Despite its name, Hawthorne Heights hasn't had a career that's consisted solely of high points.
Sure, the Dayton, Ohio-based pop-punk and post-hardcore band has created music that's connected with a broad fanbase, most notably its 2006 album If Only You Were Lonely, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and produced the hit single Saying Sorry. But the band has also had to deal with everything from record company squabbles to the tragic passing of one of its founding members.
Currently, the group is in the studio, but they are also hitting the road for The Silence in Black and White Ten Year Anniversary World Tour, which comes to Cosmic Charlie's in Lexington Saturday. Lead singer and guitarist J.T. Woodruff took the time to chat with the Herald-Leader via email about how the band's sound has changed over the past decade and why they decided to revisit their debut album both in the studio and on tour.
Herald-Leader: When you guys released The Silence in Black and White in 2004, it came out at a time when a lot of pop-punk, emo, screamo and post-hardcore bands were hitting pay dirt and getting big audiences. How do you think you guys have been able to stand out through the years and not get lost in the shuffle?
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Woodruff: I honestly have no idea. There is a lot of music out there. For some reason, people heard ours and liked it. Albums are like capturing lightning in a bottle, and there is a ton of luck involved. Not sure why it worked out ... but I am glad it did.
Q: When you guys had to deal with the untimely death of your original rhythm guitarist and vocalist Casey Calvert, what kind of toll did that take on the band both emotionally and musically?
A: Losing a best friend is something that no one should have to go through, but it's one of those unfortunate real life events that happens. For the first few months, we didn't worry about the band. We just met up for practice but didn't play. We just talked and focused on great memories. Eventually, when we started working and writing again, things kind of worked themselves out. We wrote the songs we wanted to write and are happy with them.
Q: It certainly sounds like the band had an artistic shift between 2006's If Only You Were Lonely (the last album Calvert recorded on) and 2008's Fragile Future. How did it feel to make that particular album and how do you believe it was received by your fans?
A: That album was like one long therapy session. We recorded it in Chico, Calif., at a dance studio. We spent our off-time swimming in a mountain stream, playing disc golf in a canyon and hanging out as friends. The one thing you will notice on FF is that there is no screaming. That immediately makes the music sound popular. But if you listen to the lyrics, I think you will find that it's a very dark album. I like it that it's a very honest album, lyrically written from my point of view.
Q: In 2014, for the 10th anniversary of The Silence in Black and White, you guys went back and recorded an acoustic version featuring almost every track from the original album. What led the band to that decision?
A: It was really an exercise in re-discovering our older songs. Ten years is a long time in songwriting terms, so we had to give it a good listen. It brought up a bunch of great memories, so we decided to lay the songs down in a stripped-down fashion. Classic artists used to record their music in a bunch of different versions and that's kind of what we were going for.
Q: Now, you guys are doing an anniversary tour in celebration of your debut album. What can fans expect to hear on this tour?
A: We have been having a lot of fun playing our first album. The memories it brings up, are all great things. Talking with our fans and hearing their memories keeps it all young and new again. We have also thrown in a few other songs to have some fun as well.
Q: After all the band has been through and all Hawthorne Heights has managed to bounce back from, how does it feel to have been in existence for a full decade and what kind of place is the band in after all that time?
A: Over the last decade, there have been so many great things and terrible things that have happened in the world in general, music just seems small. Everything seems like fun and a good time. After 10 years, music is still fun to me. I can't predict the future, but I think our past has been a great time and our fans have allowed us to play music all over the world. I will never forget that and am eternally thankful.