Hawthorne Heights

By paul

Paul: Hello – please tell our readers who you are and what role you have in the band!
JT: My name is JT Woodruff, I am the singer and I play guitar for Hawthorne Heights.

Paul: It’s difficult to know where to start because so much has happened since the release of the last record so I’ll try and go through things in chronological order. The last record did really well and built on your reputation – it gained critical acclaim and sold well, did you set any expectations and if you did were they exceeded?
JT: We have always been a band with low expectations, because we are just happy to be playing music. It helps that we are on an Indie label, so we don’t have the pressures of a major. To be honest we have always been excited to just be able to write songs and release music.

Paul: Things then started to get messy with lawsuits and lots of claims. I assume you probably can’t say too much but do you regret what happened and, perhaps more importantly, the way it all happened?
JT: I think that life is full of regrets and mistakes, because we are all human. That being said, I think that we would have preferred to take a different avenue rather than filing a lawsuit. In hindsight, we should have all just sat down with the label and worked out our differences.

Paul: Things were said and the internet seemed to become a battleground with people taking different sides – with hindsight do you think it could have been handled better, regardless of the result?
JT: It could have, and should have been handled better. We were at the mercy of our advisors and simply got bad advice.

Paul: Do you think kids on messageboards and speculation on the internet actually made the situation worse? Do you read all the stuff people write about your band?
JT: We try not to read about our band very much. For two reasons…there are a lot of negative people out there looking to spoil your good time…and also it’s pretty vain to sit around and read about yourself. I think people love to talk shit on the internet, and act like they are lawyers who know what they are talking about. When I grew up, I didn’t know anything about my favorite bands business. I don’t see why a 15 year old kid would care about lawsuits in the first place.

Paul: Casey’s death obviously came out of the blue. You guys received a lot of love and support from bands, labels, fans…the whole community seemed to rally around you. Did it surprise you just how much love and care you received? On a similar note, did the speculation regarding Casey’s death on the internet make it difficult for you to grieve and accept the loss of such a close friend and band mate?
JT: We were so overwhelmed and proud of the support we received from fans and bands around the music community. It made us be able to deal with such a tough loss and continue on. Casey would have been so proud that his favorite band, New Found Glory, sent flowers. Internet speculation only hurts to read, so we try not to read it. But we did feel the need to protect Casey’s family by not letting people spread rumors about him. He was too good of a person for that.

Paul: How do you cope when something so tragic strikes so suddenly? Has Casey’s death changed your outlook on life both individually and as a band?
JT: It has changed us forever. We all just took a break from music, and locked ourselves away with our families. It makes you realize how short life can be sometimes, and you need to cherish everyone you know. You need to keep yourself in a positive state of mind, and try to help everyone around you stay positive.

Paul: Did you ever think about splitting up over any of the problems you encountered before making the new album?
JT: I think that with all the support we have received from everyone, that splitting up was never an option. We believe in what we are doing, and know that Casey would want us to go on. It’s also a way for us to celebrate Casey’s life in the form of new songs. And it’s free therapy for us…taking the stage is a way to keep our sanity.

Paul: Is the meaning behind ‘Fragile Future’ as literal as it seems? Do Hawthorne Heights have a future as a band after this record?
JT: The title Fragile Future is meant to be taken somewhat literally. It’s more about the fact that you never know what your future holds, but you need to be prepared for everything. You need to live and enjoy life, because the Future is Fragile…but we should all look to the future not the past. We hope Hawthorne Heights has a long future, because we love what we do.

Paul: Had you written any songs before Casey died? Did the writing process drastically change following his death? On a similar note, when you went and recorded the album did you immediately approach it in a different way or did you chance on a new way of working as you started?
JT: We actually had written some songs before Casey passed away. Two of them are on the record, 321 and Scrantonicity. After we lost Casey, we had to reassess our band, songs, and friendships. We are down a guitar player, screamer, and best friend. So we just decided to write some more songs, change stuff around, and embrace the future. Recording the album was very different without Casey, but I think we did the best we could. We had a good time, and celebrated life and hope together.

Paul: The album touches on a number of emotions and is probably ‘heavier’ in a lyrical sense than anything else you’ve written. Did writing the album act as a release to deal with emotions which occured over the last 18 months?
JT: That’s my favorite part about being a musician…I get to tell the world how I feel in the form of a song. We were all going through a lot of different feelings throughout this process. Desperation, Frustration, and Mourning are some emotions that are littered through the entire record. But I think that it did help to put pen to paper and song to record. In a way, it’s the same as talking to a therapist over and over. Everyone needs that sometimes.

Paul: You’ve just launched a scheme where you will thank people via MP3 if they purchase your album. How did you come up with this? Do you think bands forget where they came from and neglect their fans sometimes?
JT: We just wanted to do something special for the fans who care enough about us to rush to the store to support us. We are a flavor of the week anymore, this is our 3rd album. Our fans are the lifeline that keeps us breathing. We will also be including some exclusive photos that Micah took while recording. We won’t be sending an MP3 thanking each individual fan, more like a group collective. We consider our fans to be one huge community, and we love that they continue to support us. I think bands forget that fans are the best thing about music. We treat ours with courtesy and respect, because they do the same to us.

Paul: This may have happened by the time you read this, but you’ve challenged gamers to compete against you at Halo – are you all gaming nerds? What’s the game of choice on the HH bus?
JT: We are actually doing the Halo competition tomorrow…and we are gaming nerds. We pretty much only play Halo 3, because it’s the only game that matters haha.

Paul: When will you next be touring the UK? Are there any bands you’d like to bring over with you?
JT: We hope to tour the UK asap, because it’s awesome over there. I would love to support a huge band like Linkin Park over there, because it would just be insane. If we could take some bands I would love to take Emery, The Color Fred, and The Swellers.

Paul: What three pieces of advice, if any, would you give new bands just starting out?
JT: Write as many songs as possible, but only keep the ones you love. Practice and practice until you are ready to play. And if you want to be a professional band, you need to follow your heart…and work as hard as you can.

Paul: Finally, what would you say has been your album of the year so far?
JT: So far my album is probably Death Cab for Cutie, Narrow Stairs. It has such an amazing vibe to it. I love how each song kinda grooves and zones out.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]