With ten years, one name change and three critically-acclaimed albums under their belt, why aren’t Leeds hard rockers Hawk Eyes on the radar of every punk, metalhead and heavy music enthusiast in the country? It’s hard to say, but with the release of their latest album ‘Everything Is Fine’ earlier this month; ‘the most thrilling and visceral of listens‘, the band looks set to seize a slice of the recognition they deserve.
We caught up with Hawk Eyes drummer John Mackenzie at the conclusion of their UK tour to talk epic song structures, sack races and, er, The Great British Bakeoff. It turns out you can be a talented sticksman in one of the most black-hearted heavy punk bands in the country and still be outright hilarious.
TLE: Everything Is Fine is out! What is the atmosphere like in the Hawk Eyes camp right now?
John: We just finished the tour so everyone is back at work and suffering from shellshock. We’re looking forward to all the money rolling in. Hang on… I’ve just been told there is no money – what was the fucking point of all that then?!
TLE: The album took a long time to come to fruition. How did you find the writing experience this time around?
John: In some ways it gets easier because everyone has more established roles that have developed over time. Actually, that’s rubbish, it probably should be easier by now but we like to make things as difficult for ourselves as possible. It was bloody hard work.
TLE: The new album is something of a music leap from your previous release, Ideas. Do you enjoy being ambitious with your sound?
John: If we didn’t try and progress with our sound then we’d die. We may not always be successful but, like a fat kid in a school sack-race, it’s the trying that counts.
TLE: Is there a track on the album that you are particularly proud of?
John: Well of course we love all our children equally but if pushed… TFF, the final track, is a bit of an epic. I think it’s the longest we’ve done and there are lots of key changes etc in it but it hangs together and keeps your attention throughout. I think we’d all agree that felt like a bit of an achievement.
TLE: Everything Is Fine is a dark, heavy record, with definite punk flavours in there. Were there any specific influences on your sound?
John: We share a fairly dark, cynical outlook on things so that comes across I guess. No specific influences other than maybe Michael McDonald.
TLE: How was your PledgeMusic experience?
John: This time round we weren’t asking people to fund our record through Pledge – we did that ourselves, but Pledge is also an excellent platform to take preorders and provide exclusive content to people who are interested in what we do. Plus they send out the orders on time which is sometimes a bit difficult for us around day jobs and gigging!
TLE: You’ve just concluded your tour. How did the new material go over? I see that Ryan’s bass didn’t survive the Leeds show!
John: The new songs went down very well, seems like at least a few people had checked them out, which was nice. Ryan basically rocked so hard at the Leeds show that he snapped his bass in two – there were a few tears afterwards but I’ve promised him a trip to the Harry Potter tour and he’s cheered up.
TLE: What was it like having God Damn along for support?
John: Lovely boys, lovely crew, a real pleasure. They are so loud and have such presence, particularly for a two piece. I’m excited to hear their album.
TLE: With the album release and tour behind you what’s next for Hawk Eyes?
John: More gigging I guess, probably a new video/single at some point. We would like to start playing on TV Shows, maybe guesting on Jonathan Ross or The Great British Bake Off – we could provide high tension incidental music. Anyone interested, get in touch.
‘Everything Is Fine’ is out now and can be purchased here.