Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Ripple Conversation With Freedom Hawk

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Bad Brains, Metallica, Kyuss

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

An idea or riff or jamming together.  It comes as an idea or riff (with or without vocals) from either one of us that brings into rehearsal or we come up with something when we are jamming together in a creative mind frame. The creativity just comes from free flowing jams and riffs crammed in a 6x10 room until they feel right…we arrange them… work out a singing pattern…then we record with a room mic and a 16 track.  We’d play it back and laugh sometimes or cringe or be stoked on others.   We have A LOT of jams on that thing. There is a lot of spaced out, drawn out songs that go on for a long time, some of them 15minutes or more.   We have A LOT of jams on that the 16 track…we’re just too lazy or don’t have the patience to listen to them all unless we’re letting loose and letting it play in the background.  Then one of us will stop and say “did ya hear that play it back”.  And if sounds cool at the time we will complete the jam into a song.  Everyone brings ideas to the table and we all work together to create a song everyone is happy with.  Of course not all ideas turn into songs.  I would say there are at least three ideas shelved or dropped for every one song we write. It's a natural process…sometimes slow but every member has input and eventually we come to a holistic piece of work that hopefully the end product is better than if one or two individuals did all the writing and others just played what they were told to play.  Sometimes we put a song together on the fly altogether or someone one or two of us brings in an idea or riff and we work around that altogether in our jam room.

Who has influenced you the most?

As a band, it’d be probably be 70’s rock and 90s stoner rock.  We’ve been jamming together a long time so can’t pinpoint one thing. It depends on who you ask in the band and it varies widely but we all meet somewhere in the middle at  - Black Sabbath (deep tracks more on the blues side), Kyuss, Thin Lizzy, COC, Misfits, Iron Maiden, Blue Cheer, Zep, Scorpions (70s), Tull, Soundgarden, to name a few...everything around that genre.  Our inspiration was to play music that we listened to but weren't hearing in our home town, beer, life experiences and a little help from mother nature...

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation? 

All kinds of things… new equipment, life experiences, new bands, old bands, band ups and downs..almost anything.  We don’t look for it…it comes to us…sometimes easy and sometimes really hard.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

There are a lot of balls out rock in this state. We are a product of our coastal environment in the south and it comes out in the music. Southeastern VA (Tidewater) is made up of 7 separate cities all next to each other around the tidal water, bay water, ocean water and dismal swamp. Our environment and diversity is what comes out in our music at least in some of the feel and lyrics and overall message..It's straight heavy rock with some punk, metal, and groove subtleties that makes us unique.  We live in a resort suburban area (largest suburb in the US, by the way) so there are a lot of entertainment spots which means there are A LOT of cover bands making lots of money off other people’s tunes which we don’t agree with. We would rather see a not so good metal band giving there all then a shitty top 40 cover band.  Overall that's what makes our music unique...we love rock with great hooks but make an effort to not be exactly like the rest or copying someone else’s music. 

Where'd the band name come from? 

TV commercial – Is that Freedom Rock? Well turn it up! Freedom Hawk, in name, started February 2006 when we opened up for Year Long Disaster.  The promoter for that show contacted us, asking for the name of our band.  We really didn’t have a name at that point.  We were batting around a few ideas, Freedom Hawk was one of them, but we could never decide on a name.  Since we had to provide one, T.R. told him Freedom Hawk.  That name has just stuck with us ever since. 

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

EZ Rider or Big Wednesday

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Hollow Caverns.  Our first song on our first demo in 2005 and a produced/studio re-mastered version on our S/T coming out on Vinyl via Ripple soon. Because the song is about pulling into huge tubes.  Or The Line – it’s about surfing...and a metaphor for life of the line that everyone draws their own line both in life and on a wave. 

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

There are quite a few of them. But one comes to mind… we were at a gig in Ashville, NC and started loading up the gear. We thought someone stole our guitar cabinet. We went on a rampage and tried to take one of the venue's monitor. Got kicked out, woke up the next day, come to find out we left the guitar cabinet in the parking lot. It was a bit embarrassing but funny.  Then we realized we left two of Lenny’s drums in Florida.  Wasn’t funny to Lenny at the time but it did force him to get a new drum kit which in the end turned out better for him and our sound.  We all laugh about it now.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans?

Energetic fun.  It’s great for all when our energy rises and we have a good time on stage and that translates back to us from the fans fist pumping singing all the lyrics.  But it can be ugly sometimes cause some of our hardcore fans try and drown us in liquor …we have to turn down a lot of shots of whisky… it’s no fun when you don’t even remember the next day playing the gig or freaking out wonder where all your gears located, especially an irreplaceable vintage Gibson guitar.

What makes a great song?

Honesty, conviction, and a hook.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote? 

Hollow Caverns. It’s a surf tune about surfing big waves and pulling into huge tubes and a metaphor for life (perseverance, etc.) in some cases whether intentional or not. 

What about your music are you particularly proud of?

That people actually listen to it and in some cases actually pay for it.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Too many to name

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?


Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice. 

Whiskey and Beer – Shot and a Beer Deal! Actually… Beer then Liquor

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Vinyl Daze

What's next for the band?

Complete new album, S/T Vinyl release, SXSW, Desertfest London, Berlin and complete Euro tour in 2018.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders? 

Thanks for reading…and listening everyone and Ripple for making it happen.  We appreciate the interview too. Thanks to everyone who has supported us, continues to support us, and spends there hard earned time and money on us! And, anyone who bothered to read this and Ripple for making it happen.  Oh yeah… we are a 4 piece again – welcome Brendan O’Neil on second guitar and will be on our new album in the works!

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