By MIKE CHAIKEN
Girls Guns and Glory prior to its latest album “Good Luck” considered itself a country band.
But, for the new album, the Boston-based group found itself veering into a more rock and roll sound.
The band, which includes Ward Hayden on vocals and guitar, Paul Dilley on electric and upright bass/piano, Josh Kiggans on drums and percussion, and Chris Hersch on lead guitar and banjo, performs at Bridge Street Live on Dec. 28.
“We’ve been playing and writing rock ‘n’ roll songs since the inception of the band, but we had never gotten the chance to make an album focusing on that element of our style,” explained Ward, via email from Europe where the band was hitting the road. “In 2011, when we met our producer, Eric ‘Roscoe’ Ambel, he started coming to our shows in New York and telling us how he saw the rock ‘n’ roll songs affecting the audience and getting people moving and out of their seats.”
So, explained Ward, “When it came time to record ‘Good Luck,’ we already had four or five rock and roll songs that we knew were going to make it on this record. We used those songs as our foundation when crafting ‘Good Luck.’”
When Girls Guns and Glory come to Connecticut, they will be paying a tribute to one of the architects of rock and roll… but one from the country side of the equation.
Ward explained the band decided to pay tribute to Williams because, “I’ve wanted to do a tribute to Hank Williams ever since I learned to play guitar. When I was a kid, I liked to sing along to his songs because they were catchy and fun to sing. Once I got older, the lyrics took on a whole deeper meaning and my appreciation for him as a songwriter only continues to grow.”
The tribute isn’t something that developed over night, though, said Ward. “Four years ago, we decided to put together a collection of our favorite Hank songs and perform a tribute to him on the days of the two shows he never got to play, which was New Year’s Eve and, of course, New Year’s Day, the day of his passing.”
Williams died in 1952 following a series of mishaps on his way to shows in West Virginia and Tennessee.
“Our tribute features a lot of his hits from his MGM recordings and we mix in some obscurities that we’ve dug up on lesser known collections of Hank’s songs,” said Ward, “especially the recordings made from the acetate demos from when he was on the Louisiana Hayride.”
“We recently recorded a song called ‘Rockin’ Chair Money’ on our new album that Hank hadn’t written, but he’d wanted to record for MGM,” said Ward. “The song was written by a much lesser known artist named Bill Carlisle and Hank’s demo version really bridges the gap between country music and rock ‘n’ roll. I wouldn’t call the song rockabilly, it’s truly rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s got Hank wailing on the lyrics.
After that initial tribute effort four years ago, Ward said the band was excited that not only does it get to perform the show on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in Boston, as it has since the first effort, it gets to share it with the rest of New England, including Connecticut on Dec. 28.
Girls Gun and Glory’s sound is definitely rooted in American music. Even its rock and roll twist draws from American legends like Williams, Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, and Buddy Holly.
However, the band just returned from Europe, where they played in Switzerland, France, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands.
Even though the band’s sound is decidedly American, Ward said, “European audiences have been incredible on this tour. In France and Switzerland, we have played no less than four encores each night. We have felt so welcome in each city and town we’ve played. A lot of the people coming to the shows have seen us before at festivals in Europe or other club shows, so they are familiar with our music.”
Ward added, “What has really been cool for me is to see people singing along while we are playing. And many of them don’t speak much English, which makes it even cooler. They just dig how the songs sound and sing right along.”
Girls Guns and Glory play as many as 200 dates a year. And they have kept up a consistent recording schedule, releasing five albums in its eight years of existence. For some bands, the stage is the thing. For other bands, the studio is the thing.
Ward said, “I enjoy both the stage and the studio, but my ultimate passion is live performance. I think that the live show is the key component to any great band.”
“And that’s the thing,” said Ward. “With today’s technology someone can sit in the studio, play every instrument themselves, and at the end of the day have a recorded song. But, in my opinion that can never replicate the feeling and energy of a band playing a live show.”
“The live show is a living, breathing, organic machine. We’re working and weaving sounds and elements together to create a kick butt live experience. Plus, we’re having fun doing it, which often translates to the audience getting in on the fun right along with us.”
Bridge Street Live will be a kind of return of the prodigal sons for Girls Guns and Glory, said Ward.
“We really enjoy coming down to Connecticut. Our drummer, Josh Kiggans, grew up in New London, Conn. So, for him it’s always a bit of a homecoming.”
As for what fans can expect of Girls Guns and Glory on stage at Bridge Street Live, Ward said, “Our shows are a mix of songs off our first four albums and now we play almost every song off ‘Good Luck’ in our live show.”
“Some people come to our shows to get on the dance floor and cut a rug. Other come to listen to the songs and the musicianship. We welcome all that.”
“Even if you don’t like country music,” said Ward, “we’re a band that has enough of a rock sound that people start coming around to the whole country thing. I like to think of us as a gateway to good country music.”
Girls Guns and Glory will perform at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 28 at Bridge Street Live, 41 Bridge St., Collinsville. Tickets are $15 and $25. For more information, go to 41BridgeStreet.com or call (860) 693-9762.
For a taste of what to expect, check out their video, http://www. youtube.com/watch?v=4USn1_diCD8&feature=youtu.be