Five Questions with... Hayden
At the height of the Canadian indie rock revolution of the early and mid-Nineties, there seemed a sense that so many of the great records released then were temporal, in spite of their magical qualities. Sure, fans at the time cherished them, almost as badges signifying membership in a secret society. But with often only limited exposure, this music seemed fated to always exist in the shadow of classic rock monoliths.
Thankfully, the current generation of young music aficionados appears to recognize the significance of the best albums of this period, whose authenticity and influence cannot be denied. Hayden’s Everything I Long For, released in 1996, is one such album, and its 20th anniversary limited edition vinyl reissue on April 1 through Hayden’s own Hardwood label is a thoroughly appropriate reminder of its lasting impact.
Although other indie singer/songwriters had by then embraced the “lo-fi” aesthetic, Hayden’s debut was no lazy, bedroom exercise. The album was instilled with unsettling suburban ennui, punctuated by jarring outbursts of primal screaming. The fact that the album’s best-known track, “Bad As They Seem,” became a minor hit, spoke volumes about the well of emotions Hayden had tapped into.
He quickly went from playing to small gatherings to theatres of devoted fans. He was even courted by Neil Young before signing a short-lived U.S. deal with Outpost Records. Hayden streamlined his approach slightly from then on, releasing quietly beautiful albums steeped in Canadiana, at two-to-three-year intervals. However, the first impression he’d made with Everything I Long For remained indelible. In support of the reissue, Hayden will be performing the album in its entirety for the first time on a tour-week tour, which kicks off Saturday at the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield, Quebec.
What prompted you to revisit Everything I Long For at this point in your life?
It took me over a year to decide that I was going to do a re-issue. I’ve always been suspicious of this kind of nostalgia. But whatever the final reasons were, once I delved into the material I started to enjoy the process. I was relieved to discover that I liked the 24-year-old version of myself—for the most part. One very important factor in all of this is that I’m currently in the middle of a very rewarding creative project. Working on exciting new material has made all of this looking back tolerable.
What are some of your strongest memories about making the album?
The strongest memories are coming home from working at HMV, going downstairs and spending hours in front of my 4-track cassette machine. Basically learning how to write songs while recording them. That process framed the next 20 years for me. With a few exceptions, I’m still the most comfortable and happiest with the results I get when I’m alone and focused.
Youve performed many songs from the album throughout your career, but what challenges will there be for you to perform the entire record?
There are a surprising number of songs that I haven’t played at all in 18 years. The biggest challenges will be remembering the words and not losing my voice.
What are your fondest musical memories as you were growing up?
My fondest musical memories growing up were always hearing my mom walking around the house singing or whistling and of my dad playing classical pieces on the piano. The stereo and TV were rarely on.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned as you’ve built your career, and what advice would you give?
Advice… Some would say I’ve slowly torn down my career. I’ve always tried to be true to myself and make music as my expression. Everyone is different and in a unique situation, there are so many paths.