup has been touring with me for about the past 2 1/2 years and I feel like this is the best the band has ever sounded. We’re just more road tested than we ever were before.

GGG tours internationally.  Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s like to be an American band touring in foreign countries.  How do the people get to know your music?

We’ve had some really good experiences touring internationally. In fact, the only rough experience we had abroad happened when a fellow American punched me in the eye while he was suffering a schizophrenic breakdown in France. It was not a pleasant experience, but the show must go on.

We’ve found that the venues having us in foreign countries have invited us to perform because they heard of us through radio or through folks who traveled to America and saw us at festivals or shows here in the States.

In 2010 we were given the Independent Artist of the Year Award at the French Country Music Awards, which was an awards show that also honored acts like Toby Keith, Brad Paisley and Miranda Lambert. Here in the States, we’d never get categorized with acts like that, that are coming out of Nashville. We felt honored that the music we’re making on a shoe-string budget could find a way to get recognized with acts that have major label support.

As the main songwriter, how do you usually present your songs to the band?  Do you work collaboratively on each song’s arrangement?

Typically I’ll bring the basic outline of a song to the rest of the band and we’ll start going over each section of the song and all add our input as the arrangement of the song comes together.
On this last tour we wound up writing two songs together as a full band. We had a day off and a garage to set up our gear, so we started playing and I got out a pen and paper. By the end of the day we had two completed songs, both of which made their way into the live show the very next night.

We’re getting ready to record our next album with Eric Ambel producing in Brooklyn, NY next month, so I’m hoping we have some more magic like that happen between now and then.

You’ve said that your latest CD “Sweet Nothings” has a lot of influences from the past including Johnny Cash, the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, and Little Richard.  That’s a wide spread or influential artists.  If you had to choose your favorite song by each of these artists, what would they be?

Johnny Cash – “Meet Me In Heaven” off the album “Unchained”. It came out in the mid-90’s, but captured the spirit and voice of the man as well as anything else I’ve ever heard. Rick Rubin seems to have a knack from bringing out the best in an artist, even if the rest of the industry can’t find a use for them. This album is a gem.

Everly Brothers – “A Voice Within” such great production, horns and all.

Roy Orbison – “In Dreams” so classic, my dad turned me onto Roy Orbison and I’ve been crying ever since.

Buddy Holly – “I’m Looking for Someone to Love”

Little Richard – I love his version of “Slipin’ and Slidin'” and also “Rip It Up”. Enough energy on these songs to lift you off the ground. Timeless rock ‘n’ roll.

 What’s next for Girls, Guns, and Glory?

After we play me & thee Coffeehouse on Nov 17th we head back to Europe for the end of Nov and into December.  Gonna be touring in France and breaking new ground in Spain on this tour.
Then we return home to perform out 3rd Annual Tribute to Hank Williams, this year we’ll be doing it at the Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River on Dec 27th, and then at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Miss Tess & The Talkbacks will be opening all the Hank Tribute shows & doing a tribute to him as well with her band. It’s gonna be a really great way to say goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.