Somewhere between Punk and Pop sits the sound of Hawthorne Heights. They’re gritty enough for hardcore Rock fans, but offer an Alternative side that appeals to the emo and screamo followers, too. Drummer Eron Bucciarelli, bassist Matt Ridenour, vocalist/guitar player J.T. Woodruff and guitarists Casey Calvert and Micah Carli have created a musical style all their own – and believe it or not, they’re from Ohio.
Formed in Dayton, Ohio in June of 2001 under the name A Day In The Life, the band decided to rename, readjust and make a few line-up changes prior to settling into the current state of Hawthorne Heights. Their 2004 full-length debut, The Silence Is Black and White, became Victory Records’ highest selling debut, and their first single, “Ohio Is For Lovers”, managed to invade radio play lists nationwide. Their recent follow up, If Only You Were Lonely, dropped earlier this year, and the band has relentlessly promoted the release with tours both here and abroad. In fact, they’ve spent the majority of their time together either in the studio or on the road. They’ve hit stages for the Warped Tour and earlier this year opened up for Fall Out Boy, which proved that their faithful followers vary as much as the music they play.
Their current gig with the Nintendo Fusion Tour has them stopping by Columbus at the end of this month, but we had a chance to speak with drummer Eron Bucciarelli about all things Hawthorne right before he and his bandmates began their European tour.
Where’s home now?
How long have you personally lived there?
Eight or nine years now. Three of the guys are all from the Dayton area.
How did you end up in Dayton?
I was born in Palo Alto and then New Jersey and then moved there to go to the University of Dayton.
Have you ever been to Yellow Springs?
Once, I think.
So, are there more hippies in Palo Alto or Yellow Springs?
I would definity go with Palo Alto.
Well, that would be your answer if you’ve only been there once. There are a lot of hippies in Yellow Springs. So to move on, given that Casey in your band pretty much screams, how much of your budget goes to throat lozenges?
None, actually. I’d say J.T. uses them more than Casey does. Casey doesn’t actually scream very loud as most people think and people always ask him if it hurts his voice. He screams pretty quietly, but the mic is up pretty loud.
Which do you think appeal more to fans—the pretty song thing from J.T., or the screaming angry guy thing from Casey?
I think that’s the cool thing about our music. There are different elements that attract different people. There isn’t one particular thing. We’ve definitely had people say I like the screaming a lot, or I like J.T.’s voice a lot. It’s not one thing that draws people to us.
Truly you are a post-modern hybrid.
What kind of evolution do you foresee or think your music is going to have to go through to give it any kind of longevity?
It’s not something we think about as far as what do we have to change to stay popular. We just want to write music that we are happy with, but I think every band says that. I think that’s a pretty honest answer. We’re the ones out there playing these songs 365 days of the year and we want to be happy with the songs that we write. I don’t know what kind of changes necessarily we’ll have to make, because people’s musical tastes change, and from month to month, there is a new cool sound. To sit here and say we’re going to have to change our sound to this isn’t going to mean anything, because by the time we come around to writing our album, what’s cool when we are writing versus what is cool when it comes out are two totally different things.
What’s your favorite venue you’ve ever played?
I’m a big fan of the Norva in Norfolk, VA. The sound is really good and it’s probably one of the backstage areas in the country out of all of the places we’ve played. They have all of these arcade games, a big screen TV – they really take care of the bands. Numerous showers so there is never any wait and the hallways are super clean.
How many fans have you played for?
We’ve played a bunch of different festivals where there have been 20,000 – 30,000 people there. We’ve done some shows with Fall Out Boy and there were around 22,000 and they were definitely there supporting us.
How did you guys all meet?
That’s a really tough question, because we’ve sort of all came together at different times. Originally, there was a band called A Day In The Life and J.T. was in that band with Micah. I was playing in a bunch of random bands in Dayton to have fun and we played some shows with A Day In the Life and their drummer quit and I knew they were more serious about playing music and they asked me to join and I said, ‘Yes.’ The three of us were playing with two other guys and then they quit and Casey and Matt joined. They knew each other from high school although they didn’t go to the same school.
So you are on the road a lot? How many days a year?
I think last year it was something like 300. This year, it’s not as much, but it’s still up there. We go home tomorrow and we literally have 2-3 hours before we have to fly to Australia.
Do you enjoy being on the road that much?
Yes, definitely. It’s fun. I love playing in front of people who appreciate the music we’ve created. It’s probably one of the biggest thrills in the world. That part of being on the road is awesome. It sometimes does wear on you because that much of physical travel is waning. Emotionally draining, too, because we all have long-term relationships back home and it kind of sucks to leave and you never get to see them.
Do think as things continue to go the way they are you will eventually outgrow Victory Records?
Who knows where the future lies for us, and I don’t want to make any kind of notion or rule anything out.
[Editor’s Note – Hawthorne Heights made the decision to leave Victory Records in late August shortly after this interview.]
What was the reason for changing the name from A Day In The Life to
Basically, because we had some changes and we recorded two albums as A Day In The Life and the first one only has J.T. on it. The second one had four of us—basically all of us except for Matt. So we basically had an entirely new line up and most of us didn’t have anything to do with the writing of the first album and it didn’t represent us or our interests. We wanted to write all new songs and start all over. So it made sense to change the name then.
Where did the name Hawthorne Heights come from?
It’s something Matt came up with. It really doesn’t have a real significance. The cool thing about it is it reminds people of a lot of different things. There are streets everywhere that are named Hawthorne, apartment complexes and towns, and all kinds of things. We liked it for that reason.
The three-guitar thing within the band, you wanted it because of the powerful sound of things? Does that become problematic during the writing and recording process?
No, it didn’t really. We wanted to have the three guitars because initially J.T. felt uncomfortable just singing so he wanted to have a guitar in his hands. We layered different melodies and had everyone doing different things then. It can be a little problematic in writing, because if you have three different guitar melodies, you have to have the vocals in front of one of the guitar melodies or one of the other two guitars are in front of the other. It’s kind of hard to write four different melodies at different times. We try to do it in some parts and try to have different things going on in our songs with all the different guitars and vocals. It does get a little tricky and the biggest challenge is to make it not sound cluttered.
When “Ohio Is for Lovers” came out, it had a big push by the street team. What do you think is the importance of grassroots marketing for
I don’t think there is anything better just from experience and from all the marketing classes I took at UD. There is nothing better than word of mouth marketing because it helped so much. Right off the bat, word was out there for us, and fortunately kids liked what they heard and it grew right away.
The song “Ohio Is For Lovers” sometimes has some negative connotations to it; does it reflect how you really feel about Ohio?
No, it reflects how us being away from our loved ones. At the time J.T. wrote the lyrics, it was the first time we had really left our loved ones and left our family and friends behind to go do this band. It’s really about longing for those people who you have left behind, and in our case, they are in Ohio.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?
Correct! What is Spam?
Some nasty canned meat that people in England go crazy over.
What’s the best flavor of aerosol cheese?
I’ll go with just the regular, yellow kind.
What was Willis talking about?
No one knows, that’s the age-old, big mystery.
What two colors should never be worn together.
Red and Green
When was the last time you told a lie that required subsequent cover up lies?
If you could combine two existing sports together, what two sports would you combine and what would the sport be called?
It might be funny to see Lacrosse and Ice Hockey combined and it would be called Lacrokey.
This is a multi-part one. Of the following, which are the funniest jokes? If you can, give an example:
Drummer Jokes; Guitarist Jokes; Bassist Jokes; Singer Jokes; Keyboard Player Jokes; Horn Section Jokes; and Banjo Player Jokes?
Bass player jokes as the funniest. It’s not so much a joke as I guess there that no one ever really knows who the bass player is. On our message board, one time someone said, “Hey Mark, you are the best bass player out there.” I guess they were talking about Matt. Another instance of that on our message board, someone was posting and they said something like, “Eron equals hot. J.T. equals coolest. Micah equals Best. Casey equals messiest.” And for Matt it said, “Matt equals I hate your fat ass.” So bass players, they get the shit end of the stick.
Hawthorne Heights will headline the Nintendo Fusion Tour with Reliant K, on September 27th at The LC.