BY JULIA CIRIGNANO
Girls, Guns and Glory is a band like no other. Their music has been compared to Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Dwight Yoakam, Chris Isaak and many more. While the band may be compared to some of the greats, they also stand out from the rest. They are both an intellectual and soulful band that you don’t want to miss when they tour in your area.
The band consists of four talented musicians, Ward Hayden, (acoustic guitar and lead vocals), Josh Kiggans (drums), Paul Dilley (bass and vocals), Cody Nilsen (lead guitar and vocals). Check out their latest album Love and Protest where they analyze the connection between these two words. Ward Hayden explained the main concept behind the album.
“The overarching theme of the album is the exploration of what love is, what it means, what is its purpose in our lives and then the other side of that, what happens when that emotion is faced with opposition,” he explained. “To me Love and Protest are alpha and omega. It is the emotion itself and then it is the opposition of it. The songs on the album cover those feelings and there is a lot of ground to cover in between those extremes.”
The songs on Love and Protest is a combination of rock, country, and blues music. Many iconic musicians have inspired the band through the creation of this album.
“Sonically we were really inspired by Tom Petty’s Damn The Torpedoes album,” Hayden explained. “For the 10 years we’ve been a band we’ve always made music rooted in classic country and early rock ‘n’ roll and as the band has matured and progressed, we’ve worked to blend those styles into something that sounds distinctly like Girls Guns and Glory.”
One of the most unique aspects of Love and Protest, is that it was recorded in analog. With the guidance of their producer Drew Townson, Girls, Guns and Glory were able to embody the magic of classic rock and country albums recorded on tape.
“Recording an analog album was a largely positive experience,” Hayden said. “Our producer, Drew Townson, had the vision of this being an all analog album from the very beginning of this album’s creation. He was very upfront in his feelings that we were losing some of the energy the band has when we record digitally. By recording to tape, he felt it worked well with my voice and he felt that it would better capture a vibe that can get lost in the digital process. Now, that the album is complete, I have to agree with Drew that this was the best way to capture the feeling and emotion of these songs. There is something raw and honest about four people being in a room and making music together and that is what this recording was able to capture.”
Besides the different recording techniques used, Hayden explained the other ways in which Love and Protest is different from the band’s previous releases.
“I think it shows a lot of development in the band,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of stage and studio experience under our belt and this is the first time that we approached an album with songs that were really labored over.”
In the past, Hayden typically wrote songs in short bouts of creativity. For this album, he took his time and worked hard and long on each song.
“With Love and Protest, some of these songs were worked on for years,” Hayden said. “They were songs that I’d kept for myself and continued to rework and think about for a really long time. For me, it’s some of my most personal songwriting and I think it shows when you listen to the album.”
This also wasn’t the first time Girls, Guns and Glory worked with Townson. He also mixed and co-produced the band’s 2015 release A Tribute to Hank Williams Live.
“I’ve known Drew for about nine years and we’d always wanted to do a studio album together,” Hayden said. “He and I produced the Tribute To Hank Williams album together, so I knew I liked how he worked and vice versa. What I also liked was that he was not only open to the idea of having Josh Kiggans, Paul Dilley and I sitting in the producer’s chair with him but he welcomed it with the new album. He was very open to our ideas and we were comfortable enough with him that we knew we could pitch concepts and ideas to him and know we were getting honest feedback.”
Girls, Guns and Glory are proud of all the albums they have released yet Hayden explained why he feels that they are a new band due to the release of Love and Protest.
“Right before we entered the studio we parted ways with our guitarist at the time,” he explained. “Josh, Paul and I got together with our manager and he said to us that we can’t look at this like a road block. He told us that he believed we have the songs ready to make the best album of our career and that we have the guys needed to make it. It was a vote of confidence that we really needed at that time.”
During the creation of the new album, guitarist Cody Nilsen joined the band adding a fresh, new quality to the album in addition to the solidified Guns, Girls and Glory sound.
“For us, it felt like new life had been breathed into the band and we were re-energized,” Hayden said. “When one door closes, another door opens and I think all of us felt like we were almost new again. Things felt great in the studio and they’ve felt great on stage as we’ve been touring.”
Girls, Guns and Glory have done lot of touring over the past several years and have experienced some amazing moments. One of the band’s most memorable moments was when they played two shows in France last year.
“We were performing just outside of Paris when the Bataclan terrorist attack occurred,” Hayden explained. “The show that night ended with people in total distress and people were extremely worried and upset. The next night we got the call from the venue we were supposed to play that over 150 tickets had been cancelled because people were afraid to go out and the venue wanted to know if we wanted to cancel the show. We talked amongst the band and with our tour manager and ultimately decided that putting joy and music into the world was the best option. So, we told them we’d be there for the show. There were only about 100 people that wound up coming out but the connection between the band and the audience that night was the strongest I’ve ever felt from the stage. People sang along with tears in their eyes and so did we. It was one of the most memorable and moving experiences I’ve had in this band. We didn’t speak French and they only spoke a little English but we connected over music and emotion. It helped me believe that good can win over evil and I felt it was an example of the resilience of the human spirit.”
Girls, Guns and Glory have played shows with some popular acts within the music industry such as Los Lobos and George Thorogood and The Destroyers.
“Los Lobos are just some really welcoming and cool guys,” Hayden said. “They’re always good for a laugh backstage. George Thorogood and The Destroyers have told us some great stories about touring with The Rolling Stones and seeing Chuck Berry. I love rock ‘n’ roll history, so getting to share the stage and hang out with people who have been in it for so long is really inspiring and exciting. I consider myself a music fan first and foremost, so getting to hear the stories and firsthand accounts has been one of the best perks of being a musician.”
Girls, Guns and Glory is managed by Patrick Norton, Executive Director of The Narrows Center for The Arts in Fall River, Mass. Norton came in contact with the band since he was a fan and has continued to propel their career using both his venue and the connections that he has within the industry.
“Girls, Guns and Glory had started to attract a following in Boston and Patrick was one of the first people outside of the city to give us a shot,” Hayden explained. “He put us on as the opener for a few bands at the Narrows and gave us the chance to start building a following there. It took us give or six times of playing the room but we’ve been able to sell it out a few times in the last couple years and The Narrows has become one of our favorite venues to visit.”
Hayden loves his job as a musician and even had some advice for aspiring musicians today.
“I’d say to an aspiring musician to keep grinding and working hard,” he said. “This business is a roller coaster ride, plenty of ups and downs. If you can learn to ride the roller coaster then you’ll do well and enjoy what you’re doing. I’d also encourage aspiring musicians to do their best to not get discouraged. The music business has changed so dramatically in the 10 years I’ve been in it. Major label deals are a thing of the past but there are so many ways for independent artists to succeed nowadays. It’s all about finding your angle and putting in the time and hard work. If you love it, keep at it, just make sure you truly love it. If the love is there, even the bad times won’t seem so bad.”
Get your copy of Love and Protest on iTunes or Amazon. Girls, Guns and Glory will also be hosting CD release shows throughout the Northeast this winter and in the South and Mid-West this spring. Visit their website HERE to keep informed about the band.