Pray For Hayden - Interview
Following on from their first EP in nine (FUCKING NINE!) years we had a chat with Pray For Hayden front-man Ash Elliot.
Adam - So, with the long wait finally over it must be a relief to finally have the EP out there, what was the thinking behind York rather than your hometown of Leeds as the launch show location?
Ash - It's a massive relief, I think at one point or another we all thought it might never happen. York feels like our adopted home town, we've made so many friends there and it has and has had so many great little venues over the years that we've genuinely loved playing.
Unfortunately the Leeds venues have faded away a bit, the ones that are left are great and pull some really amazing bands and artists but it's missing a place like Joseph Well or The Cockpit. In the 90s and 00s those venues had some of the best gigs I've ever been to.
Although York's said goodbye to some great places, another one has always popped up in its place. So it kind of felt right to do it there.
Adam - And what was the thinking behind the supports?
Ash - We really wanted bands on the line up that we love and consider good friends. We've played so many gigs with Lyon Estates and watching them I feel like I'm watching one of my favourite bands playing a greatest hits song, they genuinely don't have one bad song. They should have been on the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater soundtrack.
WRTHLESS are a band that Tom (guitarist) knew, he did a bit of driving for them on tour and recommended them to us. So we had a listen and we were sold. The fact they drove all the way from Glasgow to play was absolutely amazing in itself.
Mr Shiraz were a late edition, originally we'd planned for Blueprints to support as we knew them since the Saving Time days and they've always been a great band.
Blueprints are definitely no exception and they are top guys too. Glen stripping off and skinny dipping a massive puddle outside Pop Punk Pile Up really cemented my love for that band. Unfortunately they had to pull out though through an injury (not puddle related) so we had to find a replacement pretty quick.
We asked if Mark's new band Woke Up Dead would be interested but they couldn't do that date. I think Pete their singer was probably drop kicking someone in the face (he's a wrestler) or maybe he was at a wedding or something.
So we scratched our collective heads for ideas of who we could get, and I said it's a long shot but why don't we ask Mr Shiraz. I honestly didn't think it would happen as they are such a busy band and are usually out supporting way bigger artists than us, but being the top dudes they are they said yes. To say we were thrilled with the line up is an understatement.
Adam - How did you want to make this show different to any other Pray For Hayden show?
Ash - I guess the whole fresh start for us was important so we wanted to come back with something new and make it as big of a launch as possible. So we got a new backdrop printed up, got ourselves some lighting effects and we also decided to get ourselves a more uniform look to go with it. I mean it worked for Slipknot.
On a side note my mate Hamid once went to a Slipknot signing and everyone there had made boiler suits with the logos and made a replica mask to go with it. Hamid had just turned up in a pair tracksuit bottoms and a t shirt, so to blend in he thought to himself, I need to make a mask.
He went over the road to a shop and bought something, got a carrier bag and then walked back to the queue. He then tore a hole in the bag and pulled it over his head so that his face was sticking out of the hole he'd torn and tied the handles together under his chin.
So he finally gets in the building and meets Slipknot who are all sat at a table. The first one signs it without saying much, the second one (Jim) says "Hey Man, the idea is to cover your face" to which Hamid replies "I'm not ashamed of my face" let me tell you, Mick 7 was not happy! Hamid then gives Jim a photo of his next door neighbour, I think his name was Dave and he drove a taxi??
So yeah, we originally planned to get confetti cannons in but Chris at the venue didn't like the idea, although strangely he was OK with snake cannons, as in cannons that would have fired snakes onto the crowd.
Adam - And we noticed the sparkly new on-stage outfits, are these going to be a new full-time fixture to the shows, and what was the thinking behind them?
Ash - Yeah so going back to the new look, I thought it might be cool to have sort of a uniform. For some reason I remembered seeing a picture of Huey Lewis and the News and the band were all wearing varsity jackets with the band name on them, although I've tried to search for them but I cannot find them anywhere, so maybe I dreamed it.
Anyway I pitched the idea and no one veto'd it, so it just happened. Ben has issues with the piping on the sleeves but that's the only negative feedback.
Adam - And will they be on general sale to fans, or a band item only?
Ash - I'm not sure if we'll end up selling them just because I genuinely don't think we can get any more of them. Maybe if enough people want one we can look at an alternative jacket and go down that route?
Adam - Now you have a pretty good selection of songs are there any you have decided to retire or shelf to give room to the newer material?
Ash - We've already shelved a few, although it wasn't really a decision we made to drop certain songs, it was more a case of what can we fit into this length of time. We just pick the songs we think are strongest, so some others might not make the cut. We don't really play Lies or Torch in the Dark anymore and we haven't played Pictures of You in so long that I'm not even sure if I can remember how to play it.
Ash Elliot, second from the left.
Adam - Just how hard is it going to be writing a set list now?
Ash - It's not that hard, it's worse when you start out and struggle to fill a set. There were times when I've been in bands and we've had to rehearse a set, time it and then work out how much talking we needed to do in between songs to fill it out.
Also did you know that when I was 13 I was in a band called Libido? Looking back that's pretty funny, I just needed a Camaro and a 30 year old girlfriend to complete the look. Although in reality I was probably more like Andy in Parks and Recreation.
Adam - So, how do you feel you can progress as a band now? You seem to be back and fully productive.
Ash - I think we all feel pretty motivated now and we're looking forward to getting out and playing gigs and seeing people's reaction to the new record.
We had more songs and ideas recorded that we originally planned to put on this record, songs that no ones heard before but we didn't want to delay the release anymore. They will more than likely form the next ep and we may put out a single separately or do a split with another band, who knows.
I'm keen to get working on it, so we don't have to wait another decade to do another release. As for gigging, we'll try book in a couple of small tours and then a few dates here and there on their own. It would be cool to get back playing some festivals too!
Adam - If you had unlimited funds what would your dream stage production consist of?
Ash - We'd definitely go full on stadium sized production. Like Cirque du Soleil meets the Prince halftime superbowl show crossed with any Kiss gig.
I'm talking lazers, lights, pyros, confetti cannons (or snake cannons?), giant weather balloons made up like glitter balls to bounce around the crowd.
Also we'd enter the stage with rocket packs and Bryn would have diamonds in his beard, I'm not sure what that would achieve but I like the sound of it.
There would be absolutely no regard whatsoever for health and safety, the entire gig would be a complete death trap to add to the excitement!
Obviously I'm joking, health and safety is no laughing matter kids and say no to drugs.
Adam - What are your top ambitions for the next five years?
Ash - To overtake The Ataris and DJ Sammy with the most popular cover of Boys of Summer on Spotify and to get another record out in half the time of the last one. Also just to get out and gig more, we've really missed playing in other cities.
Adam - We are talking about band longevity at the moment in the office and just how hard it is for local bands to have a long career, how have you guys managed with the various line-up changes, life and general inactivity?
Ash - It's not been easy but we've all had a lot of stuff going on outside of the band so we all understood that we had to work the band around it.
When you're 16 and you're in a band you can dedicate so much time to it but as you get a bit older you have less and less time. The trick is to maximise the time you have and try to be more efficient.
I think out of all of us Mark struggled the most because we were heading in a direction that he didn't really want to go in. He was frustrated with how slow the process was and he just wanted to play. I think leaving and joining Woke Up Dead was the best decision because it's everything he wants from a band. They're fast, loud and raw and that's what Mark's all about.
Craig and Jay left because they got offered work with a touring covers band. They wanted to make money whilst doing something they love and I couldn't blame them, it sounds like a dream job.
As for longevity, I think that just comes down to having fun, if it stops being fun then there's no point doing it. I live this band, I get to spend nights playing songs we've written with 4 of the best guys you could ever meet. We've made friends from all over and I could write a book with all the ridiculous experiences that we've had along the way. (The fuckin' Tut 'n' Shive).
Adam - When can we expect to see you out and about and what other immediate plans have you guys got?
Ash - We hadn't really planned much beyond the ep launch. So now we'll start booking gigs and getting back out playing. If you want us to come to your town or venue then get in touch. We'll play anywhere! I'm hoping we can also get working on the other songs we hadn't finished for Second Chances so we have the next ep out in the next 12 to 18 months. (Third Chances, maybe?)
Adam - Talk to us about the explorers club, what the hell is it and can I join?
Ash - The explorers club is a secret underground club a bit like a cross between the freemasons and fight club, for children between the ages of 10 to 16. A bit like Scouts but with cage matches.
Adam - Sounds ideal, if I join I'm positive I can battle it out...I'll have to fake my age, but who cares about the logistics.
Adam - Now we normally end on our trusty zombie survival plan question, however with the explorers club sounding very space travel oriented we want to know your ultimate guide to the galaxy! Your do's and dont's whilst exploring the universe and if you were stranded on a make belief planet how would you make it home?!
Ash - OK so the ultimate survival guide to the galaxy is this.
1. As my cousin Ian once wrote on his CV, fast and strong. It's important to be agile and also have a good core strength, you don't know what you're going to come up against so you need to be prepared.
2. Always carry a paperclip, a penknife and some chewing gum. If it's one thing I've learned from watching hours of MacGuyver episodes, you can get out of any scrape with these three items. I once saw him disarm a missile with it.
3. Be handsome/beautiful, there is nothing you can't get away with if you have these qualities. Taylor Swift could literally wipe dog poo on a kids swing in a park and she'd still be an international sweetheart.
5. Be alert, did you even notice that I just skipped 4 dummy?
6. Although this is technically 5 now, be confident don't let people put you down!
6\7. Get yourself an infinity gauntlet, then when anyone is getting all up in your grill, just click your fingers and murder their loved ones. People will fear you but in time come to respect your hard-line management skills.
7/8 Getting back to earth, I know this has something to do with thrust, gravity, mass, newton's third law and trajectory. But beyond that I'm lost. Or you need a gravity drive like in the film event horizon, where you fold space in two to bring the two furthest points together, because that's definitely a real thing.
Adam - And as a bonus question, what would that planet look like?
Ash - It would look exactly like the scene from the beginning of the 1988 family classic Mac and Me. Go look it up, it's the gift that keeps on giving!
Thank you so much for your time mate! And be sure to check out Second Chances here:
And follow the band here