Girls Guns and Glory celebrate Good Luck

, Staff

Over the past eight years, Girls Guns and Glory have become one of New England’s finest exports. Winners of the 2006 Rock ‘n’ Roll Rumble, the alt-country band has released five albums, won a handful of Boston Music Awards and built an expanding fanbase beyond their home-turf through relentless touring.

While the band has featured multiple lineups through this time, frontman Ward Hayden has always been at the center. On the band’s brand new album Good Luck, Girls Guns and Glory have delivered another gem that is rooted in good ole rockabilly. With that in mind, we recently caught up with the singer to discuss the making of Good Luck and their big album release show at The Sinclair on Friday.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): The band fuses country and rockabilly, but there seems to be more of the latter on this release. What were you looking to achieve on Good Luck?

Ward Hayden (WH): We set out to make more straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll record with Good Luck. We’ve always had elements of early rock ‘n’ roll in our sound, but when we started pre-production with Roscoe we heavily focused on the roots rock side of the band. And also, as the formation of the current line up solidified over the past three years we found that rockabilly and rock ‘n’ roll were genres that really appealed to each member of the band. When we’re on the road, we spend a lot of time falling down the rabbit hole of vintage Sun Studios recording and obscure Memphis rockabilly. It’s a sound where we all found common ground.

BMS: Walk us through your songwriting process.

WH: My songwriting process has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. I used to draw from a long term relationship that had soured for my muse. But, for the last three years I’ve found myself in a much better place with my personal life and in a much healthier relationship. For most of the songs on this album, I was inspired by events or stories I witnessed or heard. A lot of times I’d think about the idea or concept for the song for month or in the case of “Centralia, PA”, for years. Once I felt like I had absorbed enough of an understanding of the story I felt ready to pick up the guitar and tell that take in a 3 1/2 minute song. These songs represent a lot of days, weeks and months pondering and exploring, and once the music became a part of the process the finished songs happened in just a matter of hours.

BMS: How was the recording process different this time around?

WH: This was the first record that we didn’t make in the Boston area. In the past we’ve had the luxury to go home and sleep in our own beds after a day if recording. We made Good Luck in Brooklyn, so we stayed in New York the whole time we were making the record. We’d get done recording, go out on the town to catch a show or grab a few beers, then crash on a friends couch or guest bed. One night the band even walked from Williamsburg to Times Square. We were just in the moment and in the city. They say it’s the city that never sleeps and we did our best to fit in with that.

BMS: How did working with producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel come about and explain his impact on Good Luck.

WH: It’s really cool how we got to know Roscoe. We had recently signed a record deal with a label out of Kentucky and in the process of getting the deal together, we had talked with them about who we were hoping to work with on the next record. We were big fans of Roscoe’s work with The Bottle Rockets and Steve Earle, so that same week I started looking around to find the best way to contact him. The same week he heard a song of ours on satellite radio and decided to send an email asking what the band’s plans were for future recordings. We were over the moon. We went to Brooklyn and met with him a couple weeks later and really got to know him a lot better over the course of the year and putting the pieces in place to make Good Luck.

BMS: The band is highly regarded for their live shows, how does that factor into recording a new album?

WH: For this album we wanted the band to sound really close to how we sound live. We wanted to play all the instruments ourselves and be able to reproduce the sound of the record live without any auxiliary musicians. We did bring in a saxophone player for “Be Your Man”, but that was only because we had a specific sound in mind for that song and knew that Alec Spiegelman was the exact guy to do it.

BMS: Are there any tracks that you are particularly proud of?

WH: I feel good about “Centralia, PA”. The song recounts the story of a town in Eastern Pennsylvania that had a coal seam that caught fire underground. After years of trying to extinguish the fire without any success, the ground underneath the town stated to collapse. Ultimately, the town had to be abandoned and the state wiped them right off the map. They even took away their zip code and relocated the residents. I learned about the town on tour in Pennslyvannia and kept thinking about their story for almost two years before I felt ready to write that song. I think the story of Centralia is a good example of what can happen if we’re not careful with the world around us. And a lot can be learned from the story of their town.

BMS: It seems there might be a bigger focus of building more of a national following with this release, what’s been the biggest challenge of growing your fanbase beyond New England and the Northeast?

WH: The biggest challenge has been making sure the longer tours to the mid-west and western states are fruitful enough to cover our touring expenses. We’ve been lucky in that the past two coast-to-coast tours have gone very well. And we’re seeing better and better turnouts each time we return to a lot of markets around the Country. We’ve had a similar experience with touring Europe, where the first two tours lost money. Even though we had good turn outs at shows and sold a lot of CDs, the travel expenses were so high that we were coming home in the red. With the release of Sweet Nothings in 2011 and now with Good Luck, which we toured behind in Europe this December, we are having a much better experience. Our fan base has really grown in cities around France, Spain, Switzerland and Germany, and we’ve gotten smarter about touring. Knowing when to buy plane tickets or where to rent the van and equipment. We’ve hed to learn the hard way a number of times, but each tour seems to go better and better.

BMS: On Friday, you will celebrate the album release with another Boston favorite Sarah Borges. What in your opinion makes her so special?

WH: I’ve always been a huge fan of Sarah and her music. When I moved to Boston about six years ago, she was one of the first acts I saw that totally floored me. I was so impressed with the show and her wit. Even when the band wasn’t playing songs it was entertaining¬† to hear her go back and forth with the audience. She can sing, write great songs and put on an exhilarating live show. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

BMS: What can fans expect at the show on Friday?

WH: The show this Friday is really going to be incredible. The lineup of GGG, Sarah Borges and Swinging Steaks is of the coolest bills we’ve ever been a part of. Plus, Sarah’s husband and top-tier guitarist Lyle Brewer will be performing a solo set during the intermission. We also have some very special guests joining us for our set. Our producer, Eric “Roscoe” Ambel is coming up from New York City to sit in with GGG for the show. And we have a few other special surprises planned, it’s gonna be off the chain.

BMS: Any word for from Ochocino these days?

WH: Haha, every once in a while we do get a shout out or a tweet from Ochocinco. He’s been such a big supporter of the band going back to 2011.

BMS: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

WH: If any of your readers can’t make it out to the show on Friday, we have a whole list of tour dates with Sarah Borges all over the East Coast for them to check out on our website, www.girlsgunsandglory.com, which is also where they can pick up a copy of Good Luck.

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