With so many options to choose from with local bands from Los Angeles, it almost seems like a miracle when a local band “makes good,” but that is precisely what Youngblood Hawke is doing. Based in Silver Lake, the members of the indie-rock quintet of have paid their musical dues over the years, but Youngblood Hawke has found its popularity grow quickly since a residency at The Satellite last year lead to an appearance at SXSW and a deal with Universal Republic. The latest milestone for Youngblood Hawke is a headlining slot at KROQ’s Locals Only show at the Roxy Theatre on Sunset Blvd. on November 28. Having an infectiously anthemic single in regular rotation (“We Come Running”) must help.
We caught up with singer Sam Martin to learn more about the band.
What significance does the novel Youngblood Hawk have to the band?
The novel was the catalyst for the band, really. We didn’t have a band at one point; it was just Simon [Katz] and I writing songs in his tiny bedroom studio. Once we had a number of songs we were happy with, we started to get the urge to perform. I had started reading the novel around the time we were wrapping up some demos and the novel just knocked me sideways. The story was so captivating and I felt like I could fully relate to the main characters’ situation; the glories, failures and overall insanity of giving all of yourself in the name of art. The story, the name, the timing, the book just fucked me up—In a good way!
How would you describe your music to someone that has never heard it?
It’s a high-energy mix of rock, disco and funk under weird stories about our lives. I’m not great at describing our sound, it’s like describing a color. We wanted to create something unique, something we felt we haven’t heard before.
What is the hardest part about touring as a mixed-gender band?
Remembering that there’s a girl in the room and to not be disgusting! Sometimes I say something and then she looks at me with a look of horror. Other than that, it feels like Alice is one of the guys. She’s probably tougher and braver than most of us. She’s a rider.
What is your favorite show you’ve played so far?
We just got off tour with Passion Pit and it was the time of our lives. Those dudes are really great people and amazing musicians. Every show was out of control; my favorite from that tour was our show in Atlanta. It was at this beautiful outdoor amphitheater and the crowd was unreal. Anytime we get to play outside to a lovely, hard-partying crowd, I’m happy.
Have you had any crazy/awesome fan experiences?
Some girl tattooed “Youngblood Hawke” on her forehead in huge letters. It was intense. I was like, what if we break up? Now we can’t, obviously, because of you! To be honest, all of our fans have been amazing, and no crazy incidents yet. We always hang with the kids who come to our shows after the concerts. It has been amazing to see that our songs are reaching people, affecting people.
What is the one non-band related item you have to have with you on tour?
I bought a huge hunting knife that has a bear head on the handle. It’s very American and makes me feel safe at night when I’m lurking around in the woods behind our weird hotels. I would seriously say the most important item I have to have on me is my toothbrush. My day just feels weird when I haven’t brushed my teeth. I can taste yesterday. I wanna taste today!
What three other bands/musicians would play on your dream bill with you?
Bob Dylan, Beiber and the Rolling Stones.
When you’re not touring, what are you favorite haunts (bars, clubs, show venues) around LA?
Bar Stella is the hotness. I love Margaritas at El Chavo, Spaceland is the jam, Bulan Thai will explode on your taste buds like a heat-seeking flavor missile and you can find me dancing like a chick at 4100 bar, even though there’s no dancing.
What do you think of the accessibility of musicians in the blogger/social media day-and-age?
I think if you refuse it, it can limit your audience, communication and contact with your audience. It’s one of those things that you really can’t hide from. I guess part of me misses the old days, but the fact that you can interact with your fans on such a personal level is really incredible. I wish people would stop wasting their time talking shit on Youtube. It’s embarrassing to our generation, although it does make for some amazing comedy.
If you could tell your past selves anything, what would it be?
Good job, you didn’t totally fuck it up. But get a different haircut, you look ridiculous.
Do you have any favorite local (LA) musical acts?
Too many to name… Vanaprasta, Rocco Deluca,
What do you like to do in your off time?
Sleep! No, I like to write, shoot hoops, skateboard, paint, go the ArcLight and get my movie on, read, look pathetic at yoga, party with my amigos, stare at the sky.
Who is on your playlists right now?
Brett Dennen, Celilo, Stones, Kendrick Lamar, Enya, Eazy E, Rod Stewart. It changes daily.
Who/what are your biggest influences?
Life. Life is amazing, strange, hard, cold, beautiful, perfect, get-me-outta-here wild. Being alive and healthy is something no one should take advantage of. I’m influenced by every passing minute, and by Don Juan Demarco.
By Yvonne Bell, a Los Angeles-based freelance writer.