Legend of The Seagullmen is comprised of Tool’s Danny Carey on drums, Mastodon’s Brent Hinds on guitar, director Jimmy Hayward (Jonah Hex) on guitar, David “The Doctor” Dreyer on vocals, Zappa Meets Zappa’s Peter Griffin on bass, and Chris DiGiovanni on synth. Tim Dawson also features on guitar, and film orchestrator Dominic Lewis is featured on a few of the songs.
Legend of The Seagullmen album is an eight-song high-concept recording depicting some far-fetched tales of mystical wonders spilling forth from the sea, all orchestrated by the aforementioned musicians. This album could very easily have been a train-wreck of colliding musicianship, fueled on by excess beer guzzling and studio tom-foolery. Thankfully, it’s not that at all. Legend of The Seagullmen is an operatic mix of the best elements of each musician, boasting moments of sheer cinematic grandeur on tracks like “Curse Of The Red Tide” and “Ballad Of the Deep Sea Diver.” The drumming is amazing. Brent’s guitar work shines brightly on every song. This is an album that fans of each member’s respective band are going to very much want to own.
Jimmy Hayward took a half hour of time, along with Tim Dawson, to talk about the upcoming album. Jimmy is a fast-talking dude, and some of his over-the-top dialogs did not make it into this transcribe. If you’d like to listen to his articulate descriptions of working with Brent Hinds, Danny Carey and The Doctor, play this interview on the attached Soundcloud link. Reading about Hayward getting to hear Brent Hinds bash out the majority of Crack The Skye on a lone guitar amidst a New Orleans Hurricane PALES in comparison to actually hearing him describe it. I’m just saying.
I’ve been playing the album pretty steady since the advance was passed to me. It’s an impressive body of work.
Jimmy Hayward: (laughs) Thanks man.
I always get a little nervous when jam acts like this (people from different bands) get together to make music. I’m thinking Pigface? I never really ‘got’ any of those albums. So it’s nice to hear that this collective of songs is as strong as it is.
Jimmy Hayward: (laughs) Thanks dude. I love how you gingerly avoided the word supergroup. Which we fucking lean into. Basically, it’s even in some of our press stuff. Rolling Stone was calling us that. Other press outlets as well. Before we even did anything, you know? Released anything. Well, they released our demos. But a bunch of our other buddies, like Troy Van Leeuwen from Queens of the Stone Age who was in Gone Is Gone and he was telling us “Don’t try and wrestle with the supergroup thing, dude. It blows up in your face.” So we just lean into it a bit. I did press with a German website the other day and said “Listen. if you guys think we’re a supergroup, then that’s kind of funny too.” But I do appreciate that. Because we spent a lot of time on it. And didn’t just get together for a couple of weekends and fiddle on it. We took our time. Because we’re all doing other shit. You know? Danny was saying last night, basically we just sort of kept doing it and then it just took over.
Nice. So let me ask you this. How does a guy from Kingston Ontario go to working with some of the finest musicians in metal?
Jimmy Hayward: I don’t know.
Tim Dawson: Bad life choices.
Jimmy Hayward: I think it’s because I didn’t live in Kingston very long. Because I wouldn’t have met those dudes there. And honestly dude, Kingston is actually pretty awesome, man. I haven’t been there since I was a very young kid. Tim’s from Edmonton.
Tim Dawson: Yeah.
Jimmy Hayward: That’s why Tim’s here with me today. because we are talking to you guys. You know what man? I know so many Canadian dudes in the movie business and in the music business, wouldn’t you say?
Tim Dawson: Oh yeah.
Jimmy Hayward: In comedy. In rock and roll.
Tim Dawson: We’re everywhere.
Jimmy Hayward: It’s obviously getting hard for guys in Canada to work here. But we wound up with a Canadian label. Because they were awesome. No other reason.
Dine Alone Records IS awesome. I’m really glad that you guys are on that label.
Jimmy Hayward: You know what? We were talking to a bunch of metal labels and stuff. Our management manages a bunch of metal bands. Troy Van Leeuwen was another one of those dudes who sang their praises. We were talking to Joel, and we were talking to the Dine Alone dudes at the same time. Everyone that we talked to had good experiences with them. Do you know how rare that is in the music business? (laughs)
I think Gone Is Gone was on Dine Alone Records as well up here. I think they did the Canadian distribution.
Jimmy Hayward: Yeah. That was one of the things that pushed us in their direction was Troy, you know? Troy is a close friend. We’re always in each others business. He’s a great dude. He just played in Vancouver last night in Victoria.
There was a lot of talk about the Seagullmen online before anything actually materialized. Can you talk a little bit about how the project came together?
Jimmy Hayward: That’s the thing. Rolling Stone leaked two demos that they got ahold of. And we didn’t have anything to do with that. Jack Black and I were doing a music video with the band Off. With Keith Morris from Black Flag and Dimitri Coats and those dudes. And they had a reporter there. This video had a lot of our pals in it. Danny Carey was there. He’s one of my best friends. And all of these other dudes. Jack from TSOL and Dale Crover from Melvins. All of these guys were in the video. There was this Rolling Stone reporter there, and he kind of caught wind of what we were doing and we did another one with Jack Black up at Justin Chancellor‘s property and that guy overheard us. I just looked on our Instagram one day and he’d leaked that story without telling us. (laughs) And that is where all of that traffic came from. That’s why a lot of people thought Dimitri was in the band, because there was a photo on my Instagram of me and Brent and Doctor, our singer, and Danny and everybody, and Dimitri is in there with a guitar on. He was jamming with us. We all jam together all the time, you know? I think it’s a lot of the reason the band sort of came together. I was doing a record or material with Brent Hinds. Mastodon was working on a movie with me and we were making a bunch of music at this place called Dave’s Place in North Hollywood. And he introduced me to this dude called The Doctor. This was years ago. The Doctor is now one of my best friends in the whole wide world. Brent is too. We’re really close friends. Doctor had this crazy idea for this Nautical band with all of this crazy lore. Four hundred thousand years ago, this seagull God king and all of this crazy shit. And he asked me to write a song, so I wrote the “Deep Sea Diver” music, and he wrote the lyrics. And he said “Hey man. I want to do a spaghetti western. But a nautical one.” And I said cool man, that sounds interesting. So we went to my studio, and I wrote that (mouths the guitar parts to “We Are The Seagullmen”), and I jumped into the booth by myself, and I did all of the male choral stuff. All of the choir shit.
Tim Dawson: Choral sounds like you are scraping barnacles off of the ship.
Jimmy Hayward: Yeah!! Choral. Exactly. So we made that tune, and then we jammed together at a music festival in Florida with Brent, me and Doctor, and it all just started making sense. I was already playing with Danny. Brent and I were doing this stuff together. So I started producing the music, and I started bringing in different dudes to help out. Tim? You can explain your thing.
Tim Dawson: Yeah. I was kind of hanging around the studio. I work for Tool, with Danny quite often. These guys would come in and kind of take over the place after hours and make a bunch of noise. I started hanging around and getting to know everybody. Slowly insinuating myself into the whole thing and helping out. I ended up getting along with the guys really well. We started doing more and more.
Jimmy Hayward: He was engineering while Brent and I were recording guitars. Tim was engineering and helping out. Toshi was in there from Big Business. And it just sort of wound up being vocalized. “Are you in the band? You’re in the band!!!” (laughter) Pete Griffin was doing all of the Dethklok stuff and Zappa Plays Zappa, and he somehow knows all of us too, from touring and doing all sorts of different stuff. So we were like “well, we might as well have the best player on the west coast”, you know? So it just sort of built around this crazy idea. It was really natural. Sorry for the super-fucking-long-winded Hallmark version of that. (laughs)
Check out the band’s single “Shipswreck” right here.
How often do you get thanked for making Jonah Hex?
Jimmy Hayward: I don’t know. A lot of people see the kind of punk rock side to that movie. Um…
The Mastodon music alone in it, is right after Crack the Skye, and it’s fucking wicked. WICKED riffs of music all through that score. So I love it for that alone.
Jimmy Hayward: That’s rad dude. You know, that was cool. I was working with Marco Beltrami. I’ve worked with a lot of composers like John Powell and Dominic Lewis and these heavyweight orchestral dudes. They usually do huge orchestral scores for my movies and I just had that idea. You know, honestly, Josh Homme was the one who turned me onto that. He asked me what I was listening to at the time and I told him I was listening to Mastodon on loop. And he said “you should go work with Brent.” And it was one of those moments where I went “that’s a great idea.” Brent had just had his accident and stuff, and Crack the Skye was coming out and I went and hung out with Brent. I was down in New Orleans prepping that movie and Brent flew down to hang out with me. And he just didn’t leave for like ten days. Fifteen days even. And he was there for so long I put him in the movie. He gets shot in the film. There was a massive storm coming in and it was kind of just after Katrina I think. I had this butterscotch Telly, an American Butterscotch Telecaster at my house. We needed an amplifier. And my assistant at the time, she brought me this Peavey High Chord amplifier or something? This digital distortion piece of shit and there’s a massive hurricane coming in. So Brent and I had a shit load of beer. We had a fridge full of Miller High Life in glass bottles and no food. And a guitar. And he sat down, and he played me pretty much all of Crack the Skye and sang it sitting on my counter. And I was like arm-hair standing up engaged. And uh, to this day, “The Last Baron” is one of my favourite songs ever. We were working hard on that idea. It was really tricky to get the whole thing to ball together because most orchestral film composers aren’t used to working with Mastodon. And Mastodon at the time wasn’t used to working with orchestral composers. So it was very tricky to put together. It almost exploded in our faces. And in the end, we figured out beautiful ways to put it together. And it was fucking rad. We were in Capitol Records. In the not-leaning-tower of fucking pizza, right here in Hollywood and we were in Studio One, the Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin studio. This big round room – and we had a bunch of cellos and a bunch of violins, and we’re playing these fucking D-tuned Brent riffs (Hayward mouths some of Brent’s lumbering guitar work), And Brann is banging away on this giant fucking triangle… it was fucking hilarious and amazing. And I’m really glad that you dig that music because it’s fucking awesome.
I think it’s only available digitally. I’ve never seen it as a physical CD or a vinyl or anything.
Jimmy Hayward: There’s a CD. It’s out there. Warner Brothers Records, I don’t know if you’ve heard of them? But they’re not as big as they were.
Tim Dawson: They’re a local upstart.
Jimmy Hayward: it’s one of those things where I think there should be some decent traction doing a limited vinyl release. You know what? Next time we see our friend, let’s just bring that up…
Tim Dawson: Heads will roll!!
Jimmy Hayward: You know what? We’re going to throw you in the pool unless you release this thing on vinyl.
I dunno. There’s this Recordstore Day thing that’s just kind of calling out for that, right?
Jimmy Hayward: Right. You know what? Mastodon is up for two fucking Grammys. And they just outsold Kendrick Lamar on Billboard this year? And they put out a fucking EP? I think I’d be more worried about putting out Seagull records this year. That’s what I think. (laughs)
I like that you just talked a bit about orchestrating music, and the cinematic aspect of Jonah Hex, because I hear some Ennio Morricone cinematic outro action on “The Ballad Of the Deep Sea Diver.” That must have been kind of interesting to put together
Jimmy Hayward: Yeah, well that was kind of the idea from the beginning. Ennio is one of many greats, and actually he’s one of my favourite composers. Dude, I got to see him at Radio City Music Hall the first time he ever came to America. I openly wept like a fucking child. A soprano came out and they did “The Ecstacy of Gold” with 150 piece harmonic. And they had 100 singers. And she led the chubby soprano out and the microphone came out of the floor and it was fucking amazing dude. A composer named Dom Lewis worked on that orchestration and wrote that portion of music. He and I have done some music together. I met him through John Powell. He was working over at Hans Zimmer‘s place doing music with Hans Zimmer doing these huge crazy action pieces. I showed him the Legend of the Seagullmen stuff and he jumped right in. He’s actually jumped on stage with us and played the cello live to that before. To me, when I make movies, I think music is half. It’s as important as the visual stuff. It’s half of the shit. Go watch Indiana Jones with the sound off, dude. Wow, you know? Or the first Star Wars. It would just be guys in tin pie-plate hats running around. It’s so important. Tim and I were just writing a new thing that’s sort of like a sequel. Well, not a sequel, but there’s a mermaid fucking tune “The Mermaid’s Lament,” and we are working on this two-part thing.
Tim Dawson: Yeah, I think we’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right voice for the mermaid. But it’s fun to just dig through and master stuff and it’s coming together really quick.
Jimmy Hayward: The orchestral stuff to me, We’re already telling stories here. Danny talks about this a lot. All of the prog shit that he loves from the seventies. I love Maiden and Sabbath and the super early Priest records. This is a concept band. We were talking to these dudes in Europe the other day, and they were like (in mock Swedish) “So, you’re going to run out of stories for this concept, yes?” And Danny was like “It’s a deep ocean brother. There’s a lot of fucking stories down there. We don’t even know where the bottom is.” So, it’s like, to us that orchestral component of it is part and parcel with telling the huge story. And I think for “The Ballad Of the Deep Sea Diver” were dealing with a giant 50-foot tall deep sea diver radiocatively being poisoned underwater after a giant tsunami crushes a nuclear reactor and fucking lays waste to a city. You know, you can’t just fucking end that with a ker-schlup fucking guitar duo. You’ve got to fucking come correct with thirty violins.
Tim Dawson: If you can do that without being cinematic and orchestral, I’d like to see how.
Jimmy Hayward: So it toally made sense to us. If you go to the song “Curse Of The Red Tide,” that song has got a bunch of orchesteral stuff in it too.
How deep down into the merchandising have you guys discussed? There’s a lot of opportunity here. Wellingtons. Nautical compasses. Fish gut buckets. You could do a whole bnunch of stuff here.
Jimmy Hayward: (laughs)
Tim Dawson: There’s some good ideas.
Jimmy Hayward: Awesome.
Rain ponchos!! Do some rain ponchos.
Jimmy Hayward: Barnacle scrapers.
Yeah!! Wooden pipes.
Tim Dawson: Windshield scrapers. That’s what we need.
Jimmy Hayward: Um, dude, actually, it’s funny that you mention that. Normally I wouldn’t be such a shill. “I’ll never sell out. Go to https://theseagullmen.com” (laughs) But that reminds me… (there’s some comedic banter here centered around throwing an LP to a drowning man) We design all of our own shit and all of our own imagery. Everything that you see for the releases and the album covers and stuff, our singer The Doctor and his brother Frank and me, we all joined forces to make all of that imagery. So we don’t have a label art director or anything like that. We do all of that shit ourselves. All of the images, all of the videos, all of the composites, all of the paintings. And if you look at our merch, we design all of that shit too. We actually just opened up the Seagullmen.com shop and we have shirts, we have fucking silver rings and pendants; lucky pendants so you don’t sink your boat. Killer jewelry. We have fucking skateboards. We skate. So we have skateboards. We have a bunch of killer shit. So we love that stuff. because I think that the bands that we really dig, they did that. That’s what I loved about Iron Maiden. Those paintings with Eddy. I used to listen to The Number Of the Beast when I was like ten, over and over again over and over and over.
Tim Dawson: I used to just stare at the album art, and your brain like fills in all of the blanks.
Jimmy Hayward: Which lead me to LSD. I mean, record covers ARE a gateway drug. I mean, We really dig all of that stuff. The merch stuff is really fun. We actually have some cool fan art and stuff like that where people send us in ideas of shit like that. Obviously, we are going to have a line of Seagullmen yachts down the line. (laughs) We do have killer shit. Guitar stuff and skateboards and we can’t stop now. We’re not selling anything – we just have it.
I’m sure you are being asked a lot when you are doing press about some more live dates. You did the New Years Eve show. Will you do any more in 2018 if you can fit it into your schedules?
Jimmy Hayward: Yeah, that’s the idea. I mean, that’s the thing DC always say too. He’s like “Well I’ve got TOOL and Jimmy’s making movies and Brent’s always busy, but when we’re not doing that, We’re doing THIS!” We are planning on doing it. We’re just sorting that shit out right now, what we basically want to do is short-burst tours and festivals. That makes the most sense for us. We can reach the most fans. We didn’t know; we’ve just been doing this on our own. The response we got from fans in Oakland was fucking awesome. It went great, you know? It was really fun. The fans were fucking awesome. And the place was on fire. We had a good time, right?
Tim Dawson: Definitely. Yeah, yeah.
Jimmy Hayward: That was a sign for us to keep it up. So we want to do more of it. We’re obviously going to start doing it in California because we’re all in Hollywood. Brent’s in Atlanta but he’s out here a lot. That was fun too, because we played with Larry LaLonde from Primus. Because Brent had a family emergency. So Larry LaLonde jumped in and learned out tunes in like…
Tim Dawson: An alarmingly quick time. I was worried that I wasn’t it making it difficult enough for him. (laughter)
Jimmy Hayward: So yeah. We’re touring.
Don’t forget Canada when you are putting those live dates together.
Jimmy Hayward: I grew up for a long time in the Bay area in San Francisco and for me playing there was just fucking rad. Because me and Matt, our synth player, went there for a lot of our lives. And just the other night when that big Tsunami warning happened I was talking to Troy and those guys and they were playing Victoria, BC and I thought that was fucking rad, they are playing that arena there. It’s like 12,000 people or something. And then they just did the Pepsi Coliseum in Vancouver last night. And for us to be able to roll up there would be amazing. Tim has obviously rolled up there to a lot of those places before.
Tim Dawson: Oh yeah.
Jimmy Hayward: If we’re playing Canada, Canada is rough because the gaps between the venues are so big.
Jimmy Hayward: So it’s one of those things where we’re hoping, and we’re counting on playing in Ontario. Because our label is there! So we are hoping to jump up there at a festival or two up there, obviously not at this time of year, but we’re hoping to play there. I really want to play Vancouver. And I really want to play in Ontario. So we’re really looking forward to that. Because we fucking love Canada. My wife and I just watched Coaches Corner the other night. I’m not kidding. I was watching the Toronto / Ottawa game (mimes Don Cherry talking here a bit). I want to go to the Hockey Hall of Fame too, by the way.
Can you finish off with maybe a story from the studio? Maybe something that is either a recollection of a moment where a song maybe took a different direction, and you were surprised by that?
Jimmy Hayward: What? And there wasn’t a fight?
Check out the band’s single “The Fogger” right here.
And there wasn’t a fight? Yeah.
Jimmy Hayward: (laughs) I’m just kidding man. We don’t fight ever. Well, Brent and I sometimes, but it’s never about music.
Tim Dawson: That’s a tough one.
Jimmy Hayward: Usually when we do press, we talk about “400,000 years ago, the Seagullmen came” and shit. I mean all kinds of crazy shit has happened.
Tim Dawson: My cheeks are sore from laughing usually, when I leave here. There’s a lot of stuff going on, but I can’t really remember anything – not that I can tell on the air, right?
Jimmy Hayward: (laughing) It’s entertaining. But I can’t really say it.
You are supposed to be filiming that stuff for people like us. We want to see that shit.
Jimmy Hayward: We’ve got a bunch of shit like that. We just can’t release it. (laughs) I mean, dude, It’s one of those things where I have a studio. Danny has a studio – TOOL’s got a studio that’s where Tim is close to. Well, I am most of the time too. So we hang out in recording studios pretty much always. So, we’re at my studio right now. (some more crazy talk here) So we’re in these places kind of like all the time. Danny’s house and my house are like literally less than a 1/4 mile apart from each other. And then TOOL’s studio is like another 80 yards past that. (a lively story here about Danny’s dog wandering out of TOOL’s studio and winding up in Jimmy’s backyard). Our wives got us mini-bikes so we can get home when we’re drunk. We live in our studios all the time. We’re always working seven days a week. That’s how this shit happens. It’s not like there’s an in-studio event we can talk about. This would be like telling stories about what happened in our kitchen.
Tim Dawson: People ask us about how we’re going to find the time to tour. How are you going to find the time to be together. We’re actually all just hanging out right now anyway.
Jimmy Hayward: Those weren’t very good stories were they? you were hoping for the “So then he came in with a feather duster up his ass” story. (laughs)
The material sounds like you put a lot of time and effort it. I think it sounds like a pretty stellar body of work. I’m looking forward to getting a physical copy. Once the record plant actually gets the vinyl to you. I understand it’s a bit delayed.
Jimmy Hayward: Yeah. That’s a real common thing these days buying vinyl. Shit. It’s just a buzz-kill man.
It’s understood, you know? if you order vinyl, you are going to get a note from the labels saying it’s delayed. That’s just what it is to be a vinyl collector.
Jimmy Hayward: I know dude. And it’s a buzz-kill. We should have such problems that we cant print vinyl fast enough. That’s a good problem to have in this day and age where there’s a generation and half of people talking like “What are you talking about? You don’t buy music. It’s free. It’s online.” Now people want to fucking buy it again. So that’s a great thing. It’s tricky when you are trying to organize a big release or something. Because our record comes out February 9th. We’ll hold that date, and then it’s March 2nd when the vinyl comes out. Last night me and Danny and Tim were sitting around. I took four test pressings that we took a purple sharpie to, because Danny will only sign in purple. Gets him in a lot of shit.
“Can I have your autograph?”
“You got a purple sharpie?”
“Sorry. I only sign in purple.”
We drew all over and signed some test presses, and we’re going to take them to different record stores and give them to someone the day our vinyl comes out. But do we do that on the 9th of February? Or the 2nd of March? It’s a bummer. I just hope some more really decent pressing plants open. Because I think Vinyl collectors are the most important fans. We mixed and mastered our record for vinyl. Gavin Lurssen, the same guy who mastered the new Queens Of The Stone Age record, mastered our record. We start with our stuff, and our first lay-back master is vinyl. I mean, we mix for vinyl. That’s what we care about the most. For so many years everybody was mixing for those fucking hot dog wiener speakers.
Tim Dawson: So it sounds good on your iPhone.
Jimmy Hayward: So you download it and it’s super loud on your Costco PC.
Tim Dawson: And in mono.
Jimmy Hayward: So, we’re really happy that vinyl collectors want our record and we’re really happy that our pre-sales have sold out. That warms our hearts. I think people are picking up what we are laying down.