Youngblood Hawke are the most colourful band to make their way onto any of my playlists in 2014… both literally and figuratively… They are a group of longtime friends based out of LA who write spaced-out dance rock that would seem to land somewhere in-between revivalists of New Wave and Electropop. Their debut LP, Wake Up, came out last year on Universal Republic and earlier this year saw the release of their latest single, “Pressure.” Their music has wound up in a plethora of crazy places, including ads for the Olympics, The Stanley Cup, and American Idol, in addition to episodes of America’s Got Talent, 90210, and So You Think You Can Dance. Youngblood Hawke are about to kick off a US headlining tour right here in Philly, on July 31st at the Barbary (moved from the TLA), before embarking on nearly a month of dates with Panic! At the Disco. I recently got a chance to chat with founding member Sam Martin about what they’ve been up to since their formation in 2011 and what the future holds for them.
Izzy Cihak: This band is still relatively new. What have been the highlights of Youngblood Hawke, so far?
Sam Martin: The whole experience feels a bit surreal. We all feel extremely thankful that we’ve had the opportunity to travel and play music together. This journey has taken us places we probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise. We spent a month in Australia, got lost in the woods in Alaska, surfed in England. You soak up a lot traveling around and meeting new people every day. It’s all a highlight, I guess.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about the band?
Sam: It’s mostly in the music… We’d love for people to come out to the show and experience the live side of things. We always stick around after and hang with the fans. We love hearing their stories.
Izzy: What would you consider to be your most significant influences?
Sam: Everyone in the band soaked up music in their own way and at different times. I think we’re all moved by powerful songs though. We’re inspired by all types of music, from Dylan, the Stones to the Police, Van Morrison, Modest Mouse, Paul Simon, Gorrillaz and Go-Go music! It’s all over the board. We’re also influenced by crazy books and movies, weird road trips, personal anguish, and x-girlfriends. Jokes. No, but our music is really personal and we tend to write about ourselves and the people around us. When it gets too impersonal we start to feel detached.
Izzy: And how would you characterize your process of working, or writing and recording, together? I understand you’re all longtime friends.
Sam: It’s a massive collaboration! Like a bunch of hysterical witches throwing ingredients in a cauldron. Most of us have known each other since we were kids. We’ve played in all kinds of bands together growing up and have been through a lot. I’ve cried many a night resting on the shoulders of my reassuring bands mates, the tears slowly filling up the bottom of the tour bus. Ha, no, but we like each other a good amount.
Izzy: Your songs have wound up in a number of ad campaigns and TV shows. Have there been any that you were especially excited about or proud of?
Sam: All of them! Ha. No, again, I think we’re just thankful that people use our songs in commercials. We started this band thinking that only our closest friends would be hearing it, so anything beyond that feels good. My favorite commercial was the one where the little, cute chubby kid lights a mattress on fire, then MC Hammer comes onscreen out of nowhere and basically knocks the kid out with a blindside pillow to the face! Take it easy, Hammer!!! I know it’s a pillow fight, but he’s still a child… Gets me every time.
Izzy: For that matter, is there anywhere you dream of your music winding up? Whether entirely realistic or not?
Sam: Absolutely! The sole purpose of this band was to create the soundtrack for the 2020 civilian space shuttles. That’s semi realistic? The only place I wouldn’t want to hear our music… would probably be coming out of a urinal. I’m sure someone’s already thought of this, but if urinals, say at bars, had little speakers… I would feel uneasy about one of our songs blaring out of it.
Izzy: You’re going to be kicking off your tour in Philly, or Philthy, at the end of the month at The Barbary, a super intimate venue. What can we expect of the live experience?
Sam: Ah, we can’t wait!!! Super intimate venues are our favorite! We love being up-close and sweaty with the crowd. It’s a like a huge house party! You can expect everything. Expect to leave feeling like one child and everything is wonderful and new again!!!
Izzy: You’re playing some pretty huge gigs with Panic! At the Disco after your headlining dates. How excited are you for that?
Sam: We love touring and we feel honored to play with these bands! I’m looking forward to it like vacation. This tour’s going to be amazing.
Izzy: And what’s planned for after touring wraps at the end of the summer?
Sam: We’re writing, writing, writing! Always recording new songs. Got something special planned up our sleeves 🙂