Youngblood Hawke discusses current success

Photo courtesy of Youngblood Hawke

Georgia Tech’s very own 91.1 WREK Atlanta radio station had the chance to sit down with an emerging group in the indie-pop sphere, Youngblood Hawke. The band burst onto the scene in 2012 with its ebullient hit single “We Come Running.”

WREK interviewed the band before their performance with Panic! at the Disco and Walk the Moon. The interview attempted to get to know the band on a more personal level, while getting important advice out to the listeners; WREK was unable to run the interview on the air, and teamed up with the entertainment staff at the Technique to bring the interview in its entirety.

Here’s what they had to say about their success and making it in the music industry:

Technique: First of all, would you mind introducing yourselves, saying what instrument you play and telling a little about how you joined the band?

Katz: My name’s Simon [Katz], I play guitar and keys, and I just kind of started the band with Sam about three years ago and made a few demos and then played em’ for our best friends. They all really dug em’, and so we kind of got together and started writing music together, and there goes Youngblood Hawke.

Hughes: My name’s Nik [Hughes], and I play drums. I met Sam and Simon through a previous band and played drums in that group. We were roommates and hit it off and loved the music, so we joined up.

Smith: My name’s Tasso [Smith], I play guitar. I’ve known Simon basically my whole life and met Sam shortly after they started a previous project. [I] started hearing the initial demos of Youngblood Hawke and was just stoked to be a part of it.

Ahmed: I’m Omar [Ahmed] and I play bass. I joined through some mutual friends me and Nik, the drummer, have.”

Martin: I’m Sam [Martin], the singer, and I met Simon in college. We had another band and created this one a couple years ago and then met all these guys.

Technique: Which college?

Martin: We went to the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Technique: So, how would you guys describe your music?

Katz: I think that’s always a very difficult thing to do, but I mean we kind of describe our music as high energy, anthemic. I think it’s better for someone else to describe our music than for us to, because for us it’s a little bit more of a personal thing, and we may have a certain perspective on it differently.

Technique: How did you form and eventually get signed?

Martin: Just making demos, we just made a bunch of songs, started playing local shows around LA, and it kind of happened pretty quickly. We all kind of knew each other for the last five, six years, and we all were looking for an opportunity to play music together, and this was it basically. So we played a couple shows, some labels came out and apparently they liked our songs.

Technique: So your band is named after a novel from 1962. Can you explain why you chose the name?

Martin: I mean the book was incredible, probably one of my favorite books ever, and the name was just perfect. I thought it really described the project. I was just really inspired by the book and forced all these guys to read it.

Technique: You guys are currently on tour with Panic! at the Disco and Walk the Moon. What’s it like to room with such popular bands?

Hughes: It’s awesome, I mean, this tour especially. The other bands are so cool; we’ve played with Walk the Moon a few times, so we know them pretty well, just meeting Panic! on this tour, like literally Panic!, all those dudes are like the nicest guys. So you know it’s like this traveling family gypsy thing where we all caravan in these buses, and we get out in sweatpants drinking coffee in the morning. Then it’s this epic show with all these awesome fans. Panic’s fan’s are rad, they’re like outside in the rain sitting there hours before the show. I don’t think we could ask for a better tour and better bands to be on tour with.

Martin: Yeah, it’s probably one of my favorite tours, just because of the other bands and the crowds.

Technique: So was it a hard transition from playing in smaller venues?

Katz: We’ve done a few big tours before, and we’ve played festivals all the time. I mean I think we’re a pretty new band. Panic! [and] Walk the Moon have been around for a quite a while, and we’ve only been around for a few years, so we’re really lucky to be able to transition into these bigger venues.

But we’ve been on a couple big tours, we toured with Passion Pit, toured with Keane, toured with P!nk, did a bunch of festivals and stuff like that, so we’ve definitely been through it before.

Technique: So your band has at least one studio album called “Wake Up,” and you have one hit single off of it called “We Come Running,” which made it to seventh on the United States alternative charts. Can you discuss the song’s meaning, and also what your inspiration was for including a children’s choir in it?

Katz: Well, I think for us, it was kind of like a call to action. We were all in a super dark place at the time we were recording this record: we were all broke and trying to figure out what we were going to do with our lives, and whether or not we were going to go back to school, and all the challenges that come with that. We decided to push forward and this song came out of it.

We thought that it was really self-reflective of us, and we included a children’s choir in it because we thought that the song is kind of about following your passions and your dreams and pursuing those things, and that’s kind of what you think of when you’re a kid. You just kind of follow your passions and your dreams; you don’t know whether or not you can be an astronaut, or be another Jacques Cousteau or something like that. You never know, you don’t think about that, you just do it, you just try to go for it.

Technique: Are you surprised by its popularity?

Katz: I think you’re always gonna be surprised by any song’s popularity, you know, the music industry’s fickle, and you never know what people are gonna like, and you hope that, you know, you put something out that you’ve been working on for years, and that people like it. It’s crazy, but we’ve had a great reaction.

Technique: You released a new single called “Pressure” a few months ago, from your follow-up album. How close are you to releasing a new album?

Martin: We can’t wait. “Pressure” is just kind of something we wanted to put out…I don’t know if we decided…it’s probably not going to be on the next record. It was just something to give the hardcore fans something in between the first and second, because we’ve been touring for so long that it’s been hard for us to get into the studio. But we’re recording the second album now, and we can’t wait.

Technique: Do you know how long it is until it’s coming out?

Martin: Probably EP early next year, followed by an album.

Technique: Where do you guys see yourself in the future as a band?

Martin: Hopefully still together, playing shows. Releasing more albums.

Technique: So, you have a relatively large band with six people. How hard was it to cooperate during recordings?

Katz: I think everybody’s really respectful of each other in this band, and everybody listens to each other’s opinions, and you kind of know when it’s right and know when it’s wrong. I think that’s essential for a band recording a record. I think this record is even more collaborative than the first, and we’re lovin’ it; we’re having a good time together.

Technique: If you weren’t musicians, what would you be?

Martin: Filmmaker or writer for National Geographic, or something.

Katz: Yeah, I think I’d be like a…I think we’d work for Discovery Channel. Well, not Discovery Channel any more, Discovery Channel in 1992.

Hughes: I’d be a teacher…if I couldn’t teach music, then maybe history or something.

Smith: I went to school for environmental biology, so I’d probably be doing something along those lines. Maybe working for a local environmental agency or eco-tourism companies or something like that.

Ahmed: I feel like I’d want to be a cop.

Technique: So many bands are discouraged from even starting out. What would you say to the people who told you it wasn’t possible to make it in the music industry?

Katz: I think that anybody, if they put their heart into it, and they pursue it with everything that they have, there’s a good chance that they’ll be successful. You can’t get discouraged: persistence is the most important thing. If you keep pushing, eventually something will click.

Hughes: I also think you have to do it because you love it. If you’re just doing it for the stardom or to be some idea of what you think a rock star is, it’s not gonna work. You just have to really love music, because there’s gonna be times when, if you don’t love music, you’re gonna be tested.

Katz: I don’t think that, even if we weren’t successful, that we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing. Music is in every single one of us, so even if we weren’t full-time musicians, we’d still be in a band, we’d still be writing songs and progressing ourselves as musicians.