Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee
Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee are a country, bluegrass band from East London. They don’t sing in American accents and their songs feature tube trains, Bethnal Green, sick days, flat lemonade and unmade beds. HWTL perform weary singalongs; fragile and flawed ballads that wipe a tear and force you to smile.
In fact the original idea was even to avoid the notion of doing records. However when Dave Tattersall (The Wave Pictures) joined in 2007 with a whole repertoire of blues and country songs, as well as his own fantastic ballads, it became obvious that they had something worth preserving.
Hayman, Watkins, Trout and Lee let you peer though the cracks of their kitchen, and hit nearly all the right notes in the process. Let them give you a warm handshake.
I knew Dave Watkins because his and my wife were friends. We were talking at a dinner party in 2005 when Alexander Church said he'd always wanted to be in a bluegrass band. Unfortunately Alexander can't play an instrument so me and Dave stole his idea.
Dave started to learn the banjo and I asked John Lee (Hefner guitar tech and French live drummer) if he wanted to start a bluegrass band. He replied; 'Yes! What's Bluegrass?'. I asked Simon Trought, who was then in Tompaulin, to join on the basis that he owned a mandolin.
The idea of the band for me was to have a band where I wasn't in charge and to have other people write and sing. I also wanted to play bass, as it's the only instrument I'm half good at.
We learnt a lot of covers and played some raucously inept shows. A lot of them at the What's Cooking Night in Leytonstone.
This line up lasted about a year and a bit before John Lee moved to France and we floundered for some time whilst we tried to find a replacement. The problem being that we not only wanted a good guitarist but someone who could write and sing. Simon suggested David Tattersall, singer and guitarist with the Wave Pictures. Dave joined but then a few weeks later Simon left (though this line up is preserved on a split single we recorded for Truck Records).
I asked Dan Mayfield (who I'd been playing with in Ellis Island Sound) and immediately the band changed. Not only did we now have three excellent musician in Dave, David and Dan (I do alright on bass but I don't have to solo) but Dan and Dave T also bought with them a desire to make the band a little more serious and for us to do more ballads.
Due to all of us having busy lives and solo music projects we never seem quite sure how long the band will continue for. With that in mind we decided to spend a weekend recording the band for posterity. We sent it to Sean at Fortuna POP!, he said he'd put it out!