Hawk Nelson happenings
The title behind Hawk Nelson’s fifth CD Crazy Love (Tooth & Nail) is meant to shake up fans from even the slightest shred of complacency when it comes to their walks of faith. And with a soundtrack that’s split between high-octane pop, gritty punk, plus a handful of introspective offerings, chances are they’ll find plenty of inspiration, while also realizing just how much the Canadian foursome has grown in nearly a decade together.
“We’ve been a band for nine years now and I feel like we’ve gotten to know our audience pretty well and they are who we are writing these songs for,” notices frontman Jason Dunn. “I hope it encourages our listeners to do something extraordinary – something crazy. Stepping out of their comfort zone is a challenge, but it makes you grow... Being a Christian isn’t about being cool, it’s about being different.”
As for the band’s musical growth, the once raw teens are now evolving into finely chiseled players thanks to endless evolution on the road, along with new collaborations in the studio. On Crazy Love, the group expanded its production sphere even further to team with Ian Eskelin (front man of All Star United and Dove Award-winning producer), which results in one of its most contagious collections to date. (Dunn even promises “nine songs for the kids – a.k.a. the punk ones – and five for the moms.”)
“Both punk-rock and pop have had their places in Hawk Nelson over the years, and this album confirms that,” interjects bassist Daniel Biro. “In my opinion you’ve got 50 percent of each complimenting one another. It’s a struggle each time around to find a balance, but I feel pretty good with Crazy Love.”
Gillespie goes solo
Between time as the beat keeper for Underoath and leader of its offshoot act The Almost, Aaron Gillespie (pictured above) is one of the most familiar faces in both hardcore and alternative rock circles. He’s also amidst the most prolific and varied, as evidenced by his first ever solo disc Anthem Song (Tooth & Nail/BEC Recordings), which hints at elements of his aggressive past, but also unveils a vertical side to his songwriting.
“It’s been a long road to get here, and through all of it, I’ve known that my number-one goal is to glorify God,” asserts Gillespie of his artistic journey thus far. “I’m really trying to just be honest about my faith and who I am... I honestly didn’t try to change anything about worship music. I just want to be a part of the God’s anthem and sing along. I wasn’t really trying to make huge stylistic shift.”
With his familiar musical fabric in tact, it begs the question of why Gillespie decided to go solo, but it seems a career move was the last thing on his mind when making the decision. “I don’t really know if this is ‘solo,’” he ponders. “I got my start as a musician playing worship music and I’ve always known that I was eventually supposed to go back to doing so. God truly called me back into this and I really want to just consider it service to Him, not me going solo.”
Re-introducing Echoing Angels
The decision for Echoing Angels to self-title its second CD doesn’t merely signal a creative rebirth for the band, but a remarkable comeback trail given the extensive strife members endured. Besides ending partnerships with a previous record label and booking agency, the band’s manager passed away, all of which contributed to members’ reassessing their purpose. Despite the industry side of their ministry crumbling, the five guys from Atlanta got all their behind the scenes ducks back in a row and adapted a back to basics evangelism approach.
“We are a ministry seeking to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ first and foremost,” assures drummer Jon “JP” Poole. “We want everyone to hear our songs and sing along to our lyrics. We feel strongly that God placed those lyrics on our hearts and gave us the message not to be stored up, but to be proclaimed and let His light shine. Our music is a vessel carrying messages about Christ, love, encouragement and real life situations that anyone can relate to.”
One song in particular (“Give You Peace”) stands out on the soulful rock n’ roll record (think Kings of Leon meets NEEDTOBREATHE) that illustrates that very inspiration. “Our friend Brooke Raines was diagnosed with Neurofibromatosis at the age of 14 and battled this for 16 years until her death in May of 2010,” shares frontman Trey Heffinger. “This disease caused non-cancerous tumors to grow along her brain and spine and would grow large to the point of having surgery to remove them. She had 25-plus operations, and with each procedure, a little bit of her was taken away including her ability to walk, to see, to hear and to speak. But through all of this, she never wavered and she understood the purpose God had for her, becoming a powerful witness to doctors, nurses, children and anyone whoever got the chance to speak with her. Through deformity of diseases or other things that make us feel worthless, God still sees us as beautiful, and will give us peace as long as we choose to walk with Him.”
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About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, IllinoisEntertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He’s also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park’s Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel’s very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).