How did you meet and what’s the story behind your band name?
Hawk was my stage name when I started performing, and I found that no one could pronounce my Irish name without sounding like they were about to sneeze. We’ve stuck with it as the name of the project, although we are very much a collective these days.
I met Matt when he did the sound at my first ever open-mic performance –a painful eight minute version of The Value of Gold, complete with three false starts and a torrent of uncontrollable nervous shaking. Needless to say, he offered some words of encouragement after my performance, and few open-mics later, we decided to work together. Chris and Sam joined the equation last winter. Matt and Chris had played music together for years. Sam was drumming with them on another project, and was Irish like me (we are like Celtic magnets) so he had to get involved. He is a miracle and a liability, and we would literally get nowhere without him as he is the only one that drives. But we all go under the Hawk banner.
How would you describe your music?
Coming from a folk background, I’m definitely one for telling stories and I love embellishing lyrics with vocal techniques. But musically, we’ve all got a lot of influences that counter that folk tradition. Matt’s got a lot of experimental indie and classical in his writing style; the whole sound has become a lot more expansive since we started writing together. Someone described us as ‘spectral folk’ once. I liked that. I guess we’re like spectral folk stretched out onto an indie canvas.
What have you been up to so far and what can we expect over the coming months?
So far this year has been all about the band, and developing the sound from an acoustic platform. It’s really changed our approach to writing and recording, and we’ve put a lot of energy into the live set too. We toured Ireland in April which was awesome- a week of driving around in Sam’s car and being totally overfed by our hosts at every stop. We just released Take Off Your Suit as a free download, and at the moment we’re working on an EP for the autumn, which we are very pumped about. Hopefully that’ll be a good excuse to get back on the road again too!
If you could duet with anybody who would it be and why?
There are too many! I always cite Eric Whitacre as a musical hero of mine. He takes such simple melodies and lyrics, and layers them up into massive choral whirlpools. And like I said, our sound is becoming more expansive; we’ve taken advantage of my choral background on some of the EP tracks. I think we could do a pretty good set with him conducting an eighty-strong choir behind us. That would be very nice.
What’s your desert island disc and why would you take this one album?
Alice in Chains MTV Unplugged Album. For much of this year it was the only CD we had in Sam’s car, which is almost like being on a desert island, only you occasionally find remnants of take-away chicken which may keep you alive, or kill you faster. We’ve listened to it on a loop on many a trip. It wouldn’t feel right to be stranded without it!