Hawthorne Heights hit the Waiting Room last night (5/9/18) in support of their shiny new record “Bad Frequencies”. With a title like that, you would think the emo legends would have been solely focused on blasting out songs of teen angst and heartbreak. Though there were a few of those in the setlist, the band’s latest release is a solid pop punk album full of jangly guitars, catchy melodies, and just enough scream vocals to keep the emo purists hanging on.
The show had a stacked bill starting with the band Heavy Things from Hawthorne Heights’ home state Ohio. Also in support of a brand new album “Glimpse,” Heavy Things played a tight set of pop punk jams including the soon to be huge hits “Gone Again” and “Missing Out”. I caught up with lead singer Will Deely to talk about their new album, being on tour with Hawthorne Heights, and who’s the greatest basketball player of all time, LeBron James or Michael Jordan?
Stories From The Crowd: So you guys are out here promoting your new album “Glimpse“. I’ve listened to the record and I have to tell you I think there are some definite hits on there!
Will Deely: Thanks! It came together very organically. Our guitarist Chris was writing some songs for a side project. When he brought them to me, I was really impressed and decided that we should get together. We brought on our drummer Alex and things took off from there.
Stories: That’s awesome. It was really cool to see your drummer doing back up vocals too, you guys make a great pairing. I was actually listening to the record and I thought the vocals really reminded me of the Gin Blossoms.
WD: That’s too funny. The only other person that has made that comparison was JT from Hawthorne Heights. He asked me to send him some of the demos we had been working on, but I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t think they were ready. I sent them on and he responded: “sounds amazing, like punk rock Gin Blossoms!”
Stories: That is pretty crazy. So what was the first show you ever attended?
WD: This is really funny and it kinda brings our band full circle. I had gone to a lot of local shows to see my brother’s band, but my first big rock show was actually Fall Out Boy with Hawthorne Heights and All American Rejects in 2006. The guys in Hawthorne Heights talk about that tour all the time and tell cool stories from those days.
Stories: That’s awesome! I saw that tour when it came through Omaha. We actually went to an acoustic set for Hawthorne before the show at a skate shop and got our cds signed. There were kids everywhere, it was pure insanity. It was definitely at the height of the emo craze.
WD: Yea it was so fun just going to shows with my friends. I have so many great memories of those times, just letting loose and having fun.
Stories: That was a great tour. So what was the first record you ever bought?
It’s crazy to think that as I talk to younger bands it won’t be long before it’s “what was the first album you downloaded or streamed?” vs. “record you purchased”
WD: For sure, when I started getting into music CDs were definitely waning. I think the first CD I ever bought was Linkin Park’s “Meteora”, but the first music I really remember was from New Found Glory. I was “dating” a girl (I was only 10 or 11, so it wasn’t really dating yet) and we had just broken up. My friend said “Going through a breakup huh?” and gave me a burned CD. He said, “listen to tracks 2 and 7”. I popped it in and it was “Sticks and Stones” by New Found Glory. After hearing “My Friends over You” I was hooked on pop punk and rock music.
Stories: Haha, that’s so cool! I actually just saw New Found Glory not that long ago on their 20 Years of Pop Punk tour. It was amazing. They played all of the self titled record and all of Sticks and Stones.
WD: I saw the Sticks and Stones anniversary tour, but to see both Sticks and Stones and Self Titled must’ve been sick!
Stories: Yea it was crazy good. Those guys still have tons of energy. Speaking of bands still going strong, how have things been on this Hawthorne Heights support run? I assume it can be tough being the first of five bands.
WD: Yea it’s definitely a challenge since only a handful of people are there right when the doors open, but we’ve been making the best of it. We talk to as many fans as possible every night and try to tell them about our album, sell shirts, etc. It’s a tough grind, but it’s totally worth it. We’re just excited that our new video is doing well and we’re getting some good plays on Spotify.
Stories: Nice! I love your work ethic. I’m definitely excited for you guys and I’ve already sent your Spotify link to a few friends.
WD: We’re just excited to get our music out to as many people as possible.
Stories: Well I appreciate your time, I just have one more question. You guys are from Ohio, so I assume you’re Cavaliers fans? Who’s the greatest basketball player of all time, LeBron or Jordan?
WD: Yes, everyone in our band is a huge Cavaliers fan and we talk about this all the time. For me, there’s no doubt it’s LeBron James. He might not have as many championships, but none of that matters, he’s still the greatest.
Stories: I agree! Thanks again for catching up with me and good luck on the rest of the tour!
Up next was Sienna Skies all the way from Sydney, Australia! Unlike Heavy Things, Sienna Skies had a “heavier” sound, mixing up scream vocals, donwtuned guitars, and even bits of electronica. They had a lot of energy and the crowd ate it up.
Following Sienna Skies, was Hotel Books from Porterville, CA. This band was completely out of left field. Front man Cam Smith delivered spoken word with a rapping flow and even breaking into a hardcore scream sound at one point. I really enjoyed their set. Cam had tons of energy and an endless supply of witty banter between songs to keep the crowd laughing.
“Nobody had a better 2008 than Kid Cudi”
After Hotel Books, regional band Listener out of Kansas City, MO were up. Again, switching up the sound, these guys brought a crazy guitar swirling, trumpet blasting, almost psychedelic flavor to the mix. It wasn’t really my taste, but I saw several people dancing along enjoying the set.
After the eclectic mix of openers, it was finally time for Hawthorne Heights to take the stage. As the lights went down, the crowd of mostly thirtysomethings was ready to shriek and wail to all of their 2000s favorites like “Nikki FM” and “Ohio is for Lovers”.
The band came out and kicked off the set with the opening track of their new album “Bad Frequencies”. I’m sure many in the room were nervous that they were going to play all new songs, but they were quickly reassured that this was a nostalgia show as the band jumped into “Nikki FM”. The crowd sang along to the almost painful lyrics “I’m outside of your window, with my radio!”
JT Woodruff and company blazed through hit after hit but made sure to pepper in a few songs from the new album as the night progressed. At one point the band brought Will Deely from Heavy Things on stage to do a heartfelt cover of “Glycerine” by Bush. There was some loud participation for that one.
As the night came to a close the iconic guitar of “Ohio is for Lovers” signaled this is the last song. People ran to the floor to sing along with their favorite track from high school. The song garnered the loudest reaction of the night with the whole crowd getting in on the action. As the band closed, JT thanked Omaha for making the effort to come out on a Wednesday and asked that everyone keep it positive.
“Spread love and don’t be a jerk on Facebook”
Will do JT, will do.
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