Girls, Guns and Glory Keep Their Wheels Rolling
Girls Guns & Glory is something of a well-kept secret. They’ve been raging along with their own brand of American music out of Boston for the last nine years, delivering some of the finest in passionate roots, classic country, and straightforward rock and roll. Since forming in 2006, the band has been traveling many of the same musical roads as Drive-By Truckers, with some influence from Little Feat, digging deep into the Southern soundscape that was well-tilled by Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly. Their sound has become a grand and raucous collision between authentic country-western and the rawest and rowdiest late ‘50s rockabilly, championed by the likes of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran.
According to frontman Ward Hayden, their confluence of sounds comes full circle from his childhood.
“My mom was a fan of the earlier country music and early rock and roll,” he told me in a recent interview. “I didn’t have a taste for it until I was 20. I had this beat-up Oldsmobile that didn’t have a radio, only a tape deck. My mom would lend me her tapes of Johnny Cash or Hank Williams so I’d have something to listen to. I fell in love with the sound. it was everything I had been looking for.”
In 2014, the band was looking to make a focused rock and roll record. That was when they received a call from veteran producer Eric “Roscoe” Ambel. “We were familiar with the work he had done with Steve Earle and the Bottle Rockets,” Hayden says. “He was Joan Jett’s original guitarist. After our fourth record, Sweet Nothings, in 2011, he heard us on the radio and contacted us asking about our plans. It’s funny because we had been talking about contacting him and there he is calling us.”
The result of their work with Ambel as producer is their 2014 roots album, Good Luck. It was a critical success that further established the band as an evolving exploration into American music. “Our sound has been evolving from country to where we are now,” Hayden muses. “I label what we do as American music. It’s rooted in various American forms of music whether it’s rockabilly or hillbilly boogie or traditional country or rock and roll. I considered us a rock and roll band blended with classic country music. [But] Good Luck is a straight-up rock and roll album.”
Their latest release, A Tribute to Hank Williams Live (2015), says it all, with both faithful interpretations and re-inventions of Williams’ classics, as they continue to deepen their bond with American music, which runs to their bones.
Remarkably, the band – Hayden on guitar and vocals, Josh Kiggans on drums, Paul Dilley on bass and piano, and Chris Hersch on lead guitar and banjo – has logged 300,000 miles on their road-warrior tour van, which they lovingly refer to as “The Old Gray Goose.” With 200 shows a year, the number of miles makes sense. But, the band is anything but road-weary. They just need new wheels.
That’s why they are now embarking on a crowdfunding campaign, via Pledge Music, to raise money for a new tour van. (They wisely consider their van the fifth member of the band.) As of this writing, it looks as though they are about to cross the finish line toward their goal.
The old van has led them coast to coast and border to border. It is a symbol of a band that has crossed from regional into national success with six albums under their belt.
With all of the road they’ve covered, and the many highways still to come, may Girls Guns and Glory travel on, toward new musical explorations, with a new van and songs yet to be written.