Scary Mansion

Leah Hayes is the mastermind behind the Brooklyn-based rock group Scary Mansion. After playing for several years as an Antifolk singer/songerwriter, Hayes picked up bassist Bradley Banks, and former-Fugue-member Ben Shapiro. She then found herself fronting a wild rock band. “I still write the songs and sing, but I like having boys making crazy noise behind me.” Hayes has always had a unique sound, accompanying her voice with the “thunderstick”, a three-stringed acoustic instrument similar to a banjo or dulcimer. When Hayes plays the thunderstick clean, it evokes Appalachian front porches. But when plugged in, the thunderstick screams through a distortion pedal for a punky, 90′s grunge sound.

Though Scary Mansion is surely the world’s only thunderstick/bass/drums rock trio, the band is most notable for its rare mix of sentimental melody and rocky noise, often likened to Weezer and The Pixies. Hayes’s lyrics embody the alienated cleverness of Morrissey or Stephen Merritt. On “Scum Inside”, she laments, “When I think of all the scum inside, I just die.”

On the chorus of “1%”, she recites over and over, “You 1% like yourself.” And all the while the music goes from clean to distorted, from comforting to explosive.

Leah Hayes has collaborated with many other great musicians. She sang a duet with TV On the Radio on “Snakes and Martyrs” from their acclaimed “Return to Cookie Mountain” album and toured with TV On the Radio’s Kyp Malone. One of Hayes’s first musical projects was noise-rock duo Satan’s Fingers with David Ivar of Herman Dune fame. “Every Joke Is Half the Truth”, Hayes’s debut album, came out in 2008 on Zum Records (in the US), and Talitres Records in Europe.

As a writer/illustrator, Leah Hayes is most notable for her acclaimed book of short stories, Funeral of the Heart (Fantagraphics), illustrated entirely on scratchboard. Hayes’s short stories manage to be both horrifying and tear jerking. Her previous book, Holy Moly (Fantagraphics), was a collection of Hayes’ doodles from college, all in ballpoint on composition notebook paper. Hayes also recently designed and illustrated the package for the limited edition vinyl release of Ryan Adams’s “Cardinology”. Her artwork has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Newsweek, and on the cover of McSweeney’s Quarterly.