Richie Power of HAWKE the BAND told David Hennessy about the band releasing a single every month this year, getting the early endorsement of Aslan singer Christy Dignam and getting back into GAA in London.
The Dublin act Hawke the BAND act were only formed in 2019 by friends Richie Power and Eoghan MacMahon and it was not long before Aslan frontman Christy Dignam proclaimed them “the next big thing”.
The guitar-led indie rock band had just made the move to London last year only for the pandemic to stop them in their tracks.
But rather than standing still, the band have remained busy writing and are now planning to release a single every month throughout 2021 with their latest offering Molly coming after Gonna Be Alright and Pinch Me (Am I Dreaming?).
Singer and guitarist Richie Power told The Irish World: “We just said, There’s so much uncertainty in the world right now and one thing that we want to be certain of is that we’re gonna release one single every month, hopefully engage people online and let them be sure of one thing and it’s not that tour dates are going to be postponed and postponed and postponed, it’s that every single month regardless there’s going to be a single there.
“We just tried to adapt to the times that we were in. That’s what inspired us to release a single a month.
“Some people advised us against it and others were like, ‘Go ahead’.
“The reason we moved over in the first place is because we had been over and back a lot anyways. It was every couple of weeks we were coming over to record or to gig or to write so we were just like, ‘Look, it makes more sense to actually just base ourselves here’.
“It’s a bit of a shame but we have still enjoyed it and made the most of what we could really.
“There’s definitely been ups and downs. Last year when the lockdown was first announced and it was a couple of weeks to flatten the curve, I don’t think anybody anticipated how long it would go on.
“At that point I think we were just like, ‘Alright, we can hold out another couple of weeks and things will be back to normal’. Then a couple of weeks turned into a couple of months.
“Live gigging is really a big part of why we’re involved in music, we really love the live touring and stuff and that couple of months and the second half of last year I feel like we were really just holding out a little bit and waiting for things to go back to normal.
“The further we got into it the more we realised, ‘Normal probably isn’t something that is going to happen tomorrow so we need to come up with a plan B and we need to fight this in another way’. We just said, ‘Rather than let lockdown put everything on pause, let’s write loads and release absolutely loads’.
“One of the reasons that people don’t release music as often as they probably would like to is because of the heavy touring schedules and not being able to get to a studio and being constantly out on the road.
“With all this down time that we’ve had from touring we might as well make the most of it and have a heavier release plan than we would have.”
The singles have been getting very postively received with people liking Gonna Be Alright for its uplifting message. Pinch Me (Am I Dreaming?) would soon follow and build the momentum further.
Drawing on the 90s indie-rock of bands like Oasis and Radiohead, HAWKE the BAND have been described as having a timeless sound.
“We were like, ‘Let’s release a single a month, maybe it will be too much, maybe it won’t but let’s just go ahead with it’.
“To be honest we’re absolutely buzzing because single one we were happy with the reaction, single two we were even more happy with the reaction and now with Molly coming out it just seems to be getting better and better and it’s just a bit of a buzz for us as well. It’s just go go go.
“We feel like with each single things have been growing. If we’re feeling the effects already after single number three then we’re buzzing to see what it will be like after eight or nine and see how it goes then.”
The current number Molly is about a girl that Eoghan and desperately wants to see again. Richie tells us it is almost like their version of Galway Girl.
“On Paddy’s Day we did a bit of a live stream and we just did Irish tunes and one of the songs we did was Galway Girl and when I listened to the lyrics I was like, ‘That’s pretty much what we’re saying in Molly’.
“Obviously a completely different genre but they’re the exact sentiments we’re trying to get across, it’s like heartbreak but not emotional enough to be heartbreak. It’s a one night fling and it’s more frustrating than anything. In Galway Girl, it’s like, ‘I woke up and I was all alone, with a broken heart and a ticket home’, and I was like, ‘Jesus, that’s pretty much what we were trying to say in Molly’.”
Gonna Be Alright was powerful not only for its uplifting chorus but also it’s video which featured the band playing in a forest in hazmat suits and gas masks which they later took off to reinforce the message.
“Gonna Be Alright is a song that we were kind of sitting on for a good while. I’m pretty sure the third lockdown was just after being announced. Everyone was just deflated and we were like, ‘If there is a time to throw it out now is that time’.
“And then when we were recording the video obviously we were limited to what we could do. We couldn’t do much. We just thought of the idea of a socially distanced outdoor gig to nobody and the hazmat suits played into that.”
It was last year that the band released The Covid Diary which was written and created entirely during lockdown.
“It was pretty much an audio diary. It’s such significant times that we’re in and we were like, ‘We might as well get a lot of things that remind us of what we’re doing right now and put them into an audio diary and have something to listen back on in a couple of years’ time when this is nearly forgotten about’.
“One of the tracks in it is basically an instrumental that myself and Eoghan recorded and then we just got voice notes from a load of family and friends and loved ones just well wishes and different messages.
“One of the people in it says, ‘I can’t wait for you to meet my little one’. That was a friend from college who had had a kid but I obviously couldn’t meet the kid because of the pandemic so now when I listen back to it, I actually have got to meet the kid just before Christmas. Even that has changed so it will be interesting to look back in ten years’ time/ twenty years’ time and hear the different voices in that have meant so much to us during the pandemic and where we’re at now and how our lives have changed.
“There’s another track we did that was messages from fans and it was messages of positivity. Some of them are like, ‘We can’t wait to see you on the October tour. We can’t wait to come visit you in London. We can’t to see you at a show in Manchester…wherever’. Obviously that tour didn’t go ahead so even now that has already developed and it’s already interesting to listen back to that now and how oblivious we were to how long the situation would actually last.
“I look forward to listening back in a couple of years time. Hopefully we’re out of all this and we’re laughing at how we were.”
Richie and Eoghan had not even formed the band when they recorded their newly-written songs at the famous Abbey Road studio.
“Me and Eoghan had known each other for a year and we were gigging together. We met in previoius musical endeavours and we were over and back to London to producers we were working with and got to record in Abbey Road.
“We got a good few things recorded in there and had them stockpiled for when the band would eventually start. Some of it we never released and some we probably never will but it was an amazing experience.
“We’re both really big fans of the Beatles. It’s not even just the Beatles. I was walking through there and just seeing all the photos on the walls of people who have recorded there. There’s just something about the inside of that place that is just amazing in itself. We bumped into Nile Rodgers. It was madness to be honest. Sometimes I look back and I’m like, ‘How did that happen?'”
One of the tracks from these initial London recording sessions (‘What About Love’) was entered into a competition to win the chance to play as special guests of local heroes Aslan at Dublin’s 5,000 capacity Iveagh Gardens, a prize which Richie and Eoghan were astonished to win, despite there being many entries. Hawke The Band were thrilled to play to a packed hometown audience in late 2019.
“That was the springboard for the beginning of the band.
“Aslan couldn’t have been a more perfect fit. They were the first gig I had ever gone to as a kid. My Ma’s ring tone was Crazy World at the time, I think it probably still is. Loads of people from the flats that I’m from love them and loads of people already had tickets for it before we were even announced.
“They’ve been really encouraging.”
HAWKE the BAND followed that with their own headline tour and some UK summer festival slots, playing alongside other young breakout acts such as Jake Bugg and Tom Grennan, before Covid-19 sadly put an abrupt halt to live performance last year.
But the band have optimistic enough to schedule live dates for October.
“It’s good to have stuff that gives you that little bit of hope. Obviously I have a lot of friends and family back in Ireland and it doesn’t seem really like there’s an end in sight. Over here there’s a bit of a roadmap. Even if it doesn’t stick to it, it will take us through the next couple of months holding onto that hope, is how I feel. It will be a little bit of a letdown if things don’t happen but for now let’s just roll with it and hope for the best.”
Although he wasn’t expecting it himself, Richie has started playing GAA with Éire Óg club in central London.
“To be fair I actually have connected with the Irish community here way more than I thought I would have.
“I joined a Gaelic team when we came out of lockdown. I met a load of Irish lads there, have stayed in touch with them. Training has started back now as well so that’s been good.
“It’s really handy and it’s a great community of them there, they’re great lads.
“I was (into my GAA) as a kid and then I stopped when I was about 16, I think, and then I hadn’t really gone back to it. The music took over.
“Once I was over here I got chatting to an Irish lad in a bar, as you do. They asked me about GAA. Said, ‘Would you not play for a team over here?’ And to be honest I hadn’t even thought of it at that point. I didn’t even consier the possibility of there being GAA over here. I looked it up. That was the closest club to me and I went up haven’t looked back since, loving it.
“By the end of this month we should be back playing games. Looking forward to it.”
“I feel like most of the people that I know in London are Irish, there are a lot of Irish over here and I love that being away from home.
“I know it’s only an hour away but there are big differences between Ireland and London so having a good Irish community here has really helped.”
Molly is out now.
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