WHO: Leah Hayes WHAT: Art Exhibition and Book Signing WHERE: Rocketship 208 Smith St. Brooklyn, NY 11201 718.797.1348 tel. WHEN: Friday, March 7, 8PM • THIS FRIDAY NIGHT!
WHO: Leah Hayes & Scary Mansion WHAT: South By Southwest Music Festival Showcase WHERE: The Hideout 617 Congress Ave. Austin, TX 78701 512.443.3688 tel. WHEN: Wed., March 12, 10PM
WHO: Leah Hayes & Scary Mansion WHAT: In-Store Music Performance and Book Signing WHERE: Austin Books 5002 N. Lamar Blvd. Austin, TX 78751 512.454.4197 tel. WHEN: Saturday, March 15, 7PM
WHO: Leah Hayes WHAT: Book Signing WHERE: Spoonbill & Sugartown 218 Bedford Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11211 718.387.7322 tel. WHEN: Thursday, April 24, 7PM
To say that Leah Hayes is poised for greatness would be underselling how much she’s already accomplished in her 26 years. Massachusetts-bred Hayes attended art school in New York before moving to France where she played in a band called Satan’s Fingers, collaborating with David Ivar from underground pop legends Herman Dune. Growing up playing piano and guitar, Hayes also took up the Thunderstick, an Appalachian instrument similar in tone to the banjo. Her collection of ballpoint pen notebook illustrations Holy Moly was published by Fantagraphics in 2004 and her first graphic novel, Funeral of the Heart, will be published in April, 2008.
Funeral of the Heart is Leah Hayes’ stylistic tour-de-force and graphic novel debut, featuring a series of short stories by Hayes and illustrated entirely using the otherworldly medium of scratchboard. Hayes creates a world of unease and ambiguity populated by obsessive characters, forlorn animals, and mysterious, inanimate objects; odd occurrences, unnerving deaths and unconventional but genuine love bind these characters and their stories together. In “The Bathroom,” a middle-aged couple discover a mysterious tunnel in their pool house after a neighbor’s child accidentally drowns in their pool — leading to an immaculate bathroom and another drowning. In “The Needle,” two sisters suffer the death of their grandmother as well as her possible resurrection at the hands of the woman with the needle.
The stories are hand lettered and juxtaposed against stark, highly stylized, graphically powerful, black and white images. Stories with titles like “The Bathroom,” “The Needle,” and “The Hair” may sound innocuous, but they aren’t fables that should be read to one’s children — unless your children enjoy being made uneasy by beautiful things.
Hayes’ artwork has appeared in the New York Times, Punk Planet, and most recently on the cover of McSweeney’s #24. Based in Williamsburg, Hayes has toured as a solo act alongside Kyp Malone and sings on the TV On the Radio’s “Snakes and Martyrs” from the band’s Return to Cookie Mountain album.
Hayes currently performs with her group, Scary Mansion, featuring Ben Shapiro (The Fugue) on drums and Bradley Banks (with whom Hayes plays in Francophile band La Laque) on bass. Their debut CD, Every Joke Is Half the Truth, is out now from Zum Records. Working with producer Kyle Fischer (Rainer Maria) over an extended six-month period and opening up the sound of the Thunderstick, the resulting tracks alternate between sparse intimate tones and near claustrophobic layers of feedback, all with an attention to the needs of the songs. Hayes’ lyrical approach mines themes of alienation and romantic snafus, embodied in characters litigious, predatory, and straw-filled.
FUNERAL OF THE HEART By Leah Hayes $14.95 Paperback Original 120 pages, black-and-white, 8” x 10” ISBN: 978-1-56097-888-6 PUB DATE: APRIL 30, 2008 www.fantagraphics.com
EVERY JOKE IS HALF THE TRUTH By Scary Mansion Format: CD Catalog: ZUM023 Zum Records RELEASE DATE: JAN. 22, 2008 www.zumonline.com
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