Interview: Hawks Do Not Share
After listening to ‘A Dream to Hold on to’ I can only say I’m honoured to have you here in the Sanctum! Let me start with my classic question: Why ‘Hawks Do Not Share’? What is the story behind the band’s name?
GL3 - Honored to be with you! I’ll spare you the slightly longer version of how we ended up with the name and pick-up at the time and place of inspiration. I was reading Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” on a plane home after visiting family, when I flipped to the chapter “Hawks Do Not Share,” which is an unflattering portrait of Zelda Fitzgerald as I recall. The band isn’t named so much for the story as a song by an obscure Nick Rhodes (Duran Duran) side project called The Devils, who had a song called “Hawks Don’t Share” on their lone album “Dark Circles” (which I still quite enjoy!). I happened to have bought that (rather expensive import) CD probably a decade prior in the same city I departed from earlier that day, so it felt like a cosmic coincidence of sorts.
When was the band formed and how did this union happen?
Jeremy - Initially, GL3 and I started recording a record together in late 2012. At the time it was supposed to be his solo record with me producing, but we have a way of working really seamlessly together so it didn’t take long till we were writing and producing everything together. The new music didn’t really sound like anything either of us had done before so we decided it needed a new name and a new band.
We had a few different people in and out of the band early on; our friend Erich who played guitar on some of the first record rehearsed with us for a bit and my wife, D, who is in my other band, played keys and bass for a bit. In those early days I was also helping Britt record and mix some of her own songs. She heard the HDNS record coming together since she was in the studio a lot and ended up replacing Erich on guitar when he left and also playing synths and handling backing vocals. By the time the first record was released the band was locked in as GL3, Britt and I. Jason saw us live at our record release show for HDNS and though a friend of a friend expressed interest in joining the band. It just so happened that Britt was sick of playing guitar so Jason took up that role and she moved to keyboards full-time. Which made sense. We kinda need two keyboard players live!
Jason- I was so taken with the music from the HDNS release show. I remember joking to a mutual friend, “Tell them if they are ever in need of another guitarist to give me a call!” I was so thrilled to get that call about 6 months later and spent many hours in the week leading up to my first rehearsal with the band learning songs and trying to formulate my approach, hoping that I could add something to this already great and distinctive sound.
Is music a full-time job for the members of HDNS? If not, what else keeps you occupied?
Jeremy - I wish. We probably all wish music was our main gig but no. I do a few things. I have been doing high-end photo-retouching for 16 years. I also record, produce, and mix other artists, and I run our record label, No Movement Records.
Jason - I’m lucky to make a living as a commercial and documentary cinematographer, and make music for a kid’s podcast (with a lot less delay).
Britt - I’ve been in the healthcare field for almost 30 years, which has been one of my main passions, but music and art make up the other 50% and joyfully balance out the other work stress!
What was your vision behind your debut album ‘HDNS’? Do you remember how it felt for the band to release their first full body of work out there?
Jeremy - I was very proud of that record. Like I said, at the time it didn’t sound like anything we’d done before. I remember being uncharacteristically hopeful when the record came out. I really thought it might end up being some sort of hit. Didn’t really work out that way but I still love those songs.
GL3 - I remember it as an incredibly exciting time. We managed to score a release show at a much larger venue than we’re accustomed to performing at, opening for a band from the UK who were here on a national tour. Imagine our surprise when we recognized almost every person in the crowd that night! Suffice to say it didn’t lead to the kind of exposure we were hoping for, and as Jeremy alluded, the album, despite receiving several favorable reviews, didn’t propel us to much notoriety.
Now, let’s get to my main point: ‘A Dream to Hold on to’. Please express yourself freely on how you feel about this beauty after all those years of working on it. What does it mean to you?
Jeremy - I think we each had a very different experience making the record. I really struggled to produce and finish this record. For me it was a bit of an identity crisis masquerading as a record. The songs were written over a much longer span of time than the first record and I wasn’t really sure what the record was. As in, what kind of record were we trying to make? I knew where GL3 was coming from with the lyrics, but I pretty drastically overhauled the musical arrangements a couple times trying to find the sound I wanted. Honestly, there were times when I hated the record. I feel like I only really found my connection to it and discovered what the record wanted to be while I was mixing. We were still editing and adding new bits right up till the last days of mixing. In the end though, I love it. I think maybe it means more to me and feels more personal and rewarding because it was such a difficult birth.
Jason - I have to give so much credit to Jeremy and to GL3 for the wonderful end product here. These songs have evolved a bunch over time - many ideas started in rehearsal, or perhaps took solid form there. But others were ideas that we passed around via email at first. It was so much fun to get mixes and hear new sounds, or a new set of lyrics, or vocal harmonies from Britt that I hadn’t heard before. For a few of these songs, I’d send Jeremy like 8 or 10 different guitar tracks and he somehow waded through my multiple approaches and refined it into what you hear on the album.
GL3 - I think we made this album more for ourselves than any other body of work I’ve ever been involved with. By that I mean we didn’t have any pretensions about what might get people’s attention, played on the radio, etc. We really took it track by track, refining each recording until we were entirely convinced it was the perfect rendition of the song. Often when we finish a record, I’m already thinking about the next thing, but I feel strangely at peace with what we accomplished with this record.
Britt - This record is for me such a culmination of what we strove together to manifest throughout our time as a band - warm synths and thick percussion and meaningful progressions - which is a wonderful feeling when it’s our sophomore LP.
Honestly, I believe an album should consist of 8-9 tracks with each one being able to stand on its own and you did that more than successfully. How did you manage to narrow down your choices?
Jeremy - We only started with 10 songs so that helped! There was one song that I just couldn’t bring myself to even finish. It shall remain nameless. At the time that GL3 wrote it, it made sense and I understood what it was saying, but by the time I was mixing, well into the pandemic and lockdown, I realized that it felt like it belonged to a different time and had no place in this new Covid world. It’ll probably never get finished. The other song we cut, “In Rain”, was a more difficult choice. It was one of the first songs we had for the record, a rare song that we wrote entirely together as a band in our rehearsal space, and I’d always imagined it being the opening track to this record. When we were trying to decide on the final track order GL3 kinda shocked me when he suggested we cut it. I knew in my gut that it didn’t fit the record anymore, it was too rock-n-roll compared to the other songs and didn’t fit the mood, but I think I needed to hear someone else say it out loud. I’m glad he did cause I would have regretted leaving it on the record.
GL3 - Jeremy’s wife (and HDNS alumni) D submitted what she thought should be the tracklist, which included the brilliant idea to lead the album off with “Astoria”. I think the first half of the album ended up exactly how she ordered it, and I ordered the second half in a way that felt right to me. Growing up, a lot of cassettes and CDs I bought didn’t have 8 good songs on a 12 or 13 song album! 8 songs probably also fits the modern attention span better, in any event.
Can you please elaborate on the stories behind my personal favorites, ‘Midtown’ and ‘Abraxas’?
Jeremy - “Abraxas” was another rare song written by us all together in the rehearsal space. I really like how I hear a little bit of each of us in it. The strings at the beginning and end are pure Britt and Jason’s guitar is so good that I took most of my original piano parts out to create more space for the guitar to live. I remember improvising that middle bridge part where everything filters out. I actually do that manually live and it’s never the same twice. I think the production feels more dynamic than most of our songs, which really helps to express the complexity of the emotions and the relationship GL3 is singing about.
GL3 - I wrote the lyrics to “Abraxas” prior to that magic moment in rehearsal. It was extraordinary how well they fit into what Jeremy, Britt, and Jason were playing. A close friend of mine actually told me recently that he has an acoustic demo of what must be a very different song with some of the words to “Abraxas” that he recorded several years ago. I’m curious to hear it, as I have zero recollection of the “original” vocal melody or what I was playing on guitar! I’m happy to hear that you like “Midtown”, as it’s one of my favorites as well. “Midtown” came together through one of our more traditional routes, beginning with a bedroom demo that I sent to Jeremy, who rearranged and produced the hell out of it. However, it wasn’t until we got guitar tracks from Jason that its potential was fully realized. I think it’s maybe the best example of how well we complement one another as musicians.
They are all your children, I know, but I’d love to know if there are tracks in your latest album that are a bit more special to you.
Jeremy - At this point they all are pretty important to me but my favorite is “Last Light”. I was feeling something very intense when I wrote that music; a combination of grief, regret, and nostalgia. I know that GL3 wrote the lyrics about something entirely different, something he was feeling, and from his perspective, but the way the music and vocals fit together feels perfect to me. I love the vocal melodies and lyrics. Also, Jason’s guitar solo absolutely blew me away. I never would have thought to have a solo like that in that song.
GL3 - I agree with Jeremy, in my mind they’re all crucial to the sum being greater than its parts.
Britt- My personal favorite is “Echoes”, deep and such a personal track.
Are there artists that might have inspired the sound of the band? What are your influences?
Jeremy - There’s a lot but for me it’s all about Depeche Mode, always and forever. Specifically the Alan Wilder era.
Jason - I’ve always been into Peter Gabriel and early Genesis.
Britt - I grew up Mormon on church hymns, which gave me a solid education in harmonies and chord progressions, but by teenage-hood I was all indie and electronic and was listening to Discovery (Vampire Weekend offshoot) obsessively when we met. It fit!
GL3 - I grew up completely obsessed with George Michael, vocally speaking. I’m often mindful of taming that influence, but I let it loose on some of these songs. I particularly recall working on “Echoes” very shortly after he died, which was therapeutic for me. The bridge contains perhaps the most GM sounding thing I’ve ever recorded, but it wasn’t contrived, it just came out that way.
Please name some artists/bands from the contemporary scene that you’d like to recommend.
Jeremy - I’m gonna go full-on shameless self-promotion here. I’m currently working with two other Portland based bands that I love and think people should check out; Sex Park and Darkswoon. I’m producing records for both of them. Sex Park has already released two singles that I worked on, “Obligation” and “Rose Absolute” and the full record will be out next year. We’re finishing the Darkswoon record this week. I’m not sure when it’ll be released, but their previous record, Bind, which I did not work on, is really great. Also, my other band, We Are Parasols, is pretty okay…
GL3 - Jeremy and I both separately contributed to an album that’s very nearly finished by our friend Gino Mari’s band, The Gentry. Gino is an incredible talent and an even better human being, and I’m so excited to finally hear the complete album. “As Days Get Dark” by Arab Strap is my favorite album of the year. “The Blue of Distance” by Elori Saxl also spends a lot of time on my turntable these days, if you’re in the mood for something hypnotic.
What are your plans now that your sophomore Is out?
Jeremy - Figure out how to get as many people as possible to listen to it!
Jason - I’m really looking forward to a time when we can share this stuff live.
GL3 - We all have quite a lot going on away from the band, which probably helps explain why it took so long to release our sophomore record! More than anything I miss rehearsal, as it created an excuse for me to make music, compare notes about film and TV, and complain about politics with 3 people that I really love spending time with. So yeah, we’ve talked about eventually playing the album live start to finish, and I hope we get to do that at some point… once our local hospital ICUs aren’t overrun with Covid patients. I also don’t think we’ve fully unlocked the potential of our collaborative powers, so perhaps we’ll work on a single or EP at some point down the road. For now, however, I’m content for people to finally hear this album!
Britt - Ditto to the above - playing live! I miss practicing and getting out with everyone and supporting the music scene here. I’m so excited for the record to be finished and shared with the internet-verse for now.
Enjoy HDNS's music here: