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Exclusive Interview with Youngblood Hawke’s Sam Martin

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In 2012, Youngblood Hawke formed out of great friendships and a love for music. Since then, they’ve played at SXSW, Comedy Central Workaholics showcase, and have their song, “Knock Me Down,” featured in a commercial for Play Station 4.

Youngblood Hawke is currently in the process of recording their latest album. To learn more about what is next for them read our interview below.

You guys have been  MIA recently, so what have you been up to?

Basically just hiding away in the studio, to be honest. (laughs). We toured for about two years, and kind of decided to take a little break. Not from planned shows, but we wanted to be home for a while, really get creative again, because it’s really difficult for us to write on the road. I think that’s where we got all our ideas off it, but in terms of being in a studio, that was really important for us. We’ve just been recording. We probably have 20-30 songs that we’re working on, and we’re planning to release an EP in the next four or five months, so basically just been doing that.

We’ve also been working with a lot of other artists, and doing a lot of songwriting, so there are other people. I’m really enjoying that. It allows you to be creative in different ways and helps to get back with Young Blood, and write with them. I’ve just been stuck in the studio, working and coming up with new ideas. (laughs). 

What can you tell us about your new EP?

I think people are going to be surprised. It definitely has a Youngblood sound, but I think that it’s all edgier, it’s a lot more experimental. It’s still got a spin to it, but I think that the topics that we’re touching on are a lot different than what we spoke of on the first album. 

I think the first album was about looking in, a lot of personal stuff, and even more story-based kind of looking out. We wanted to flip the storytelling a little bit, and tell some different stories and take some different angles, and it’s just a little bit more charged. It’s got a little bit more edge to it. The last couple years, a lot of crazy things have been happening in the world and the US, and it’s kind of hard to sit back and ignore all that stuff, so I think that that automatically bleeds into our music. We see all these crazy things happening, so I think the difference is different types of storytelling, just a little more edge.

Do you have a favorite part of recording?

I think the process of starting with nothing and at the end of the day walking away with something, that’s tangible. You walk in and just have an idea, and to see it grow, that, for me, is the most alluring part of recording. Sometimes you get in there and, at the end of the day, you listen to the song, you’re like, “Wow. What is this crap?” That’s another process, too. I think it’s rewarding to see an idea grow from something so basic into a full song. It captures the feelings, and what you wanted to say. Every song, to us, has to be personal. We have to feel it. It’s got to be something that’s close to us, and that we’re passionate about. If it doesn’t stick with us, we just toss it in the bin, you know?

Gotcha! Do you guys have any shows coming up, or are you just strictly recording right now?

We’re strictly recording, but with the EP release, we’re going to do some shows. Like I said, we haven’t really been doing anything other than just getting the album and the EP ready, and formulating a plan and coming up with video ideas, just planning it all out before we get back out on the road.

I saw that you guys are playing at Float Fest at the end of the summer. Did you guys play that last year, too?

Yeah. We played that last year. That was amazing, in Texas.

Yeah. It looks awesome. What can you tell us about it?

We got there a little late, but if you go as a spectator, it’s basically just a huge, beautiful river, and you rent all these rafts and basically just spend the whole day with a six pack and you just sit on a raft and float around. Then, where the outside venue is, plus it’s a festival, so all the stages are close to the river. You can’t really watch  the shows from the river, but you can spend the early morning and afternoon on the river, having some drinks, and then you can cruise over and watch outdoor music. It’s cool because it’s not just going to watch a band, it’s an activity. Everyone’s just getting loose and having a fun time, and Texas people know how to party, so it’s always just a fun atmosphere. (laughs).

It looks amazing. Do you guys have a favorite festival to go to, as a fan?

I don’t know if there’s a reoccurring festival, but we went up to the Philippines and played a festival called Wanderlust. That was probably a personal favorite, just because we’re halfway across the world, and the fans were insane. There were sections of our show and the way people treated us. They were so nice and so many. That was … I like to play in unordinary places like that, places where you don’t play all the time, to see that reception and be treated so well from them, just to see another part of the world acknowledge.

That was my favorite, but there’s also one in Chicago that we did … I think it was with Walk The Moon, and I can’t remember the other band, but it was, like, Cultivate Fest.

I think it’s called that, and it was cool. That was right by the lake, and right next to the city, so that was a really beautiful setting. Any time … We like all of them. We like a lot of college festivals; We enjoy festivals, any chance to be outside because you get to play in front of people that you usually wouldn’t reach, it’s mostly your fanbase. I feel like festivals, it’s a big mix-up of different music fans, which is always fun.

Absolutely. What’s the craziest concert you’ve ever performed at, and what’s the craziest concert you’ve ever been to as a fan?

There’s so many. I saw White Stripes at Red Rock, Colorado. That was unbelievable. Playing festivals, you get to see a lot of amazing bands. Tom Petty was really great. That was cool to see, a legend like that. I just saw Stevie Wonder in Vegas. That was incredible. Weezer. I’ve seen so many, it’s hard to decide.  One of my first concerts was Public Enemy, which is amazing. I’ve seen a lot of cool shows.

The wildest one we’ve ever played, man, let me think.  Seriously, there’s been so many. We just did the Walk the Moon tour with Panic at the Disco, and that was pretty amazing because we were playing a huge auditorium, stadium. We did a two-month tour in Australia with Pink, and out there she’s a mega-star. She was playing stadiums for two months, and it was sold out every night, so that was pretty incredible. It was like, us with no light during our show, and then she’d come out like, just swung from atop the roof, like fire. We’re like, “Cool. ” That was amazing. We’ve had a lot of cool experiences, getting to play shows with all kinds of artists. We did a Passion Pit tour, which was wild. They’re all, every show, feels pretty exciting to us.

I discovered you guys, originally, on Spotify. What five songs would you put on your Spotify playlists?

I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan. Any Bob Dylan song. I won’t, I’m a pretty big Drake fan. I really like old-school 90’s rap, Tupac.  It’s weird, because when you’re in the studio so much you aren’t listening to it as much because you’re in your own world. But, I hate to admit it, there’s a couple song on the new Justin Bieber album that are pretty sick. I like that new Diplo stuff, like the “Lean On”. I think all that stuff’s cool, production-wise, and just feel-good music. I’m a real big Damon Albarn fan, the lead singer from Gorillaz. He has a song called “Heavy Seas of Love”, which is really great. What else have I been listening to? I don’t know. I’ve been listening to a lot of old Rolling Stones, Dylan, and Fleetwood Mac, and that kind of stuff.

If your music was featured on any TV show, what TV show would you guys be most stoked about hearing your songs on?

New Girl. (laughs). I’m kidding. I don’t know, I haven’t really watched much TV. I don’t think it would be a hit very well, but the new OJ Simpson documentary on FX is pretty crazy. I don’t know, Game of Thrones? Anything that’s exciting and upbeat and cinematic.

What do you nerd out about?

I don’t think it’s that nerdy, but I was really obsessed with National Geographics Magazine and Scientific America Magazine. Now I’m into reading about what’s going on currently in the world, and science, and … Like the fact that they just discovered the skeletons of a modern and a primitive human, like the first time we’ve ever found a skeleton with both traits, proving evolution. I get really into that kind of stuff. I was watching this documentary … Anything that you can learn something from, like archeology. I’m obsessed with dinosaurs. I guess you could consider that a little nerdy too because that’s mostly for kids, but just that kind of stuff, I think. Then, obviously, music, music equipment. Also that Cosmos show, that blew my mind. I guess that’s how I nerd out, reading all that stuff and absorbing as much as I can about that world.

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