YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE: TURNING THE PAGE

YBH Rewrites An Old Story
[dropcap letter=”T”]he catchy melodies and uplifting tones of Youngblood Hawke’s tunes would suggest that some sort of idyllic confluence brought them together. That isn’t the case. Members Simon Katz and Sam Martin found themselves increasingly alienated from their frat- party, electro-pop band, Iglu and Hartly towards the end of the last decade and were struggling for direction. Martin tells the story best: “There were three of us—Simon, another guy, and myself. We started out kind of all on the same page. As the band got successful, the other member turned into a really dark dude. It got really ugly and became everything we were against. We walked away, and it was a really scary thing to do because it was going well in Europe and the UK. But we knew we had to do it because we were fucking miserable. The music was not the music that I wanted to be making.”

Sam and I locked ourselves in his bedroom. It was tiny and had no air conditioning. We just wrote songs all summer. That was our way of putting all the other shit we had to put up with for the past couple of years behind us.

They walked right into their next project. “Sam and I locked ourselves in his bedroom,” Martin continues. “It was tiny and had no air conditioning. We just wrote songs all summer. That was our way of putting all the other shit we had to put up with for the past couple of years behind us.” From there, their musical ascent continued on the same humble trajectory that a myriad of other Eastside LA bands have before them. “Our first show was at The Silverlake Lounge,” Martin recounts. “But we didn’t tell anybody. There were literally two people there—including the bar staff. We were completely nervous. It was our first time playing a show with the rest of the band. Alice had done acting before but had never played a show. I walked up to her after, and she was like, ‘I wanna do that again and again and again.”

RickettandSones_YoungBloodHawke-HiRes-Vert

They found a sense of home pretty quickly. “Playing The Satellite was cool because, when we first moved here, It was one of the first places we went to see live music. We felt comfortable there. They asked us to do a residency, and it was an obvious yes. That was kind of what started it for us. We didn’t really play that much as a band before. The residency was our third or fourth show. We would walk in the door and be like, ‘Are there gonna be 20 people there? 15?’ And then it was sold out. It was such a great response. People really reacted to the music in such a genuine way. It just felt natural. You can tell when the crowd’s into it.”

And that was it. “We Come Running” was released months later, and Youngblood Hawke became an international buzz band. Just like that. With their second LP approaching, the band isn’t resting on their laurels. There are rumblings of new directions, but fans looking for the YBH signature sound shouldn’t worry. Martin explains, “I don’t know if there’s any way to describe it other than evolving. The worst thing you can do as an artist is continue to make the same thing over and over again. We wrote the first album three years ago. We’re different people now. I don’t think we’re going to put out a folk record or a dubstep record, though. We want it to be fun for us on stage and fun for the people who come see us. Our first record comes from a pop background and sound, even though the stories and the lyrics are dark. I think we’ll probably take that a little further and just experiment, get a little weirder.”

In a lot of ways, the band’s story is an allegory to the novel from which their name was derived, Herman Wouk’s Youngblood Hawke. It’s an important book to Martin. “It was just one of those books that just blew my mind,” he says. “It was my late uncle’s favorite book. It’s about a young Kentucky boy who moved to New York. My whole family’s from Kentucky and I really connected with the story of someone leaving everything behind and chasing their dream of becoming an artist. There’s a lot of imagery and stuff inside the book that really touched me.”

That’s how we feel about music. It’s the one thing we want to do with our lives. It’s become our lives. We’ve put everything into it.

When pressed about the book’s tragic ending, Martin responds, “It definitely has a dark twist, but you decide what you want to do with your life, and you just do it. That’s how we feel about music. It’s the one thing we want to do with our lives. It’s become our lives. We’ve put everything into it.” Maybe the fact that YBH were born out of somebody else’s unhappy ending means that, this time, they’ll get to write their own.

text JEMAYEL KHAWAJA

photo RICKETT & SONES

BROWSE THROUGH OUR E-ISSUE RIGHT HERE

THE WEEKLY: ARTWALK X VAPES, POP-UPS, CRAZY LA + MORE

A rundown of the best events in our city this week. 

Vape_dtla-0792lowres

ARTWALK LA PRESENTS: STREET / SAINT, A SOLO EXHIBIT BY STEVE PINEDA

WHEN: Thursday, January 9, 7pm-11pm
WHERE: Vape Supply Co. | 129 East Sixth Street, Los Angeles, CA 90014
WHAT: The boys at Vape Supply Co. are getting their feet wet for their first Artwalk LA exhibit, Street / Saint,  featuring Nike designer-slash-artist Steven Pineda, otherwise known as ESPY. Pop in during your first of many  2014 Artwalks and indulge in complimentary drinks from Monaco, tunes from guest DJ Wendy City and check out some of the shop’s top-choice vape pens and juices. Oh, and did we mention there’s a rooftop lounge? |  more info

youngblood.hawke1_8col

YOUNGBLOOD HAWKE AT THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM

WHEN: Friday, January 10, 5:30pm
WHERE: 900 Expositoin Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007
WHAT: Poppy, funky and all things reminiscent of summertime and swimming pools, Youngblood Hawke was born out of late night musings between friends turned bandmates, Sam Martin and Simon Katz. The two had previous stints with another band, but out of yearning for a creative outlet sans commercial pressures, Youngblood Hawke was born. Bringing on songwriter Alice Katz, drummer Nik Hughes and Tasso Smith, the five friends have come to encompass what it’s like to be young and unsure of what life has in store — but not without a few dance parties along the way. | more info

1401711_10151770032230880_544180690_o

CHAMPION X TRIED & TRUE POP-UP / LAUNCH PARTY

WHEN: Friday, January 10th, 7pm-10pm
WHERE: 507 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
WHAT: Champion USA is set to debut their Fall 2014 collection during a week long pop-up shop at Tried + True boutique on Fairfax. Celebrate the launch this Friday where exclusive garments from Champion’s Street Active Collection will be available to purchase for both industry folk and civilians alike. | more info

egglestonlowres

WILLIAM EGGLESTON OPENING RECEPTION

WHEN: Saturday, January 11th, 6pm-8pm
WHERE: Gagosian Gallery | 456 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
WHAT: Pioneer of color film and member of the prestigious permanent collection at MoMA,  photographer William Eggleston presents his collection At Zenith XI for the Gagosian Gallery through February 20th. Catch the exhibit’s opening reception this Saturday in Beverly Hills. | more info

thesmell

KCRW PRESENTS: UNFICTIONAL LIVE 

WHEN: Sunday, January 12, 5pm
WHERE: The Smell | 247 S Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90013
WHAT: As we Angelenos know all too well, you can’t live in this town for long before you rack up a few strange stories.  This Sunday, the local gods over at KCRW will partner up RIOT LA to present Unfictional Live —  an in-real-time installment of the Independent Producer Project, from the station that showcases odd, funny, and compelling tales indigenous to LA. | more info

dwntwn_6

DWNTWN RESIDENCY AT THE SATELLITE

WHEN:  Monday, January 13th, 8:00pm
WHERE: 1717 Silver Lake Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
WHAT: Everybody knows Monday is the new Thursday. Next week,  twinkle electro-pop kids DWNTWN kick off their monthly residence at The Satellite. All of January, our favorite live-music destination in Silverlake will play host to the alt-pop quartet, whose debut EP “Red Room” has already received notable praise by the prophets over at Spotify. | more info

kaynegriffin

ROBERT GRAHAM EXHIBIT OPENING RECEPTION AT KAYNE GRIFFIN CORCORAN

WHEN: Tuesday, January 14, 7pm-9pm
WHERE: 1201 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90010
WHAT: Robert Graham has long been known for his affinity for the human form in bronze. And as the first exhibit for the Kayne Griffin Corcoran, visitors will experience such, but on a miniscule scale and made of wax, which was the focus of Graham’s early work. The minute figures — complete with perfectly sculpted appendages and detail — twist and distort themselves in plexiglass boxes that leave context up to the viewers’ imaginations. |  more info