Influenced by Neil Young and The Black Crowes among others, quartet Brother Hawk continue to bring their Southern blues rock to audiences everywhere, delighting their fans and thoroughly enjoying themselves in the process. With their new album Big Medicine set to earn them an even bigger army of supporters and with tour plans in place for the next few months, the band kindly agreed to this interview to chat song-writing, dream shows and the influence of social media.
PW: Please introduce yourselves.
Brother Hawk: Hi, we’re Brother Hawk - JB Brisendine, Nick Johns, James Fedigan and Allan Carson.
PW: How would you sum up the band and your music in a couple of sentences?
BH: We're a band from Atlanta, GA that plays honest and emotive rock.
PW: Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you? Have such influences changed over the years?
BH: We grew up on classic rock and grunge. A mutual love of Nirvana really got things going for us. The influences haven't really changed that much as they've grown. We're all true music heads and are constantly hearing and searching for new music to love.
PW: Is there a band or artist out there you might say you're similar to or do you make a determined effort to be something completely fresh?
BH: We don't make a determined effort to do anything. We play what comes naturally to us. Sometimes that has us wearing our influences on our sleeve and other times it has us stumbling into brand new territory. We don't mind either way, as long as we enjoy what we create. As far as comparisons go, if someone's never heard us, we usually say we sound like a cross between The Black Crowes and Dinosaur Jr. I don't know if that's true or not but it sounds like an awesome band to us!
PW: Tell me about your new album Big Medicine. How would you sum it up?
BH: Big Medicine is the result of our first 5 years as a band. We released several EPs with various drummers, and the songs had really come a long way by that time, as well as the band as a whole. We wanted something solid to stand on as a band, to take the time and put our best foot forward, and that's what Big Medicine is. We felt like those songs deserved proper treatment before we moved on, and we’re very glad we did. We 100% believe that we accomplished exactly what we set out to do.
PW: Do you have a favorite track on the collection and if so which is it and why?
BH: If we had to choose it would be the title track "Big Medicine". It's such a special song to us and it’s also kind of become a theme song for our band as well. Obviously we named the record after it, and we named our local fest we put on in Atlanta every spring after it as well, Brother Hawk's Big Medicine Festival.
PW: How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
BH: That changes constantly! Some days it pours out and others you can't squeeze a drop. You just have to be ready whenever it comes. Family and my world inspire us the most, but everything you come in contact with has the potential to inspire you really. We love what Leonard Cohen says: "I prayed to have a response to the things that were so clearly beautiful to me".
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
BH: What an impossible question! Forced to choose one, I think it’d have to be "Natural Beauty" by Neil Young. It has everything. It's simple, beautiful, powerful, and incredibly moving. It’s so easy to get lost in it every time you hear it.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
BH: Cumberland Caverns! It's this cave in Tennessee that has a "Volcano Room" that they have bluegrass shows in. It looks incredible. They don't really have bands like ours play in there though but we’d still love to!
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
BH: If we’re just picking a dream line up, it has to be Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Black Crowes - with Marc Ford - and Gillian Welch & Dave Rawlings. We don't even need to play!
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year?
BH: We've got some southeast dates left for summer and then we're in Europe for a month starting late September.
PW: You've been championed by the likes of Latest Disgrace, but how much does support and praise like that matter to you? Do you care more about what your fans think or is it quite evenly split between the two?
BH: Well the reality is that Moe at Latest Disgrace is a fan, he just happens to run a music blog as well. We're extremely grateful for anyone who enjoys what we do and wants to spread the word and help us advance it, whether it be a PR company or a music blog or just another music lover looking to be moved.
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today? How has it helped you establish yourselves as a group?
BH: It’s a great tool to stay in touch with the people who care about what you're doing. We connect with a lot of our favorite bands via social media, and it's the main way we find out about new bands as well. We’ve gained a lot of fans just from our current ones posting about us or our videos. It's a wonderful thing.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
BH: We'll be back on the road here in the States after we get back from Europe, as well as working on our next record. It's about 3/4 written at the moment, hopefully it will be ready to be recorded by the end of this year.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as a group and what would you have to achieve in order for you to call it a day?
BH: Our ultimate ambition is to achieve a level of success that keeps us from having to call it a day. This is who we are and all we want is the capability to keep doing it.