By Jim Hagerty
It is usually uncommon for musicians to recall times when they didn’t dream of writing and performing. For Rockford native David Hayes, he remembers growing up not even knowing how to play an instrument — an oddity for a guitarist, piano player and vocalist with three records to his credit.
His latest, Epics (2014), is a collection of tracks Hayes had written for other projects that didn’t pan out. The 10-song offering captures an array of emotions that has been vital in the creative process since he first picked up the guitar while taking a music class at Rock Valley College and learned chords from a college-job supervisor (Larry Beeman, Forest City Sound) on breaks.
“At that time in my life, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” the 1998 Auburn High School CAPA graduate said. “So, I figured why not give music a try?”
Described as rock by the artist, Epics oozes an edgy Beatles tone, plays like a soft rockabilly record, and contains enough love-song pop chops to keep it on repeat. From “Backwards” to “Behind You,” the record has a little for everyone. Its array of styles reveals Hayes’ influences, although that’s not what the record is about, he said.
Words, he says, can be hard to come by for some writers. When there’s no hook, there’s no song — at least a pop tune, anyway. But, even the simplest tracks tell a story or come from somewhere other than the proverbial alphabet soup of rhymes.
“Life changes,” Hayes said. “People fall in love, we lose people and fall in love again. There’s a lot of love themes here mostly — with a lot of guitar feedback.”
Epics also boasts a veteran cast of players. Rockford-native Graham Burris (Matthew Santos, Bluewater Kings) provided bass on all tracks, while Christian Chamberlain (drums) Sara Lim, Mike Lim, Bob Mayo and John Storms (vocals) complete the lineup. Burris also had a hand in engineering the record.
Like others, Hayes is often at the mercy of the industry. Being an independent artist at a time when the road is still where marks are made and a few large labels run things, Hayes welcomes the opportunity to perform, especially at home at this time of year.
“I teach 40 to 45 guitar and piano students every week, sometimes five to 12 a day,” he said. “It is very busy, but it starts slowing down in summer. And I welcome that.”
Epics, along with In With the Old (2010) and Out With the New (2011), are available at iTunes, Google, Spotify, and other outlets.
See the David Hayes Project perform at Kryptonite Bar, 308 W. State St., Rockford, at 9 p.m., Friday, July 25.
From the July 23-29, 2014, issue