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Q&A with The Last Seen

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Formed in 2004, the Last Seen is the culmination of singer and guitarist Jason Hayes’s longtime musical ambitions. Joined by guitarist John Reimers, bassist Ryan Smith and drummer Todd Bills, the group plays a dark and driving brand of melancholic rock. On the eve of the act's CD release party, we caught up with Hayes to talk about the Whole Year Inn and what lies ahead for the group.

Westword (Cory Casciato): I wanted to ask you about the name of the album?

JH: You know, it comes from – the Whole Year Inn is the hotel where the main character of Leaving Las Vegas, if you’re familiar with the movie, he’s on a very downward spiral of drunkenness. When he finds this place, what he sees it as, sort of in his situation, is “the hole you’re in.” These four songs developed at a time when I was in … of course, not that horrible of a situation, but it explained it well. I was going through a breakup with the former keyboard player of the Last Scene. Just lots of sort of stuff that drags you down, and I think some people spend time drinking it away. I think you can tell if you listen to it. They’re about sort of breakup and alcohol, certainly, laced within the framework of all of them. It was just something … one of my favorite movies. Hopefully they don’t sue me for using it. [Laughs] They won’t get much. I think I was actually watching that movie in a state of drunken depression and it just sort of caught me, you know, the place you’re in is important. At the time I was in “that hole you’re in.”

WW: Was writing and recording those songs cathartic? Did it help you come to a better place?

JH: Absolutely. I think anyone that does this … it’s “expectorating” the stuff you want to get out there. I think people do it with writing, people do it with their athletic abilities; you’re releasing something you’ve spent a ton of time doing. It almost gets to the point – it’s crazy, because my favorite parts are the inceptions of songs, the very beginning of when they kind of come together and you’ve gotten it. You have to redo and redo it and redo it in the studio situation, it certainly numbs you to it.

WW: What’s next for the Last Seen?

JH: There’s a handful of new stuff that has a bit different vibe: a bit splashier, a bit bigger, maybe not quite as tightened down, urgent. I think the direction we’re probably headed is a big, pretty full-length record. It will be very lush and very multilayered. And I think we’re all getting to be better players. Everybody in the band can kind of play everything. We’re not the kind of band that switches around on stage or anything, but it kind of helps.

WW: Anything else you want to mention?

JH: I’m a big fan of getting in and around the music scene here at a time when I think everyone was sort of pulled back and waiting to see what was going to happen. We have so many more venues, more educated booking agents, better [everything]. We saw it launch. It’s been incredibly exciting to be in around that. Every time someone hands me something new I’m thoroughly impressed. Other people come see our show, or we go see other bands, and it puts you back into that mind frame of “hey, we’re pushing each other.” I think it’s very impressive and I think we’ve gotten the validation from writers and magazines and people all over the country.


"The Killing Kind"

from the Whole Year Inn, or stream the full track below.

-- Cory Casciato

The Last Seen CD Release party, with Fiance, 8 p.m. Saturday, June 14, the Falcon, 3295 S. Broadway, $5, 16+, 303-781-0414.

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