NOTHING MORE (2014)
Par Chante Basma le 04 mars 2015
Rédaction : Chante Basma
RockUrLife met one of 2014's breakthrough band and had a chat with its frontman: Nothing More's Jonny Hawkins!
Hello Jonny how are you?
Jonny Hawkins (vocals): Good. Happy to be in France again.
First what's the meaning of "Nothing More"? Is it like "it's just music and nothing more"?
J: Interesting. Yeah it is kind of like that. It kind of extends beyond just music and nothing more to, I think, the people behind the music saying that "we're just people and nothing more". It almost sounds negative but we mean it in a sense that if we can do this you can too. It's supposed to be like an encouragement. We always liked seeing bands that were humble, appreciating their fans and really knew why they were where they are which is a result of all these people supporting, coming out to the shows. So "Nothing More" was our kind of way to say that no matter how much success we have over the years, how far we'll take this, that at the end of the day we're still just normal people loving music and putting a lot of passion into it. Anybody could do the same thing with any thing they're passioned about.
Was it the first choice as a band name?
J: No! (laughs) We like any band went through a lot of horrible names. I knew Mark at a very young age and we were young kids making bunch of different band names, every week there's a new one. We eventually lauched "Nothing More" and it felt right.
How did you guys catch up? Long time friends?
J: Yes except for our drummer Paul. He's the newest addition. I met Mark when I was in seventh grade and Daniel too. I know both of them for a very long time and we grow up playing in different projects. I went to school with Daniel and went to church with Mark. That's how I met him because my parents went to the same church that his parents. At some point in high school we joined forces together and it wasn't until about three to four years ago that we found Paul because we toured with him and his band. He's from New-Orleans, we from Texas, we'd go to play on their shows, they played on ours but they ended up breaking up and he wanted to continue his musician life and it was the perfect fit.
What are your musical influences? Because your music is very diverse and often confusing.
J: We have a very wide variety of influences. The core of our influences is bands like Muse, Rage Against The Machine, Metallica and Tool. But we have so many artists that range from electronic, pop like Imogen Heap, all the way like reggae with Damian Marley, all the way to hardcore prog tech metal like Meshuggah. When you get all these influences all outside of this core, you learn little things that arent neat about each one. It's just like if you travel the world and learn a bunch of different languages looking the advantages and disadvantages of each one of them. Music is the same, there's better way to communicate certain emotions so if you learn from metal how to communicate like almost calculated agression and you can learn sense of soul from different styles. We just try to use all of them to communicate at the end of the day, a human emotion: music is the tool.
But was it natural or did you work and think a lot on these details?
J: I think subconsciously it all just naturally came out. Because it's like when you, I hate to use the same analogy but, language -I only know English- but you're bilingual and you get to the point when learning it that there's this turnover when it stops thinking about it and you just start talking, it just happens. It's the same thing when you listen to all this music and you really dive into it, it comes a part of you. Then when you start creating your own music you just naturally have the sensibilty about the decisions that you make are a result of those things you adopted. It's a cycle.
Reading the tracklist of your first record, it seems like some of those tracks are private jokes: "Mr MTV", "The Matthew Effect", "Christ Copyright". Which topics are you dealing with?
J: "Mr MTV" kind of yes. It's a name we created to put a name, a face and a person, to personnify corporate America. MTV both here and over America are degraded. Reality shows and stuff just about bullshit, it's not music anymore. So "Mr MTV" is this corporation that we sing about as an example of something that happens to other companies and people selling out and not doing what's really awesome in life but they're doing what's easy and what's gonna make money. There's a little bit of sarcasm but "The Matthew Effect" is actually a little bit more serious. That phrase is actually taken out of a scripture of the New Testament where Jesus says "for those who have even more will be given and those who do not have even what they do have will be taken away" and the other way to say this is: the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. I remember as a kid, at the church, so I learnt all about the Bible and that verse always stuck out for me because it was very strange. I didn't say "believe in ME" or "do good things to other people" it was just like a statement about reality and the leeches of our society never giving back anything. "Christ Copyright" is still about the MTV thing. It's serious but it's also like we're playing with the words a little bit because we found it funny to take the word "Christ" which is a religious icon and take the word "copyright" which is a business sign. In America spirituality or religion, which was a pure thing, have been now mixed with marketing and corporations.
How is the creation process in the band going on?
J: It's different for every song but generally we get into a room, all of us and we discuss about life, the things that we've been through and we use those feelings that we want to communicate and we just have those discussions. Those things that made us feel so strong. We take the strongest feelings and stories and we work during rehearsals but we put those things apart we just work on some music and then we'll sort it out with the mix and match game "which story for which music?".
Which three tracks would you pick to illustrate the record?
J: That's like "Which children is your favourite?" (laughs) I would say "Christ Copyright" because it deals with the religious political dogmatic side of the band as well as the music is intense and technical; then "I'll Be OK" which is a more heart broken song, sentimental but also introspective like the softer side of the band and then "Jenny", with a lot of emotions but it's not soft or sentimental in the same time.
How could you define your band? Through a short and catchy description.
J: I'd say progressive passion. That or diet metal. (laughs)
Can you understand that it is a bit hard to get into your music?
J: Yeah when you create your own music you understand every little element about it. I can totally understand that because there's a lot of layers and maybe at once it can be too much to take in but I think longetivity will unveil new elements that was our goal. The flip side of making something like that is to experience what you're talking about.
Is it challenging to have 17 songs on a record?
J: In some way yes because it does take more money, more time and more energy but at the same time, like anything in life, there's always a flip side. The other side of it that it was more longetivity so we're going to spend more time on that record but hopefully it'll last the listeners longer too. Tool for example, there are years between each record but they last, so that was kind of our goal.
What did you listen lately?
J: I've been listening to The Dillinger Escape Plan through Spotify but I can't listen them too long because it's way crazier than our own music! What else, the band called M83 it's a synth driving kind of dreamy. You'll have to float while you're listening. A lot of Karnivool too, a band I really like.
Something to add?
J: Well yes. I've been sitting in a bar in Paris with you and if you would have asked me two or three years ago that I would be travelling the world doing this I would have liked to believe that'll be true and would have been very excited but the only reason because I am here and the guys are here too is because we committed our lives to follow our dreams with music and it's happening. I always say as an encouragement that we're a living proof that if you live for something and fight for it you'll get it! Don't give up. The only failure is to quit. Never give up.
And here is our final question: we are "RockUrLife" so what rock your life Jonny?
J: Alan Watts! (laughs) He's a philosopher. He not only rocks my world but he also blows my mind. He's one of those people with whom I came accross. Very rare, he puts words on thoughts I have that I couldn't really define. He's kind of my artist that I look up to.