New York City glam rocker Haley Bowery thinks the songs of Ice & Fire are missing a little glitter and gloom. The rock’n’roll frontwoman of Haley Bowery & The Manimals is turning to crowdfunding to help finish off a seven song album (entitled, obviously, Seven) to bring her nu-Hedwig style of dance rock to the kingdom of Westeros. We sat down with Haley to discuss bastard rock for a world of bastard sons.
Haley, what kingdom do you hail from?
I was born in Boston, but spent my adult life in NYC. I was in musical theater and then after college, left that behind to do the rock band thing in various forms.
You wear your influences pretty proudly on your sleeve.
Oh, can you tell? Yeah, I try writing and arranging in a bunch of different styles but they mostly come out sounding like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs covering musical theater, so I’ve just committed to that. I love storytelling and jumping between sounds, so glam rock just comes naturally.
Why glam up George R.R. Martin? And why not do it under the name Glam R.R. Martin?
I took a year or so off from music because I’d just burned out. Nothing was making me feel great so the idea occurred to do a concept album because you can’t just do a little chunk of a concept album — you have to see it through.
We just interviewed Allie Goertz about her Ricky & Morty tribute album and her reasoning was exactly the same. She’s burned out and needed a new inspiration and again— you can’t half-ass a concept album.
I went through the same thing. And like her, I turned to the crowdfunding thing because that’s another pretty great way to force an artistic venture to be held accountable. When this got started, I asked myself what I cared enough about to explore in a full album, and right away I had my answer.
What’s your level of Game of Thrones dedication? You’ve got the sigils and such memorized?
I was a late bloomer. I didn’t watch the first two seasons because I was sure I would hate it. Medieval battles with dragons? Fuck you, that’s dumb. But then I started and I became obsessed. When I ran out of episodes, I dove into the books, and there are few juxtapositions of excellent fandom that can complement each other so overwhelmingly as those novels and their adaptations. I got lost in there. I’m just in love with the books now, but it’s hard to not be thankful to the show for giving us all of these tremendous actors.
Oh, if you think they’re good in this, you should see Kit Harington in Silent Hill: Revelation 3D where he plays the scared girlfriend role. It is … um … memorable.
No. Tell me more about loving this thing I also love.
I disappeared into this rabbit holes and fan theories online, and that’s when I realized I needed to make my own thing that lives in this world; to give something back.
I assume you’ve heard a lot of the other Game of Thrones music that exists out there, like the HBO mixtapes featuring rappers and metal bands. Where does a Blondie take on this figure in?
I’ve heard indie stuff and some podcasts that feature weird takes on music from that world. But it’s fun to challenge what people think a Renaissance faire kinda show should sound like. Not folk or Enya, but something listenable. I like to write theatrically, and there are more options for storytelling and heightened emotions in this genre.
My other unique take is in the idea of exploring character perspectives on specific moments from their stories. Things I find universally relatable. It’s got punk and rock but then my Cersei-perspective song sounds like Lana Del Rey. The Jon Snow song is straight Jesus & Mary Chain. Each character lives in a vein of music that I felt expressed them best. I wrote the most varied material of my life from that.
Did you have to sell your rock band on “Hey, we’re doing GoT stuff now?”
I put together a few new people and some old people (before my hiatus) and said “This might sound dumb but…” and everyone was already in. Who doesn’t love Game of Thrones? I’ve written and arranged everything. My husband helped me put together demos and then the band adds their own spin on things. The engineer we’re recording with is also a huge fan of the show. It’s impossible to escape.
Why crowdfund, besides the added layer of responsibility to actually finish this project?
You know. Poor musician. You need help to make this happen. I did a crowdfunding campaign in 2012 for the last album. This is my life; throw a dollar in. Someone could give more, but I like being open to the lowest amount too. It’s really about sharing with others on every step along the way. Donors get into a private site and each day there’s new material. It’s 100 days of a community project and everyone can get in. I do drawings, videos, annotated lyrics, etc. I think it’s different than your standard Kickstarter begging thing, which I’d like to distance myself, and this project, from.
You mention there’s a possibility for a cover of “The Bear and the Maiden Fair” if funding goes well?
We’re absolutely playing that at our release show, but I’d love to release a studio recording as bonus material. So we might do our own version of that even though The Hold Steady version is so good. There are so many songs in the books that we need to do a separate album just reimagining the popular songs of Westeros. We’ll be doing a big release show the weekend of the season premiere at a geek bar in Brooklyn that has a TARDIS for a bathroom. April 23rd at The Way Station.
Is that one of those bars that got cease & desist letters from HBO for screening the episodes?
It is probably better for me to watch the episodes at home where I can cry and no one can watch me.
Any spoiler alerts for your album?
There’s show stuff. I don’t think I spoil any book stuff. The first song I wrote was Daenerys’ song called “Mother” about growing into a life of either being a mother or a creator, and I struggle with these things, especially dragons as creative or destructive forces. If I didn’t mention dragons in the song you wouldn’t know who it was about, but I do. If you did not know that Arya becomes a killer, maybe you will now. Musical spoiler: the last song is Bran’s song and it ties in all the themes from the other songs. Do you see? Anyway, we hit the studio in February and any financial help anyone wants to throw in is greatly appreciated.