Band Of The Week // HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS
Having released their album Bad Frequencies earlier this year, American emo rockers Hawthorne Heights have recently dropped the visuals for Crimson Sand. We caught up with them to talk more about the album and temporal changes as they feature as our band of the week.
Whenever you listen to a Hawthorne Heights’ track, you can’t help but feel a profound impact left by the music and now the band has turned to create a two-fold impact with their latest video for Crimson Sand.
Explaining the meaning behind it, vocalist and guitarist JT Woodruff mentions:
We wanted the video for Crimson Sand to match the frenetic, yet somber intensity of the music, all while being tied to our video for Just Another Ghost. We looked at it as a companion piece, that follows the inner struggles of our main character as she moves through a different set of emotions during Crimson Sand. Instead of an all out anxiety attack, this focuses more on a kind of depression than saps all of your positivity and motivation. We are in a beautiful setting, but nothing seems to snap her out of what she’s going through, and the ghost has her again. Soon, she finds the perfect song to move her into a better outlook. This was one of the tracks that was most fun to record, and we really focused on capturing the energy.
Lifted from their album Bad Frequencies which was released earlier this year, there are themes on the album that will prompt you to think about it, long after the music has ended. We got in touch with JT to question him on the record, and the changes the band has seen over time.
What are the biggest differences between the recording process of Bad Frequencies in comparison to your first ever record Nine Reasons To Say Goodbye?
Haha. There was an ocean of difference. On Nine Reasons To Say Goodbye, we had no idea what we were doing or what we wanted. We were just trying to capture songs we had written. On Bad Frequencies, we were trying to capture a vision I had in my head. We were chasing ghosts of summers past. Chasing a certain tone is always easy, chasing a feeling and emotion takes a bit more time.
Were there any unexpected surprises, whether pleasant or unpleasant, that you encountered during the course of writing and recording Bad Frequencies?
Well, we recorded it during winter, and the album was about summer…so that was a little difficult. But I think it made us dream and imagine a little bit more. We were really prepared when working towards the process, and spent a year writing the record, so that helped once we started putting sounds to tape. I had a very refined vision of the album, and it was great to try and chase it down.
What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed about the music scene and music industry since you started as a band?
Probably the biggest change is how people consume music. People love music now more than ever, they just don’t have to purchase physical music. It doesn’t mean people don’t care, they just don’t buy. If you take the time to get people to listen, they will fall in love with it, now more than ever. You just have to find a way to get into their phone.
On the record as a whole, you said ‘it’s about trying to navigate through the worst parts of adult life’. To take a more positive note, what are the best parts of adult life?
The best parts of adult life are starting a family, and owning a small business. Sometimes the balance is challenging, because you feel like you are working 24 hours a day…but we embrace that. It’s nice to be able to come home to people who care about you after a long tour. Sometimes it makes it harder to leave, and get on the road, but it makes it easier to come back home.
You mentioned that Pink Hearts off the album is about ‘staying young inside your heart’. What are your fondest memories of being young?
My fondest memories are always in the summer. Just hanging out with friends, and having those late night conversations. When the rest of the world is asleep, the dreamers are wide awake, carrying on meaningful conversation in a parking lot somewhere. Listening to your favourite song on a long drive, tearing up some pavement. Those times will always be special to me. The ocean, in summer, will always be in my head and heart.
What are the most important lessons you learnt from the mistakes you made when young?
I’ve learned to focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. Often times you get lost in trying to fill the void, but you can’t worry about things like that. You have to focus on what you have, and what’s in front of you.
In explaining Edge Of Town, you expressed that ‘We all have memories that truly shine brighter than the sun.’ What are these memories for you?
My memories tend to revolve around my family. My wedding and the birth or my daughter are true milestones. Those are parts of my life that have nothing to do with being in a band. They are my true loves. The shiniest memories for the band are those long hot summers on Warped Tour, and those experiences in the parking lots. I think about them often.
Taking the lyrics ‘I looked death in the eyes and I got too close’ from Starlighter (Echo, Utah), have you ever had any experiences where you felt like you looked death in the eyes?
That song is written about an awful drive I had that winter in Utah. I literally thought I was going to slide off a cliff, in the pounding snow. It was relentless. I still have PTSD from that moment, as we gear up for that drive again in a few weeks. I eventually found my way to a hotel, and immediately wrote the lyrics to that song, as my hands were still shaking.
About Push Me Away, you recalled that it was written during a divisive time for the American political landscape. What do you think drives these differences between people, and why has it flared up particularly now? How do you think music can be used as a political force, if it can be used in that way?
For some reason, I think people love to disagree. I’m not one of those people. I think we should find a place where we all belong. I don’t really like dealing with people who are trolling for discourse. Meaningful conversation is always welcome, but discussion in absolutes tends to bring trouble. I think music can speak in a lot of different languages, and can be helpful as a way to connect us all back together.
It was once said that you ‘always wanted to create the opportunity and not wait for it’. What are the biggest opportunities you’ve created for yourself?
I think we constantly look for new places to play, new songs to record, and new ways to expose people to our music. That’s kind of how our business works. It’s weird to think of a band that way, but that’s what keeps you here. We try to write songs that help people when they need it, no matter when and where that could be. You would always rather shine a light, than turn one off.
On the band Twitter account, you guys once tweeted ‘Don’t be afraid to struggle for what is important for you’. What are the things that you would struggle for, and what things have you struggled for?
I think everyone struggles for the same thing. A small piece of happiness. You fight every day to hope that the good outweighs the bad in your life, and sometimes that struggle is hard.