The last time we spoke to LA rockers Irontom, they had just wrapped up their Fall 2016 tour with Finish Ticket and Run River North. Since then, they’ve been on all kinds of musical adventures. In 2017, they released their debut LP Partners; toured with the legendary Red Hot Chili Peppers; made three music videos; and toured again with the Arkells. If you listen to just one of their songs or attend one of their live shows, you’ll see why they’re stars on the rise. It’s hard to hear any of the amazing solos by guitarist Zach Irons and not feel a pang of emotion. It’s even harder to see lead singer Harry Hayes dancing energetically to “Be Bold Like Elijah” and not dance along. Perhaps the band’s Facebook page puts it best—“Irontom’s music isn’t music that you dispassionately slip into your back pocket for a convenient conversation piece. You wear it on your sleeve.”
We recently caught up with Hayes for a good chat about Partners, touring, and more. Read on to learn about his favorite lyrics from the album, his accidental encounter with a skateboarding legend, and his New Year’s resolution.
TYF: You just went on tour with the Arkells. What was that like?
Harry Hayes: Oh, it was a great, great tour. We had a lot of fun with those guys. They’re a real rockin’ awesome band. We played with them last June in Chicago, just on a one-off. We hit it off right away, and they ended up inviting us on that little end-of-the-year run. It was really good. We got to go back to a bunch of our favorite places, so it was awesome.
TYF: What are some of your favorite cities to visit?
Hayes: You know, we have fun in most of them, honestly. I can name a couple that come to mind right away. I’d say Chicago and New York and… We went to New Orleans once. We played New Orleans. That was great.
TYF: That’s a pretty cool place.
Hayes: We’ve also played in Asheville, North Carolina, which was a lot of fun. It’s a great town, and they’ve got a great venue called The Orange Peel. It’s really cool. And then we love going to Atlanta… We love going everywhere. I don’t wanna leave anyone out. (Laughs)
TYF: You also went on tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers earlier in 2017. What would you say was the best thing about that experience?
Hayes: Getting the honor of playing with them was one of all of our goals as musicians starting off. Even before we were musicians, we loved their music. So I guess just getting the honor of going up there right before them. The whole experience was surreal and beautiful every single night. It was really amazing to see how powerful music can be to people, because going city to city with them, you see that every seat is full in those arenas, in every city, and that’s such a powerful thing. And every night, people are there and singing along to every song, and it just shows you what a great thing music can be, and how it can get to that level. Like, bands can get that big and that influential and become that much of a part of people’s lives.
TYF: I bet it was really cool going from small clubs to stadiums and arenas.
Hayes: Yeah, it’s cool. We have fun playing all types of different rooms. It’s honestly cool that we’ve kind of experienced the spectrum at this point, you know? Being a rock band, it’s the name of the game. We played some club shows in between that arena tour, so it was cool jumping into different sized-pools. (Laughs)
TYF: Do you have any specific favorite memories from that tour?
Hayes: I personally loved seeing Zach [Irons] go up and play a song with the Chilis, ‘cause since him and I started writing songs together and became friends, he’s been practicing to those records in his room, you know? I’ve heard him play those songs thousands of times. And then getting to see that actually happen is so, so cool… That whole experience was such an encouraging thing because you set out to do things and you have dreams and when you accomplish something that’s on that list, it really invigorates you and inspires you to keep going.
TYF: What song did he play with them?
Hayes: He played a song called “Dosed” with them. And then another great experience was getting to talk to those guys. They’re very loving guys, and they’re so experienced, and they’re so professional. Any interaction with them, you just feel the wisdom, all those years of playing, rockin’. We’re sensitive to that, so the whole thing was just great.
TYF: That’s awesome. What’s your favorite Red Hot Chili Peppers song?
Hayes: Man, it’s too hard to say. I guess if I had to name one, it would be “Californication.”
TYF: That’s a classic.
Hayes: It’s like the anthem of California. I don’t think there’s a song that encapsulates California better than that.
TYF: Now let’s talk about your album Partners. If you had to choose one favorite lyric from the album, which one would you choose?
Hayes: I’d say there’s three that I really like. I really like the song “Partners” and the phrase “we’re partners,” because every time I sing it, I feel with the band and I feel it also as people, you know? Everybody has their own individual partner, but we’re all kind of living together. So the song takes on a very broad feeling for me when we play that. And then I like the line in “Old and New Songs,” “It’s always a good day when I sing.” It just feels honest and true. Getting to play music, getting to express yourself, having a way to do that… It can turn things positive, even in dark times or on blue days. And then I like that line in “Elijah” that says, “Take our hearts back, we’re not using ‘em right.” It’s a reminder to myself to be present and be aware and giving and always striving. Seeking in a healthy way. (Laughs)
TYF: Good choices. Speaking of the new album, there’s a specific lyric that I had a question about. In “No Matter What,” you say, “Our train is gonna bolt no matter what.” What’s the inspiration behind that line?
Hayes: That song’s funny to me a little bit. I enjoy singing it because… how can I say it? I guess it’s sung from the band’s perspective. It’s like, “We’re gonna rock and make our way in the world doing this no matter what.” And everyone’s invited if they wanna come. (Laughs) It’s just a song about confidence, I guess.
TYF: A good pump-up song.
Hayes: It’s a pump-up song, exactly.
TYF: You guys also filmed a music video for “Be Bold Like Elijah” in 2017. What was it like making that?
Hayes: Oh, it was cool. It was really cool. Elijah Berle, the guy who the song is kind of inspired by… We did a day of running around with him and doing some skating and going up and down Venice doing funny stuff. We knew it would turn out pretty funny and interesting. And a few cool things happened that day. One, in particular… We ran into this skateboarder. His name is Rodney Mullen. He’s a famous skater. He’s kind of a legendary skating star of Venice. And Zach had a Rodney Mullen board that we were riding around on. We showed [Rodney Mullen] we had his board, and we were like, “Do you wanna do a little trick in a vid?” So he did a little trick for us and then ran off. (Laughs) It was cool. You can’t really plan something like that.
TYF: Do you have any skating experience?
Hayes: I wish I could skate. I can’t, though. I just don’t have the coordination. I don’t know what it is. I wish I could, but I live vicariously through Zach and Dyl [Williams, the band’s drummer]. (Laughs)
TYF: There’s one point in the video where emojis pop up. On that note, if you could be any emoji, which emoji would you be?
Hayes: There’s this little emoji, I think he’s called Berto. I might wanna be Berto.
TYF: Huh. I don’t think I’ve heard of Berto.
Hayes: He’s foolin’ around there. I think he’s been around a while, I’m not sure. (Laughs)
Hayes: We’ve got a few things that we’ve been thinking about doing. Covers are always fun. I really enjoy doing them. You learn a lot from playing other music, you know? You don’t even know you’re learning, but you are. There’s one we’re kind of planning soon. I guess I’ll say, “You’ll see.” (Laughs)
TYF: Okay, we’ll wait and see. Also, in our last interview we talked about “The Minista” and how he’s your rock-and-roll tailor. Out of all the clothing articles he’s made you, is there one that stands out as your favorite?
Hayes: He made me a gold satin shirt that I wore a bit on the Chili Peppers tour that I really love. He also made me, a while back, a red polka-dotted one that I really, really dug too. But everything he makes, I love, you know? Everything he makes. Before tours, I go to him to get a couple of new things to go out with.
TYF: “You must admire the control.”
Hayes: Yeah! (Laughs)
TYF: Recently, a lot of festival lineups have been announced. If you could put together your dream lineup, who would be on it?
Hayes: Man, I guess I’d say… Coachella gets close. They make a pretty eclectic lineup each time. Some people like to complain about it, but I feel like they go across the spectrum of different kinds of acts pretty well. I guess if I could name three headliners, I would say, Arctic Monkeys, maybe Paul McCartney, and then… I don’t know, maybe somebody like Kendrick Lamar. Or Kanye West. Or maybe Kanye West, Arctic Monkeys, Kendrick Lamar. There’s a lot of cool stuff out there, you know? We’ve been lucky to play some festivals. We’ve been playing more and more festivals, and so we get to play along with a lot of bands we love. We did one where Snoop Dogg headlined.
TYF: Did you get to meet Snoop Dogg?
Hayes: No. We almost did, but he’s pretty busy around that time. But it was pretty impressive seeing his show, seeing how he does everything. It was a lot of fun for us.
TYF: You guys have this old song called “Saturn Eating His Kids.” Is that song ever going to see the light on a future album? Will it ever be on iTunes?
Hayes: Maybe, maybe. It’s cool you know that one. It should’ve come out in some form a while ago, but it never did. I don’t know, we might re-look at it. We just have so many ideas of songs bouncing around all the time, so it can be hard to prioritize what we wanna do or what we should do. It’s a funny issue to have. I’m glad you like it, though. I’m glad it’s out there in some kind of form.
TYF: When I saw you guys at U Street Music Hall, you played two songs that I haven’t heard on Partners or the Irontom compilation—“Fear and Loathing” and “Make You Fall.” Those are really cool songs. Are they from a new album?
Hayes: You know, those are things we’re playing with. I’m sure they’ll end up coming out at some point. It’s cool just going out live and getting to try things as a band, see how audiences and people who are fans react to new things. And that all influences how we go about writing and the whole process, really. So I’m glad they were memorable to ya.
TYF: Finally, do you have any New Year’s resolutions?
Hayes: Mine are kind of broad. I’m trying to think of a funny one, but I can’t. (Laughs) Eat less muffins. (Laughs) That’ll do. (Laughs)
TYF: Do you have a favorite flavor of muffin?
Hayes: I don’t know. I mean, I guess blueberry’s pretty good. They’re all pretty good! It’s rare I’m like, “Aw man, this muffin fucked me up.” Unless it’s dry or old or something.
TYF: Yeah, muffins are pretty good overall. Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers before we wrap things up?
Hayes: I’d just say, “Come see us on this tour we have coming up with AWOLNATION and Nothing But Thieves.”
TYF: Oh, yeah. That’s really exciting.
Hayes: Yeah. We’re going quite a few places. We’ll be rockin’, touring more later in the year, too, but those will be some exciting shows. We love those bands.
TYF: Do you think that you’ll be playing “Old and New Songs” live?
Hayes: That is definitely part of the plan, yeah. So that should be great. We love playing with AWOLNATION, of course. And Nothing But Thieves is a band I’ve been listening to a little bit for the last couple of years, and they really sound rockin’, too, so it’ll be a great, great bill.