New Jersey band The Warhawks have made significant strides in the indie rock scene with their unique sound and thought-provoking lyrics. Going from DIY releases to gaining significant recognition in the music industry, the band’s journey has been an inspiring one, led by passion, creativity, and a relentless pursuit of musical evolution.
In conversation with Earmilk, the band delve into the inspiration behind their latest single "Dead Air," their song writing process, and the evolution of their sound since their debut LP Never Felt So Good.
Known for their eclectic blend of influences from The Clash to The Beatles, the dynamic act share insights into their creative process, memorable touring experiences, and their upcoming projects, including their highly anticipated album set to release in early 2024.
First of all, congratulations on your new single "Dead Air"! What was the inspiration behind this song?
Personal experiences, both past and new. Losing a friend or someone you care for can be isolating. Going through those memories and highlights over and over. It’s a lot like grief, trying to find a way out in a positive light. It’s a shared feeling that is hard to put in simple words. We hoped the song would help someone get through similar situations.
"Dead Air" explores the theme of post-breakup silence. Can you share a bit about the song writing process for this track?
Sonically, the band wanted to be nostalgic. We wanted a song that had aspects of those feelings of falling in and out of love when we were younger. Matt had the chorus right away. The verses were written together melodically. This brought out a group voice in Matt’s lyrics. It gave the speaker of the song a sense that this breakup is happening to all of us. Sometimes these feelings seem huge to someone in heartache, but relating with each other lessens the blow.
Your journey started with DIY releases and has now evolved significantly. How do you think your sound has changed since your debut LP Never Felt So Good?
Since Never Felt So Good, we are trying to open up more. With four songwriters and singers in the band, The Warhawks have four different perspectives and influences to draw from. Each of us take risks and blend styles to create an evolving sound. With each release, we hope to surprise ourselves and our fans more and more.
You've described your music in a unique way, referencing The Clash, The Strokes, Weezer, and The Beatles. How do these influences shape your music?
As a group, we bonded over those bands as teenagers. The Beatles are the Bible of song writing especially with simplicity and taking risks. We try to keep up with how tight the Strokes are live. Telling our story like the Clash is something we also push. The hawks push to be honest and forthright, representing our upbringing and the people we grew up around. We love being heavy with a pop element underneath it all, like Weezer.
Your debut LP earned you the title of 93.3 WMMR’s “Band of the Month”. How did that recognition impact your career?
The recognition got us airplay on a major station in Philadelphia. The station let us know we were getting more requests daily. This brought in new fans which ultimately led to a big show in Philly. At this show, we met our current manager, who opened up doors with some label support.
Touring can be intense, especially with gigs across the United States and England. What’s your most memorable touring experience so far?
England was eye opening. The band had never travelled so far before to tour. One night we played a packed gig at Joiners in Southampton. When we got finished sound check, we explored the green room and found the walls autographed. Oasis, Stone Roses, Primal Scream, Arctic Monkeys, Radiohead, and more bands we grew up with all had signed their names on the wall. It finally hit us like we were walking in the footsteps of giants. The crowds in England were so receptive and loved American music.
You've opened for bands like White Reaper and The Menzingers. What was it like sharing the stage with such renowned groups?
Honestly just like any other band trying to spread their music. Everyone is human and most bands that have been around the block are genuine people. Those bands though professional in their performances, seem like they are still trying to make it like the rest of us. Humble and funny guys the both of them just playing to bigger and bigger crowds as they go.
Your EP 'Stardust Disco' followed your debut LP. How was creating an EP different from working on a full-length album?
Albums have something to them.. a vibe, a mindset, a theme. EPs are like capturing a quick moment in time. It’s like a two week vacation versus a weekender. The weekender (EP) gives you a quick blast of experiences. Sometimes those weekenders make lasting impressions though short. We can focus of giving a packed sound to those who enjoy our music.
"Live From Lockdown" was a unique project. How did the pandemic influence your creative process for this live album?
"Live from Lockdown" was the first time we recorded since the world shut down in quarantine. It was really exciting to record this album because it was something we'd never done before. It was such a positive moment for the band to come together and re-imagine these songs in a live setting. We wanted to give people a nostalgic feeling of "Hey do you remember going to live shows?" It was a moment of light in a time of darkness.
The EP ‘This Ain't Art’ saw great success with singles like “On My Way” and “The Spirit of Mechanicsburg”. Can you tell us about the making of this EP?
The making of ‘This Ain't Art’ is very much similar to how we did "Live from Lockdown." The EP was recorded at a time when there was no live music, no band practice, no interaction. All around the world, there was a sense of negativity, death, depression, sadness, grief, anxiety, and isolation… the themes of the EP reflect the atmosphere of that terrible time during the pandemic. When we are at our lowest point we cling to hope and nostalgic memories of better times past. We wanted the EP to give people a sense of hope.
Collaborating with Aaron Sprinkle for your upcoming album is exciting news. How did this collaboration come about, and what can fans expect?
For our new album, we knew we needed a top-tier producer to help us achieve the elevated sound we were looking for. Aaron Sprinkle is one of the best producers on the planet. After months of research and vetting different producers, the moment we talked to Aaron, we knew he was our guy. His attention to band dynamics, song writing and tone is remarkable. With his help, we were able to achieve a sound that feels both freshly evolved and somewhat reminiscent of our earlier material. We flew to Seattle for 3 weeks to work with Aaron, and the experience was spiritual. Without a doubt, this is the best record we have ever done, and we can't wait for everyone to hear it.
Indie rock is a vast and varied genre. How do you stay original and keep your sound fresh in such a dynamic landscape?
For us, the most important thing is song writing. We write songs that we want to hear in the world. Where it falls on the spectrum of indie rock is where it falls. We just try to write something that is well-crafted and moves us as fans of all genres.
The anticipation for the "Dead Air" music video is high. Can you give us a sneak peek into what fans can expect?
The video will touch on this nostalgic feel we talked about in the song. The Hawks are hoping the video opens up the interpretation of the song in new ways that are unique to everyone.
With an album set for release in early 2024, what themes or messages are you exploring in this new work?
The band explored a lot of their ideas of legacy and afterlife. Some songs we wrote explore our versions of how life should be and what we can expect after. The hawks also try to put into words their fight with addictions and demons. How it makes us feel and how we want to shake it or give in depending on where we are in life.
Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians who look up to your journey and success in the indie rock scene?
Get back to basics .. song writing and touring. Regardless of image, style, politics, and content, the fundamentals can make or break bands. Bands spend years making music go on one tour then break up. Tour as soon as you can to see if you can even work as a band family. Challenge yourself to write simple songs. Everyone wants to come out of the gate with a complex song sometimes, 2-3 chord songs are difficult to nail. You need good songs, and you needs chops on the road. Everything else will come in time.
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