Girls Guns and Glory

Girls Guns & Glory
Love and Protest

Ward Hayden – Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocals
Josh Kiggans – Drum Kit
Paul Dilley – Upright & Electric Bass, Vocals
Cody Nilsen-Lead Guitar, Vocals

Love and Protest: two concepts that seldom go hand in hand. Until you think about it a while.

That’s what singer, guitarist and songwriter Ward Hayden did as he began mapping out plans for Girls Guns & Glory’s next album, which happens to be called Love and Protest.

“That title sums up this album and it sums me up very well too,” he says. “We’ve done 10 years of touring, living, learning and growing, maturing and developing a broader world view, a view outside of the small town where I grew up.”

That decade began with Hayden and several like-minded musicians getting together. Their love for early rock ’n’ roll, true country, raw blues and pretty much any kind of authentic American music branded them quickly as anomalous — and electrifying. Since that time they’ve barnstormed far beyond their Boston hometown, playing honky-tonks, beer joints and more recently concert venues throughout the U.S. They’ve amassed a loyal legion of fans along the way. The media have noticed too, including Rolling Stone, which heralds them as a “modern-day Buddy Holly plus Dwight Yoakam divided by the Mavericks.”

Now, in this milestone year, with Girls Guns & Glory recording for the first time on its own label, the group has channeled all it’s experienced into its most personal and, paradoxically, hardest-rocking release to date.

Love and Protest is the name of the album because its songs explore the emotion of love,” Hayden explains. “And when love is faced with opposition, it’s the protest of that emotion. It’s alpha and omega — love and protest. There’s a lot of ground to cover between those two extremes.”

They begin with the album’s first single and opening track. “Rock ’n’ Roll.” With bassist Paul Dilley and drummer Josh Kiggans laying down a no-nonsense, backbeat-driven groove, lead vocalist and guitarist Hayden sings, “I’m a hunter, a collector of things. I keep holding onto bad memories.” And yet, when the chorus hits, he proclaims that he’s “ready to rock ’n’ roll.”

Like much of Hayden’s work, these lyrics run deeper than they seem at first listen, with a sub current of heartbreak and obsession. “I don’t just collect physical trinkets,” Hayden notes. “This song is more about experiences and memories, the things you can’t see but they stay with you in your head and your heart.

Similar spirits haunt the bitterly self-destructive “Wine Went Bad,” the loneliness of “Reno, Nevada” (“I might as well be a world away”), the exquisitely pure honky-tonk lament “Empty Bottles,” the painful introspection of “Memories Don’t Die” and “Stare at the Darkness,” and “Diamondillium,” a dystopian meditation shaded by noir guitar and incongruously inspired by an episode of Futurama — really, everything on the album, including its one cover, a resurrection of Gram Parsons’ “Hot Burrito No. 1.”

“The growth and maturity of Girls Guns & Glory as a band is what led us to take on this song,” Hayden says. “Lyrically, I think it’s a song that would make Hank Williams proud. Love was, and is, there in the person telling the story, but his love interest has taken the things she’s learned from their relationship and moved on to someone else. The storyteller is left to pine over it. It’s love and protest exemplified.

To complement the immediacy of Hayden’s words, Girls Guns & Glory elected to cut Love and Protest entirely in analog, with Drew Townson, an acknowledged master of that format, recruited to produce with the band.

“There’s a nostalgia to working with analog,” Hayden says. “There are also limitations — no editing, making sure you don’t run out of tape. But those limitations force you to let things go, let things happen. The anxiety begets beauty and makes the band do its best every take, firing on all cylinders and working together as a cohesive unit.

“It’s as stripped-down as we’ve ever been. Even going into it, I didn’t imagine it would turn out as pure as it did.”

Going back to analog parallels the band’s return to its earliest days as an independent act, in control of its career. “This is the first album in eight years where we did everything ourselves,” Hayden says. “It’s the first album we’ve co-produced. We don’t worry about appeasing a label anymore. We’re creating music only for ourselves and our fans.”

To illustrate, he points to one track, “Man Wasn’t Made,” an affirmation that “man wasn’t made to just lie down and die,” set to a rollicking rockabilly beat and ignited by sparks of steel guitar. “When we were working with a label, they kept telling me that protest songs don’t sell so they didn’t want to put this kind of cut on a record. Well,” he says, smiling, “now we can sneak in a couple of actual protest songs, in a not-so-sly way.”

“With this record, we feel almost like a brand new band,” he continues. “We take things in a different direction. A lot of that is because a shift has occurred on our tours. We’re getting out of the bars and playing more in theaters and listening rooms. Instead of just trying to keep people on the dance floor for three hours, we’re crafting songs for people who really like to listen. That’s allowed us to dig deeper lyrically, to make more mature music with a higher level of musicianship. We’re making the music we want to make. We’re not limiting it to any genre in particular. We’re willing to do whatever feels right.”

“You could say,” Hayden concludes, “we’re a bigger part of the music itself than we’ve ever been.”

Nothing could be better news for those who have loved Girls Guns & Glory. Nothing can give more hope to all still waiting for their faith in real, honest-to-God American music to be restored.

10 thoughts on “Bio

  1. Hi guys, saw you in Marion last weekend and fell in love with your band and your music. So glad you will be in Plymouth soon. Can’t wait to join you there.

  2. I had the extreme pleasure to experience GGG for the first time at a private party last night (7/21/12). From the get-go, GGG captivated everyone lucky enough to be there.
    Guys, thanks for treating us to special and memorable night. Your unique sound and soulfulness, mixed in with songs that are familiar and loved, will resinate in our musical hearts for a long, long time!

  3. First saw you at the Narrows in Fall River, MA. Became an instant fan. just found out the band will be back for a couple of shows, a music festival celebrating the music of Gram Parsons and then later a tribute show to Hank Williams. Can’t wait. last time my wife and daughter came and they were blown away, now other family members are jealous and can’t wait to see the band. We’ll be there. KEEP IT ROCK’IN AND KEEP IT REAL. Thanks for the great tunes.

  4. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your music! You guys have such a big,unique and fresh sound! I can’t wait to see you guys someday somewhere, I really wish you would come and play down in the Austin Houston area! This area would embrace you guys so much! I wish you guys much success and look forward to whatever else you guys have on the horizon, but it would be devastating if you decided to stop…. Please keep it going. I know you guys do this for a lot of different reasons, but as a fan we don’t get the opportunity to hear groups like you long enough! Here is to a long happy prosperous productive career doing what you guys love to do! Thanks for sharing your amazing gift, because it is very special ! Sincerely Ward

    1. Much thanks fellow Ward! I really appreciate your kind words. I will be sure to keep you posted for when we come back to TX. There is a chance that we’ll be at SXSW again this year in March, but not 100% confirmed yet.

      Thanks again for reaching out and hope to have some new music out for you to hear in 2013!! -Ward

  5. Had the pleasure of hearing your band, for the first time, in Macungie, PA. At the Bear Creek Ski Resort, Loved your Music and style. I have been listening to the CD’s I bought from you, ever since! I will definately come to see you when you are in the area again, and will be bringing all my friends !
    Good Luck To You !

  6. We all so enjoyed your concert at the Wellsboro House! Thank you for going out of your way to entertain us and for your donation as well. I bought the Sweet Nothings CD and just love it. It has played in my car since on our way home from your concert on Sunday. So hope you can stop somewhere in our area again soon. Love your style of music, your group has captured us all!!! Thanks Again!

  7. During your show in Europe, we have the huge honnor to welcome you GGG in our ranch in France at Holy ‘ Day Ranch. This moment was unique. You guys put your songs inside our life. And since your show, nobody in the ranch drive his car without listening to you !!! Hope to welcome you on 2014 with violin and harmonica ;-) ! Thanks a lot. God bless you. Mano

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