The old saying that talk is cheap doesn’t really apply when it’s music that’s speaking to you.
Just ask local musician Patty Pierzchala (aka Patty PerShayla).
“The music kind of tells me what to do,” the Jammie Award-winning artist told Revue about the inspiration for the songs on her new full-length album, Cheap Diction, with her band The Mayhaps. “It’s like that Renaissance sculptor thing; the marble knows, and you just make it happen.”
Working over the past decade to establish herself as a full-time musician, PerShayla had to massively improvise when the pandemic hit last year.
She went from gigging multiple nights a week, playing in front of increasingly larger crowds, to staring at a blank page, oftentimes at a complete loss for words.
“I’m still trying to figure out how to balance the gigging, and the writing and the surviving and eating,” she said.
Her harsh new reality included everything from enduring a bout with COVID herself, to launching a successful Patreon page where she connected with her fans virtually.
“I feel like I’m less distanced because of my Patreon page, because people on there will comment on every songwriting video that I do every week,” PerShayla said. “It was nice to learn which things actually connected with which people, and what people actually liked about what I was doing, because then I don’t feel as much pressure to have to guess. I can just trust myself and trust them.”
Singing lead vocals and laying down the thunderous bass, PerShayla fronts her power trio The Mayhaps alongside guitarist Lucas Powell and drummer Alec Klinefelter. The group formed in 2019 after PerShayla’s solo debut EP Oracle Bones earned her a Jammie Award for Best Rock/Pop Album.
Previously, she and Powell had performed together in the local band Talk Radio.
“Oracle Bones was something I did to just get those songs out of me,” PerShayla said. “But this (band) is what I wanted to do. And I found that I do love doing solo shows and writing music as a solo act. But I really can’t do everything that I want to do on my own. Like, I really like the bluesier aspect of things in particular, and I’m not great at doing that as a guitarist yet.”
Growing up in a musical household, PerShayla knew from a young age that she wanted to be a musician.
“I’ve been singing on stage since I was about six years old,” she said. “But it was just like, background vocals on Mustang Sally and stuff with my dad and his friends. My dad played guitar and I would listen to records and watch VH1 documentaries with him all the time. And then when I made that choice to pursue music, both of my parents were very supportive of me, but they thought I was a little nuts. It was like, ‘What did you expect? This is what you exposed me to.’”
Citing her parents’ music as a major influence, she considers her sound something of a mix between her dad’s love for southern rock bands and artists like Sheryl Crow, Bonnie Raitt and Dave Matthews, with her mom’s heavier tastes including Evanescence and Disturbed.
“That’s where I get my crazy from,” she said.
At 19 and learning the bass guitar, she started to get into Rush, so much so that she has since gone on to join Catch The Fish: A Rush Tribute band, and has seen her ukulele cover of the band’s hit “Closer To The Heart” go viral on YouTube.
“I actually might have a bit of a problem becoming the Rush girl,” she said. “(That video) is like the one thing people find me through, and I get messages all the time. But if this is what my thing is, I’m OK with that.”
PerShayla and the Mayhaps recently recorded their first official music video for the song “Slo Mo” off their new album, a track she describes as taking after another legendary trio Led Zeppelin.
In all, the pandemic served as a surprising catalyst for the completion of the album, which the band recorded entirely onto analog tape at Goon Lagoon in Grand Rapids.
“We were planning to have it finished in the summer of 2020 or fall of 2020,” PerShayla said.
Instead the band released its first EP, Good With Words ‘n’ Sh’t last fall. The five-song, digital-only release was actually the first half of the now completed album, which the band put out last month on both CD and vinyl.
Although there’s no official release show planned for the album yet, PerShayla said they wanted to have it available for their summer shows, including their performance as part of this year’s Tuesday Evening Music Club series at Frederik Meijer Gardens.
“That’s a really big deal to me,” PerShayla said of playing Meijer Gardens. “Sheryl Crow played there a while ago. And sharing the stage that Sheryl played on is honestly the biggest part of this to me, because I think she summoned me out of the ether in 1993 when she released her debut album. I’m sure that’s how this happened.”
Cameron Blake / Patty PerShayla & the Mayhaps
Frederick Meijer Gardens Tuesday Evening Music Club, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
Aug. 10, 5 p.m. (gates open) 7 p.m. (show), Free with admission to Meijer Gardens
View more of Patty's upcoming shows here: facebook.com/PattyPerShayla.