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Hawthorne Heights: shouty modern-style emo-rock with an ambitious approach
  • Hawthorne Heights: shouty modern-style emo-rock with an ambitious approach
Hawthorne Heights shout it out loud
Hawthorne Heights
w/ Halifax, The Sleeping, Raise the Sun
Mon. May 1
6:30 p.m.
The Plex
2390 W. Aviation Ave.

In singer/guitarist J.T. Woodruff's view, "pressure" is a word that has no place in his vocabulary. "We never really worry about pressure because we just kind of do what we do and we have fun," he says. "You can't really sit back and worry about what somebody's going to say or worry about anything like that when it comes to writing songs."

That outlook is a good thing. The lead singer and guitarist of Dayton, Ohio-based modern rock band Hawthorne Heights has certainly had opportunities to become thoroughly acquainted with that feeling. Two years ago, when Hawthorne Heights were writing and recording their debut, The Silence In Black & White, Woodruff was facing the prospect that this batch of songs might serve as his last shot at a career in music. He had been in a series of bands, and, at age 25, he knew he couldn't continue living the way he was much longer.

"The lyrics on that first album are pretty dark because I was pretty unhappy at that point," Woodruff says. "Some of those songs were written before we were signed, before there's a light at the end of the tunnel. So it's like 'All right, dude, I'm working at a gas station and I'm delivering pizzas and going to community college. Where can you tell me there's a light at the end of the tunnel when you're doing that all day and all night?'"

In approaching If Only You Were Lonely, released in late Feb., Woodruff could very easily have felt an entirely different kind of pressure. The Silence In Black & White became one of rock's quieter success stories of 2004-'05, gradually gaining momentum until it topped 500,000 copies sold.

Prior to the release of the Heights' new album, their label Victory Records openly predicted it would sell 200,000 copies in its first week of release and debut at number one on the Billboard album chart. If Woodruff and his bandmates had their hearts set on attaining those first-week numbers, he didn't show it in this interview.

"Just from a band standpoint, we don't have any expectations," he says. "We never thought we would ever make the Billboard chart in our lives, let alone think about debuting in the top five or anything like that."

As it turned out, the disc debuted at number three, moving 114,000 copies in the first week — an impressive total that showed just how far Hawthorne Heights has come in a fairly short career that began in 2001.

With If Only You Were Lonely, Woodruff and his bandmates — guitarists Casey Calvert and Micah Carli, bassist Matt Ridenour, and drummer Eron Bucciarelli — give fans more of what attracted them to Hawthorne Heights' music in the first place: plenty of hard-hitting, yet melodic guitar rock spiced with sung and screamed vocals.

"If people listen to our last album and listen to our new album, I think they will say, 'well, this sounds like a better version of their first album,'" Woodruff says. "We really wanted to keep that. We wanted to sound like we sound. We want to do what we have succeeded with."

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