Liam Hayes (of Plush) :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Based on my limited interactions with the mysterious songwriter, Liam Hayes doesn't do anything half-heartedly. That much is clear from his records, like 2002's Fed and 2014's Korp Sole Roller, two chunks of magnificently realized pop. Recently reissued by Be With Records, the albums are the results of fine songcraft, intensely long hours logged in the studio, and uncompromising vision.

But there's also his dedication to living extremely offline. No Twitter account, no Facebook, not even text or emails. You wanna interview Hayes? You gotta know someone who knows someone (in this case, producer and Wilco sideman Pat Sansone), type up some interview questions, send them on over and wait for scanned, type-written pages to show up.

It would be easy to chock all this up to savvy mystique cultivation or the reclusive genius routine. But I think there's something deeper at work. Whether crafting ambitious soundtracks (A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III) or looser, more freewheeling projects (like 2015's Slurrup), Hayes adheres primarily to his own exacting standards.

It's those standards that made Fed an underground legend, a set of songs too sprawling to work within the Chicago indie rock economy of the early 2000s, but too catchy and beautifully built to escape the attention of dedicated record heads who heard in its grooves traces of Isaac Hayes, the Beatles, Todd Rundgren, and Burt Bacharach. Finally circulating alongside its spiritual cousin Korp Role Roller, Fed stands a better chance of being recognized this time around, though Hayes mostly comes across as bemused about his prospects at best.

Hayes is currently at work on two new lps, Mirage Garage and Pink Sunglasses, but dedicated some time at the typewriter for this exclusive exchange with Aquarium Drunkard.

Plush :: Fed

Aquarium Drunkard: You don’t interact with social media or even text. What’s the rationale there? Beyond the benefits of, you know, not having your personal data hijacked and sold by and to monolithic entities, what’s the appeal of not being connected through these avenues?

Liam Hayes: My decision to not participate in mediated sociality (newfangled software and behavioral science, old-fashioned mass exploitation) is not some quaint exercise in disengagement from the world. The reward for my non-compliance has been isolation both personally and professionally. I think it's important to give more than just a cursory glance at the serious questions about exactly what the surveillance economy is, and its negative effects on human beings. How do you feel laboring as an unpaid cultural producer on an electronic assembly line every second of every day?

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