12 Days of Giveaways - Spin & Win! Sign up before Dec. 25th to win daily prizes and a $250 Amazon.com Gift Card. Find out details.

Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Intersection of Life and Faith

Catching Up with ...Hawk Nelson

  • Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 7 Jul
Catching Up with ...Hawk Nelson
Rumor has it that you just performed with Amy Grant at Creation Festival's 30th anniversary. How did that come about?Daniel Biro Jason [Dunn, the band's lead singer] was such a huge fan of hers growing up. I didn't listen to as much Christian music early on, but everyone knows Amy Grant, right? So when we rehearsed with her before playing Creation, I was definitely nervous.But that's the funny thing about her and any other celebrity—she's really so normal once you hang out with her.Biro Yeah, that's what was so cool about it. She was like "Guys, it's not my thing, it's our thing. Let's just go have fun." I guess when she first played Creation thirty years ago, they had their first candlelight service, a special tradition they've continued every year since. So she came back for the candlelight service, and we performed three of her songs together. And since she sang on "One Little Miracle" from our new album Hawk Nelson is My Friend, we all did that one together. It was so much fun that we actually filmed the whole experience. I think the songs are going to eventually end up on iTunes.So does it surprise you that Amy is a Hawk Nelson fan?Quick takes:

What is your favorite place you've ever traveled to?

What's the best meal you can prepare?
I like to make yogurt curry chicken stir fry

What is a pet peeve of yours?
When non-smoking hotel rooms aren't available

My most annoying habit: Sometimes I can be too serious, which doesn't always fit into the Hawk Nelson regime.

What makes you laugh?
Jim Carrey

What's the last good book you read?
The Shackby William P. Young

What's the last good movie you saw?
I'm been kind of disappointed with movies lately, so I've been hooked on Say Anything with John Cusack

What's a song you wish you'd written?
"In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel

What's a band or artist you've been listening to lately?
Sigur Røs

What's your favorite song to play live?
"The Show"

What is your favorite Bible verse?
Mark 12: 28-30

What is the last lesson that God has taught you?
Patience in relationships with others

Biro Oh, she's not a fan! (laughs) But she's really had such a cool attitude about working with us. Like Jason, our manager was a huge Amy Grant fan, so she coordinated Amy's guest appearance on "One Little Miracle." It's been so much fun working together whenever we've had the opportunity.Talking about Hawk Nelson is My Friend, what did the band set out to accomplish with that record?Biro In general, the idea is to top what you've done before, to improve. We worked with a ton of different writers this time to keep growing with our songcraft. We've always had the privilege of working with really talented people like Trevor McNevan (Thousand Foot Krutch). This time we got to work with even more people that we've really admired like Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace.We really set out to have more diversity and an appreciation for different styles of music. While I [don't think] it's different enough for people [to confuse us with someone else], it's still got some different musical elements to it. Obviously we started in the whole pop/punk genre, and we really still like that. But as you progress, you want to try other things and consider how far you can stretch the boundaries without your core fan base getting too bent out of shape.Right, because it can be the kiss of death when you change too much.Biro I think if you're going to do that, you may as well start a side project to showcase that style, under a different name or something. I know Jason loves ballad-y piano stuff, and there is still room in this band to have that. We can't do a whole record of that, but it was still fun to experiment.What life experiences were your drawing from when you were writing the album? You've probably more to say as you grown older and spend time on the road meeting people.Biro Jason wrote "I Still Miss You" about dealing with the loss of his grandmother. Several other songs deal with our lives as musicians, like leaving our hometown when we tour and missing our friends. Other than that, we continue to make music that talks about serious issues and offers positive takeaway. It's hard to get away from the cliché that "God is there, and Jesus is the answer." Sometimes those stock answers aren't enough to make you feel better.It's weird because before we started all of this, we didn't know much about the Christian music scene. In Canada, it's just music. Then you come down here to America, and there's a pressure to drop the "J-Bomb," as we call it (i.e. the name of Jesus). We are definitely huge followers of Christ, and we want it to come across in our music. But we don't want to do it in a cheesy way. I feel like there are others like Jeremy Camp or Chris Tomlin who express their heart for evangelism very well.For us, that's not what we do. We're more of an entertainment-type band. We try to be honest and sincere, and sometimes in this kind of industry, that gets hard because people expect a certain kind of content. You won't find tons of that overt Jesus-is-the-answer stuff in our music. But at the same time, that is our message. We try to be real.How do you deal with that pressure? Christian music is the only genre with those lyrical expectations.Biro The fact of the matter is that if you want to have a hit on Christian radio, you've got to have [overtly spiritual content]. I really look up to bands like Switchfoot. I think [frontman] Jon Foreman is a really awesome writer. You can pick up on his faith, and yet it's not all "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." They've lasted for more than a decade and have had their fair share of ups and downs along the way, but Jon continues to write songs that are compelling, and we hope to do the same.To be clear, I'm not trying to bash the system. I understand needing to get a message across in two to three minutes, and that isn't always easy. There are no easy answers to it, but we know that we want to write songs that are positive, about relationships and friendships.How did you come up with the title Hawk Nelson is My Friend?Biro Hawk Nelson is my friend is kind of a joke because some people think that Hawk Nelson is still some solo dude or something. (laughs) We've had this t-shirt for the past few years with a slogan on it that my wife made up: "Hawk Nelson is my friend." Initially, we were like "That doesn't make sense," and she said "Exactly." But the t-shirt really caught on over the years. And then when we were thinking of a title for the record—which is so hard, by the way—someone suggested Hawk Nelson Is My New Friend because we were talking about relationships in our lyrics. Besides, we really love all the people we meet on the road, and do consider them our friends.Being on the road so many days out of the year, how do you handle band squabbles in a friendly fashion?Biro Every group has its own dynamic. I guess it must be supernatural or something because any time you stick a group of people in tight quarters, there's bound to be fights. But somehow we've learned how to have balance by picking our battles. We've decided not to fight about the small stuff. I guess that's what five years of touring does—we understand each other and all our quirks. I guess some bands break up over stuff like that, but that's not us. We all really love being in this band, and we can either make it work or give it up … and we don't want to give it up!For more about Hawk Nelson, visit our site's artist page, where you'll also find a review of the band's latest album, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend. Visit Christianbook.com to listen to song clips and buy their music© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.