Travis Hayes rides wave of inspiration to Reno

Travis Hayes
The band, from left, Ted Maider, Travis Hayes, Brent Curriden, Cade Weidenhaft.

When making a record, the methodology of some bands is to track a great number of songs and then whittle them down to the top 10 or 12. Not so with Travis Hayes, a San Francisco-based bandleader who appears Friday  in Reno. Dearheart is the co-feature.

“I get a wave of inspiration,” Hayes told Tahoe Onstage.” I live my life as everyone else does and then I’ll sit down for a couple of days, or it might be a couple of weeks, and pen out 10 to 20 songs. I’ve come to realize I tend to write in album cycles. Everything I that write is a group of songs in a feeling of a place in time and they fit together.”

The name of the next Travis Hayes album is “Sleepless,” and the band played the songs live during its longest tour: 26 shows in 30 days, including one at The Saint on March 30 on a round trip from the West Coast to Austin for the South by Southwest festival, perhaps better known as SXSW.

Hayes said he wrote the songs during a dark period of his life, hence the album title. It’s when you start grappling with all the things that life throws at you. Essentially, the things that keep you up at night. The songs became more upbeat when integrated with a full band, and they are being fine tuned with the help of engineer Sean Beresford, who also works with Third Eye Blind and The New Up.

“We’re the band that announces a new album and then takes forever to come out,” Hayes joked. “It’s turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Unfortunately, it’s been a very sleepless record. We’ve spent a long time putting this together. But we’re getting there. It’s good to see what songs are working face to face with people.”

It was Hayes’ fifth time to play SXSW and the second with a full band, whose members come from all over the country: bassist Ted Maider is from Boston, drummer Cade Weidenhaft is from Wyoming, lead guitarist Brent Curriden is from Southern California and lead singer Hayes, who plays rhythm guitar and writes the songs, is from Philo, a small town in Northern California’s Mendocino County.

Hayes was a sideman before he moved to San Francisco, where he performed solo until he was offered to be backed at the SXSW two years ago by another Bay Area band. They decided to stay together full time.

Hayes’ greatest influence is Ryan Adams.

“If you see him solo, it’s going to be a great experience, and if you see him with his full rock and roll band, it’s going to be a different kind of style but equally great,” he said. “For me, that’s what I strive for. Whether I am with a band or without a band, the songs will stand up and be a great listening experience for people.

“More than a genre, it’s how honest the storyteller is and how well they’re able to connect with people.”

Hayes calls SXSW the musical version of the television program “The Deadliest Warrior.” More than 2,000 bands perform at the weeklong urban festival, each covering its own expenses.

“It’s everything all at once.” he said. You get all of the awesome, special occurrences that happen at once-in-a-lifetime festival. And it’s mayhem. We’d parked two blocks away from our venue trying to set up and tear down within an hour, trying to get to the next gig. It’s a sink or swim scenario for everyone involved.”

  • Travis Hayes
    With: Dearheart
    When: 8 p.m. Friday, July 28
    Where: The Saint, midtown Reno
    Cover: $6 in advance or $8 at the door

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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