“I WANT YOU TO PUT THE RECORD ON AND NOT BE ABLE TO DO ANYTHING ELSE”
I saw Youngblood Hawke play three different shows (not including two soundchecks) during my time in Austin, and it was evident from the get go that audiences were clearly connecting with the band. Part of this has to do with the band’s massive, Wall Of Sound-esque music, which is just as ebullient as it is catchy. “Part of what’s special about our music is the way we structure vocals, the way we build the gang vocals in,” Simon answered when I asked him about what he felt was the special sauce of the Youngblood Hawke recipe, both live and on record. “That really happened from having Sam sing [on a track], and then me sing on it, then Alice sing on it, and I realized, ‘Oh sh*t, this is kind of a cool Fleetwood Mac vibe to it, but new, and how can we expand on this?’ We began building the gang vocals into it, using it in certain spots of the songs, using it to make it feel big, and epic, and overwhelming and all enveloping. I want you to put the record on and not be able to do anything else. You HAVE to listen to it, you know? It’s not some background music.”
Having won over audiences at South By Southwest, not to mention nationwide over the last year while on the road supporting the likes of Keane and Passion Pit, today’s release of Wake Up will be the first full length introduction that many people have to Youngblood Hawke. It’s a project that the various members of the group have spent the majority of the past two years of their lives working on to perfect.
“Your record has to be great from start to finish,” Simon explained, appearing to (refreshingly) go against the grain of today’s single-driven music industry. “We really focused in on not having any filler, having every song have the potential to be something great. We’re very much perfectionists with everything we do. Every single song reflects something we went through during [the last two years], everything from releasing our first single and have it go through to radio, to quitting our jobs, to going through family stuff and relationship things.”
“To have people responding so positively to your stuff, it instills confidence in you,” Sam told me right before he took the stage. “Even before we started, I had a certain place that I thought our band would get to, and it’s already surpassed that tenfold. Everything that happens from this moment on, it feels like it’s a miracle. Not a lot of people get this opportunity. I’m surrounded by the coolest, most sincere, respectful people. It just feels right.”
When it comes to Youngblood Hawke’s future success, their destiny now lies in your hands, you of the record buying public. That said, after having spent some quality time with the band and getting to know how the events of their past have shaped their collective present, I can’t help but feel like the band has already succeeded purely by surviving tumultuous circumstances that would’ve driven countless others to quit. And listening to the lyrics of their song “Dreams,” the third track on Wake Up, seems to reiterate that the band feels similarly:
“We’ve been waiting on these dreams to feel real for long / Now we have ‘em in our heads all we have to do is stay strong.”