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Interview with Vanessa Briscoe Hay, July 10, 2017

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Coming to Athens/ Joining Pylon

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Partial Transcript: We're in Athens, GA.

Segment Synopsis: Vanessa Briscoe Hay recalls moving to Athens to join the University of Georgia art program with the intention of pursuing a career in education. She mentions switching majors and meeting her first husband, James Ellison. She shares how Randy Bewley asked her to audition for his and Michael Lachowski's band.

Keywords: Curtis Crowe; Pylon; The B-52s

00:08:05 - First Performances

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Partial Transcript: So, we practiced a couple of times...

Segment Synopsis: Hay explains practicing a few times before playing their first show after two weeks, receiving unsure reactions. She shares the performance at The Brickhouse in Oglethorpe County, which led to their travel to New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. Hay discusses opening for the Gang of Four.

Keywords: Curtis Crowe; Hurrah (nightclub); Interview (magazine); Michael Lachowski; Oglethorpe County, GA; Pylon; Randy Bewley; The B-52s; The Rat; VIc Varney

00:15:43 - First Single

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Partial Transcript: So, then you came home.

Segment Synopsis: Hay recalls returning to Athens and people wanting to book Pylon. She mentions working with Randy Beard to release their first single and inspiration for the song "Dub." She shares her appreciation for the attention from fans and discusses the uprising of independent DJs and bands.

Keywords: "Cool/Dub"; Athens, GA; Lynda Barry; The B-52s

00:24:06 - Experience of Athens

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Partial Transcript: So, now what do you want...

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses what living in Athens was like with the prevalence of country rock cover bands, marketing towards students, and the beach music scene. She details parties at Pylon Park and the surrounding businesses in Downtown Athens. Hay mentions the changes going on in the world, such as nearing the end of the Vietnam War and Carter's presidency.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Billie Jean King; Bobby Riggs; Vietnam War

00:33:28 - Returning from First Tour

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Partial Transcript: So, how was it when you came...

Segment Synopsis: Hay remembers Pylon suddenly getting a lot of bookings after returning from their first tour. After the success of their single and suggestion of Danny Beard, they began recording their album Gyrate. She discusses opening for Public Image Ltd. with AgorĂ  and The B-52s.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Atlanta, GA; Central Park; The 40 Watt Club

00:37:40 - First Album/ Touring England

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Partial Transcript: So, when did you guys start...

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses recording at Stone Mountain Studios, finishing the album quickly and releasing in November of 1980. She details the release show in Boston with Gang of Four and Mission of Burma before traveling to the United Kingdom. Hay explains the death of John Lennon affecting their trip and shows.

Keywords: Gyrate; Bruce Baxter; Thermos Greenwood and the Colored People

00:45:54 - Performing in Georgia

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Partial Transcript: So, you came back and you said...

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses the success of Gyrate and continuing to perform shows in the United States. She mentions being able to support herself with the income from Pylon. She details shows in Athens and Atlanta area.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Atlanta, GA; Curtis Crowe; Gainesville, FL; Gang of Four; Michael Lachowski; R.E.M.; Randy Bewley; Talking Heads

00:50:57 - Touring Experiences

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Partial Transcript: So, could you talk about...

Segment Synopsis: Hay explains touring infrequently and not as much as other bands. She mentions reconnecting with Gang of Four and joining them on tour and shares her experience in New York.

Keywords: Dave Allen; Gainesville, FL; Gang of Four; R.E.M.; Sara Lee; The Clash; The Iroquois New York

00:56:03 - Recording with DB Records

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Partial Transcript: So, um, can you talk about making...

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses Pylon recording the singles "Crazy / M Train" and "Beep / Altitude," and the album Chomp. She shares the experience working with DB Records and promotions of the album.

Keywords: Gyrate; Atlanta, GA; Chris Stamey; Christian Broadcasting Studios; Danny Beard; The dB's

01:02:02 - The End of Pylon

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Partial Transcript: Did you guys have a manager...

Segment Synopsis: Hay explains that Pylon was self managed but hired a booking agent after they became more popular. She shares U2 wanting them to tour with them for their first American tour and Pylon's decline leading to conflict. Hay discusses Pylon breaking up as the band became more business-like and less fun.

Keywords: Curtis Crowe; music management

01:06:21 - Athens After the Breakup

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Partial Transcript: So, what was it like to still be living

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses her life after Pylon, working as houseparent for mentally disabled men and Kinko's Coffee. She discusses attending local shows, such as her husband's band.

Keywords: Athens, GA; Robert D. Hay, Jr; The Squalls

01:12:19 - Bringing Pylon Back

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Partial Transcript: So, um, I wonder if you could tell...

Segment Synopsis: After her marriage to her second husband and the birth of her first child, Pylon got back together with a more business-like approach. They recorded a record with Sky Studios and opened for R.E.M. and The B-52s. After Randy Bewley left the band, Hay went to nursing school.

Keywords: Athens, Ga. - Inside/Out; Dead Milkmen; Jennifer Blair; Reflections Studio

01:19:19 - Musical Influences

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Partial Transcript: Well, I can see from...

Segment Synopsis: Hay discusses not having any intention to sing professionally, but enjoyed singing in church and school in her youth. She mentions musical influences from her parents and her personal evolution of musical preferences leading to her time with Pylon.

Keywords: Country music; Dolly Parton; Janis Joplin; Jimmy Hendricks; Johnny Cash; Punk Era; Punk Rock; Rock n Roll; The Beatles; pop rock