Luke Scrivens reports on the progress of Canadian pop-punk outfit HAWK NELSON
Since Cross Rhythms' last encounter with Canadian pop-punkers Hawk Nelson in 2006, the quartet has recorded three albums - 2008's 'Hawk Nelson Is My Friend', 2009's 'Live Life Loud' and now their latest 'Crazy Love'. They have also matured. In the band's nine year long career, they have experienced the highs and lows of becoming a popular, touring band. Said lead singer Jason Dunn, "It's weird to think we've been a band for that long. We've all grown up, we're all married now. We used to be on the road all the time, just working on it. Now that we've got wives, we like to be home a lot more."
'Crazy Love' was released in the US on 8th February. It is a high energy record echoing the band's old school punk sound heard earlier on in their career. Guitarist Jon Steingard claimed on his blog that it's "the most high-energy Hawk Nelson record ever. I'd even say it's more high-energy than our first album, 'Letters To The President'."
While recording the album, the working title was 'Truthbombs'. Said Dunn, "Many of the songs on this record talk about truth and honesty, honest confessions of the heart." Eventually, the title became 'Crazy Love' inspired by the best selling book by Francis Chan. Jason told christianmusiczine.com, "It was one of those things where we were in the studio every morning, our producer Ian Eskelin and I would sit down and read a chapter from Francis Chan's book. Basically, the song 'Crazy Love' wasn't intended to be on the record; it was the last song to be written. We were like. 'Oh, we should write a song called "Crazy Love".' So that's what we did. Next thing you know it's the lead single. Pretty cool."
The album begins with the energetic opener "Tally-Ho". Jason spoke to thesoundalarm.com about the song. "That was originally a Dunn Boys track (a side project consisting of Jason Dunn, his father and brothers). That's happened a couple of times now. I really wanted this album to have some serious energy and I had a couple of songs up my sleeve that I knew would fit what I wanted, so I willingly handed them over to Hawk!" When asked by hollywoodthewriteway.com which track on the album had changed the most from conception to the final recorded version Dunn was adamant. "'We Can Change The World' was the song. To be honest, I didn't want to record it. I just wasn't feeling it. Luckily, our producer wanted to keep it and had a better vision for the song than I did. Now it's one of my favourites!"
In many ways, the band felt that 'Crazy Love' was something of a record label swan song. Dunn said, "Being that this is our fifth and final record with our label Tooth & Nail, we wanted to make sure we gave it our best. Obviously we always try to do that, but we've been a band for nine years, almost 10 years now it seems like. We've been a band for a while, so we don't know what's in store for the future. We definitely wanted to give it all we got."
'Crazy Love' was packaged with an additional CD, 'The Light Sides', featuring stripped down acoustic versions of songs from Hawk Nelson's first four Tooth & Nail releases. Explained Jason, "We decided to record all of our favourite songs we've ever written over the last nine years. I can almost say decade now, that's crazy. Basically, we started in the studio this year and we rehearsed them or practised them so we could play them [acoustically]."
As well as the extensive recording and touring with Hawk Nelson, Dunn has somehow found the time to start a solo project. He explained, "Over the last 10 years that I've been writing, these are all the songs that don't get used for Hawk Nelson. [They were] too mid-tempo for Hawk. We tried a couple of piano songs on 'Smile, It's The End Of The World' and they weren't necessarily right for Hawk Nelson. You know, Hawk's got that real distinct punk/rock sound. The music on my solo album is very piano-driven, rock kind of thing. It's something I've been wanting to do forever. We had a lot of off time last year when we were working on the record. Basically, whenever we're not on the road I'm writing; I'm always writing. So I just went through my favourites that I never used for anything, just something to keep the beats of yesterday." Dunn's solo debut is called 'Lights Go Down'. A four-song taster for the album, 'One Step Closer', is already available on CD Baby.
Recently, Jason was asked whether there was a message or emotion to retain after listening to 'Crazy Love'. His response was immediate. "Do something out of the ordinary for somebody else, something crazy! It's never easy to be uncomfortable, but it makes you grow. I've stepped out of my comfort zone many times, and it always ends up being a very positive experience!"The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.