Hawks Frontman Explains Noise Rock as a Feeling
"We had an idea from the beginning to revisit the idea of '90s noise." vocalist Michael Keenan of Hawks explains the formation of the band to Noisecreep. Though the Atlanta band's adoration of the '90s sound is undeniable, their influences stray from the standard Am Rep Records influence leaning more on bands like Cherubs and Steel Pole Bathtub, which is why the band has more of a swinging groove than a singularity in textures.
"It's good but rushed," drummer Shane Patrick admitted, describing the difficult task of capturing the live sound on 'Barnburner,' the band's debut album released last year. "We feel like we did it a lot better around the second time. It was like throwing together a bunch of good stuff really fast and not having time to reflect on it. It's fun stuff," he continued. "But it's like looking at your first drawings as a kid and going, 'I guess it was good for how old I was.'"
'Barnburner' was an experiment in samples and effects plowing through a field of fuzz. "We tried to blow it out as much as possible," explained Keenan, detailing that the four recorded to an eight-track, mixing it down to two tracks, then layering vocals over that. After that, another mix before the band sent it off -- a real fast affair.
The band has been working their time on their new album ('Rub') and even spending a few months on the mixing process. Patrick believes 'Rub' is much closer to capturing the band's live intensity. The band also recorded at Threshingfloor Audio in North Carolina, a studio known for churning out Christian albums -- there is an irony for a band with songs like 'The Thrust That Missed' and 'Sex on Beta' to be in that room. "It's funny to think the day before we were in there there was a boys choir doing gospel songs," Keenan laughed.
Hawks lie under the genre tag of 'pigf---,' a digital generation's way of saying noise rock. "I don't like categorizing things anyway, but it is what it is," said Keenan, admitting in choice he'd take the newer foul moniker if there has to be a label attached to the band.
Whichever title you prefer, the vocalist sees the definition not about feedback and dissonance but about being emotionally driven. "You can argue that is every type of music, but when you bring that intensity to your live show and your record, that to me is what is noise rock. When I put Herbie Hancock on, I get that feeling, but I also get that same feeling when I put 'Electric Ladyland' on. I feel that same intensity."
One questions remains, why would a band like Hawks name themselves after their own cities basketball team? "This is the most asinine and hilarious s---," said Keenan, attributing the name of the band to the four "being a bunch of drunk a--holes."
He continued, "We were at practice and they were like, 'Mike come up with some name.' So I came up with this list of 20 or 30 names." Everything was shot down. He had one more idea: Hawks. "Next practice, we make it all through practice and all of sudden [guitarist Andrew Wiggins] stops and goes, 'Holy s---! Hawks!? The f---ing Hawks!!! The basketball team.' It became a joke the band had to keep.
Keenan laughed, "We don't even like basketball. We watch late-night Cinemax movies and things on DVD. It's ridiculous."