Hayden Menzies is an artist and musician living and working Toronto, Ontario. He plays drums in METZ, one of North America’s finest rock bands, and is an excellent illustrator and artist in his own right.
We caught up with Hayden to chat about how he got started, inspiration, and how he balances art and music.
What’s your earliest memory of being interested in illustration? And would you say there was a moment when you finally considered yourself an artist?
I’m not sure I have a distinct memory of taking an interest in illustration, or art in general. I’ve always just been drawn to visual things. Whether it’s grandiose architecture or simple cartoons. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to manipulate lines and shapes to communicate visually.
The moment I realized I was an artist was when I realized I was constantly broke. ;)
No, that moment hasn’t happened yet. I know it sounds incredibly pretentious, but I have a hard time giving titles to it all. For convenience, sure, I’m an artist and a musician. But sometimes calling myself these things makes me feel insecure about my role within them. It’s not meant to downplay their importance as mediums or creative outlets - maybe I just don’t like taking myself too seriously.
You founded METZ with Alex Edkins and Chris Slorach back in 2008, and you’re still going strong eight years later. Looking back, can you identify key moments with METZ and your own art that really helped you make progress?
Working with different people, heroes of mine/ours, and being exposed to different art and music around the world has been amazing for inspiration purposes. Seeing other creative processes and outlooks on art and music is important. It makes you analyze things and get out of your own head.
Since you spend large chunks of the year touring around the world with METZ, how does that impact your illustration and design work?
Touring a lot definitely impacts working on art. I’ve had to force myself to use time wisely and to be open to different mediums that are more travel friendly. It’s brought me back to drawing a lot more which is great. It also allows me to see amazing work by different people all over the place. It’s a big privilege to be exposed to that first hand.
Are there particular places you’ve hit on tour you connected with?
There are always a few gems on tour. Most places are great, but there are some that have something special that, even with the limited amount of exploring time a touring schedule offers, you still find something intriguing about it. Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Zagreb, Tokyo - there are so many.
Visual art and design are such a huge part of music. What are some of your favorite examples?
They are. They can exist exclusively from each other but when they merge successfully it can be a beautiful thing. Visuals can create an aesthetic to complement music or even “brand” a look for a band. It can be incredibly powerful.
Glen E. Friedman is an amazing example of merging candid yet beautifully composed photography with bands and skateboarding.
Travis Millard is one of my favorite artists. He knows how to blend his work into the essence of a specific project like an album cover, poster, skate graphic, and more. He also communicates visually with such ease and jovial spirit that it’s inspiring on a lot of levels.
And Chad Vangaalen did an awe-inspiring video for METZ a few years back.
Is there a project you’ve wanted to try that you haven’t yet? What do you have in mind for 2017?
I’ve always wanted to try animation. Particularly stop-motion animation. I’ve researched it now and again, but I know at some point I will dive in head first to see if the challenge inspires or infuriates me.
2017 will be focused on balancing things as much as possible. A new METZ record is near completion, which is very exciting. I have lots of plans for more art and home life. Maybe I’ll get a dog.