Seratones' AJ Haynes: "First and Foremost, I'm a Storyteller"

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"Shreveport, Louisiana, is a weird, isolated place with a strong musical history we're constantly reminded of," says Seratones singer and guitarist A.J. Haynes of her Southern hometown. Though they came together as Seratones less than two years ago, guitarist Connor Davis, bassist Adam Davis, drummer Jesse Gabriel, and Haynes met years before, hitting up local punk shows and ending their nights listening to jazz and blues records together.

Those late-night sessions come across in Seratones' garage-rock instrumentals, powered by Haynes' controlled, soulful vocals. In the grainy music video for "Don't Need It," filmed unbeknown to the band at its first out-of-town gig in Arkansas, Seratones look straight out of a 1973 bayou juke joint. But their influences extend beyond their geographically singular origin. Vocally, Haynes came up singing in church, but she's also been blessed by genetics. "My mom was in a bossa-nova band in Japan before I was born, where she'd sing a lot of Barbra Streisand songs," she says.

After this latest string of tour dates, the band plans to take their swampish mix of influences and experiences into a Mississippi studio to record their first album. "I try to remember, first and foremost, I'm a storyteller, and all our songs are stories,” explains Haynes. “One song, 'Chokin' On Your Spit,' is a shit-talking song. 'Kingdom Come' is a retelling of a story from the Bible of King David and Bathsheba. It's from Bathsheba's perspective; King David was kind of a piece of shit." She laughs before catching herself. "I don't think the guys in my band know that. Now they will! They tune out halfway through the lyrics anyway.”

With the lighthearted excitement she emits delving into the origins of her songs and the cynicism she relates over whether anyone cares, it's not entirely surprising when Haynes reveals her day job over the last year and a half: teaching high school. It's a job to which she can draw many parallels leading a rock 'n' roll band. "If you're a teacher, you're a performer at the end of the day, helping people make connections. A lot of times, in both jobs, you're in front of people that don't care. Audiences are like teenagers. They smell fear and will fucking eat you alive if you don't have fun."

With St. Paul and the Broken Bones. 8 p.m. Saturday, December 5, at Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; 954-564-1074; cultureroom.net. Tickets cost $20 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

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