Last night I went to see The McNasty Brass Band at The Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul. (here's a little about the show if you're interested) We have 3 clients in that band... all of them are great guys... I caught up with Hayden Fihn... who has been with McNasty since it's conception... here's what he had to say...
How long have you been playing trumpet?
I started playing trumpet in 5th grade. I really wanted to play percussion but the requirement to do so was 2 years of piano lessons. I had taken one year and decided I didn’t like it. I regret that a lot now. But anyway, the band teacher had me try Alto sax and trumpet. I played 2 notes on the saxophone and put it down. So trumpet it was. The following year I really wanted to switch to tenor saxophone but my Mom wouldn’t allow it. That was probably a really good decision.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Nope. I didn’t really take music seriously, let alone trumpet until I was almost done with high school. I was really into sports and the strategy behind it and just played trumpet because it was a requirement and I was somewhat decent at it. It sort of came easy to me and I didn’t have to practice so it was good in my book. (Another regret). My senior year of high school I was playing in the local university jazz band and at that point decided to do a trumpet performance degree there the following fall. That didn’t work out but it got me started on the path I’m currently on.
Where are you going to school?
I’m currently in my final semester at McNally Smith College of Music in Saint Paul.
I see you have your senior recital coming up…What can you tell me about that?
I sure do. At McNally you do two recitals, a Junior and a Senior. This is my senior recital and it’s a requirement to pass the recital before you can graduate. It’s quite a bit of pressure but it’s been kind of fun to pick tunes and do it how I want it done. That being said, I’m actually doing a joint recital with Elliott Wachs, a saxophone player at McNally who has been in the same courses and ensembles as me since we started. As far as I know we’re one of the firsts to have a joint recital and also to do it off campus.
Studio Z (Lowertown Saint Paul)
Thursday April 24
Would you like to make music your full-time job?
The short answer is yes. I think the majority of music students want that as the ultimate goal.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I got a late start in listening to the greats and that is something I’ve had to try and overcome. I think Freddie Hubbard was the first trumpet player I really got into and I think a lot of him comes out in my playing. Clifford Brown and Lee Morgan of course. And more modern guys are Sean Jones, Fabrizio Bosso, and Christian Scott.
Tell me about McNasty. How long have you been with that group?
McNasty is a New Orleans style brass band that has slowly morphed into more of a funk brass band. The cool part about the band is that we are completely mobile with split percussion and a sousaphone. We’re doing something pretty cool in both the funk scene and the brass band world. I’m excited to see how the band evolves in the near future.
I’ve been with the band since it’s conception in 2011. We started as a school ensemble at MSCM under the direction of Scott Agster (Jack Brass Band) and broke off from the school last spring. We took a trip to New Orleans in 2012 and that really helped us understand what we wanted to do.
What’s your favorite song that McNasty does?
We’re still young, so we play a lot of covers of other brass bands or of pop songs. So for those I really dig the songs we do with vocals and call and response such as You Know, You Know and Wind It Up. We’re currently writing more tunes and those are usually the ones I really enjoy playing.
Do you play in any other groups?
Yeah, I play regularly with Jack Brass Band, Steve Sullivan and the Factory, Improvestra, and the Blue Water Kings Band. I also do quite a bit of freelance and studio gigs.
Where do you see yourself going musically in the coming year?
Finally graduating will open up a lot of avenues that I just haven’t had time to pursue. I want to do a lot of writing and arranging in the next year for the groups I play in now. As well as playing a lot and maybe starting a new group.
If your trumpet were an animal, which animal would it be?
This was by far the hardest question. I would say maybe a tiger. Powerful, but can sneak up on you as well. I try to be able to do both, although you wouldn’t know that if you only saw me play with McNasty!
Musical highlight of your year?
I went to Guatemala last year with an ensemble from school. That was pretty crazy and inspiring. We played 3 packed shows during the country’s jazz fest. It was probably the biggest stage I’ve played on thus far.
What do you listen to?
Good question. I’m the kind of person who needs to get away from music every now and again. So when I’m not playing or at school, a lot of times I won’t have any music playing. But I do listen a lot, and lately it’s been a lot of Troy Roberts, Fabrizio Bosso, Lettuce, Youngblood Brass Band and a lot of other modern guys.
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