September 14, 2017 Interview – Jonny Hawkins Talks The Return of Nothing More
There is truly no substitute for hard work, persistence, and inner belief. Now a well-known entity on the Hard Rock scene, at one point, Nothing More were a band much like others with just a dream. Begun all the way back in 2003, years of dedication, personal sacrifice, and overcoming obstacles, Nothing More finally were given the opportunity to show the world what they were made of upon signing with Eleven Seven Music/Better Noise Records in 2014.
Paying their dues, and prepared for the challenge, Nothing More excelled to see their self-titled album reach number 33 on the US Billboard 200, along with a slew of singles becoming some of the most played/requested on Rock radio. Now up for a new challenge, they are set to return with their new album The Stories We Tell Ourselves on September 15, 2017. A piece of work that took blood, sweat, and tears, Jonny Hawkins took the time to talk the story behind the new music, conquering self-doubt, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Last we spoke, back in 2014, Nothing More had recently released their self-titled album and were making waves on Hard Rock radio while touring across the US. Since then, the band has heavily toured and built a strong name. What has the last few years been like for Nothing More?
Jonny Hawkins – It has been the biggest life change we have ever gone through as far as how busy we are week to week, and just how crazy our lives have been on a personal as well as business level. I say it has been an incredibly good growth, but it has been insane.
CrypticRock.com – It has to be life changing. Nothing More has very much always been a hands-on band through most of your career; handling all your own production, stage setup, etc. Do you feel like that do-it-yourself attitude has helped the band as you have transitioned into more mainstream success over the past few years?
Jonny Hawkins – I definitely think it has helped us. I think every artist has to find their own way and what works for them. Now that we have a lot more people and help behind us, the do-it-yourself attitude doesn’t really go away. We just have more help to do what we want. We are still doing those things, I am still getting computers programmed to do effects live with show elements. Dan (Oliver) is still building things in the garage with his hands. We are also still producing our own records. All those things haven’t changed, we just have people to help and pour more gasoline onto to the fire.
CrypticRock.com – Those helping hands can go a long way. Obviously, as you said, Nothing More is still very hands-on, but having some extra help is good.
Jonny Hawkins – Oh yea. The only potential pitfall of being a DIY band is you can get a bit in your own way sometimes because no one is ever going to do it as good as you think you can do it yourself, even if you are wrong (laughs). When you get used to doing things yourself you get very particular with things. Sometimes you have to let go a little bit and let people do their job.
CrypticRock.com – Understandable. It has been three years since the self-titled album, which did exceptionally well. Now you are set to return with a highly anticipated new record, The Stories We Tell Ourselves. What was the writing and recording process like this time around?
Jonny Hawkins – This time was a little more challenge than last time in different ways. Last time was pretty challenging because it was a record that we were doing that we never really done before in regards to producing the entire record ourselves and me being on drums and singing. All that was a pretty new experience. For this record, it was easier in a lot of ways. For example, our new drummer Ben (Anderson) was an incredible help – not only in drums, which freed me up to focus on vocals a lot more – he also has a studio background. He brought a lot of editing skills to the table. That helped me be able to focus more on the vocals and production of the record rather than the nitty gritty of a lot of editing.
The challenging part of the record was something a lot of bands experience with their sophomore release. This technically isn’t our sophomore, but on a label it is. There is a lot more pressure in the back of your mind. I was going through some personal stuff when we were working on this record. I was just in constant, internal battle of motivation. Somedays it was hard to kind of moving the ball forward. I heard this quote that really helped me get through the tougher times of it, saying, “Amateurs need to be inspired, professionals just show up.” I took that quote to heart, showed up every day, and made sure to move the ball forward, even if it was just an inch.
CrypticRock.com – It all worked out exceptionally well and the album is really special. Nothing More is a band that provokes a reaction. We had spoke about your lyrics in the past and their thought-provoking nature. Nothing More really do not pull any punches with what you want to say. What has been the fans’ reaction to your unapologetic approach?
Jonny Hawkins – I find it to be a mixture of positive and negative. I think we have a deeper connection with fans. People who connect with the record and music become lifers; we have some really strong fans. On the flip side, a lot of people may not even get to that level. Really poppy, over the top marketable, flashy kind of music will grab people because it is shallow enough to digest in small bites. I think it is a mixed bag for us. I think we have some deep fans and we are trying to expand and bring more people into the fold. I think we will do that on this record, it has a mixture of depth all the way to more digestible, quick, and easy stuff.
CrypticRock.com – As mentioned Nothing More has toured very heavily over the past few years sharing the stage with everyone from Shinedown to Volbeat, among others. Now you are setting out on another headlining run through the end of 2017. Seeing that Nothing More is such a high energy act, what can fans expect from this tour?
Jonny Hawkins – Definitely the same high energy, and new music, obviously. We are going to have new show elements we have been working on, of us taking the metal fabrication work to the next level.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent. You really bring it all each night and leave it all on stage. What is it like for you on stage to have that therapeutic release?
Jonny Hawkins – You are right, most of the time it is therapeutic and a leveling thing for me emotionally and psychologically. At some point in the tour, I am just exhausted (laughs). I feel like I have to give 110% every night, even if I feel really bad, which is inevitable, I am human and I am going to have off days. At the end of the day, if I know I gave everything I had that night, I walk away at least at peace in my mind that did what I could. It is more psychological than anything to know I gave everything. Knowing that is what I am going to invest in every show, every night, and not feel like I held back. That feels real to me.
CrypticRock.com – There is no question that these new songs are just as emotionally charged as ever for the band, and with a great sense of purpose as well. There is a great deal of chaos going on in the world with so much division. Judging by your lyrics, you are not pointing figures of who is right or wrong, but more a sense of we are all to blame for the messes we have made as a society. Is that an accurate assessment?
Jonny Hawkins – Very accurate actually. That is our biggest stance that we all came together on as a band of how we want to communicate what we all think and believe? We are a band, we are not just one person. I think, as a group of people, we have a variety of different beliefs, even though we usually end up agreeing on a lot of core issues, but we do differ in a lot of ideas. We felt like it was more powerful on a mass level to get people to think and question rather than to tell them what to think and what the answer to the question is.
It is almost like kids in school, where teachers are worried about their jobs or performance reviews in the adult world. As a kid, it is pretty plainly obviously when they are just getting you to pass a test to get some kind of score. You can feel it and you are not really learning, you are just saying the right answers. That is just a dangerous formula for society in any form. I get why it happens a lot of times, because people are busy and we just need to get people to move forward in whatever ways. As soon as you start doing that, everyone starts being ok with parroting each other. They don’t even realize they are doing it, they think their own ideas are actually original or their own thoughts, but they are not. They are just regurgitated mantras of echoes around them. We definitely like to get people to question rather than tell them the answer.