Vanessa Briscoe Hay

Last updated
Vanessa Briscoe Hay
Background information
Birth nameVanessa Briscoe
Also known asVanessa Ellison
Born (1955-10-18) October 18, 1955 (age 64)
Genres New wave, post-punk, folk rock, experimental, rock
Occupation(s) Musician, Songwriter
Years active1979–present
Labels Caution
Db Recs
Sky Records
Cloud Recordings
Studio Mouse Productions
PRS for Chunklet Industries
Associated acts Pylon
New Sound Of Numbers
Pylon Reenactment Society

Vanessa Briscoe Hay (born October 18, 1955 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States) is an American singer for the Athens, Georgia bands Pylon, Supercluster and Pylon Reenactment Society.



Born to a textile worker and a housewife in Atlanta, Georgia, Hay attended elementary and high school in Dacula, Georgia, prior to moving to Athens to attend college. Hay graduated from the University of Georgia art school in 1978. She became the singer for Pylon after being auditioned by Michael Lachowski, Randy Bewley, and Curtis Crowe. A few months later Pylon were the opening band for the British group the Gang of Four in New York City, at the club Hurrah, after being brought to the club's attention by Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider of the B-52's. [1] [2]

Danny Beard, from Atlanta helped Pylon to record their first single "Cool/Dub" in 1979 at Stone Mountain Studios in Atlanta, and Pylon began to tour the US. The album Gyrate followed and was released in late 1980. Early career highlights included a performance at Central Park opening for the B-52's, a tour of the UK, opening a few dates for U2 on their first major US tour and the release of the album Chomp . [3]

Pylon decided to quit while they were still having fun. They broke up for the first time in 1983 after playing a "final" show, which was taped for The Athens Show. This was never formally released. In 1986, Hay was filmed for the movie Athens, GA: Inside Out and spoke about her experiences with Pylon. She and Bob Hay were married in 1986. In 1987 they had their first daughter. [4]

In 1989, Pylon reformed. Career highlights the second time around included tours with both R.E.M. and the B-52's, performances at SXSW and CMJ. Hits , a compilation of their early material was reissued by DB Records in 1989. Pylon recorded their third album Chain for the Atlanta label Sky Records in 1991. Pylon broke up a second time in 1992.They played several more shows including the South by Southwest Festival in 1990 and 1991, but when guitarist Bewley decided to leave in 1991, the band broke up again.

Vanessa Hay became an RN in 1994. In 1993, she and Bob Hay had their second daughter. [5]

Randy Bewley approached the other band members about reforming Pylon, just for fun, in 2004. In August, 2004 Pylon played an unannounced show at Little Kings in Athens, Georgia. In 2005, they played a series of dates in Athens and Atlanta, including Athfest and at the Atlanta Heroes awards by the invitation of the B-52's. Jason Gross, Perfect Sound Forever encouraged them to look into reissuing their first album, Gyrate, on CD. Jeff Calder (The Swimming Pool Q's) restored the tapes at Southern Tracks Studios in Atlanta and Rodney Mills remastered them at Rodney Mills Masterhouse in Duluth, Georgia. DFA records in New York approached Pylon about reissuing this material, unaware that Pylon were already working toward this. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem (band), had been including Pylon's song "Danger" in his DJ sets for several years and was interested in re—issuing Pylon's first album Gyrate on his label DFA. Gyrate Plus was reissued on October 16, 2007. [6] A remastered Chomp More was reissued on October 20, 2009. [7]

Hay was also a member of the recording project Supercluster (band) who record and sometimes perform in Athens, Georgia along with Jason NeSmith. Other members of this project included Hannah M. Jones, Kay Stanton, Bob Hay, Bill David, John Fernandes, Heather McIntosh, Bryan Poole and Randy Bewley (deceased). Waves , their full-length project, was released on October 6, 2009. [8]

A 7-inch vinyl single "Gravity / Altitude" by Pylon was issued in April 2016 by Chunklet as a part of the Pylon Live project. A double vinyl album was issued on July 25, 2016. This music was recorded at the first final performance on December 1, 1983 at the Mad Hatter in Athens, GA. [9] Vanessa performed with Pylon Reenactment Society at both release events along with Swimming Pool Q's and members of Love Tractor.

Since 2014, Hay has fronted the Pylon Reenactment Society, a Pylon tribute act featuring members of more recent Athens bands like the Glands and Casper & the Cookies. [10] In a 2016 Portland Mercury interview, Hays said, "It's been inspirational, if that's the right word, to be able to play this music again. I really don't want people to forget Pylon. These are different people and we are re-enacting this experience, so it's not exactly Pylon, but it's fresh and done in the same spirit". In October 2017, Pylon Reenactment Society self-released an EP initially recorded on December 11,2016 for broadcast in Los Angeles, California for DJ Michael Stock's KXLU show "Part Time Punks," called "Part Time Punks Session." In March 2018, Hay was named one of the “25 Best Frontwomen of All Time” by Paste Magazine [11]




Pylon Reenactment Society


With Pylon

  • Declaration of Independents - 13 Tracks of U.S. Rock 1980, Vinyl LP, Various artists (1980, Ambition Records AMB1, Basement Records BASE 6005, Stiff Records Yank 2) [12]
  • Jericho Go, Vinyl LP, Various artists (1985, DB Recs / Stiff Records D BAT80) (DB Recs / Victor Musical Industries, Inc. VIL 28034) [13]
  • Athens, GA - Inside / Out, Vinyl LP, Various artists (1987, I.R.S. Records IRS6185)
  • Hits, Cassette, CD (1989, DB Recs DB91) [14]
  • Squares Blot Out the Sun, Vinyl LP, CD, Cassette, Various artists (1990, DB Recs DB72) [15]
  • Totally Wired, CD, Various artists (1995, Razor & Tie RE 2076)Various - Totally Wired Discogs
  • KFJC 98.7 Fifty - Blowing Minds Since 1959, Vinyl double record LP, Various artists (2009, No label KJFC24) [16]
  • Keith Haring - The World of Keith Haring - Influences + Connections , Vinyl triple record LP boxset, Triple CD boxset, Various artists (2019, Soul Jazz, Ltd. SJR LP444) [17]

With other artists




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  1. George-Warren, Holly; Romanowski, Patricia, eds. (2001). The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (4th ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 792. ISBN   0-7432-9201-4. Like an apolitical answer to England's Gang of Four, Pylon played a brutally physical, stripped-down form of funk rock
  2. "Pylon: Biography". Perfect Sound Forever . Retrieved July 17, 2013.
  3. Smith, Lee Valentine (18 January 2010). "We Are Pylon:". Georgia Music Magazine. Retrieved 10 March 2017. Even though the band did break up shortly after the album was released in ’83, it remained very much alive in fan interest and support.
  4. Hinely, Tim (1 February 2016). "Back To Athens". Blurt. Retrieved 10 March 2017. I have to confess that I married the lead singer (of The Squalls) Bob Hay, but I would never let my musical taste be clouded by the rose colored glasses of love,right?
  5. Hinely, Tim (1 February 2016). "Back To Athens". Blurt. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  6. Anonymous, Anonymous (3 March 2007). "DFA Reissues Pylon?s Gyrate". XLR8R. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  7. Sisson, Patrick (10 November 2009). "An expanded reissue of the Athens post-punks' second album offers some clues to where they could have gone next". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  8. Radford, Chad (8 March 2011). "Supercluster's Vanessa Briscoe Hay untangles Athens' musical lineage". Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  9. Moore, Bobby (17 February 2016). "The Pylon Reenactment Society Pays Tribute". Flagpole Magazine. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  10. Ham, Robert. "The Pylon Reenactment Society Revives the Past". Portland Mercury . Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  11. "25 Best Frontwomen of All Time".
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  13. "Various - Jericho Go". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  14. "Pylon (4) - Hits". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  15. "Various - Squares Blot Out The Sun". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  16. "Various - KFJC 89.7 FM - Fifty Blowing Minds Since 1959". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  17. "Keith Haring". Retrieved 3 October 2020.
  18. "Various - Finest Worksongs: Athens Bands Play The Music Of R.E.M." Retrieved 3 October 2020.
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  20. "Motherhood (2009)".
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  22. "New York Mom movie dance (motherhood)". YouTube.