With two solid albums under their belt, "Letter’s To The President" and "Smile, It’s The End of The World", which collectively sold over 350 000 copies, Hawk Nelson is on the road again. The release of their third Tooth & Nail venture, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend, has the band reaching beyond and acquiring hordes of new friendly fans.
On their first head lining tour, bassist Daniel Biro is absolutely giddy with enthusiasm but admits to “being really nervous going into it ‘cause people are actually coming to see you. You have to put on a great show, play for an hour, bringing out production, lighting; there’s more of a risk. But being one month into it now with one month left, I’ve been blown away. We’ve had sold out shows. Amazing. Everything has worked out. God has been so good. I have no more worries anymore.”
The Green T tour is taking the band across the US and offers fans a chance to make friends with band members. “It was originally Jason’s [Jason Dunn, lead singer] idea,” explains Biro, “that anyone who had bought one of our “Hawk Nelson Is My Friend” green t-shirts over the past year would get into our spring tour for free. But it didn’t really work the way he wanted but management hooked up with a company called Music Today and they basically had the structure. So if you pre bought the record and a new Hawk Nelson Is My Friend green t-shirt with your ticket, it’s all for $30, then that gets you into our Green T listening party. It’s like a pre show thing and preferred seating. It’s worked out really great. As they say that music sales are shrinking, it gets kids buying the record and gets them into the show too. And it lets us have some one-on-one time with our fans. We can have Q & A time, preview the record. I feel like it’s the next new wave of touring and we’re on the front end of it so it’s pretty exciting.”
With Hawk Nelson Is My Friend having just hit the shelves on April 1, the band was apprehensive about inserting the new tracks into their set. “We’re playing seven new songs in our set of sixteen,” says Biro, “you’ve got to keep the old school fans happy but you have to introduce the new songs as well. You put so much effort into writing the songs and recording them and you have the label saying ‘this song is going to do better than that; this song might not do well; maybe you should change this lyric’ You have all these different people involved and you’re so nervous but you just want to get it out there. Then you wait and see the reviews and it’s been encouraging. People think this is are best record to date and I feel we put more into this than ever before. So I think we are getting reassured that we did a good job.”
This latest album had the band team up with Paramore’s producer, David Bendith along with a few other friends. “We had a lot of different co-writers on this record like Raine Maida from Our Lady Of Peace, Trevor McNevan from Thousand Foot Krutch, Richard Marx, a lady named, Holly Night, Matthew Gerrard, who writes for High School Musical, all across the board really. But in the end I think they really helped develop our ideas. They’re much better at writing than we are and it was a real honor to work with all those people. We are always learning from other people. Also on this record though, Jason and I came to be a little more to the point about our faith and sharing that lyrically. We’ve always just wanted to be really real about it and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
First labeled as a Christian punk band, with this latest album Biro sees the band as shifting; “when we started we were more pop-punk, that’s stylistically what we were into. Coming out of high school we listened to bands like Sum 41, Simple Plan and they had a great impact on us in terms of style and their energy and I still like that music. But I think we are leaning towards more rock or pop-rock. Also, Christianity is a huge part of who we are and that’s definitely going to come across in our music and our lifestyle as we hang out with fans.”
Jesus Christ plays an important role in the band, whose members have all played in various youth groups across their native Ontario. Personally, Biro “is grateful for my parents, who raised me in a Christian home, “even as he struggled with “trying drugs and living on the street for a while. I don’t regret any of that ‘cause I knew God was with me the whole time. And at sixteen, I went home one night after wherever I was living and I looked in the mirror and God just told me ‘Daniel, you’re either with me or you’re not and if you’re not with me’, he basically told me I would not make it to twenty-five years. It freaked me out and I thought why I am living like this so from that point on I just started to turn my life around. I’m really grateful for those hard times though because that’s when you really grow. I’m just really grateful because if God can reach me then He can reach anyone. He’s there all the time and He’s not just there for people who are well behaved or wear the label, He’s there for everybody. He’s always been in my life and things are only getting better.”
Having a mainly Christian youth fan base Biro is encouraged with the 1000+ crowds showing up to their gigs, “that’s the majority of the youth coming out and that’s great. But I hear time and time again that these youths share our music with their non-Christian friends and they’re able to get into it. So hopefully God can work through the music. I’ve also noticed that on this tour we’re having way more families showing up with the kids in the front and the parents in the back and sometimes we see the parents singing along and bopping up and down and that’s awesome. I mean if it’s a good song then it should reach all demographics.”
After wrapping up their Green T tour, Hawk Nelson will embark on another U.S summer tour called Faith Nights, which has the band playing major league baseball fields across the nation where they can hopefully make many more new friends.
The band also has one Canadian date coming up on May 24 at Rexall Place and Northlands Park in Edmonton Alberta. For more on Hawk Nelson visit www.hawknelson.com.
Writer: Lisa Kerr