Every now and then, a band comes along and stops us cold in our tracks. It’s always a singular moment, defined either by a recent live performance, where we were enchanted from their vantage point on stage or after their record starts spinning. Either way, there are moments when we fall in love with artists, and it’s exactly this type of admiration that’s inspired us to start 190 Proof Artist of the Month. This showcases musical acts that have truly done something special and are picked by several members of the PureGrainAudio staff. You can’t go wrong with anything by a band that has made it onto this esteemed list. For those musicians and artists out there that are looking to get some hard-earned recognition, we are always on the lookout for anything that melts our face off or tears out our hearts.
Month: January, 2018
Genres: Doom, Heavy Psych, Doombiance, Groove, Space Rock
Location: Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
Get to know then band via “Dawn of the Deaf” from a few years back.
The Skinny: Hawkeyes are heavy. The band is comprised of six fellas. They are not teenagers. There are four guitarists. So, there are some guitar sounds to be heard here. The band boasts some wicked bass-work and likewise stellar drum-work. There are no vocals. Hawkeyes are an utterly independent band. They likely won’t have a radio single ever, but their music doesn’t really roll that way. They are not a particularly easy band to describe. So, rather than try right away, why don’t you simply get a little of this ear-worm into you (see above, dude).
Hawkeyes is our third 190 Proof Artist of the Month. The band is comprised of six members – they hail from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Patrick Finch, Ron Cybulskie, Ryan Allen, Rob Keith, Stacey Schmitt and Chris Gardner are the doom-merchants behind the Hawkeyes sound.
Sigh. It’s that part again, where I’m supposed to describe their sound. And I’m likely going to mess it up. OK. Here goes: I started by saying Hawkeyes are heavy, which they are. Their sound is derivative of some of the more challenging material from Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd. But louder, more slowed down, and with more feedback. And some beef jerky. See? I’m screwing this up. I’m just going to stop there. Wait… There must be a way here. OK. Second try. Hawkeyes play doom metal – but really slowly. With no vocals. And lots of ambiance. It’s like doombiance. Oh, that sucked too. Hold on a second… I’m just re-reading what I wrote and reviewing… Here’s what I put together:
Hawkeyes: Heavy. Influenced by seventies prog rock. With beef jerky, feedback, and doombiance.
Well, it will just have to do.
With an average age of about 42 years old, these six eclectic music fanatics bring to the table their desire to crank out some challenging heaviness together. All six members have wonderfully broad tastes in music, a useful tool that is steering them towards some new and interesting places on their more recent material like “Atom Heart Motherfuckers Never Learn” and “Creator/Destroyer” (from a split 12″ with The Radiation Flowers, released last year). While these newer songs are still as heavy as hell, a discerning ear can pick up that both songs owe a debt of gratitude to the afore-mentioned Pink Floyd and Edgar Froese.
Hawkeyes are a musical treasure, lurking on the outer edge of your peripheral vision right here in the southwestern region of Kitchener, Waterloo. Their live shows are not a regular occurrence – which makes them a thing of celebration amongst their converts, many of whom tend to show up repeatedly when they play. They are good people, making good music, and I don’t think they care at all if they get noticed by anyone in particular. And that’s the recipe for some of the best music on the planet, is it not?
Poison Slows You Down (2013) Helmet Lady Records
Five (well, six, really) Quick Questions with Hawkeyes:
Can you talk a bit about the Hawkeyes mantra? You are primarily older musicians (and by that, I mean you aren’t all 18 years old getting your garage-rock rocks off). What’s your ideal outcome as a band? Is there a pie-in-the-sky goal you are all after with Hawkeyes? Endless touring? Radio success? Accolades from family and loved ones?
Stacey Schmitt: Hawkeyes mantra? Well, we used to say “Tune down, turn up” as a laugh, and I guess it was true then, could very well still be true, but we’ve evolved. Maybe. We also used to say, let’s have fun and that definitely still rings true. At this age, if it’s not fun, why bother doing it? We are all either a year away from 40 or deep into our 40’s, so it has to be fun. As for an ideal outcome, or goal, not sure there is one. It’s incredible that people have and still do care about the sounds we make. That was very much unexpected. Sure, we would love to tour given the right circumstances, but getting six old dudes with families together to rehearse is a chore at times, so it would take a lot of perfect planning to get a tour lined up. But we don’t dismiss anything, and that would be a blast to pack into a van and hit the road. We get along and love what we do, so why not? As for radio, it’s not really a goal, but it rules when we find out we have been played. It’s a very nice feeling that someone digs us enough to think that others would want to hear us as well.
How did the band come together?
Schmitt: We came together when Patrick had a dream that he, Rob and I started a stoner rock band in the vein of Brant Bjork. We made plans to get together and Ron caught wind of it and asked to sit in on that first jam. That went well so we decided to do it again the next week. Ryan popped by the studio that night and asked if he could plug in. He did and it ruled. Buns then heard about it and asked if he could swing by the next weekend. We said yes, and it ruled even more. Immediately we wrote a couple of songs that ended up on our first cassette release and we’ve been going steady since then. That was 5 or 6 years ago. It’s rather effortless now to jam out ideas as we seem to play rather well off of one another. That is aided by Pat and Buns having being in bands together since high school that toured across the country numerous times. Ron and Rob played in high school bands together as well. And, well, Ryan can play with anyone. That cat is a goddamn musical genius.
What is about the six of you that keeps you creating new music together. And what would you say is the most important part of your creative process?
Schmitt: As I mentioned earlier, it’s still fun and effortless, so why not take advantage of this and keep creating. The well is hopefully far from dry. And truthfully, I love our band. I get a total buzz out of playing with these guys. It’s quite instinctual now when we jam out ideas for new songs. We hit that Hawkeyes level and keep pushing it forward. There has to be an advancement in place of just rehashing the same ideas. I don’t like listening to bands do the same record over and over, so I surely do not want to play the same thing over and over in Hawkeyes. We’ve naturally taken our sounds to other plains as when we try to force a song or sound, it inevitably sounds like garbage. When I look up from my drum kit and see everyone’s eyes closed and head bobbing, I know we’ve hit that level. And when we stop and there are smiles and laughs, we pretty much realize that that idea is a winner. Everyone has a say. Some ideas might not work, but we throw it into the pot and see what tastes the best. If it’s delicious, it stays. Just keep creating and moving forward.
On the topic of new music, I understand you are working on a follow up to Poison Slows You Down (your 2013 Helmet Lady Records debut full-length). How is that coming along? How different is this new material going to sound compared to Poison Slows You Down?
Schmitt: We are indeed working on a new full-length. Finally. We’ve been kneecapped a couple of times with bizarre studio goblins and equipment trying to kill itself. (Don’t ask about the goblins). I think we finally have a handle on it and songs are coming quickly. The new material is different from Poison Slows You Down. That album was incredibly claustrophobic and of its time. We were just bashing shit out then and trying to be as heavy as possible. I think we succeeded with that. But we’ve grown tired of playing those songs. The new stuff is more in line with the songs from our split LP with The Radiation Flowers and our song from the Return Of The Son Of Gutbucket comp. There’s more dynamics, space, breath, and it’s not always all of us beating a riff to death. We’ve embraced our love of Pink Floyd, Crippled Black Phoenix, and Mogwai. It still sounds like us obviously, but it’s that natural evolution I mentioned earlier. Kill them with silence. Maybe that should be our new mantra.
Can you talk a bit about Hawkeyes musical releases? The band is quite active on compilations and split EPs – a running list of what you have recorded, and how listeners can find these songs would be useful.
Schmitt: Splits and comp tracks are a nice and easy way to keep our name out there. It’s easier to record one or two songs quickly, mix and master them and then get onto the next project. Plus it’s fun to have multiple releases come out in a year. Makes us seem like we are way more productive than we actually are haha. And it’s always a blast to work on a split LP project with our pals like Shooting Guns and The Radiation Flowers. Our love of Saskatoon runs deep. And that Gutbucket comp is so outstanding, very proud to be part of that. Really builds a community within Canada and across the globe. That’s a trip man. But yeah, we really need to get this new full length done. We just want to release as much quality music as possible.
As far as releases they have been;
Hawkeyes/Eyes Like Candy – Split cassette
Hawkeyes – Poison Slows You Down
Hawkeyes/Shooting Guns – Brothers Of The Nod split LP
Hawkeyes/The Radiation Flowers – Split LP
and compilation tracks on
I’ll Hang With God, But Not Today
House Of Burners
Dayz Of Purple And Orange
The Return Of The Son Of Gutbucket
And we had a song featured in the movie The Demolisher. That ruled. We would love to do more film work.
As great as your studio output is, seeing Hawkeyes live is where the real pay-off seems to lie. Can you talk about playing live a bit? The challenges you face touring, the venues you tend to frequent, and your plans for live performances in 2018?
Schmitt: I love playing live. Sure it gives me incredible anxiety but so does brushing my teeth haha. But I love that immediate feedback from the audience. It’s wild hearing people yell out songs they want to hear. It can be a hassle getting all of us on board for shows, so we do have to pass on a bunch of offers, unfortunately, but when we can get together it’s a blast. We have worked with some incredible promoters, Chris and Cathy from Keep Your Cool and Franz from Music For The Masses, so when offered shows from them, we do our best to make it happen. Those cats have treated us incredibly well, so we want to be able to pay them back for putting their faith and moolah with us.
The venues we tend to play at are smaller clubs with capacities around 200-300. We dig that that closeness to the audience and our sound fills the room better in those joints. We aren’t much to look at onstage, so we let that sound do the work. Our favourite places to play are The Starlight here in town, The Bovine and Baby G in Toronto, the Townehouse in Sudbury and the APK (long since gone) in London. Smaller rooms with great vibes. But honestly, we had some of our best shows at house shows. In my opinion, the best show we ever played was in the summer in a microscopic cat piss basement here in Waterloo called The Snake Pit with our buds Moths & Locusts. What a trip that was. Cramped and sweaty. I spent the whole Moths & Locusts set sitting behind the drums as there was nowhere else to go.
We are actually playing another show at The Snake Pit this spring and have some more Bovine shows booked. And we are playing the Maryland Doom Fest this year! Totally blown away to be offered that slot. That will be our American debut. But our main goal right now is to get this new LP written and recorded. And we want to have a bunch of other songs in the can to offer to more splits and comps. You know, just keep writing and recording. And we would love to get over to Europe to tour. Someone hook us up!! Haha.
As a sign off, we want to make sure that people go and wrap their ears around the sounds of some of our friends: Possessor, Crippled Black Phoenix, Sierra, Caustic Casanova, Shooting Guns, Eiyn Sof, The Radiation Flowers, Moths & Locusts, The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol, Cellos, Low Orbit, Public Animal, SIANspheric, Photona. And the sounds from the label Cardinal Fuzz & Noiseagonymayhem. There’s so much incredible music out there. And drink beer from Oliver Brewing in Baltimore. They have been so incredibly supportive of what we do. Can’t thank Steve Jones enough.
You’ve gotta hear the track “Their Lust Grows With Their Size” ASAP!