The concept of following a dream is often reduced to a string of cliché statements that can be easily brushed under the rug or deemed worthy of an eye roll. But despite the non-existent idealism of past generations and the mixed messages thrown at today’s youth by the media, there’s still some folks governed by tireless work ethic and a tenacious spirit who go against the odds to make a difference in the world they live in.
Hailing from a mid-sized suburb of Ontario, Canada, power pop/punk foursome Hawk Nelson cites itself as diehard believers in the transformative power of dreams, planning a course in musical expression at a young age and following through with vivaciousness each inch of the way. But more than just a haphazard pact or loose-ended commitment, the gang was very specific in plotting its destiny. As lifelong fans of pop/punk music the guys knew the steps it took to break a band and invested every ounce of energy at cultivating careers.
“We defined our sound, cut an indie disc and started getting it in the hands of people,” interjects Jason with unflinching fervor. “We toured all around Toronto- from colleges to arcades to bars- and sought to get kids into it.”
And that’s exactly what the band achieved, through continuous spurts of infectious, radio friendly sugar rushes, a dynamic live spectacle and intimate interaction with fans both on and off stage. Soon the buzz spread beyond tiny rooms and brought the band to the area’s most prominent venues, eventually attracting the attention of fellow Canadian Trevor McNevan (from Thousand Foot Krutch).
“They had come up a few years before we did and we’d always looked up to the way they operated,” says Matt of the Tooth and Nail act known for the smash hit “Rawkfist”. “Trevor went to bat for us in the early stages and pitched us hard to the label just when his band was getting on board. He’s been a huge influence in our lives and helped us get serious about our career.”
Not only did McNevan continually light the sparks of Hawk Nelson, but he gave members a big break by introducing their music to Tooth and Nail figurehead Brandon Ebel. The Seattle based record company owner was so intrigued by such sounds that he hopped on a plane to Ontario and signed the band to a record deal following an amped up crowd reaction at a sold out homecoming show.
After growing up listening to the likes of TFK, MXPX and Slick Shoes, the contract was the first of several major dream fulfillments that have led to the brand new full-length debut Letters to the President. The 14-track disc is packed to the brim with explosive power chords and fist pumping pleasure, backed behind the boards by producer Aaron Sprinkle (Pedro the Lion) with co-production and co-writing by McNevan.
Aside from the aforementioned influences, elements of Good Charlotte, Simple Plan and Blink 182 are evident, as is the slightly older schooled rock and roll rebellion of Goldfinger. Despite that popular pool from which Hawk Nelson pulls, there’s still a distinct balance of harmonies, intensity and experimentation that standout on the admittedly cluttered airwaves.
“The way we blend the different elements and diversify the sounds really helps our personalities shine through,” observes Jason. “Beyond just the music, we’re a group of lifelong friends who are pouring everything we have into this. We look at this as being on a journey together.”
Everyone’s character traits and artistic muses shine through loud and proud with gut-wrenching honesty and demographic spanning relatability. One moment the record may be busting with summertime sights and sounds (“California”) another it may be funneling angst (“Things We Go Through”) or even bustling with carpe diem appeal (“First Time”). Even more energetic is the disc’s title cut, which propels the guys’ aggressive instrumental thunder against Jason’s pleading vocals.
“‘Letters to the President’ really sets the tone to the record,” he explains. “It’s bursting at the seams with passion and introduces the band’s sonic direction on the whole. It’s one you can sing with the windows rolled down to or sing along loud to in concert.”
No matter what the pacing or dynamic in a given track, the band hopes its listeners will take away a sense a sense of encouragement deeper than the beat blasts. Beyond just a general pick me up, members hope to instill a similar sense of dream pursuit that’s fueled their quest thus far.
“We seek to create anthems to get you thinking about what it is that you want to do with your life and then give you a jump start to go all out for it,” concludes Matt. “No matter what the ambition, get out there and go do it. We are and we’re having the time of our lives!”
Source: Tooth & Nail