Ward Hayden and the Outliers Announce Release of 'Free Country'

Today WHATO premieres the video for “I’d Die For You”, the first single off the album.

By: Jun. 30, 2021
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Ward Hayden and the Outliers Announce Release of 'Free Country'

Ward Hayden and the Outliers (WHATO) announce the release of Free Country on August 20th, 2021. The 10-song album from the band formerly named Girls Guns and Glory, produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, offers up the gifts of a year of reflection and an examination of the socio-cultural divide in this country, with the desire to understand it, survive it, then move past it.

Today WHATO premieres the video for "I'd Die For You", the first single off the album. View it below. It features Hayden in places that are meaningful to him - the backyard of his boyhood home, Minot Beach in Scituate, Mass where he grew up, and the frozen tundra in the video is a cranberry bog with one of the best farm ponds for catching largemouth bass in the South Shore - with signs displaying messages ala Bob Dylan.

"The cards in the video are a nod to the master. Bob Dylan ultimately realized that if he kept singing about what was going on, questioning the powers that be, and voicing his discontent that as the chosen 'voice of a generation', he might end up getting killed for it. He felt he had a target on his back, so he started writing love songs. I'm headed in the other direction," Hayden explains.

"I'd Die For You" explores truth by challenging the listener to decipher what is true and what is perception. "We've all been living through a unique time in the world. A time when many different people are working to push the boundaries of what is real, what is factual, what is actual, what is the truth.

Perception creates your reality. But the reality is that no matter what you tell yourself, the truth is still the truth. It can't be bent. You can lie to other people, you can even lie to yourself, but it's still a lie.

In the words to this song I bounce back and forth between true statements and false ones. I'm making declarations; some true, some not. And if the listener cares to explore each line to see what is real and what isn't, maybe they'll get something from it," Hayden explains.

"The lines between truth and opinions have become so blurred in the last few years, but my ultimate conclusion is 'the truth is I'd die for you'. In the last few years I've had to ask myself what is worth dying for? For me, what's worth dying, and also living, for are the things I love: my family, my wife, my newborn daughter. The feeling of love is the embodiment of truth and the well being of the people I love, that love is true. I know that because I have explored it within, tirelessly."

Written in the middle of a global pandemic after years of watching our country becoming ever more divided, the 10 songs on Free Country get to the heart of it all by exploring on an individual level, the lives we choose to live, the hard truths of where we are at as a society, the inevitability of change, living with the results of the choices we make, and the benefits of slowing down and examining our world.

Ward Hayden, guitar and vocals; Josh Kiggans, drums; Greg Hall, bass; and Cody Nilsen, lead guitar and pedal steel, returned home from the road in mid-March with a few new songs and April studio dates on the book. As the weeks went by, they started writing and rehearsing outside on Ward's porch on Boston's South Shore. Ward began to write feverishly and new songs were introduced at each weekly rehearsal. In the past the majority of the songwriting and flushing out of a new album was done on the road. This album is the first time the band wrote without immediate feedback from a live audience.

As fall arrived, the band relocated their rehearsals to a massive warehouse space in Fall River, MA. The cavernous sound of the warehouse quickly began to inform their approach to writing. There was so much natural reverb in the room that they were forced to focus on only the most important parts of each song. Continuously trimming fat and carving out parts to highlight the lyrics.

They sent iphone recordings to their producer, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, and as they headed into the studio, picked 15 of the best songs to choose from. They went into Boston's Mad Oak Studios with Ambel and engineer Benny Grotto. The bulk of the recording was completed in 5 days and the additional background vocals, additional guitars, and percussion needed were added by bouncing tracks back and forth between the home studios of Ambel in Brooklyn, Cody in Boston, and Josh in Connecticut. Ambel completed the final mixes in his studio Cowboy Technical Services in Brooklyn. Using the program Audio Movers the band was able to listen in real time to the mix sessions from their homes giving questions, tweaks, and approvals via group text.

Free Country is an excellent example of the resilience, innovation and creativity that has come out of this pandemic but the depth of the individual and socio-cultural ruminations on this album will ensure that it will remain relevant once we as a country have moved on.


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