HAYLEY AND THE CRUSHERS: JEWEL CASE
In early October, surf punk band Hayley and the Crushers released their first full album, Jewel Case. Originating from San Luis Obispo, this grungy, sticky sweet trio comes out strong with a garage sound that makes you want to dance.
Described as “punk n roll tunes that span the gamut of doodles found on Hayley’s high school notebook” in their Bandcamp blurb, the 12 tracks on Jewel Case serve as a time machine back to an imaginary time when you were as cool as you wished you were in high school. The album hits hard right from the start with the opening track “Seventeen Strum”, as front woman Hayley Cain sings over the classic lo-fi surf punk drum and guitar sound about the cooler, leather-jacket wearing, gin-drinking, older sister-type girl we all idolized as fourteen year olds. Almost every track on the album perfectly nails high school experiences, from the first time blacking out at a party, to boys who never call, to figuring out how to contact a drug dealer. A personal favorite is “Hotshot,” a dance track that we all could have used as encouragement to dump our kind-of-an-asshole high school boyfriends.
Hayley and the Crushers is the musical equivalent to bazooka bubblegum stuck to the bottom of a combat boot. They combine their bubblegum punk sound with romanticized high school sentimentality to give us a great album to put on when you drive around your hometown lamenting the days of reckless youth.
photos by REID CAIN
written by ANNA SCHLENZ
From Belwood Music
There’s a lot to be said in music for charisma and character, something that Hayley and the Crushers clearly have in abundance. With their quirky debut album Jewel Case this Californian trio have created their own unique grit and glitter blend of 50s rock’n’roll with a punk attitude, like an alternate universe inspired by Marty McFly’s wild performance from Back to the Future. Belwood Music is proud to premiere the music video for the band’s latest single ‘Jaywalking’. Equal parts endearing and empowering; the charming tale of frontwoman Hayley Cain’s rush to rehearsals is an unlikely yet perfect match for the frantic drum fills and fierce, full-blooded bass line. Striking the perfect balance between style and substance, and with hints of classic Joan Jett, this slice of garage rock goodness is a sure-fire way to make your day. Get on board and embrace the crusherverse.
-- James Fenne
SLO Life Feature: Now Hear This
By: Dawn Janke
As the guitarist and frontwoman of local band Hayley and the Crushers, Hayley “Crusher” Cain has been likened to “a demonic Go-Go,” and she couldn’t be happier about the reference.
"Rarely are women allowed to be both sweet and self-empowered on stage," she says. "I want to crush that idea."
Cain’s earliest musical memory is of putting on her mom's copy of The Go-Go’s Beauty and the Beat at eight years old and bopping around their Hermosa Beach apartment like a crazy person. Cain says with her music she wants to spread that subversive energy: “I want people to sweat and dance and meet each other and start things together. I want to see people collide—that is where the magic is.”
Hayley Cain credits her husband, Reid “Dr. Crusher” Cain, owner of Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games in downtown San Luis Obispo, with encouraging her to create her own magic. Upon his urging, in 2012 she started Swap! Zine, a local, do-it-yourself magazine, to which she invited contributors to swap stories, songs, poems, and pictures about the SLO scene. “From that moment, my entire life changed,” she says. Since then, the Cains have collaborated on a number of projects and have shared the stage under many names, including Magazine Dirty and Tarweed Two and the Two-Time Boys. Hayley Cain says that music is the lifeblood of their relationship. “I want to follow in the footsteps of bands like X and The Cramps, who use that energy, that tension, that passion, to create weird art.”
Hayley Cain’s recent art is in part influenced by her late teen years in LA, which she describes as dark and destructive, a self-professed “wild time” which coincided with an obsession with Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. When she relocated back to the Central Coast in 2009, Cain says she found a safe space where she could tackle her struggles, which included depression and anxiety. She explains, “When I was surrounded by chaos and my life was chaos, I couldn’t step away from it enough to understand. SLO was a safe harbor where I could weave troubles into creativity."
One listen to Hayley and the Crushers reveals that she indeed has woven a creative web together with her husband on bass and local drummer Gabriel "Crusher" Olivarria keeping the beat. The band is a “melding of sweet and sour,” explains Hayley Cain, “bolstered by the bold, metal influence of Olivarria.” The Cains first saw Olivarria perform with Wolfcross, and they loved the fact that he was theatrical and really had fun with drumming. Reid Cain is proud to state the he recruited Olivarria for the band. According to Hayley Cain, the band’s sound is what it is because of Olivarria’s technical skills: “He's able to create a rock solid rhythm, but he also coaxes out a swing to the music that's so danceable.”
The Ramones, The Runaways, pop music of the 1960s, and wild surf punk of the 1980s like Agent Orange influence the band’s sound. Reid Cain says, “We have a unique combination of a metal dude, a punk girl, and a country guy. Put it all together, and it is not just one thing.” Hayley Cain adds, “We have respect for the melody and the classic hooks, but we’re putting them in a blender with studs and leather and fuzzed out bass.”
The frontwoman describes their debut full-length album, Jewel Case, as “one part punk rock empowerment anthem; one part insecure, tear-streaked teenage diary entry; and one part jangly, garage rock party.” Randall Sena at Certain Sparks Studio in Lompoc recorded and mixed the album and Patrick Hayes at Cock’s Lodge Studio in San Luis Obispo played a role in the initial recording process. Sena has worked with local bands like Pancho and the Wizards and Magazine Dirty, and Reid Cain points out, “A large part of our sound comes from Sena's finesse.”
The band first worked with Sena and Certain Sparks in 2015 when they recorded their EP Gidget’s Revenge with Max Triplett from local band King Walrus, who stepped in to help with drums. Released in March 2016, the EP pays a nod to the 1960s TV icon Gidget. Hayley Cain explains, “I felt like Gidget deserved a bit of redemption. She's always falling on her face or wiping out on her surfboard.” She continues, "The EP was recorded with more or less ‘live’ setup, which gave it a gritty urgency.” For Jewel Case, the band wanted to go a tad more polished pop. “We incorporated Glockenspiel, chimes, and mesmerizing backing vocals into the new album. It's punk rock with a bow on top,” says Cain.
Jewel Case is being released on Portland label Lost State Records, which was born in SLO and is still committed to showcasing up and coming bands from the Central Coast. Founder Trey Hanawalt does so mainly on cassette tape, which is by all accounts de rigueur. Olivarria, who works at Boo Boo Records, agrees: “There’s definitely a resurgence in cassette tapes. It’s a really inexpensive way for small bands to get their music out.” In addition to the cassettes, the album will be available on CD, via handmade "8-tracks" and digitally on October 8, in line with worldwide Cassette Store Day. An all-ages show at SLO Brew will follow on Sunday, October 9 with other local acts sharing in the celebration.
Hayley and the Crushers cover the Go-Go's song “This Town” on Jewel Case as a tribute to the kind of pop punk excitement that doesn't fade with age. Its lyrics, too, seem to celebrate the trio's ownership of SLO. “This town is our town,” the demonic Go-Go sings, and in the softest way she adds, “We play for the wallflower, the awkward teenager, the weirdo. We say, 'You don't need to wait for someone to turn on the spotlight.'"
Adds Olivarria, "You've got to bring your own lightbulb to the party."
Over at SLO Brew, surf/garage/punk rock newcomers Hayley and the Crushers will officially release their debut full-length album, Jewel Case, and headline a multi-band show this Sunday, Oct. 9 (7:30 p.m.; all ages; free). Hayley is, of course, a local music veteran who’s also a member of Magazine Dirty and the Tarweed Two, among other acts. The Crushers is just her newest incarnation with husband and bassist Reid Cain (aka Dr. Cain) and drummer Gabriel Olivarria. She’s also New Times’ Flavor columnist.
“She said you look like a child prostitute, I said mom I look cool/ I don’t mess with the boys in the band, I got my own plans/ I don’t make easy bake, gotta shake off the glitter and glue/ I gotta chain link roller rink rock n roll attitude/ Glitter and glue, eyeliner too,” Hayley sings on their album’s first single, “Glitter and Glue.”
This is a band with attitude who describes their vibe as “you went to the beach to get a tan but were rudely interrupted by a gaggle of leather-clad beasts feasting on beer and ho-hos under the pier.”
In addition to releasing their new album on CD, it’s also available—like their previous recording Gidget’s Revenge, an EP released in March—on cassette tape! What the hell? Do people even have tape players anymore?
“The title of our new cassette is a tongue-in-cheek reference to where we seem to be in the music world right now,” Hayley said. “Those hard-to-open, once-flashy jewel case CDs are the new 8-track, the new wax reel. Everything is digital, streaming. Nostalgia is rampant, and we’re all for it. Vinyl is expensive, and cassettes offer a tangible treat that feels intimate and unexpected. There’s something cool about the fact that if you play that tape enough times, you’ll wear it down with love, just like your favorite T-shirt. Just don’t leave it in your car! Of course, we made CDs too, but we don’t believe they’re long for this world.”
You’ve done straight punk, country, rock. What sound are you going for here?
“I was going for Joan Jett on a surfboard with her degenerate crushers causing trouble under the pier somewhere,” Hayley explained. “It’s fun, it’s sassy, the lyrics are moody, swinging from teenage diary entries like ‘Glitter and Glue’ to straight-ahead rock ’n’ roll that commands attention in its simplicity. It’s about growing up fast, female empowerment, pulpy dreams about sharks and mermaids—basically what I’d probably have seen scribbled on the cover of my high school science notebook. It’s pop, it’s punk, it’s garage rock, and it’s got a touch of surf energy. Of course, there’s always a lot of whimsy, glitter. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.”
Added her husband, Reid, “We really wanted to flip the script on a traditional three-piece rock band. Typically, you’ll hear a distorted guitar and a clean bass, so we flipped it with a fuzzed out bass and a clean guitar, which contrasts well with Hayley’s crisp, melodic vocals. Gabriel Olivarria works at Boo Boo Records and is an eclectic guy obsessed with everyone from Roky Erickson and metal to pop music through the ages. He attacks the drums in a way that makes people want to dance. I try to play bass melody lines, almost ‘singing backup’ with the bass.”
The three members clearly have affection for one another.
“Gabriel looks tough, but he sings like an angel alien baby,” Hayley quipped. “If I wasn’t so busying playing guitar, I’d probably be watching Reid’s crazy stage moves.”
“Oh, it’s a classic beauty and two beasts,” Reid added. “Gabriel and I battle it out in the rhythm section, crushing the clowns and pretenders to the rock ’n’ roll throne. Hayley runs the show with glittery guitar licks and keeps us under control offstage by feeding us pizza, fine beer, and Coke Zero. On stage, she’s like an unexpected summer storm. First you see the lightening, then you FEEL THE THUNDER!!! This is our world beyond time and space: The Crusherverse!”
So that’s what people should prepare themselves for at a live Crushers show?
“The biggest thing for us is inclusion,” Reid said. “This isn’t ‘hang out in the back with your arms crossed being cool, bro’ music. That’s why I’m usually jumping off of an amp risking my life. We draw energy from our crowd and we want to throw it back. It’s a give and take. We’re here to party. Party with us!”
Added Hayley, “This band isn’t for the bar scene. This year, we’ve played a Roller Derby, a festival on the beach, a house show … we will play your living room if you let us in the door. And we may raid your fridge.”
Hayley is definitely a style maven. She and Reid live around the corner from my wife and me, and even when she’s out walking their dogs, her style looks like a Madonna Inn cake. How did she find her voice and style?
“I found punk rock at 13 and it was like a bomb went off in my heart. X did me in—I would never be the same, and I am grateful for the bands that assured me I could do my own thing as long as I had passion and grit. By then, I had already been playing guitar a few years and it was an important outlet. Like a lot of young girls, I chaffed against what society told me to be and turned to heroes like the Go-Go’s, Blondie, and Loretta Lynn for inspiration. When I perform, I try to think about the young girls in the audience, and when they come up to me and ask me questions about my life, I’m always the first person to say, ‘Why don’t YOU start a band?’”
This Sunday’s show starts with a special magician guest artist, then the bands Other Houses, Justine and the Highs (of Orange County), Hayley and the Crushers on at 9 p.m., followed by Pancho and the Wizards. CDs and cassette tapes will be available at the show.
BY GLEN STARKEY, SAN LUIS OBISPO NEW TIMES