Paul Hayes is a diverse percussionist who has played in numerous musical settings including orchestral, concert band, jazz, percussion ensemble, world percussion, and church music. He is the Percussion Professor at Pellissippi State Community College, where he teaches percussion and drum set and directs the percussion ensemble. He is also a member of the PAS World Percussion Committee, and he teaches drum set at School of Rock and directs their Rock 101 performance group. He performs as one half of the Unfiltered Duo, a percussion and clarinet duo with Amy Humberd, and performs various freelance gigs in the Knoxville, Tenn. area.
Rhythm! Scene: If you weren't a percussionist and educator, what career could you see yourself having pursued?
Paul Hayes: I could see myself being a philosophy professor. It is a subject that continually challenges and interests me. Sometimes, I read and try to understand Hegel for fun.
R!S: As a freelance artist, what's one of the weirdest gigs you've taken or oddest jobs you've had outside the industry?
PH: I worked at Taco Bell for over a decade through high school and college. I’ve made so many tacos in my life I could open my own taco stand.
R!S: What’s one thing about you that your colleagues or students would unanimously proclaim?
PH: My students call me their Percussion Dad. This is likely because I continually rant about basic organizational skills like having music for rehearsal and showing up early to set up. Many times, I end these rants with, “I’m not your father. You need to be responsible adults.” So, they jokingly called me Percussion Dad.
R!S: What is your favorite percussion instrument and why?
PH: My favorite percussion instrument is the riq. I enjoy the plethora of sonic possibilities it provides, as well as the ability to play various styles and grooves all in one drum.
R!S: Where did you grow up, and what’s one interesting thing about your childhood (musically or otherwise)?
PH: I grew up in Spring Valley, Illinois. It was a small farming town with only about 5,000 people. My dad always said it would eventually become a suburb of Chicago. Thirty years later, it’s no closer to being a suburb than it was when I moved there as a child. I played a ton of sports growing up, baseball and basketball especially, and I wasn’t very good at either one. Yet I still played several hours a day anyway. I was also offered a spot in the local youth symphony growing up, but I never took advantage of the opportunity, which is something I regret now as I look back.