Hawk Nelson's "End of the World" Keeps Getting Better
- Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Some bands get all the breaks. In the case of Canadian-bred punk rock outfit Hawk Nelson, the last two years have been rife with the kind of milestone experiences most artists only dream about.
Consider just a few of the opportunities served up to this crew since they crashed onto the Christian music scene in 2004: A live-performance appearance in a major film starring Rene Russo and Dennis Quaid ( "Yours, Mine & Ours" ); guest roles on the former NBC drama “American Dreams” as The Who – singing “My Generation,” no less; song airplay during commercials for the 2004 Summer Olympics; and, last but not least, the recent designation as “Favorite New Artist” in CCM’s Readers’ Choice Awards.
Hawk Nelson’s meteoric rise has been extraordinary, to say the least. Here’s a group whose debut project, "Letters to the President" (Tooth & Nail), has sold an impressive 115,000-plus copies. The band has also gotten ink everywhere from Billboard to Tiger Beat, not to mention a photo op in Alternative Press with supermodel Heidi Klum. And now, with sophomore effort "Smile, It’s the End of the World" getting loads of positive buzz, one might think the trappings of success would usher in swelled egos, senses of entitlement and those ridiculous celebrity demands like requiring imported Finnish glacier water in their hotel room toilets.
Fortunately, for fans and tour managers alike, that assumption is dead wrong. In fact, of all the artists this music journalist has ever interviewed, these guys seem as unaffected as they come. Evidence of their blithesome spirit appeared near the end of a phone interview for this article, as bassist Daniel Biro said, “Call me when you come to Nashville, and we’ll go get coffee … seriously.” The energetic 24-year-old then proceeded to provide his cell phone number.
Hailing from a suburb of Ontario, Canada, Hawk Nelson originated while front man Jason Dunn, now 23, was still in high school. “I was 19 years old, and my lifelong dream was to be in a band,” Dunn recalls. “Everyone told me I needed to have a ‘Plan B,’ but I never came up with one. I actually left my graduation early to play a show with Relient K.”
The group’s moniker was derived from a name Dunn made up while playing a Sony Playstation “2Xtreme” game. “All the guys thought it sounded pretty cool,” Dunn says with a laugh. The name stuck.
Dunn says he never thought Hawk Nelson would go as far as it has, but he’s always hoped for the best. “When you’re a kid, you sit around and think about what it would be like to become famous,” he admits before adding this perspective: “I think it’s important to find something that makes you fulfilled. A lot of times that involves risk and challenge. But the one thing that matters most is that God is in it.”
It’s that kind of passion and exuberance that makes Hawk Nelson so endearing to its fans. Perhaps that’s why the band’s music has resonated so well in such a short amount of time. Grinding out one performance after another in the independent Toronto music scene – including gigs at youth group functions, arcades and colleges – Hawk Nelson quickly developed a loyal following. They soon captured the attention of Trevor McNevan from the group Thousand Foot Krutch, whose industry contacts ultimately helped land the foursome on Tooth & Nail’s roster. You know the rest of the story.
McNevan, who co-wrote and co-produced Hawk Nelson’s debut, once again lends a hand in writing part of the band’s new project. The group also brought back good friend Aaron Sprinkle to produce "Smile." “The quality and production of this record represent a huge step up from our first effort,” says Dunn. “The first record included a lot more of a pop sound, but we wanted to move in an edgier more rock-driven direction. Aaron did a good job helping us accomplish that goal.”
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