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Seratones Front Woman A.J. Haynes on Rock and Roll, Her Love of Billie Holiday, and Why You Need to Take Your Vitamins

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Seratones Front Woman A.J. Haynes on Rock and Roll, Her Love of Billie Holiday, and Why You Need to Take Your Vitamins

Straight out of Shreveport, Louisiana, the Seratones are rock and roll. And frontwoman A.J. Haynes does not disappoint as the soulful songstress who embodies the kind of power and charisma it takes to lead a rock band. The Seratones’ debut album Get Gone takes you on a psychedelic trip, with beautiful guitar riffs and impeccable vocals that make you feel like you’ve literally traveled back in time. From “Chandelier” to “Tide,” “Get Gone” to “Don’t Need It,” every song is masterfully crafted and arranged to capture the raw gift of pure musicality that truly is rock and roll. If you haven’t listened to it yet, listen to it now. Right now. But first read this interview with Seratones frontwoman and all around badass, A.J. Haynes.

Seratones

Photo by Chad Kamenshine

How did the Seratones form?

Well, we’ve known each other for like over a decade now. We all played in local punk bands, and  I played in local punk shows. So that’s how we got together. And I’ve just had different projects off and on throughout the years, and this is the one that’s really sticking. So it’s pretty sweet.

Are you a big fan of punk music?

I am! I just love of course the music and then the ethos, you know. It’s really cool.

What pushed you to pursue music?

I’ve just always done it. I’ve always performed. I grew up singing in church. I can’t not play music, I guess if that makes sense. Even throughout my entire academic career, throughout my entire teaching career, I was always singing. I can’t not sing. It’s was I’m supposed to do.

Who are some of your inspirations musically?

Honestly, my mood fluctuates so much when it comes to what I’m listening to but definitely the Stooges, Iggy Pop, Blondie. A lot of jazz. A lot of jazz vocalists like Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. I have kind of this like, I don’t wanna say unhealthy, obsession with Billie Holiday, but definitely a solid two years of my life was like all I listened to.

How would you describe your sound?

It’s a rock and roll. The reality is that we draw from different influences. We draw from samba soul, from Rio in the ’70s to funk, to me and my adoration of Ella Fitzgerald and that kind of vocal play. Of course, you borrow from everything just like the Rolling Stones did. None of their two songs on Some Girls sound the same. In “Let it Bleed” they’re more folky kind of ballads.

Our sound is very much so, I think like rock and roll, it’s a living thing. I discover new things about it every day. That’s why I like to play it. It’s good for you! You should listen to it cause it’s good for your health.

The Seratones consist of you, Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass), and Jesse Gabriel (drums). Do you all have a good relationship within the band?

We do, I mean I spend more time with these three guys in my band than I do with literally anyone else. I spend more time with them than family, friends, lovers. It’s insane, and you get to see the best and the worst of people. And whenever you see their worst, you have their back. I’m very team oriented. I prefer to have a team of people because it keeps you in check with your ego. And you can build something really original and unique and exciting. And that’s what our relationship is about. It’s what we are building, how do we keep ourselves excited, and it’s our music. We could have a 17 hour day of traveling and then throw me on a stage, and I’m enthused because of the music. That’s our common language. It’s hard for four people to agree on shit. It is. But you work with it and try not to kill each other.

What’s it like living the rock and roll lifestyle?

I think the perception of musicians that play in rock and roll bands versus the reality is people are like sex, drugs, and rock and roll and I’m like, “This is the most I’ve stayed sober my whole life.”  Because I can’t do what I do every night, I can’t put that kind of emotional investment and the physical investment that I do every night, if my body is not in shape. I can’t. I feel there are two ways to go about this. There’s the Keith Richards way where he’s just an alien, I think, a cosmic being who survived everything he put his body through. And then there’s like us humans here like, “I gotta fucking eat some vegetables and take some vitamins and go to sleep so I’m a nice person.”

There must be a lot of pressure that comes along with being the front person of any band, let alone being the frontwoman of a rock band.

I don’t know if you’ve found this in your career but I feel like especially as a woman, everyone tries to tell you what to do with yourself. “Oh, you should be more this, you should be more that.”

For me, that’s why I’m excited to be in this position that I’m in because it’s important to be visible. If you’re not represented, if people don’t see other people like you, it’s troubling because this world is so colorful and so much more dynamic and way more beautiful than this kind of homogenized bullshit. Things are multifaceted. We’re human and our experiences are shaped by different things.

I remember when we were down in St. Augustine, Florida. We were supporting Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats and this woman came up to me after the show. And she was like, “You know, I usually don’t like women performers but I really enjoyed you.” And I was like, “I think that was supposed to be a compliment?” What is our perception of women? What is our perception of femininity and how is that seen as less than? How is that seen not as equal to or greater than? I’m all about I’m equal to if not greater so please back up off these areolas. How do we revitalize this public image of women?

What’s your advice to women who feel they need to oversexualize themselves to make it in the entertainment industry? 

What I would say to young girls, or to any woman, or anyone who identifies as a woman is to harness that erotic power. I feel like women have that shit in spades. I guess I’m a little older and I’m like “Fuck yeah, this body’s great! This body does what I want it to do, what I need it to do every day.” I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being sexy, but it’s gotta be on your terms.

What kind of influence has living in Louisiana had on your music?

I used to sneak into blues jams when I was like 16, 17. I learned a lot from the older musicians in my community. They gave me a lot of great advice and on that front, it’s had a huge impact on how I navigate the music world.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from those older musicians?

So Buddy Flett taught me the guitar. He’s a local blues musician. He said, “Take your vitamins, don’t let money get in the way of things, and be nice.” I follow that advice to the tee.

What is it about music that connects people? 

I would think that music is a great language to tap into, this kind of universal consciousness. People don’t really communicate that well through words, do we? I mean that’s why we’ve kind of developed this whole language of emoticons. Music is an easier form of communication. Like what George Clinton says, free your mind and your ass will follow.

What’s next for the Seratones?

Just focusing on writing. Just writing and then recording. We just kinda caught our breath from a year of supporting Get Gone. And now is the time to reflect and to write.

We’ll be waiting for whatever the Seratones come out with next, but in the meantime listen to Get Gone (available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon). And visit seratones.band to learn everything else you need to know about this dynamic foursome. 

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Keldine Hull is a Los Angeles based entertainment writer, author, and (self proclaimed) poet. The common thread in all her written work is her love of music, television, and film. Her sense of direction is literally non- existent, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have a clear goal in life, which is to share the stories that need to be told and (hopefully) brighten up someone's day. She's also a pool shark; she will literally annihilate you in pool and not think twice about it.

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