Watch: Ghostbound Perform Live in Drew Hays Tribute

A little over a year ago Drew Hays passed away and left the world a much less interesting place, his family shattered, and many of his friends at loss for words. Drew was, for anyone who knew him, a whole different variety of creativity and enthusiasm. I'm pretty sure that word, "enthusiasm," would make sense to anyone who knew him, whether personally or via the magic of the digital realm. To me, who lived halfway across the world, he was that special brand of friend who is also a very generous, very knowledgable, and very intuitive peer. Without getting too much into the specifics of what that means, suffice to say that he got it, whatever it was. His life until his untimely death was less than simple, and his entire emotional state seemed to take a deep plunge as the world swerved into the pandemic, and it was, unfortunately, a plunge from which he did not resurface.

I think about Drew often, many times under the shroud of great pain, of having lost a real friend and a real reader. Often in remembrance of how much he appreciated kindness and beauty. How rare is that combination, almost impossible. And when I think of Drew I also think of him as a musician, for Moron, for the wonderful God's Bastard, a project so wonderful that it basically caused me to create the The War Inside My Head series just because I realized there wasn't a consistent way for me to promote contemporary artists such as God's Bastard.

It is at this crossroads of friendship and music that we find ourselves here. Namely through Drew's friend and fellow musician Alec A. Head of the wonderful New York band Ghostbound (of which I knew because Drew mentioned them in my interview with him).

The group, who released a stunning, dramatic EP just a few months prior to Drew's death, decided to track and film a live performance of a few songs off of that release in Drew's Memory. One of those tracks, "And We Are Already At Sea," can be viewed below. Also below are some of Alec's words about what Drew meant to him as well as the context of the filming of these tracks.

Lost, but not forgotten.

Upon its release, Extended Play For My Sweet Mary Thyme was received in a way that far exceeded our expectations. Obviously, the pandemic saw fit to throw a wrench into any and all plans for playing live in support of it, so to commemorate its release, Talha (Alvie, guitarist) came up with the idea for us to do a live, in-studio video where we could, at the very least, showcase our abilities as a live band.  I then threw in the idea of perhaps doing another song in a concerted effort to honor our fallen friend, Drew Hays.

I feel that a lot of people in the greater NYC underground music scene shared a similar story insofar as how Drew came into their lives.  In my case, he “appeared” out of nowhere in early 2019 via social media, and through our interactions, we determined that we lived mere blocks from one another, so we commenced to hanging out, walking around South Brooklyn, talking about life, riffs, and wherever the twain shall meet.  We became close friends rather quickly.  I loved his enthusiasm, and I heartily respected that he was very open about his struggles with his mental health. Additionally, he was a tireless cheerleader for the music of Ghostbound and, indeed, that of all his friends.  Moreover, his skills as a songwriter and guitarist were so good as to make me almost insanely jealous.  He was in the studio with us when we tracked drums for Mary Thyme, and he even showed up at a later date during the tracking of bass and guitars to listen to an early, instrumental version of “And We Are Already At Sea”.  The last gig Ghostbound played before the pandemic hit was with Moron in February of 2020.

Of course, the pandemic sunk its insidious claws into all of us.  I do not wish to speak out of turn, but it hit Drew in such a way that his mental health struggles returned in full force. At this point in time, I had put up a bit of a wall between us as I had my own struggles to tend to. Come 2021, however, he had returned to New York after a lengthy, healing stint in Florida, and he was in the very real process of rebuilding his life and career. One of our last interactions was a text in which he thanked me for putting him in the thanks list of Mary Thyme, and that he was honored and humbled to be listed as such.  I never got the chance to tell him how proud I was that he was pulling himself out of his personal hell and really turning things around.  He had just moved into a new apartment down the street from me, and he landed a cushy new job as a server at a nice restaurant soon thereafter.  He would pass away days later. Out of respect for his lovely family, I do not wish to speculate on the manner of Drew’s passing; in truth, I have not asked.

The initial plan for the video was to record three songs, including Drew’s personal favorite of our songs, “Goodbye”, off of All is Phantom (which was itself written as a tribute to my late father).  Due to reasons beyond our control, our studio session ended up getting canceled while we were in the middle of tracking “At Sea”.  We did not get to do “Goodbye” at all, as it turned out. This cast a proverbial wet blanket over the entire venture, for me, and I had designs on abandoning the project, but thanks to Talha’s talent, ingenuity and hard work, we were able to salvage the work and release it in such a way that fulfills us all creatively and, we hope, provide a fitting tribute to Drew and his memory.  Specifically, I am very, very proud that we were able to record with live strings on top of live backing vocals, which was a minor bucket list achievement, for me.

We loved Drew Hays. I miss him terribly, and I hope he is at peace.  Love and light to his family and friends.

No photo description available.

Photo: Adam Fletcher