Following the release of their 2010 album Modern Bodies, I had a chance to catch up with Leeds' Hawk Eyes as they prepare to release their new album, Ideas, next month on the 26th of March. We had a chance to talk about the new album, their influences and some weird goings on in a hotel when they signed a Japanese deal alongside a Christmas carol singing choir. So yeah, why not make the jump for the interview and delve a little deeper into the minds of four young gents from Leeds making one hell of a lot of noise.
So you're about to release Ideas and from what I've heard it is top draw so firstly congratulations. Was the approach to this album any different from Modern Bodies?
Rob: Thank you very much. The attitude we had towards the music was slightly different, we didn't really have an idea or a plan for Modern Bodies it was just the songs we came up with, all the songs on that album are pretty full on with chugging guitars and screaming vocals. I specifically didn't want to come up with another album of purely chugging guitars, we wanted to make something with more variety.
Paul: Personally i was very keen to show that we can do something more than Modern Bodies; that album really stemmed from a place we once were, and we had moved on by the time it came to putting Ideas together.
Ryan: I guess the general approach was to progress past Modern Bodies and not repeat ourselves. We'd been playing the Modern Bodies material for a long time and had probably slightly worn ourselves out on it. We were ready for a fresh approach and keen to try out a lot of different things.
This album seems to be a different sound for you guys, a growth if you will, was this a conscious decision or was it a natural progression? It sound like a continuation of what was happening on the Mindhammers EP to me..
Rob: Its funny you should say that as they were actually written the opposite way around, the album came first, then the Mindhammers EP! I think it was a bit of both. The music everyone was writing wasn't like Modern Bodies but we didn't force this decision it did seem to come quite naturally.
Paul: It was quite arduous writing and recording Ideas, the Mindhammers EP felt like a release valve, we just thrashed it out and recorded it. It was very cathartic.
Ryan: Yeah, it was like a cleansing process, kind of wiping the slate clean. The album took a long time to write and record with some stumbling blocks along the way. All told, it probably took a good year if not longer to put together. Mindhammers was written and recorded in two months. We needed that after the long and drawn out process of the album to prove to ourselves we could do it.
Staying with that Kudos to Paul who has some lungs on him! Did that addition of his use of the singing voice more play a part in the writing process?
Rob: Vocals always come last when we write music, there we're a few points where we purposely left 'space' or Paul would suggest parts for the vocals he had in mind but they didn't get realised until we went to the studio.
Paul: Thanks, i was unsure about using a lot of that style on Modern Bodies, it wouldn't have been right, but this time it just felt like it was and everyone seems happy with how its turned out.
Ryan: A small part, as Rob says most of the vocals were realised after the music, but there where always 'ideas' floating around that could of influenced the structures of songs or composition of parts. Mostly the music came first and I think that Paul was able to diversify a lot more vocally because of the variation / progression of style in the music since Modern Bodies.
After catching you at your Manchester date with Turbowolf and The JCQ last year, you've also played a few shows with Ginger and Friends late last year. Have you been getting major love from one specific city on your travels and what's your favourite/most memorable gig to date and why?
Rob: London gigs always seem to be pretty good, in terms of sheer volume of people Leeds Festival 2 years ago was insane.
Ryan: Either that or Ginger's birthday gig in London last year. We weren't even properly playing but he asked us to do a few songs with him. Two of our own and a Helmet cover. The revolving cast of musicians playing with him over the whole gig was ridiculous. I've never been involved with anything like that before and probably never will.
Any weird/wonderful tour stories to share with us?
Rob: I wish I could say the gig that Eddie Van Halen and John Petrucci turned up, unfortunately I can't.
Paul: We signed a Japanese deal in a hotel lobby whilst a choir sang Christmas Carols and someone threw an iphone 4 at Rob. That was a normal moment.
Ryan: That was a bit surreal, yeah! What happens on tour, stays on tour, and is actually really boring and non scandalous. Lots of coffee and sneaking into travel lodges under the dark of night.
For people who haven't heard you and are new fans, how would you describe your new album and the sound it has undertaken in just 4 words?
Rob: Songs with massive riffs
Paul: The way we wanted
Ryan: Music, guitars, fully rocking.
What major influences do you have as a band? Individually or on the whole, are you all into similar stuff are you all fighting over which CD will be on the vans stereo when on the road?
Rob: There are bands we all like for example: Toto, Dillinger Escape Plan, Michael Jackson, Pantera and Meshuggah however generally we all listen to very different music/bands. This is a healthy thing for our band, we all bring different approaches to music. Lets just say its not the easiest thing to do a 9 hour drive whilst listening to constantly harsh/heavy music.
Paul: Erasure, Melvins, Enya and The Urban Cookie Collective
Ryan: For noisy stuff, bands like Shellac, Unsane, Today is the Day, Dysrhythmia, Botch. Anything noisy and weird really. Otherwsie Miles Davis, Otis Redding, Fleetwood Mac, Contemporary pop music etc. Collectively we can always find things to listen to. A lot of 80's power ballads and hard rock seems to be a uniting factor
With Ideas you've changed labels and also gone down the Pledge Music route to involve fans, and I must say, offer up some pretty cool little one offs. What made you guys go down this road with album number 2?
Rob: We wanted to find a way to say thank you to anyone who Pre-Ordered the new album, Pledge seemed an idea way to do this. We could offer people Demos, Live Videos and anything else we could think of. We are massively grateful to anyone who takes the time to do something like ordering our album.
Ryan: Like Rob says it was a way to interact closer with the fans who wanted to get involved from the pre order stage. It was quite humbling to have so many people do so as soon as it was announced. If any pledgers are reading this, thank you very much!
Once Ideas is released in March do you plan to take it on the road and hit up some festivals over the summer to support it?
Rob: We have 2 release shows in March in Leeds and London, we are currently in process of sorting out tours/festivals/one offs. Watch this space, or rather watch our website!
Ryan: The plans always there to promote our releases on the road. Like Rob says we're working things out at the minute and will have more of an idea nearer the release so keep your eyes open. Right now we have around 8 shows booked till summer, including the release shows, we'll be announcing the rest of these soon.
From the new album for me, "You Deserve A Medal" is a personal favourite. That track slays. The riffs on this album just continue to get better and better with every listen. What's your favourite and in a live situation do you all have a personal favourite to play? Or is it a different track on a nightly basis?
Rob: I don't have 1 favourite but I'm really pleased with how "Hollywood Sweatshop" and "Headstrung" came together.
Paul: Yeah, I really like "Headstrung", I didn't like having to learn to play it however! My favourite (and possibly the most straightforward) to play is "You Deserve A Medal". Fast and to the point.
Ryan: "Hollywood Sweatshop" is the most accomplished song on the album for me. Really challenging to play and its a bit of a monster in the way its put together. I do like all the tracks that made the album though, other standouts for me are "Skyspinners", "Headstrung", "You Deserve a Medal" and "Bees". I think we'll enjoy playing "You deserve a medal" and "Yes Have Some" live.
Are there any bands you guys are personally loving right now that you can turn us onto that we might have missed. Leeds bands or someone from far, far away maybe!?
Rob: Shallows, These Monsters, Trieste, Led Zeppelin, Astrohenge, Liquid Tension Experiment.
Ryan: Blacklisters, Mother Destroyer, Dingus Khan, KEN mode, That Fucking Tank, Hookworms
Lastly, good luck with the new album, it's a goodie, and I hope to see you guys again soon! Cheers.
Rob: Thank you, thank you, thank you
Paul: What he said.
What a truly lovely bunch of gents! Their album Ideas is released on March 26th and it is truly a riff filled, face shredding album that is sure to take them onto greater things. We'll be keeping a close eye on them and inform you of those cheekily hinted 8 tour dates coming up. You can pre-order their album over here and whilst we we have your attention, give their new video for "Skyspinners" a watch below.