With the release of their 2004 breakout album The Silence in Black and White, Ohio's Hawthorne Heights became the poster boys for angsty, scream-sprinkled emo jams that were begging to be sung along to live. The years of success that followed, including the mainstream explosion of their hit "Ohio is For Lovers" and a well-recieved follow up LP, were tragically soured by the sudden passing of guitarist Casey Calvert during the band's fall 2007 tour. Still, the band soldiered on in their fallen brother's honor, releasing two more records (2008's Fragile Future and 2010's Skeletons) and enduring some internal label woes in the process.
The Hawthorne Heights you hear on their new EP Hate is weathered, aggressive, and extremely telling of this rollercoaster of success, death, and drama that has taken them into 2011. The quartet decided to forgo the help of higher-ups and start their own label, leaving the band themselves to make all of the big decisions. This newfound creative freedom seeps out of every second of Hate, which is just as much an exercise in uninhibited rage as it is a refinement of the concise, catchy pop writing that gained them a legion of fans in the early 2000s. We caught up with drummer Eron Bucciarelli, (pictured far right) who makes it clear that Hate is just the beginning of this veteran band's rebirth.
Hate marks a bolder, much more raw direction for you guys. How did this sonic shift come about?
Hate represents us getting a lot of anger and frustration off our chest. To us it didn't make sense to create something that was squeaky clean and polished.
The intro to the record suggests that Hate is part of a series. What’s next?
Hate is part one of three thematically tied together EPs.
What’s your favorite song on Hate?
Personally, I really like "Oceans". We just started incorporating that into our set and people seem to dig it.
Is there a particular song on Hate that’s especially out of left field?
I think there are a couple songs that are out of left field for us. "Stay Awake/Stay Alive" has a triple-time, old-school hardcore type chorus which we've never done before. Its a sound that we all grew up on but for one reason or another, never incorporated it into our music. I think the song "Hate" is a little different for us in some ways. It's very simple and we use the passion of the vocals to build things in a way we've never done before.
How did Wind-Up records compare to being on Victory?
In some ways, better. In other ways, not as good.
What prompted you guys to leave Wind-Up and start your own label?
Wind-Up changed ownership. They asked us if we wanted to re-negotiate our deal. We were unsatisfied with certain aspects of Wind-Up's model, so we leaped at the opportunity to pass and do things our way. We've learned a lot about what to do right and wrong from our years at Victory and Wind-Up and its given us a lot of perspective on the music business and its current business model. We feel our insight will allow us to do better.
How have fans been reacting to the new songs?
Amazing, actually. Some nights better than others, but when people sing-along to "Hate" every bit as much as they do some of our older songs, its extremely encouraging. We've also played "Oceans" and "Four White Walls" live and both have gotten great responses as well.
After everything you’ve been through, both artistically and personally, how does it feel to play older songs like “Ohio is for Lovers” and “Niki FM?”
I have no problems playing those older songs. Those two songs and our fans' love for them is a big part of why we have been fortunate enough to be a professional band for eight years. Our job as performers is to entertain and put on the most fun live show we can. Those two songs play a key role in achieving that goal night after night. Our hope is that people might come to see us perform those songs and get turned on to our new material.
What does 2012 look like for Hawthorne Heights?
We have a lot of cool things in the works, some of which we can't talk about, some of which we can. We'll be debuting our video for "Oceans" early in the year, if not sooner. We're going back into the studio to record the 2nd EP. We're touring with Me Talk Pretty, we're going to hit Japan, and do our Stripped To The Bone (acoustic tour) again because it was a lot of fun for us and our fans.
For a taste of Hawthorne Heights' blazing, cathartic new record, check out the video for "Is This What You Wanted?" below. Hate is available on iTunes and record stores everywhere.