SRJC Band of the week: Sally Haggard

Estefany Gonzalez, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Locked up. Scared. Crying.
The persona of Sally Haggard came into existence as an alter ego for Delia Bowen to get through a short stint in jail.
“I got a DUI. I’m not very cool. They threw me in jail and I just cried the whole time,” Haggard said. “I tried to create a person in my brain that would be like ‘Whatever I don’t give a shit,’ and I’ve never been that type of person. I created Sally Haggard because she didn’t give a shit.”
The front woman adapted the name and used it to empower her musically.
Haggard has played with many other musicians. She is no stranger to being the only woman in a band full of men. She decided to start her own project four years ago after a fan approached her to say Haggard was her hero.
“She really stuck with me because I was like ‘I don’t want to back up these boys anymore,’” Haggard said.
Her goal was to show other women they could get on stage and be themselves.
“I don’t want them to think they have to wear a perfect dress and be polite. Don’t get me wrong, I like to wear dresses sometimes, but who cares. Be yourself,” she said.
Her band came together slowly but surely. Her partner Justin Walters joined her on fiddle two years ago. Drummer Gabe Rivera and bass player Jon Romanos, or “Betsy” as most of his friends call him, joined a year later.
Initially, Haggard described her sound as Americana and folk but the band’s sound has changed as it filled out.
“It’s a little more rock n’ roll since I stepped in,” Rivera said.
Both Rivera and Romanos are also part of a punk band The Mud the Blood and the Beer.” Walterz said the band’s sound couldn’t be categorized in one genre. [Romanos and Rivera] have a lot of punk rock roots. [ Haggard] has a lot of blues roots and folk roots. I have a bunch of weird classical roots and religious roots. We got lots of roots,” Walterz said.
The most exciting part of this project for Haggard is the musical chemistry she shares with the rest of the band. “I’ve been the backup person a lot for other people. This is intimidating for me in a way because I have all these people backing up my weird songs, but it’s cool. I’m excited to take it to the next level,” Haggard said.
Now, with a complete line-up, band members share what inspires them musically, their favorite female artists, hangover cures and more.
What inspires you to write music?
Haggard: Heartache. I have a very difficult time writing a song when I’m happy.
Walterz: Which is why musicians keep their life chaotic.
Haggard: I like to be funny. I don’t know, I think I’m funny sometimes.  But just something that’s hurtful and trying to put a funny spin on it – that’s how I was raised, to joke your way out of stuff. I like to write about heartache but I also like to write about funny stuff.
Romanos: I do off-time funky kinda stuff, but then I adapt it to my different bands. For The Mud the Blood and the Beer, I kind of punk stuff out a little more. For this, I’ll play Sally’s style, but I guess my version of her style. That’s just from growing up a bass player and listening to Chilly Peppers and Les Claypool.
Rivera: When I joined, I was super stoked for the chance to play something different. You know, something out of my comfort zone. At first I had to adapt a little bit. I don’t play as hard and use brushes or stick bundles. I changed my style a little bit, but it’s a lot of fun.
You’ve been referred to as a “whiskey drinking badass,” which is different from how a lot of women in music are seen. How do you feel about being referred to as such?
Rivera: That’s our girl.
Romanos: She’s a cutesy drinking badass.
Haggard: I curve my way a little bit. You know, you can get caught up in it. As a musican, you play shows and get free alcohol, but it’ll catch up with you. But I do love whiskey and playing music is fun.
Speaking of badass women, who is your favorite female artist?
Haggard: I love Beyoncé. I talk about her at least once a day.
Rivera: We all knew the answer to that question.
Walterz: She was sitting there this morning and she was like, “You know she’s a billionaire.”
Haggard: I don’t like all of her songs, I just really like her. I actually cover some of her songs because I think she’s so rad.
Walterz: I like Mariah Carey and Shania Twain. There’s a lot of female artists that I enjoy watching.
Romanos: I’d say Brody Dalle from The Distillers. Grant from The Mud the Blood and the Beer, his cousin was the bass player in that band. We’ve been listening to them since they started. She’s awesome. There’s three albums. The first one was so raw, the second was punk with a little pop and the third one, her feminine side came out more but she still had that raspy voice. And Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, who was a man up until a couple years ago.
Rivera: Believe it or not, I really like Fiona Apple. She has an amazing voice and is just a composer. I love her poetry. Her album “Extraordinary Machine,” she orchestrated everything on that album. She wrote the music, piano, drums. It’s all her.
Best hangover cure?
Rivera: More beer.
Haggard: Emergency booze.
Waltzer: It’s the booze that she had hidden behind the dryer.
Haggard: I’ll forget where I hid it and all of a sudden a month later, I’ll find it in a shoe.
If you could open up for any artist ever, who would it be and why?
Haggard: Probably Johnny Cash. There was one wonderful wasted girl. I covered a Johnny Cash song and she told me I reminded her of a female Johnny Cash and I was like, “I’m gonna go die now.” She was hammered, but the way she said it, I was just like, “Thank you.”
Waltzer: I want to open for Beethoven. I really think he was writing the most metal riffs ever. It’s pretty metal for classical music. Ninety percent of the stuff I listen to is classical music.
Ramanos: I’d say it’s a toss up between either The Band or The Beatles, just to hang out with either of them.
Rivera: Misfits in the late ‘80s. They’ve always been my favorite band since I got into punk rock. I’ve listened to them forever. The new stuff, it is what it is. But Danzig in the ‘80s, that’s where I wanna be.
Favorite ‘90s cartoon?
Ramanos: You know what was a badass cartoon back then? “Daria.” They had all the music of the time and culture of the time.
Haggard: My parents wouldn’t let me watch TV. The only thing I was allowed to watch was “The Golden Girls.”
Rivera: That explains a lot about your sense of humor.
Waltzer: When I was a kid, my first sentence was from “ThunderCats.” I’m gonna go for “ThunderCats.” I stood up on my bed and yelled “Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats” during a thunderstorm. I had a sense of humor as a child.
Rivera: During the ‘90s I remember I was in junior high and I would walk to my friend Harlan’s house every morning and his mom would take us to school. I would get there half an hour early so that we could watch “Sailor Moon” before school. I loved “Sailor Moon.”
Coffee, Bloody Mary or mimosa?
Haggard: Coffee.
Romanos: Coffee.
Rivera: Bloody Mary.
Waltzer: If I can’t remember the day before, Bloody Mary.
If you were stranded on an island, what would be the one thing you would want to have with you?
Haggard: A horse.
Waltzer: I would say a boat.
Haggard: I didn’t know that was an option.
Romanos: I would pick Justin’s brain.
Rivera: I would pick Justin.
Haggard: Nevermind, I pick Justin. He’ll find me a horse anywhere.
Rivera: And he’ll make me dinner too.

Both Rivera and Romanos are also part of a punk band The Mud the Blood and the Beer. Walters said the band’s sound couldn’t be categorized in one genre.  “[Romanos and Rivera] have a lot of punk rock roots. [ Haggard] has a lot of blues roots and folk roots. I have a bunch of weird classical roots and religious roots. We got lots of roots,” Walters said.
The most exciting part of this project for Haggard is the musical chemistry she shares with the rest of the band. “I’ve been the backup person a lot for other people. This is intimidating for me in a way because I have all these people backing up my weird songs, but it’s cool. I’m excited to take it to the next level,” Haggard said.
Now, with a complete line-up, band members share what inspires them musically, their favorite female artists, hangover cures and more.
What inspires you to write music?
Haggard: Heartache. I have a very difficult time writing a song when I’m happy.
Walters: Which is why musicians keep their life chaotic.
Haggard: I like to be funny. I don’t know, I think I’m funny sometimes.  But just something that’s hurtful and trying to put a funny spin on it – that’s how I was raised, to joke your way out of stuff. I like to write about heartache but I also like to write about funny stuff.
Romanos: I do off-time funky kinda stuff, but then I adapt it to my different bands. For The Mud the Blood and the Beer, I kind of punk stuff out a little more. For this, I’ll play Sally’s style, but I guess my version of her style. That’s just from growing up a bass player and listening to Chilly Peppers and Les Claypool.
Rivera: When I joined, I was super stoked for the chance to play something different. You know, something out of my comfort zone. At first I had to adapt a little bit. I don’t play as hard and use brushes or stick bundles. I changed my style a little bit, but it’s a lot of fun.
You’ve been referred to as a “whiskey drinking badass,” which is different from how a lot of women in music are seen. How do you feel about being referred to as such?
Rivera: That’s our girl.
Romanos: She’s a cutesy drinking badass.
Haggard: I curve my way a little bit. You know, you can get caught up in it. As a musician, you play shows and get free alcohol, but it’ll catch up with you.  But I do love whiskey and playing music is fun.
Speaking of badass women, who is your favorite female artist?
Haggard: I love Beyoncé. I talk about her at least once a day.
Rivera: We all knew the answer to that question.
Walters: She was sitting there this morning and she was like, “You know she’s a billionaire.”
Haggard: I don’t like all of her songs, I just really like her. I actually cover some of her songs because I think she’s so rad.
Walters: I like Mariah Carey and Shania Twain. There’s a lot of female artists that I enjoy watching.
Romanos: I’d say Brody Dalle from The Distillers. Grant from The Mud the Blood and the Beer, his cousin was the bass player in that band. We’ve been listening to them since they started.  She’s awesome. There’s three albums. The first one was so raw, the second was punk with a little pop and the third one, her feminine side came out  more but she still had that raspy voice. And Laura Jane Grace from Against Me!, who was a man up until a couple years ago.
Rivera: Believe it or not, I really like Fiona Apple. She has an amazing voice and is just a composer. I love her poetry. Her album “Extraordinary Machine,” she orchestrated everything on that album. She wrote the music, piano, drums. It’s all her.
Best hangover cure?
Rivera: More beer.
Haggard: Emergency booze.
Walters: It’s the booze that she had hidden behind the dryer.
Haggard: I’ll forget where I hid it and all of a sudden a month later, I’ll find it in a shoe.
If you could open up for any artist ever, who would it be and why?
Haggard: Probably Johnny Cash. There was one wonderful wasted girl. I covered a Johnny Cash song and she told me I reminded her of a female Johnny Cash and I was like, “I’m gonna go die now.” She was hammered, but the way she said it, I was just like, “Thank you.”
Walters: I want to open for Beethoven.  I really think he was writing the most metal riffs ever.  It’s pretty metal for classical music. Ninety percent of the stuff I listen to is classical music.
Ramanos: I’d say it’s a toss up between either The Band or The Beatles, just to hang out with either of them.
Rivera:  Misfits in the late ‘80s. They’ve always been my favorite band since I got into punk rock. I’ve listened to them forever. The new stuff, it is what it is. But Danzig in the ‘80s, that’s where I wanna be.
Favorite ‘90s cartoon?
Ramanos: You know what was a badass cartoon back then? “Daria.” They had all the music of the time and culture of the time.
Haggard: My parents wouldn’t let me watch TV. The only thing I was allowed to watch was “The Golden Girls.”
Rivera: That explains a lot about your sense of humor.
Walters: When I was a kid, my first sentence was from “ThunderCats.” I’m gonna go for “ThunderCats.” I stood up on my bed and yelled “Thunder, Thunder, ThunderCats” during a thunderstorm. I had a sense of humor as a child.
Rivera: During the ‘90s I remember I was in junior high and I would walk to my friend Harlan’s house every morning and his mom would take us to school. I would get there half an hour early so that we could watch “Sailor Moon” before school. I loved “Sailor Moon.”
Coffee, Bloody Mary or mimosa?
Haggard: Coffee.
Romanos: Coffee.
Rivera: Bloody Mary.
Walters:  If I can’t remember the day before, Bloody Mary.
If you were stranded on an island, what would be the one thing you would want to have with you?
Haggard: A horse.
Walters: I would say a boat.
Haggard: I didn’t know that was an option.
Romanos: I would pick Justin’s brain.
Rivera: I would pick Justin.
Haggard: Never mind, I pick Justin. He’ll find me a horse anywhere.
Rivera: And he’ll make me dinner too.