Taking their band name from a Herman Wouk novel, Los Angeles indie pop band, Youngblood Hawke began with five friends. Releasing their self-titled EP in August, the band soon began to grab attention. Their hit single, “We Come Running”, in particular, became one of the most requested songs on the alternative rock radio station, KROQ. Now you can find them on tour with the likes of Passion Pit, The Shins, Tegan and Sara, and Keane. Getting ready to release their debut album, Youngblood Hawke member, Sam Martin, speaks with The GROUND about the importance of music, recording with kids, and what’s next for the band.
What kind of band are you trying to be?
I think the most important thing about this band is the relationship between the individuals. I think at the end of the day we’re just trying to make songs together and keep the friendship that we have. In the end I think that’s what’s going to keep us moving forward.
You’re currently working on your debut album, how is that going?
It’s going amazing! We’ve written almost all the songs and we’re just mixing them right now. We’ll probably be done within the week, so it’s extremely exciting because we’ve been working on the record for two years now. We’re really proud of what we’ve done so far and we’re really excited for everyone to hear it.
What can people expect to hear?
The EPs we released were pretty much all upbeat songs, they all kind of had the same theme. In the back end of the record it’s going to get a little bit weirder. Different themes, different styles, and some of it has a darker tone compared to the EP. In the end they’re all kind of similar with the choruses, powerful messages, melodies, and just our own style.
What’s the process you go through for your music and lyrics?
We write all our music in Simon’s house. He has this tiny bedroom studio that’s like 5 ft by 7ft, it doesn’t have very good air conditioning, it’s been kind of uncomfortable for the last two weeks during this heat wave. He produces all the tracks, he makes like a beat, puts instruments over and we just literally react to the beat and see what it makes us think about. Then we take it from there. We write about the feeling the music brings to us, Nick plays drums, Alice sings and we just get everyone involved and make the best song we possibly can.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I think they’re all over the place. From old stuff like Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and Paul Simon, to new stuff. I think for us it’s about songs, so any great song that makes us feel something inspires us.
“We Come Running” was a great hit for you, what do you think people are responding to?
I think they’re relating to the message because times have been kind of hard and I think people relate to that feeling where everyone wants to do something good. Everyone has that experience to not stop and to not give up on whatever they’re doing. That was the underlying message that came out of the song. People like to feel empowered, and that song hits on that and it reminds people whatever you want to do, if you really want to do it, and you’re passionate, you can make it happen.
How did you record the chorus?
We all sang on it, and then Simon brought in a little kid’s choir on the track. When kids sing on songs it brings a kind of innocence. It sounds really cool and interesting. So he always wanted to get a kid’s choir on a track and we called The West Los Angeles Children’s Choir. We sent them the song and said, “Hey guys, what do you think? Would you be interested in it?” They said, “Absolutely,” and a week later they all came to the studio. There were 6 year olds to 15 year olds, and they were just adorable kids, really confident and funny. It was great.
What do you think about current music today?
I think it’s amazing. I feel like honest music is slowly coming back. I don’t think that it ever left, but I think they’re starting to recognize that bands and songs need to be real and honest. That’s what people are connecting with these days. Real emotions, real songwriting, real stories, and I think that strong storytelling is coming back. With all these bands like Adele, Imagine Dragons, and Fun, they’re coming out with this totally fresh sound with great songs and great messages. It’s really incredible, it always has been, but I think something’s happening more.
What connected you to music, why do you like music so much?
For me, it’s like a strong feeling when I hear a song. There’s a moment in that song that stays with you forever. That song is part of history, so when you hear a song you remember like 6th grade or that girl. There are songs that are attached to memories and emotions, and I think that’s such a powerful thing. You can be sitting on a car, driving down the beach, and a song comes on and takes you away. It takes you back to a time when you were having fun or you weren’t, it’s just a strong connection. I think music has a weird powerful thing about it, I don’t know if there are too many other things that do that.
So what’s ahead for the band?
Just finishing the album which we’re trying to release mid December-early January. Then from here on we’re going to be touring a west coast run. We’re going to shoot a music video next week for “We Come Running” which we’re really excited about. Then we’re going to be playing as many shows as we possibly can. Touring, being out on the road and showing people our music.
Can you talk about the possible concept you have for the music video?
I actually can’t tell you the video concept, because it’s going to be a surprise. It’s going to be out of the box. It’s going to be really exciting, and I think it hasn’t been done before. Hopefully it will turn out like that.