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Mine, and Ours; Hawk Nelson hits Hollywood
Interviewed by By Sarah Verno, 11/18/05
In the last 2 years, Hawk
Nelson – comprised of Jason Dunn, Daniel Biro, Jonathon Steingard, and
Squid - has signed with Tooth and Nail, released a highly successful album
(Letters to the President), toured all over the continent, appeared
on NBC, and has started recording another album. So what’s next for the
Canadian pop-punk band? Hollywood! Starting November 23rd, Hawk Nelson
can go to their local theatre and see themselves playing a scene in the
major motion picture, Yours, Mine and Ours starring Rene Russo and Denis
Quaid, a remake of a 1968 comedy. I recently got to talk to the bassist,
Daniel Biro, about their experience playing in the movie and from what
it sounds like, Hawk Nelson is headed down an exciting road.
Brio: Well, it’s our first time playing in a real motion picture and it’ s a lot different than TV in terms of budget and everything to scale. When we did NBC’s American Dreams, we were blown away because it was a real set and there were about 50 extras. A year later, we go back to the studios and everything’s way bigger – instead of 50 extras there were 100 or 200 extras. Plus, the stars like Rene Russo and Denis Quaid, they all have personal assistants and, ya know, it’s a pretty big deal. Everything seems bigger. They actually recorded the scene in the same room they did The Wizard of Oz, so it’s gigantic! Everything - it was amazing. The Who was amazing because it was like playing a legendary rock band, but the thing that was cool about this was we were playing ourselves – there was no real acting involved.
Verno: Did Hawk Nelson have to study The Who when you played them on American Dreams”
Brio: We totally did. Right when we got the call, we went out that night and our singer picked up the DVD/CD set of The Who. It was pretty amazing because we got to play the song “My Generation” and, being the bass player, I had to learn this crazy bass solo that, I duno, personally, it just doesn’t really happen anymore. Who plays bass solos?
Verno: A lot of artists play bass solos!
Brio: Yeah, little ones, but after the first chorus there’s a bass solo, and I’m like, “What?! This is so unconventional! This is so rock and roll!” I love it.
Verno: Do you see yourselves possibly doing other movies in the future?
Brio: I hope so, it was fun.
Verno: What was it like working alongside Dennis Quaid and Rene Russo?
Brio: Dennis (we call him Den), in the movie he’s a Navy guy and he’s pretty straight and serious. He kind of stayed in character the whole time so we didn’t get that close. Now, Rene, she comes over and talks to us, invites us into her trailer, tells us about her life, asks us about ours. Before you know it, her and her daughter, Rosie, are coming to our shows in California. We asked her daughter (who’s 11 years old) if she’d heard our record and what she thought of it and she said, “Well, my mom’s into it, I’m not. I like bands like Cold Play and U2.” [Laughs] Most of our shows are full of little girls.
Verno: Are younger girls the audience you’re trying to reach?
Brio: I don’t know, I don’t think specifically. I think the whole pop-punk thing naturally gravitates that way but in the new record we’re not. We want to appeal to more people than just that, and hopefully, we do already.
Verno: What was the most gratifying part of working on this movie?
Brio: I think we’re yet to see it, to be honest. I think the most gratifying part will be when we just go with our friends to the movie in our town. I’m looking forward to that.
Verno: What are your favorite movies?
Brio: I love so many movies. I love all the Wes Anderson cuts like Rushmore, yeah, I love those movies. I watched Life Aquatic the other day and every time it just gets better. I actually cried in the end [laughs], the music was so good.
Verno: You have a new single featured on the soundtrack called “Bring Em Out”. Was it specifically written for the movie?
Brio: Yeah, totally. The director, Raja, heard our song “Recess” and [in the song] there’s a 30 second clip that’s a guitar solo with chants. It’s just a musical interlude, and he liked that a lot so we made a song out of it …. It’s the first time we had to write something specifically and it was a challenge but at the same time we’re really happy with it. Jason tried some different stuff with his voice and tried to explore a little more of a retro feel.
Verno: I like it, it definitely sounds like it’d be in a party scene in a movie.
Brio: Yeah, for sure. I guess I thought that would limit it, but it really doesn’t because it’s a great song live that we’ve been playing and it’s not the most deep song in the world but it’s a good, fun party song.
Verno: I hear you’re currently in the studio recording another album. What should fans of your last album expect for your new one and when will it be available in the market?
Brio: The tentative title right now is Smile, It’s the End of the World, and we’re trying not to give it all away – I guess we want people to not really know what to expect. It’s going to be a little different, but it’s definitely going to be Hawk Nelson. Put it this way, with Bring it Out it’s a little different but it’s not like, “Oh, this band’s totally changed, I hate them.” We’re going to try some new stuff and improve on what we’ve done before and it comes out in April.
Verno: Are you working with producers Aaron Sprinkle and Trevor McNevan again for the new album?
Brio: The first record went so well that we wanted to keep the same formula and just try to improve. Those guys are both geniuses. Aaron has done so much good stuff.
Verno: When can fans expect to see you on the road again?
Brio: We will be going on a tour starting in January through March called Winter Jam with a bunch of Christian bands that we haven’t really toured with before, so it’s a whole different market.
Verno: Just out of curiosity, what is the story behind the song “Every Little Thing” off of Letters to the President? Was that inspired by a girl you know or is it more the idea of her?
Brio: It’s totally both. Initially I think it was Trevor’s idea but it’s totally Jason’s story. The story is just like the song. He had a high school sweetheart but they were just friends and then he realized that she was amazing on the inside and they started dating.
Verno: Along similar lines, who’s the California girl you refer to in the song “California”?
Brio: We don’t even know who that girl is [laughs]. We sing, “She’s got a lot of friends out there,” and we’re like, “Who’s she??” Every single one of us asks the same question.
Verno: Why the name Hawk Nelson?
Brio: Jason came up with the name Hawk Nelson when he was 14 for a video game character because the name Jason Dunn just wasn’t cutting it, so he created Hawk Nelson out of the thinness of air (he does this all the time where he just makes names up, I know it’s kind of weird; he’s weird, but I love him). But he came up with Hawk Nelson and he got a lot of points right away so it was kind of a good thing and he kept it going. Years later, we needed a band name. At first I was like, “That’s not cool, that sounds like someone’s name” and all the time people are like, “I love that guy, I love Hawk Nelson” but they’ve never seen us or they’ve only heard it so they don’t even think it’s Jason up there, they think it’s some guy named Hawk Nelson.
Verno: What are things fans wouldn’t know about you if they had only heard your record?
Brio: The music definitely shows the fun side of us, and hopefully it shows the serious side in some of our songs, but we live by the whole formula of if you really want something, you should go for it and just dedicate yourself to it. We come from small towns, and honestly I don’t want to put small towns down but it’s a mindset of creating a dream and going for it. We’re big believers in doing that. If you want to be an astronaut, go for it, you can totally do it - just go for your dreams. Another thing… We’ve been on the road for almost two years now and we’ve basically become family, like a marriage but between four guys. It’s really hard sometimes because you don’t have a lot of space and we have a lot of fights and tips… but we love each other
Verno: Who are currently your favorite Christian bands?
Brio: We grew up with a Thousand Foot Krutch guy and we’re huge fans as well as friends and I really believe in what they’re doing. They guys in Audio Adrenaline – it’s weird cause I’m not a huge fan of their music – but as guys they have been so nice to us and they’re amazing. Also, there’s a band called 4th Avenue Jones and they’re like, the best band. Talent wise, they’re all percussion players out of L.A. that came together because they all share faith and stuff, and they’re the nicest, most down to earth people and so not L.A. and I love them. I’d put them above everyone else right now.