Oldies radio. Living in Hermosa Beach, my big sister and I loved singing along to Beach Boys,
Shangri-Lahs, Supremes and The Monkees K-RTH 101. We also played random records we
found at the thrift store. Some were weird, like when I found Wayne Newton's “Danke Shoen” in
the 25 cent bin, which I played on the wrong speed on a tiny kid's record player, so it sounded
like a chipmunk. We made up lyrics to old songs and they were always inside jokes. We were
obsessed with anything retro (this was in the mid-90s) because the only place we were allowed
to go on our own was the thrift store or to the strand to skateboard. We weren't allowed to watch
MTV, only Nick at Nite, which showed re-runs of Happy Days and stuff. I remember finding a
used 4-CD set of Elvis (I loved “Do the Clam,” which I changed to “Do the Sam,” after my
Weiner dog, Sammy). As for modern music, Weezer's blue album was huge. I listened to it a
zillion times. On long car rides my parents would wake me up to hear the Dr. Demento Show,
and I had a cassette of some inappropriate songs – I loved the humor and fun. My mom's CDs
always surprised and excited me: She had gems like Elvis Costello, the Waynes World Sound
track, and the Go-Gos "Beauty and the Beat.” I bounced around the apartment at seven years
old, singing into a hairbrush like I was in The Go-Gos. I got walked in on once or twice!
At what point did you begin to find your own music, and what were your first favorites?
I was maybe 10 when I bought Nirvana, Spice Girls, Cake, Beck, and No Doubt's “Tragic
Kingdom,” which I still love. Of course, I also had the Titanic soundtrack. My sister was into
Bowie and Velvet Underground. One day I came home and she had shaved her head/eyebrows
and had a Ziggy Stardust lightening bold painted across her face. I liked moody arty music, but
it didn't punch me in the gut. I was 13 when, after PE class, my friend gave me a burned CD of
Operation Ivy's “Energy,” taken from her older brother. Holy shit! This was in the year 2000 and
pop music of the day was extra horrible. I loved the urgency, short songs, and visceral vocals. I
played it over and over. It felt fresh even if it was already more than a decade old. Unlike the
Sex Pistols (which I knew to be “punk” with a capital “P”), Op Ivy was from the Bay Area, where
I was born. That was huge. Punk music wasn't a relic of another time and place. It was
happening now. From there, I got into Lookout bands, and I really loved Screeching Weasel,
especially “Anthem for a New Tomorrow.” I played a lot of SW songs on guitar when I was
transitioning from acoustic to electric guitar. I bought The Queers “Punk Rock Confidential” and
half the tunes reminded me of oldies I liked as a kid. I realized that the Ramones were the
underlying influence, so I went back and dove head-first into Ramones Mania. They were pure
joy! “Rock n Roll High School” inspired my “Hayley Ramone” phase with too-big leather and bad
black box color. Hardcore bands like Black Flag were burned and given to me by another punk
kid at my school (there were very few of us). I loved that I could actually play this all tof hese
bands on my guitar and it was fun to get my aggression out. My first guitar teachers had taught
me classic rock, so I knew how to play Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones, but it was boring to
play. I later had a great stoner guitar teacher that was like, hey: "Here's some Ventures, the
Clash and X. You might be into this." I still see him around town. I will never forget when he
looked at me and said, “Dude, I want you to shred!”
Did you recognize early on that music was a way for you to assert your individuality? Was
that an important component in the beginning?
There were very, very small punk shows happening in my rural Central California town, at
masonic temples and halls. I couldn't believe the electricity in the room. At first I just watched. I
had always been a writer, trapped in my own head. The feeling of being in a sweaty room of
people thrashing around was intoxicating. I was raised by atheists but this felt like church. I was
14 when I went to a “real” punk show, TSOL and Casualties, 2002. It was held at a lodge hall in
the middle of an empty field in San Luis Obispo, CA. I instantly got smashed in the nose by a
flying elbow and got way too drunk. I was hooked in more ways than one. That year my
boyfriend and I snuck out one night and went to see The Damned in Ventura, 3 hours away. I
drove his 82 Subaru wagon with a stick shift even though I had no idea how to drive. It didn't matter how much trouble we got in, and we got in a lot of trouble! This pissed off my parents, which I liked. When I was 16 my parents split and I returned to SoCal, where I started my first band, an all girl group called Ballroom Burlesque. I was now "in a band." My life revolved around playing backyard shows and going out to Hollywood and LA for punk shows with my friends every weekend. Having now played with some punk legends like FLAG (members of Black Flag), Adolescents, the Weirdos, Agent Orange...it's kinda crazy. That really was my teen dream, but at the time I was partying too hard and would have never made it. The band was short lived. I always say punk rock “saved and ruined my life,” and it's true.
When did you begin to realize that your identity was tied to your love for music?
Freshman year of high school. I didn't feel strongly about being a musician, I just wanted to write
songs. I also wanted to be part of this mythical thing called the punk scene and write songs
about what was inside of me. I loved the ongoing punk zine Cometbus, which later inspired me
to put out my own zine. I tried to join the school jazz band and when they said no, I thought,
“screw this.” I was good on the debate team and had a small group of misfit friends, but by tenth
grade, the truant officer was onto my tricks. I always had my portable CD player and a show to
go to and I snuck out constantly. By 17 I had tested out of high school and was living with my
boyfriend in a one-bedroom in Wilmington, CA with a hot plate next to the toilet, It didn't matter
because there was punk rock every night. Playing backyard shows were the best, because
someone's grandma would be at the door taking dollars and it was just a big ruckus. My first
shows with Ballroom Burlesque,were the Redondo Beach Teen Center and rowdy backyard
shows in Lennox and Wilmington. I'm still good friends with the people I met through that scene.
Under what circumstances did you first pick up an instrument, and what led you do try
I honestly don't know why I wanted a guitar. I always wanted to be an ice skater, but it was just
because they got to wear cool outfits. I asked for a guitar when I was 10 and my dad got me an
acoustic nylon string Fender. I wrote a song almost immediately, about a boy. When my sister
left home for art school, she left behind an old strat she'd never played. It had an anarchy sign
etched into the headstock and I had no idea what that meant. Once I plugged in and went
electric, I had to play music in the barn, instead of my closet. It was nice, though. The barn is
where I blew out my eardrums. I retired my small Fender practice amp for a 50 watt Line 6
Spider 210 with all the cheesy settings and I only used “Recto,” “Crunch” or this channel called
“Insane” which was just the most distorted you could get. I plugged my mic into the old Fender
practice amp and set it on a milk crate. There was an old couch in there and in between rocking
out I would take naps. My dad also helped with a crude recording set-up. It was just a DI box
and simple recording software, but it gave me a sense of satisfaction to make my own demos.
How did you approach songwriting at first? Were there specific styles or artists you wanted to emulate?
I was an obsessive writer with overflowing tortured journals, so it was a natural leap from just
words to words and music. If you haven't already noticed, I'm a little crazy, and writing songs was a way of medicating my almost constant anxiety and mood swings. I also listened to songs
like SW's “Supermarket Fantasy,” X's “White Girl,” Op Ivy's “Take Warning” or Black Flag's “Rise
Above,” and then tried to figure them out. I I learned every Ramones song I could, of which
there was an endless supply. My fave was “53rd and 3rd,” which is funny now that I know it's
about Dee Dee turning tricks for drugs! Sometimes the cheesy guitar mags would have tabs for
like, a Green Day or Blink 182 song. If there was a girl in the mag she was basically humping
the guitar. I wanted to be Joan Jett after I saw her perform at the California Mid-State Fair one
summer, and she was wearing leather pants! She was unreal, so commanding. She was covering the Stooges and making the crowd yell "Now I wanna be your dog!" I still wanna be like
How did your songwriting grow and develop into your own style?
I learned to trust myself. I learned to embrace my inner spaz. I started Hayley and the Crushers
because I knew my name would be on it, and I couldn't BS myself. I painted myself into a corner
so I had to just fucking do it. This is the project I have always dreamed of.
What are your typical present-day routines or methods for songwriting?
Iphone voice memo app for the win! Sometimes it is 3 a.m. when I make voice memos and they
are hilariously bad, and I'm, like WTF is this?! I write ideas in a notebook with an index, so I can
reference the page number. I always do a demo in garage band with robot drums, my guitar,
lead vox, and the backing vox. I always have Dr. Cain, Esquire lay down bass, because he adds
a new counter melody usually, and he has great insight. Then I hand it over to the drummer and
I let him do his thing. Full band rehearsal is every Sunday night. Learning new songs are the
lifeblood, and I get bored easily. I don't recommend that people get as crazy as I do about
polishing songs, though. I have learned that songs tend to polish themselves during recording
and touring. Cool/Lame was recorded on the fly. Our drummer used the sound engineer's son's
kick pedal from a toy kit (made for an 8 years old). There are backing vocals that were added
last second, and it's all groovy. I am learning to let go and “let Dee Dee take the wheel.”
Your association with Eccentric Pop! Records has given you a rightful place at the pop punk table, but I know this is not your specific musical background. What is your view on the current pop punk scene, and to what extent do you relate to it?
I missed the golden era of pop punk, being too young. When I was in my late teens and early
20s, it was all about street punk and the revival of 77 style punk, which was also pretty cool. My
friends and I had always worshiped SoCal bands like Agent Orange, Circle Jerks, Adolescents –
it was in the water living in LA's South Bay. There was a major mistrust for anything new,
anything that seemed “too commercial,” as pop punk had become synonymous with shitty radio.
I love all kinds of music--including classic country and rockabilly like Buck Owens and Wanda
Jackson, Martin Denny's exotica, and lately more and more new wave 80s stuff. Still, pop punk
empowered me to play power chords and write catchy melodies when I was a kid. I remember
getting the Riverdales first record in the mail and putting up that jumbo poster. “Back to You”
was literally made for pubescent girls! I owe a lot to the genre and have a ton of respect for it,
although I am missing chunks. I played a Warped Tour date a few years ago with my previous
band Magazine Dirty and I remember watching TBR and admiring the crap out of their stage
performance! I totally didn't know who they were at the time. They gave us a CD, and in the van
on the way back, I was like, “Ok, there is a lot I need to catch up on!” The Dummy Room
Podcast has basically re-educated me on all the stuff I missed. There's so many good pop punk
bands out there making new records, like Horror Section, Jagger Holly, Mean Jeans. A good
pop punk song is extremely hard to write and anyone who says otherwise is naive. A well
written pop punk song is also extremely satisfying to listen to, and it is addicting and sticky a
way that other forms of rock music aren't. Eccentric Pop is an example of a group of pop-
influenced bands that are doing the genre with style and high production value, and there is a
breadth to the roster that is refreshing. I am beyond honored to be in such amazing company. I
owe the encouragement of Dougie Tangent (The Putz/Devious Ones) and for getting me in
touch with Travis Woods. (Dougie also booked our Midwest Tour, April 25-May 7 and will be
playing drums for us on this run). Travis said he listened to our demo in his truck for a few
weeks straight. That was a huge compliment. You never think anyone is gonna care about your
music. I don't have a view on the modern pop punk “scene” because, as usual, I am on the
outside looking in. In a way it's fun, because I am always the weird one at the show in the go go
boots and swimsuit!
San Luis Obispo is an interesting town with more culture and quirkiness that I expected to
find. Do you feel inspired by your hometown environment, and did it play an important role in your development as an artist?
I came up with “Poolside Glitter Trash from Sunny San Luis Obispo, CA” for a reason! It says
that on our vinyl, and reviewers are always confused! If I hadn't left LA I wouldn't have put out
so many releases (I think I am at seven), and I probably would have partied so hard I would be
dead or in jail. Here, the vibe is sleepy but chill for creating. You have to make your own fun.
The Crushers have made pool party scenes out of dumpstered materials, shot weird music
videos featuring mermaids and icons of our town (Madonna Inn, The Shell Shop, Boo Boo
Records). This is classic California. We are a few miles from the beach, we have one of the last
drive-in movie theaters, and one of our biggest claims to fame is an alley covered in bubblegum.
I think that sums up my musical taste pretty well.
Your vocal talents are very obvious, and I wonder if that has played any sort of role in you
gaining confidence as a songwriter. Having a great voice and being able to write good tunes is a great combination! Add your personal style to the mix and it seems we have a triple threat on our hands.
Bless your punk heart. Let this be a word of encouragement to anyone struggling with singing: I
never thought I had a good voice. I had to go on tour in a country band and sing horribly the
whole time and throw my voice in order to finally realize I was approaching it all wrong. I relaxed
into my natural voice and stopped trying so hard to sound “pretty” or “tough” for that matter
(when I sang in punk bands). I was always more confident in my writing, and my inner-voice,
than my actual voice. Now my rule is: “don't try to sing, just sing.”
Is Dr. Cain (bassist of The Crushers) your husband? How important is his support and
involvement in what you do? Are there key roles he plays in the band besides playing bass?
Dr. Reid Cain Esquire married this crazy lady in 2013 and he is still making my coffee every
morning. We have so much fun, it should be illegal! He grew up as one of a few punks in a tiny
mountain town in Colorado and he also lived in the Bay Area in the 90s, where he took on a lot
of the DIY ethics of the punk scene there. This rubbed off on me. If Dr. Cain says he is going to
do something, he is going to do it. He is a bad ass. He's also an amazing songwriter, painter,
builder, and owns a comic book shop in SLO – Dr. Cain's Comics. We don't always artistically
agree, but he encourages me always. I write the lion's share of the material. His main role is
playing bass and he also collaborates on some songs, although we tend to do our own work
separately (we don't usually write together). His bass playing is an extremely important melodic
component, and it allows me to not be so chained to the guitar and loosen everything up. When
he takes over on vocal duties, like during "Lobotomy," I get to dance and interact with the crowd.
He also drives the van and keeps the ABBA on lock. I drive the van sometimes, but I go too
slow and tend to make my passengers nervous. I can see their point.
Your guitar sound is clean and surfy - how did you settle on this style? Do you feel that
distortion and power chords are overused in punk?
I wanted my guitar to scream “California sun” and Gidget. I play a Gretsch and use a
Danelectro Spring Reverb pedal. Dr. Cain's bass is the distorted, fuzzed-out undertow. We tour
with barely any gear. We played with the Murder Junkies once and Merle came with nothing but
a pedal and his bass. We were so impressed that now we always borrow amps/drums and bring
good pedals/cymbals. Our drummer, Gabriel, is a monster of metal music and has a powerful,
soulful swing. (In 2019, we are working with top notch drummers Benjamin Cabreana and
Dougie Tangent while Gabriel deals with medical issues). I chose my Gretsch Electromatic Pro
Jet guitar because it's a knock off of what Billy Zoom of X played. I fucking love distorted guitar,
so I say bring on the distortion. However, I would never trade balls for my Bigsby.
What are your “bucket list” goals as a musician? What would bring you the greatest level of satisfaction?
I want to tour/release in Japan as well as Europe! A palm reader told me Japan would happen
this year, so how can I let her down? I have a Japan tour spreadsheet I am working on. I'd also
like to tour the East Coast and make a record a year. I am beyond jazzed for the new Dan Vapid
and the Cheats album coming out on Eccentric Pop this spring. Vapid's songs are always like
candy to my ears and so, so classic. Collaborating with him would be a dream.
Who are some songwriters who you’ve been especially inspired by? Who are some of your
Songwriters like Loretta Lynn, Charlotte Caffey of the Go Gos, Exene Cervenka of X, Mike Palm
of Agent Orange, Leslie Gore, Joan Jett, Dan Vapid, Ben Weasel, Dolly Parton, Dee Dee
Ramone, and Patti Smith to name a few. Lately I've been digging stuff by Lucy and the Rats,
Midnite Snaxxx, Bleached, The Peawees, and Patsy's Rats. I have also been revisiting the
Muffs catalog. Everything Eccentric Pop is putting out now is awesome. Devious Ones' latest LP
is on my turn table quite a bit and the new Mugwumps “Clown War Four” scratches a major pop
punk itch for me. It's been on repeat. I have also recently fallen down a Kim Wilde hole and am
feeling the 80s new wave. This new LA band, Color TV, is totally kicking ass in the legacy of
The Cars. Their track “Anybody's Girl.” is a perfect pop song.
As we wrap up, any advice to those seeking to develop their own songwriting voice and
build an audience?
Believe that your voice and songs are worth hearing. You will build an audience by being
exactly who you are just turn yourself up to 11. Stone Cold Steve Austin said that. It probably
applies to music as well as wrestling.