Seratones member AJ Haynes builds on punk, blues, church roots

The band will be performing two gigs in New York City on Oct. 18 and 19.

Louisiana’s Seratones may be a throwback in terms of their style, but their live show is made for the era of social media era.

Singer-guitarist AJ Haynes is the kind of performer that you immediately want to post pictures of and tell your friends to go see. As the band bangs out punk, blues and soul-influenced garage rock, Haynes bounds around the stage with incredible energy and a huge voice, often ending up dancing with the crowd.

amNewYork caught up with her as the band traveled through New Mexico on their current tour.


What music inspired you growing up?

I grew up singing. My mother was a singer. She sang in a bossa nova band. That was prior to me being born, so I guess it was from the womb. I grew up singing in church. Then I moved to Shreveport, [Louisiana], and fell in love with jazz vocalists on my own accord. I met everyone I’m in the band with now through our insular close-knit punk scene. They really introduced me to the punk scene. I had been on a jazz and R&B kick for a while.


Do you see similarities between singing in church, singing jazz and being in a punk band?

There are complete, definite parallels. They’re part of this oral tradition that developed and had roots in the deep south, with that music coming from Africa out of slavery. There’s that bloodline that’s inevitable. We call them three different genres, and sure they are, but they definitely have the same bloodline. When it’s performed, there’s this delivery that you have to have some righteous indignation, some kind of conviction. They’re far more alike than they are different.


You really go out of your way to connect with your audience. What inspired your live show?

Growing up in church, singing is about being a messenger of sorts, connecting with and delivering a message in a way that other people can hear it. Not everyone gets something from the pulpit and the preacher. … That’s when I realized the unique control of music and performers, especially someone like Iggy Pop. I always come back to him and how he’d stare down an audience. It’s almost a taunt, which I think is really cool. It’s a dare. I dare you to pay attention to me. I dare you to break this fourth wall. I think that is really powerful. That sticks with me. When I see a performance, I want the physicality of it. I want to touch your hand and I want you to get in my face.

If you go: Seratones are at Mercury Lounge on Oct. 18 at 6:30 p.m., 217 E. Houston St., 212-260-4700, $12-$14. The band is at the Knitting Factory on Oct. 19 at 8 p.m., 361 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg, 247-529-6696, $14

Hal Bienstock