Hayley Jane talks Peach Fest, Road Music, and being a morning person

by Chris Snyder

The band has a devoted fanbase in The Northeast and the past few months has been getting national attention. To what do you attribute all this success in such a short period of time?

I’d have to say that my newfound focus and clarity have been a big part of it. I made a conscious decision to distance myself from things that were distracting me and slowing me down. That, mixed with positive thought, hard work, and our badass new manager, Eric Gould, has created the perfect recipe for success. The addition of our drummer, Ryan Clausen, was also  a catalyst for positive change. He’s been with us for a year and a half now and brought a boatload to the table. It’s a lot of things. When you boil it all down it’s really been about finding the right team and upping your level of commitment to the project. I believe we have done both of those things and are now seeing the big juicy fruits. AND BOY ARE THEY YUMMY!!!

What is the group spinning these days in the van when traveling down the road?

Ah yes, well, that tends to depend on who’s driving. Let me break it down for you. Here are three bands each of us will put on when we’re DJing…

Justin “Juice” Hancock – Ween, Dr. Dog, Wilco

Greg “Smitty” Smith – Gorillaz, Rocky and the Pressers, Booker T and the MGs

Joshua “Treebeard” Carter – The Mother Hips, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Gov’t Mule

Ryan “The Claw” Clausen – Blackberry smoke, Tauk, Snarky puppy

Me – Dave Rawlings Machine, Tedeschi Trucks Band, The Kinks

Hayley Jane & The Primates will be performing on Sunday for their first time at The Peach Music Festival. What are you guys (and gal) most excited about for the festivals?

Oh man, there’s so much! Just knowing that Warren Haynes is walking around near by is pretty exciting. We are playing the same day as Mike Gordon. So that’s pretty cool! Claw is pumped to go down a water slide after being in the van for five days! Juice and I will be seeing Widespread Panic for the first time. What we’re really looking forward to the most is showing Peach what we are all about!

Hayley Jane & The Primates

Are there any musicians that you would like to collaborate with in the future or share the stage with?

Treebeard would like to collaborate on a couple plates of BBQ with Warren. That’s for sure. As far as musical collaboration, we all have our dream scenarios we love to talk about. I saw a video of Susan and Grace singing the weight once. There was a space just to stage left next to them that I would have fit perfectly in.  😉 It was a lovely day dream. It’s also a big dream of mine to sing with Gillian Welch. The fellas’ answers shouldn’t surprise you…

Treebs – Warren, Chris Robinson, Neal Casal and Adam McDougall from CRB, Eric Krasno

Claw – Bill Kreutzmann, Michael League, Joe Russo

Juice – Dean and Gene Ween, Dr. Dog, Trey Anastasio, Paul McCartney, Brad Barr, Delicate Steve, Jeff Tweedy

Smitty – David Gilmour, Umphrey’s McGee, Damon Albarn

How would you describe the “Day In The Life” of Hayley Jane & The Primates?

Lots of seltzer! We take our seltzer water very seriously. The Summer flavors are out so band morale is pretty high. We live sort of spread out so our days vary depending on if we’re on the road or not.

On the road:

I usually wake up first. I’m a morning person, to say the least. I really like to cook for the guys so if we are somewhere with a kitchen I’ll whip up some breakfast. Sometimes I buy veggie sausage and Josh can’t taste the difference. I like to sneak cauliflower into his mac n cheese too. Don’t tell.

We are on the hunt for a van right now so we are traveling in a couple cars mostly. I usually travel with Claw because we both live in Burlington. I enjoy it because we listen to the Harry Potter Audio books. Also, he’s a cool dude. Smitty and Juice both live near Boston so they travel together. Then there’s Treebeard. I think he has taken every mode of transportation short of a hot air balloon to get to a gig. The guy is a trooper!

The best part of our day is up on stage. I don’t think that there is anywhere else on earth I’d rather be than with those four weirdos making music. To be honest, I feel more safe and at home up on stage than I think I ever will in my civilian life. I have magical powers up there. I can fly up there. I can reach people from up there. I can bounce on sound waves and feel music and electricity pass through me. It’s the best thing in the world and I lay my head down every night blown away that I get to do it.

Then we go to sleep.

And that is my book report on “A day in the life of Hayley Jane and the Primates.”

What type of music did you grow up listening to? Was being a musician a dream of yours early on?

The first music I really remember was church. Monterey Bay Baptist Church. I was very little, but I remember the music was my favorite part. My first cassette tape was “Dookie”- Green Day. First concert was Hanson. Second concert was George Thorogood. I loved Doris Day, Alanis Morissette, Ella Fitzgerald, and Fiona Apple. I would go from singing Musical Theater to Cake to TLC in a matter of minutes. My musical influence and inspiration was a big ol mess of easily accessible music and a good amount of cheesy shit! Like a lot of kids, we didn’t have money to spend on music so whatever I could get my hands on was like gold. I use to record songs from the radio onto tapes so I could learn them. One of them was “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. That’s the one that made me want to sing. Also, the radio in the early 90s was teaming with that beautiful angsty sound. I needed that. A lot of kids did. It taught me that singing your truth was the most important.

I started singing when I was about 9. I knew right away that it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I realized I would have to put my dream of being a Primatologist like Jane Goodall on hold. That’s why we are Hayley Jane and the Primates. It was my way of hanging on to my other passion.

My music world opened up when I met our guitarist, Justin (Juice). He showed me The Grateful Dead, Ween, The Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Harry Nilsson, and a slew of other music that, well, you just need to hear. I love him for that.

How would you define success in your eyes?

Success to me is having the opportunity to continue pushing to the next level. If I am emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially healthy enough to risk leaving my comfort zone (you know that place in the ocean where you can’t really touch anymore and you have to start kicking if you want to stay afloat) then I believe I’ve found success. Being able to rest when you need rest. Looking around at the people you work with and finding that everyone is happy and taken care of. Loving your self so you can give love to others. Making art that reflects yourself as well as your surroundings. Art that gets inside people and never leaves. I’m beginning to see that success isn’t the ability to avoid struggle. It’s the honor in charging through it. You come out glowing brighter on the other side.


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