Hawthorne Heights are no strangers to Australia, as they’ve toured here a great many times over the years. However, this time around, the Ohio rockers will be playing through both 2004’s ‘The Silence In Black And White’ as well as its follow-up release, 2006’s ‘If Only You Were Lonely’ in their respective entireties. On top of that, they’ll also be diving into older and newer material from their career, giving fans an all-rounder of a gig experience. Talking to me from a (surprisingly) overcast Palm Springs, California on an off-day during this year’s Warped Tour, singer and guitarist JT Woodruff spoke with me recently about this Aussie, tour, new single ‘Push Me Away’, getting parodied by Jarrod Alonge, and looking back on the past.
Take a geez below.
So JT, how has this year’s Vans Warped Tour been for you and the band? Good, I hope?
Oh man, it’s been incredible. The Warped Tour is one of our favourite things to do. This has been our fourth time on it, there’s just so many wonderful bands on, stages everywhere, fans all over, and I cannot complain as it’s just such a blast. We’re finishing it up now and it’s a bummer to see it end.
Yeah, you guys aren’t strangers to it, just as you also aren’t strangers to Australia. Bad segway, I know.
Yeah, we’ve been around the block with you guys. We always try to go to as many places as possible and we like to go to where ever our fans want us. And we’re not afraid of the hard work, the very long flights or the long drives – we love it.
It is a very long flight, yes. With playing your first two records in full and no disrespect intended, but is that a really safe bet for the band these days as opposed to doing a normal headline tour?
We only did an album tour one time in the States for the ten year anniversary of our first album. The reason we’re doing it this time is that our good friend, Daniel Mistzal, who works at Destroy All Lines thought it’d be a great idea. One) we were recording the last time we played this record and we wanted it to have a better shot with DAL behind it and two) we like to have a lot of fun in Australia and you guys like to crank it up, so we wanted to give Aussie fans what they want to hear. So while we’ll play both of our first two albums, we’ll also play a few other songs as well.
Cool! And if you’re doing two album sets and then a few other songs… shit, that’s a big set JT!
It’s a hell of a long set! [Laughs].
Then again, I know Daniel as well, and that seems like something he’d love to have you do.
Yeah, he’s gonna push us hard, but we’ll enjoy it. We’re also really excited to bring a few friends over from the new and old days. We’ve got Shane Told from Silverstein, who we’ve known since 2004, playing his River Oaks material. Mark Rose from Spittelfield, who we’ve also known since 2004, coming along. Then we have your boys in Sienna Skies, and we’ve known for them a couple years. This tour is really just our way of having a great, fun time. These bands, we love that they’re coming along with us too!
Glad to hear it, man. In terms of album tours, both Underoath and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus did similar tours here earlier this year and both went really well. It’s a very popular formula.
Yeah, definitely. One thing that we do have to look out for is that there are a lot of expenses involved for us when coming over to Australia than some other countries or taking a trip around the US. So we have to do our best and we know that Daniel and DAL will do really well, hence why we love to work with them both when possible. They’re legends.
There’s a good level of trust there, that’s easy to see. And that’s who you want to work with in any scenario – someone you trust.
Exactly! We would prefer to use DAL every time as they do great stuff and we love Daniel as a person too. But if you’re on a support tour, you often don’t get to make those decisions. We get ten days off and then we fly right over to you guys.
I’ve heard that Hawthorne Heights are recording or maybe even releasing a new album this year. But do you think that going back to your older records – even just for an Australian tour – may undermine new material or do you think it’s more balanced than that; giving a nice little hurrah of the past before you move on?
I don’t think it undermines anything; I don’t think music can do that. While playing old and new songs, everyone wins. As we wanna give our fan what we want but we ourselves also want to play newer songs that we’ve been loving.
Sure, aim for the best of both worlds. In terms of newer songs, like ‘Push Me Away’, I thought it was very commendable on your part to raise awareness of certain charities.
Thank you! We were just trying to be a positive influence in some pretty dark times, which is something that I think we all should be aiming for right now.
Do you think that that’s something that’s endeared since ‘The Silence In Black & White’, that underlying sense of positivity?
Yeah, I would agree with that, and that’s really been our intention. I think that if you have any kind of light upon you, you should try to make a positive impact, and that shouldn’t just be based on your personal decisions. So we’re really trying to help whoever is listening to our music that may be going through a dark time, we want to help them through that. We’re not just trying to write songs that solely provide a party. We’re not a party band, we’re not a “crank it up” band, we’re a band that’s trying to be sincere in our message and our music. Not all the time, mind you, but that’s basically what we aim for.
Well said, JT. Do you ever feel the weight of that sincerity at times? A lot of your bands from the emo/scene/Myspace era of alternative music, get lumped into this group from listeners that have been so emotionally and mentally aided by your music?
I’ll be honest with you dude, yes, definitely! It can be a very tough, very heavy conversation to have with someone that a song you wrote has helped keep them here on this Earth. Just… because of the sheer weight of what those words mean. As for us as a band, it is uplifting for us that we can provide someone with that with our music. It’s heavy, that’s all I can really say. We want people to know what there is help out there, whether it be in the form of a human being or a song, and that during the hardest parts of your day, you should try to focus on the best parts of your day – you can’t let that negativity bring you down.
A band from out here in Australia, The Amity Affliction, their vocalist Joel spoke about this topic quite publically, saying how he struggles to talk with fans about those issues as it can be so overwhelming to deal with. He felt like there was such a responsibility placed upon him. It can be so tricky.
It definitely is a tricky thing, to open yourself up in a way that can help people, but also be construed in the wrong way is just so heavy. As musicians and songwriters, that’s just something we have to endure some times.
Yeah, the worst thing is when you try to put something positive or harmless out there and it gets taken so negatively and may even go to an extreme you didn’t think it’d ever reach. In what is probably poor taste on my part for such a dramatic topic change, but did you see Jarrod Alonge’s new medley song, ‘Ohio Is For Emo Kids‘?
[Laughs] yeah, we saw that! I thought it was so funny. It’s pretty creative how he took all of those songs and mashed them up and blended them together. I’ve never actually met him before but I’ve heard some other songs he’s done and he seems like a really, really creative guy. I don’t think he means any ill will towards us or to any band, either – he’s just making light-hearted songs.
Yeah, I agree. And the name he released that under was Canadian Softball…
Yeah! A nice little reference to Modern Baseball. [Laughs]. It’s all very tongue-in-cheek and you can’t take any offence to something like that.
I have seen a few bands get upset about his work, though (*cough Knuckle Puck cough*). But at the same time, he wouldn’t have called the song that if Hawthorne Heights’ music didn’t impact him some way.
Exactly! That’s so flattering to me. It’s like Weird Al, when he parodies a song, that means it had a real impact on him. Plus, people always know what the original song is from good parodies like that too!
Tickets for Hawthorne Heights Aussie tour this month with River Oaks, Mark Rose (of Spitafield), Sienna Skies are on sale now, check out the full tour dates below:
Monday, August 28th – Amplifier Bar, Perth
Tuesday, August 29th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide Lic/AA
Thursday, August 31st – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Friday, September 1st – Small Ballroom, Newcastle
Saturday, September 2nd – The Bald Faced Stag, Sydney
Sunday, September 3rd – The Zoo, Brisbane
Monday, September 4th – Shark Bar, Gold Coast
Tuesday, September 5th – Kings Arms, Auckland