American band and creators of their own musical genre ‘Rockgrass’ Hayseed Dixie have been around since 2001 when they released their first album, A Hillbilly Tribute to AC/DC. The quartet perform a mixture of cover versions of hard rock songs and original compositions in a style that is a unique fusion of bluegrass and rock music, hence the rockgrass!
I have been fortunate enough to catch up with lead singer John Wheeler to find out what makes him tick and what we can expect from the tour and their latest album.
Could you tell me about how you initially got involved with music and who influenced you most?
I can’t remember ever not playing music. Some of my earliest memories are of sitting all day long in front of my mother’s record player with a tennis racquet, pretending it was a guitar. Around the time I was 7, my father came in with a cheap acoustic guitar and a Beatles chord book and said something like: “Well, if you’re gonna sit there all day pretending like you’re playing, you might as well be playing. Just don’t do it half-assed. I’ve tried not to let him down.
For those who are new to your music how would you describe it and which three tracks would you encourage them to check out first and why?
I would encourage anybody who has not heard us to put “Hayseed Dixie” into YouTube and watch whatever happen to be the first 3 videos they happen to click on. I reckon every song we do is a publication for The Ages. I’ve tried not to let them down.
Your latest album ‘Free Your Mind … And Your Grass Will Follow’ is now available. For those who are yet to hear it, what can we expect to hear from your fifteenth album?
This one is a collection of songs that question the validity of such stupid concepts as “race” and “nationality.” And it sounds very much like the other 14 Hayseed Dixie albums. There has always been, on every Hayseed Dixie record, a party on the surface and a subtext happening in the back room, if you want it. I’ve always thought that people should be able to potentially encounter our records on more than one level, should they so desire. I’ve tried not to let them down.
While on tour do you get very much time to explore the towns and cities that you are playing?
I do get around a lot of the towns in which we play. Normally, I’m looking for art and history, but sometimes just wandering the streets and talking to random people is the mood of the day. Or sometimes getting stuck into a pub. Every morning when I come to, I figure that’s one more day that the Good Lord (however you may conceive Him, Her, It) wants me to give it hell one more time. I’ve tried not to let him down.
What can those fortunate enough to have tickets expect from your live show?
They are the party, we are simply the hosts. We endeavour to provide a climate in which maximum rockgrass release has the potential to occur. Folks spend their money on the show and we try not to let them down.
What does the rest of 2017 have in store for you?
Touring, driving, playing, drinking, eating, occasional sleeping, a bit of sex here and there when it seems appropriate and potentially meaningful and/or interesting. Much like the past 16 years. And then sometime towards the end of the year, I suppose we’ll think about making another record.
If you like the sound of Hayseed Dixie then you can pick up tickets for their show at The Brook at www.the-brook.com.