We Hawks soared relatively trouble free for the first decade of our existence, but in 2018 we're emerging from a string of confrontations with mortality, life choices, and the slow leakage of youthful possibility. It’s been almost 17 years since the release of our eponymous debut. We didn’t get rich, we didn’t get famous, and yet we’re still here, perhaps benefitting artistically from the rocky passage. The rich flavor of battered soul. We're still in it for the music, for each other, and for the adventure of it all.
Live and Never Learn is our first studio album since 2013’s Mystery Drug. Most of the songs here were written and recorded while we were dealing with some primal griefs. Yet our personal struggles seem to have been fertile ground for what some are calling the best batch of songs of our career.
And now we need your help to get these songs out to the world. By pledging to this campaign you're helping us to record, mix, master, manufacture, and promote this heartfelt collection of songs. Indeed, you are the record label making this music possible.
The Waller/Lacques songwriting is augmented here with contributions from Hawks bassist Paul Marshall and drummer Victoria Jacobs. One song, the rocking “King of the Rosemead Boogie,” features twisted lyrical and spiritual contributions by members of Old Californio.
Two songs, “White Cross” and “Singing in the Wind,” were co-written with Peter Davies of the U.K.’s Good Intentions, and feature reverby Telecaster, thumping Fender bass, and tight harmonies, while the lyrics take listeners from the backstreets of Memphis to the windswept moors of Northern Ireland.
“Last Man in Tujunga” brings us back home to the more familiar geography of smoky Southern California hills. We wrote this song some years back, telling the story of a breakup unfolding over an old school cell phone call as the flames get closer. Its appearance here is all the more appropriate and timely, as Marshall was forced to evacuate his Tujunga home twice in the fall of 2017. He was “almost out of minutes” as the “flames were licking at the gates.”
Many of the tracks on Live and Never Learn directly address our more personal struggles. “Poour Me” explores the dead-serious theme of a drunk’s self-pity but it’s wrapped up in a light-hearted and humorous approach familiar to any Hawks fan. Dave Zirbel adds classic country pedal steel for this regretful farewell to drinking, as Waller calls out, “I guess I better not have no more.” Zirbel hit the emotional core of many songs on this record, subtle and surprising as always.
Drummer Victoria Jacobs, also an accomplished songwriter, contributes a wistful meditation on the passing of time with her psychedelic folk masterpiece “Spinning.” Jacobs also narrates another touching fable in “My Parka Saved Me,” recounting her real life head-on collision as a teenager on a winter afternoon by Lake Michigan. The Hawks’ doo-wop vocals, ’50s chords, and Danny McGough's sweet B3 give the terrifying tale a soft landing.
Some classic Hawks themes also appear on this album. “Planet Earth” and “Ballad for the Trees” reflect the band’s longtime interest in ecology and conservation. “Stoned With Melissa” appears to be yet another Hawks weed anthem, but this time with a sad and realistic twist. “King of the Rosemead Boogie” introduces an imagined hero of the San Gabriel Valley in all her (his?) glory. Regret and earth/spirit duality return in “Isolation Mountains” and “Tearing Me in Two,” both brought to fruition by the deep fiddle of longtime collaborator Dave Markowitz, and broke-the-mold accordionist Richie Lawrence.
This spring, good news has returned for us and our families. We finished tracking and sent the files off to four-time Grammy-winning mixer Alfonso Rodenas (Los Tigres del Norte), who mixed Mystery Drug as well as several other Lacques-produced projects. The mixes came back sounding great, and we felt a surge of optimism, perhaps irrational, perhaps a crucial tonic to these gloomy times. Now Live and Never Learn is here and we're excited and optimistic. With shows in California and the U.K. coming up this summer we're feeling good and can’t wait to hit the stage and sing, together again, together as always.
Join us in this endeavor and live and never learn right along with us!
Risks and challenges
This recording was fun and fast moving from start to finish. The challenging part lies ahead: funding mixing, mastering, manufacture, and getting the CD out into the world. We think this is as good a collection of music as we've ever produced, but it's always a suspenseful moment when you let your child out of the house to wander the unpredictable avenues of pop music.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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