The indie rockers, Hawk and Dove, have brought rock back to Brooklyn. "Hawk and Dove have been described as the Loudest quiet band you have ever heard." They are creating a Rock sound that has never been heard before. They have done this by mixing beautiful ballads and thunderous stoner grooves that makes a psychedelic rock sound like no other. It was 12 years after their first meeting, at a summer camp, they figured out their passion for music was the same, so they started playing and writing. With Brian curling lyrics and with john's angular guitar plays shards of glass that bind and repel us. Ever so often you can hear alittle david bowie come out. I recently had a chance to ask them a few questions.
Charles Willis -What got you started with your love for music?
Elijah Miller: Music was always in my family. My grandmother is a wonderful folk musician with a few children’s records under her belt, and she had me singing onstage with her at the Philly Folk Festival when i was 5 or 6 years old. My mother is also a phenomenal singer and guitar player who sang in the house every day. We had instruments set up in the living room when i was a toddler and the whole family would make music.
John Kleber: My father was phenomenal blues guitarist and banjo player so I grew listening to Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe as well as the blues legends like John Lee Hooker and Robert Johnson. My mom loved all of the '50s and '60s classics like Elvis and Buddy Holly, the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and I am sure she is the reason why I have the lyrics to the entire Motown catalog memorized. At this point that music is in my DNA. Though I studied saxophone in elementary school, I never got very far because my school had a terrible and uninspiring music program. It wasn't until I got my first guitar when I was 14 that I really became obsessed with music. I practiced hours and hours every day and played in a band that rehearsed constantly which eventually allowed me to turn music into my job for several years.
CW: Tell us briefly how the Band came to be? (Are you a comic fan?
EM: John and I became friends at summer camp about 20 years ago, and then reunited by a chance meeting in a brooklyn bar in 2006. At the time I was just starting to make music the number one priority in my life and John had been playing in different bands for many years. I was honing my writing and stage fright skills at open mics a few days a week and john came out to see me play a number of times before we decided to embark on this journey. We have been slowly adding to, and crafting the sound with a group of amazing musicians that today, make up the best group of people we’ve ever played with. AJ Sauseville, our drummer and John have been playing music together since 1998. Joan Chew covers both our string section with her violin and the rhythm section playing bass. Max Hodes adds stunning accents and articulation with his tenor guitar, vocals and bass playing (when joan is holding a bow,) and both he and our newest keyboard playing member Caitlin sing harmonies as two karaoke nerds at heart.
CW: What inspired the name Hawk and Dove?
EM: Hawk and Dove was a name John had been tossing around in his head as a band name for a little while before it was taken on by this project. We are also comic book fans, and Neil Young fans (he has an album called hawks and doves), and that bar in DC fans... but i think the name was really taken on because it reflected our deeper intention of attempting to perform a musical and emotional dichotomy. Our loud and quiet moments, our soothing and abrasive moments, are all sort of attempts to perform this idea.
JK: I was aware of the comic book but it was never one that interested me. In general I have always liked the connotation of the Hawk and Dove. When it occurred to me to use it as a name it was because it reflected the sound of the music I want to make and, most importantly, it was the only band name I had ever come up with that wasn't completely embarrassing.
CW: Where did the inspiration come from that helped you cultivate your first fulll length album?
JK: It's not easy to talk about what inspires an album. We both drew on countless sources, and we spent literally hundreds of hours developing these songs, building and tearing them down before we even put any tracks on tape. Overall, the album took us more than a year to make. The entire process was incredible and difficult and powerful and inspiring in its own right. I would venture a guess that when one works on any work of art that requires the kind of emotional and intellectual effort demanded by an album, the process itself can be the source of inspiration.
CW: What is the meaning behind the album title. "This Yesterday Will Never End"?
EM: It's funny, it seems so apparent to me, though many people ask about the meaning, but it really means exactly what it sounds like I think... The origin of the album's name came from a late night moment of exasperation, a statement made by John in the midst of a very challenging month. He said it out loud, and I wrote it down because I loved how articulate and unique the combination of words he had come up with were. And it immediately conjured for me, in a simple statement, a greater challenge we all struggle with about the yesterdays that continue to follow us through our own lives, starting in a way, with our earliest decisions, but then also much further back, both generationally and culturally. And that is one of the main themes i was trying to investigate with the words in this record, so we felt it really fit, as a frame with which to hold these songs.
JK: I tend to come up with a lot of what my high school vice principal called "ambiguous phraseology". It almost goes without saying that I was frequently disciplined for such lexical hijinks.
CW: Elijah, Where do you go with your writing the lyrical story to your songs?
EM: I often write my songs around a specific image, or scenario in my head, or something i’ve heard about - or dreamt up in a country house, or on another planet in space, or grabbed a slice off from a piece of memory... and then i do my best to most accurately describe that image or scenario. And if it’s a scene that really has inspired me, then there’s a good balance of emotional reaction and logistical explanation. Every one of my songs are about something very specific, and if it’s not a physical image, sometimes it’s just an idea, or a kind of reaction that i want to understand further, and the process of writing is sometimes just an attempt at clarity.
CW: John who are some of the musicians who help direct your melody creations?
JK: I believe my melodic inspiration comes from music I absorb subconsciously. I definitely find a lot of inspiration in simple motifs and repetition. I think the music that most influences my process is that which is buried deep in my memories from childhood; lots of Motown, Soul and Bluegrass.
CW: What has been your favorite moment of being a part of Hawk and Dove
EM: My favorite times with this band are on stage when our musical vision is, in that moment, being realized. When we're connecting with the audience and we're all performing together in a way that feels deeply intimate and untroubled. That's why I keep coming back... and enjoying my day.
JK: It is really a joy to play in a band I believe in after all these years. It has been such an amazing experience writing and performing music that people connect to on an individual, visceral level. I think that we don't make music that is meant to be enjoyed only one way; it can be interpreted and discovered and debated; in this way, the music almost becomes a collaboration with the listener. Being a part of such a process and hearing what people take away from it is extremely rewarding. I also just really like to rock hard and play my guitar loud and this band lets me do that.
CW: If i were to borrow your ipod, who would find it there?
EM: I survive on a steady flow of Waits, Dylan and Cohen as inspiration for lyrical and metaphorical imagery. But I never go long without checking back in with Nick Cave, Gillian Welch, Earth, Nina Simone, the Beatles, Wilco, Harry Nilsson, Lou Reed, CAN...
JK: These days I have been listening to a lot of modern rootsy folky stuff like Brown Bird, Phosphorescent, Sufjan Stevens, Wilco, and Will Oldham. I also spend a ridiculous amount of time with guitarists like Mark Ribot and Bill Frisell and early John McLaughlin. I also can't get enough Tinariwen or Earth or the Grateful Dead. And I have to admit, I am a sucker for a good pop song. My guilty pleasure is Kimbra.
CW: What is the future for Hawk and Dove?
EM: The future of Hawk and Dove is to really just continue to compose and perform our sound until we can't anymore. Sharing it with more and more folks in a live setting as often as we can. Though at the rate we've been working, there's no end in sight and we're very excited about it.