JT Woodruff the lead vocalist and guitarist for Hawthorne Heights spoke with me recently about the band’s newest release, Skeletons. This is the group’s first release on their new label, Wind-up records, and marks the beginning of a fresh new start for the band. While Skeletons definitely is a Hawthorne Heights record there is a bit more variety in the songs and the subject matter is a bit more serious and intense, making for a more mature and solid disc. I really enjoyed Skeletons and I think fans of the band will be more than satisfied with what the guys have put together. Here is how the conversation went.
Now that your new CD Skeletons is complete how do you feel about it? Are you satisfied with the outcome?
JT: Yes definitely. I am one hundred percent satisfied with the record. We spent such a long time working on it and writing the songs; we wrote like forty or fifty songs for this record and then we whittled them down to the thirteen on the record. We definitely put in our time and our hard work and could not be happier with the outcome. With thirteen tracks on the record people are definitely going to be able to get a lot of music from Hawthorne Heights this time around and I am very happy about that.
What was the writing process like for this CD? Did you guys all write together? How long did it take?
JT: It is a little bit of everything. At one point during the writing for Skeletons we all went to a cabin in Ohio and wrote together which was really cool and some great stuff came out of that. Other time we write in our own personal home studios and write and record and then just bring the song to practice for everyone to learn. A couple of times I went to New York City to write which was really beneficial. I have never spent a lot of time in the city and I found a lot of cool inspiration.
What’s the meaning behind the title Skeletons?
JT: Skeletons has a sort of interpretive meaning to it. When you are in the public eye everyone seems to enjoy picking you apart and rip the flesh from you. It is brutal out there and sometimes you just have to start over. The core of everything is the skeleton and you can build on top of that.
After listening to this record it seems that you dealing with more of a serious subject matter this time. This is especially evident on songs such as “Picket Fences,” “Grave Stones” and “Bring You Back.” What was your main inspiration when writing for these tunes?
JT: That is a good question. Over the past couple of years a lot of really crazy stuff has happened to us. Also over the course of our lives nobody has been perfect and I just took the opportunity to write about some real stuff that has happened to me. I have never really talked about some of these things before and I figured why not use songwriting as an outlet to get some stuff off of my chest and to kind of clear my mind. And in the process maybe help clear somebody else’s mind as well. Life is definitely tough sometimes and you have to do what you can to just keep trucking on.
What can fans expect when they pick up a copy of Skeletons?
JT: I think it is definitely a Hawthorne Heights record but it has the most variety than any of our previous records. There is a lot of old Hawthorne Heights on there, some new Hawthorne Heights and some stuff that is kind of in the middle on there. I am really happy that we were able to put a bunch of different sounding songs on Skeletons, I think that was important.
Skeletons comes to us by way of Wind-up Records after a departure from your previous label. Did you have any pressure when you were making this record to follow up from your last record, Fragile Future?
JT: No not at all. Wind-up has been really great. They have let us create and concentrate on the music and not really worry about anything else so it has been great. It has been a really great experience and we were given every resource imaginable to record this record so we could just relax and write music.
Are there any tracks on Skeletons that are personal favorites or that have good stories behind them?
JT: After writing so many I can honestly say we have whittled it down to our favorite thirteen tracks. If I had to pick a couple I would have to say the last song on the record, “Boy.” It kind of talks about growing up as a kid in a divorced family and just trying to live your life with a single parent. “Bring You Back” is one of my favorite songs on the record because it is about losing someone and being ready to give up everything just to see that person again for just a little while.
What kind of touring plans do you guys have in support of this record?
JT: Beginning June 2nd we are going to tour the whole United States. We are really excited about this because we were able to work out a deal where all of our fans can get a ticket to our shows and the brand new album for only eleven dollars. We are really excited about this. Times are tough for everyone and we understand that and it was really important for us to be able to put together a package so everyone would be able to buy the CD and see us live for only eleven dollars.
How do you go about distributing something like this? Is it through mail order or the website?
JT: What happens is that when you purchase a ticket for one of our shows online you get a download code that is sent to you via email and beginning June 1st you can redeem those coupons for the CD. We also will have some download cards that we will have with us for people who show up at the show and have not gotten the disc.
That is a really neat idea. I really dig that.
JT: It is definitely going to be fun. We want just want everyone to be able to come to our gigs and to have our music. Eleven dollars is cheaper than your typical disc and eleven dollars is cheaper than a usual show so together you get them both for only eleven dollars.
Are you playing a good mix of new and old on tour?
JT: Yes definitely. We will probably play 75% old and 25% new or something like that. We have four albums out, which is a lot of material, so we have a lot to choose from.
Any closing words?
JT: I hope that everybody will take an interest in what we are doing and come out and see us play. If you want to meet us there is definitely a chance to meet us. We like to have a personal connection with the fans who listen to our music. It is only eleven bucks so come on out. I also want to say something else. If you are really involved and really into something you should support it because sooner or later that something will go away. A lot of people don’t understand that in this digital age it is really important to support the bands you like by buying their albums whether online, at a show or in a store. The music industry is in a scary bit of turmoil right now. Whoever your favorite band is, whether it is Hawthorne Heights or not, support them or that band will go away.