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A Dirty Dozen with DAVID HAWKINS from HAWK – June 2020


According to a recent press release: “On May 15th, the band Hawk, led by the American artist David Hawkins, will release its highly-anticipated new album, Fly, featuring the all-star lineup of Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Elliot Smith) on drums, Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) on bass, vocals, keyboards, synths and guitar, keyboardist Morgan Fisher (Mott the Hoople, Queen, Yoko Ono) and Hawk and Be guitarist Aaron Bakker. Hawkins, also leader of the orchestral folk-rock band Be, is an acclaimed abstract painter and co-founder of the avant-garde ‘happening’ group The Black Mountain Collective.” We get David to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Fly again features Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash), Ken Stringfellow (Posies, R.E.M., Big Star) and Morgan Fisher ((Mott The Hoople, Queen, Yoko Ono); I’m grateful to have such great musicians in the band. The album takes you through a whole range of emotions; love, loss, yearning, sadness, celebration, anger (at injustice), joy, frustration, hope etc. Those close to the band might recognize that I wrote “I Believe In You” as a song of encouragement for my daughter.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I’ve always loved music; it’s in my blood. My grandfather was a musician and band leader too. I think I realized I was going to be a musician when I learned the chords on guitar and all these songs just started flowing out of me – I had to put them somewhere! (laughs)

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

If I had to choose one, it would be Bob Dylan; he’s been a guiding light to me for so long that his work is kind of ingrained in my soul at this point. Other bands like the Beatles, the Stones, The Who, Big Star, the Kinks, REM, and especially the Velvet Underground have had a big influence on me too, but none come close to Dylan. He’s like an Angel or something…

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

The ones I mentioned above are probably the biggest, with the addition of The Byrds, Tom Petty, The Clash, Elvis Costello and Wilco.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Probably Paul McCartney. My first choice would be Bob Dylan, but Bob doesn’t hang, so Paul would be the next obvious choice. Or Neil Young.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I never know how to describe my music! (laughs). One reviewer said it had “the crunch of AC/DC, the swagger of the Stones, and the melodies of Tom Petty.” I was really honored by that and I like that it shows our wide range of influences. And recently I’ve been getting some comparisons to Brian Wilson, which is a huge honor too. My least favorite comparison has to be when somebody said one of our songs reminded them of The Eagles. They meant it as a compliment, and I know what they meant (the melody was kind of reminiscent of an Eagles tune), but I think I heard their music too much when I was a kid – thanks to the radio – and the comparison wasn’t my favorite.

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’m usually the instigator, so I guess it would be me on all of those. Ken lives in France, though, so naturally he loves good food and wine, and Morgan is in Tokyo, so his knowledge of Japanese food and culture could blow our minds. And Pete has great taste too and is funny as hell; everybody brings something.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

I guess it would have to be when I met and became friends with Joe Strummer. I was starstruck at first, but we hit it off right away and he was such a cool and down-to-earth guy that that feeling went away quickly and we just became friends. It hit me hard when he died; he was a great guy and a really good friend. He was very encouraging.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Making music has it all; it’s hard to choose the best part. Writing songs is like a combination of prayer and therapy, playing live is so exhilarating, and recording (my favorite part) is like making a sonic collage. It’s all really satisfying. I’m also an artist (an abstract painter), so I guess that would be my second choice if I couldn’t do music. But I really love doing both – they complement each other in a really interesting way.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’m grateful for the press, so all questions are good, but if I had to choose one I guess I’m tired of answering the “describe your music“ question. I’m glad I’m finally getting to the point that the writers describe the music for us – it’s enough just to make the music without having to describe it too! (laughs). And I always love talking about writing and recording, which are most interesting to me; the actual making of the music. Writing is kind of a mysterious process; songs come out of nowhere and I literally have to ‘catch ‘em when they come” as Dylan put it, and then start the work of fleshing them out, finishing them and recording them. It’s really fulfilling in a deep way; there’s nothing like it.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I can’t think of one single moment, but in general I think my career would have happened faster if I were more of an ass-kisser or a “joiner” of scenes etc. But personally, I think the music business is full of posers and fakers, and the industry itself is such bullshit (and most of it has nothing to do with music) that it’s hard to take it seriously, so I’m glad I ignored all that crap and just focused on making good music; that’s the only thing that matters anyway. In the end, I don’t think I’d change a thing; I’m proud of the way I’ve done it. If you stay true to yourself, you’re on the right track.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

Hmm, good question. I think it would be The Stones’ Exile on Main Street. That record has meant so much to me for so long (and still does!), and it would have been so cool to be there in that house in France when they were recording it. It’s such an inspired, sprawling masterpiece, and I love that it draws from all these different musical traditions and pulls them together in a way that transcends the influences to make a truly singular album. It’s one of the best, bar none. A second choice might be Pet Sounds, another absolute classic. All the great artists who have come before have kind of pointed the way forward. As a fan and as a musician, I’m grateful. And I’m really proud to be a part of it.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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