Northwestern Press

Friday, October 18, 2019

Outliers get to the heart of rock ‘n’ roll

Saturday, September 14, 2019 by NATASHA PELAK Special to The Press in Focus

Ward Hayden and The Outliers present songs from the album, “Can’t Judge A Book,” 8 p.m. Sept. 14, Godfrey Daniels, Bethlehem.

It’s not the first time the Boston-based band has played Godfrey’s, but it’s the first time under a new name. You may remember the group as Girls, Guns and Glory when it performed at Godfrey’s.

Hayden says the name was changed to reflect the band’s gritty rockabilly sound.

“People are constantly stunned that we’re from the Northeast. Calling the band The Outliers makes a lot of sense. It sets us apart. We cut our teeth in a rock town and survived.”

The Outliers’ seventh studio album, “Can’t Judge A Book,” is of covers, i.e., other groups’ and songwriters’ tunes, some of which were reimagined by the band, hence the implication of the phrase, ”Can’t judge a book by its cover,” that inspired the title of the album, released Aug. 24.

Hayden says the album was recorded “on tape, slack-back, just like the early rockabilly sound recording from the 1940s, using vintage mics in our studio in Boston.

The new album includes the original song, “Naturally Crazy.”

The songwriting process for originals is “You go out and live some life … and on a good day a song is born,” Hayden says in a phone interview.

Performers that Hayden says he would like to tour with include Nick Lowe and Dwight Yoakam. The band’s inspirations are varied, though: “We’ve had various inspirations, ranging from 90s’ rock to western swing and jazz from the 1940s and 50s.”

Hayden lists among his biggest music influence as the father of rock ‘n’ roll.

“Love Chuck Berry,” he says. “What he found in rock ‘n’ roll, he found immediately ... a raw sound.”

Hayden continues, “Hank Williams ... so much heart without overworking the emotion.

“Gram Parsons, at a young age, really creative and exploratory, rooted in tradition.

“Also, when I was still working as a teacher, Rob Loyot, pushed me to take a leap of faith to become a musician, and now I get to do this for a living.”

And Hayden says he’s never looked back.

“When I was a kid, I barely left the States and now, I’ve been to 10 to 12 different countries. It’s been really eye-opening.

“We have some opportunities when we tour to bring our wives and girlfriends over with us. When we toured in Hawaii, we stayed for a week after our performance and later had another opportunity to bring them out when we toured in Norway.”

Hayden says the band backs charitable causes in its Boston hometown.

“We have done a number of shows for Boston Food Bank and love to help out.

“If you have a platform, it’s a good thing to use that platform for the greater good.”

Tickets: Godfrey Daniels box office, 7 E. Fourth St., Bethlehem; godfreydaniels.org; 610-867-2390