Transcript with Morris Hayes - The New Power Generation (Music Inisight)
Image Credit- Morris Hayes. Picture: Steve Parke
I got the chance to interview Morris Hayes and Mackenzie Green for Music Insight on the New Power Generation, what it was like to be with Prince, what their plans are for the future, and their upcoming tour of Australia.
There was so many amazing moments from the interview that unfortunately had to be left out. Chatting to these guys was absolutely unbelievable, and I'm still pinching myself that I got the chance to do it.
Below is the transcript I had with Morris Hayes, which later was put into the article for Music Insight.
Nick: I know you've been putting the show together for quite a while, so now that you're close to having it finished and ready to be on the road, what's the vibe like within the band?
Morris: Well, everybody is so excited cause we always love and are grateful to be playing to fans, especially in Australia. Everyone knows Australia's already a beautiful country, so everyone's pretty pumped about that. But, ultimately, we love to play and do what we do; so everyone's looking forward to coming on the trip, meeting the people, and bringing the funk.
Nick: I've been watching the little YouTube videos that you've been doing, and you’ve been putting this together for a while. As the musical director, what do you enjoy the most about putting the whole show together and working with all the people who worked with Prince?
Morris: Well the thing is, I think about my band that they don't need a whole lot of direction. These guys already battle tested; they know what to do. It's not like I'm just dictating them or telling them what songs to do, we all make decisions about what we want to do at this point. We've been through basic training principles, it's like the military. We know what to do, so at this point it's about having fun and respecting the music, and we want to come and just enjoy ourselves and celebrate Prince. We always want to do the best job we can, there is so much material it's really like: what do we want to play, what songs can be packed in that amount of time that can cover as many memories as people like and try and maybe even try to do things that people may have not heard. When I saw Prince that he may not have played [some tracks], but now we could play a couple of tracks like that to people who may not know about them.
Nick: This is all to celebrate the life of Prince, and the people like me we saw the icon… It was about the music, the stage presence, the theatricality. But, you knew him a lot more personally. What was it like working with him, because he seems like such a force of nature. He had so much talent, what was it like create in so many songs and how--
Morris: Well, it was just like anything. Some days it was like a dream, and some days was like “this guy is killing me now.” He could be an absolute monster some days, and that was a thing from day to day. You just needed to figure out what today was going to bring. But, all in all I wouldn't trade it for anything, man. I love my time with him, my experience with Prince. It doesn't discount the hard days, but if you don't have those days, you never really know what it's like to be at that level of performance. You know like Michael Jackson and The Rolling Stones and a lot of groups like that, man, they are where they are because of the attention to detail. They're very serious about their music in terms of their delivery, how they do it, and how to operate at the highest frequency. To do that it takes a certain amount of discipline, and when you arrive at that level it shouldn't come as that much of a surprise that the people of that nature, like the David Bowie's and all those folks, they expect a certain level of quality and we understand that and we were we have to deliver that.
Nick: With the show itself when you guys are performing, will you be something some of the elements of the theatricality into the show? So, not just the songs, but the theatricality, the style there's going to be dancers as well--
Morris: We have sections in the show where we dance, but the thing is of course at this stage of the NPG, we really are trying to prove ourselves and rebrand ourselves to a certain degree. A lot of people may know us as the backing band of Prince, but people don't know what we're going to do without Prince. so, what are we gonna do? We have to find the thing that works for the NPG without Prince, because you can't replace the dude, man. There's going to be no other versions, not another NPG, or another Revolution. But he gave us so much, man. So we are going to do that the best we can do is to try and speak the lesson that he taught us and always make sure we put on a good show. We are in a building process to the point where we’re really starting to we kill it in shows, but the same time it's not up to me, it's up to the fans to decide. If we do this the better, the numbers of shows will increase, more offers will come around. Some may say, what are they going to do without Prince? The truth is we have to see it and people will get it, we have to go out there and replant that seed and let everyone know that, hey, we still here and we're still the same dudes.
Nick: I think fans will still come to the show, and will still love the show. I mean you've always really put on a good show and put it out there –
Morris: Yeah, I'm really happy with the talent we have now. McKenzie, man. The minute that he stepped on stage with us and started singing, I had that feeling and everyone else did too that it was meant to be, and that the band is going to kill it.
Nick: I think it's going to be an awesome show. I’m coming the Enmore gig and just from seeing the lineup, it looks like it's going to be an awesome show. Out of curiosity, you’re launching the whole show in Australia with BluesFest and the gigs in Melbourne and Enmore. Why did you decideto debut the show here of all places?
Morris: The thing is, I was there in 2012 and BluesFest is a pretty widely known festival. I think it's a fantastic place for us to appear as new guys. There is a lot of heavy hitters there [and] that's what we thrive on, man. We love operating in that environment, with the likes of people like Robert Plant, so we've got to bring our A-game. We like the idea of going to Australia and doing something really cool, and is a good market for Prince. We need to continue on that energy with the NPG and if we hit it over there and the word gets around it opens us up to everywhere. It’s a springboard to greater things, man.
Nick: Sounds like you guys are really keen to get out on the road. What is the thing that goes through your head when you go out to perform, and you go out on stage? Is it like a release or is it you are performing with all these artists and musicians you've worked with for so long? what's the feeling like when you step out on stage to perform with all these really great songs?
Morris: It's like home man. I've been a professional musician since I left home, and so for 30 years I've been doing this for a living. this is all I do. So, it’s like second nature to me when I get on stage; I'm at home. If you've got all this stuff, and it's working the sound, it's like catching that wave, you what I’m saying? It's an exhilarating feeling to you, feeling the energy from the people. It’s all energy and it translates from you to the people. It comes from the heart and it reaches the heart. It's one of the things I love about Ray Charles, he's one of my heroes, and Stevie Wonder. They had so much passion and I felt it was an interesting thing to try to connect with. Through that, I came to understand the power of music as a format and how it has the ability to connect and move people. If doing something on a positive level… like Prince was a positive level. Yes, he had his fights with the record label, but he was always about being positive, he wanted people to be aware and people to be independent and not be fooled. We have this incredible platform through which we can move people in a positive way. That's what I love about doing this, we come out and we give you a good feeling. If you go away feeling better than you came, that’s where it’s at man. That’s what I used to feel like when, I went to shows, and I wanted to be able to do that to other people. I want to send people away feeling better.
Nick: That's one of the things I really loved about artists like Prince. One of my favourite shows he did was the Superbowl, when he played other people songs. He wasn't promoting himself! He was just making music.
Morris: When we were putting that together, he said one of the things he wanted to do was that he was more interested in the show, rather then playing all his greatest hits. He's done it all before, so instead let's just do some stuff we like doing. We like the Foo Fighters track, and we like Jimi Hendrix. That's what moves us, man. If it moves us, it's going to move them. That’s more important than just trying to do the greatest hits compilation. He was selfless in how he approached it. His performance was amazing, and for myself, I was honoured to be a part of that, and being able to participate in such a historical event. It's all music, we just do what we love.
Nick: I love that performance, it's so memorable, it's so enjoyable to watch and it makes me, go “wow look at him go.”
Morris: I'm with you, because the energy there… there were hundreds of millions of people watching that. I was glad I wasn't thinking about it at the time because if I would have I would have passed out. But it was heavy to think that so many people are watching from all over the planet and so many people were at the event themselves; it's one of the biggest gigs you can do as a musician, so to have it go off like that; Prince just killed it! The fact that it rained on Purple Rain, I mean, you couldn't ask for better than that, you can't write that. It like a Hollywood movie, it was just phenomenal.
Nick: Well, with the show now, and I’ll wrap it up after this because I know you're pretty busy guy and you've got people to see, places to go. So, what do you want want fans to take away from the show? Just an appreciation of Prince, but also an appreciation of the New Power Generation?
Morris: I would really like the fans to take away from this, is to remember that this man had an incredible body of work, and he had this amazing band that complimented him. This was a man that will never be forgotten. We're gonna rock and roll, and as long as there's a demand for Prince music, we’re going to deliver the song, deliver the soul, and deliver the rock. That's what I want the fans to understand, there is an audience for this: people love Prince, people love us and we love you. If there ain’t you, there ain't us. That’s one of the things that's very important to us as a band, people who support us. We're grateful and we're glad we can just be able to play this music and represent this man the best way we can.