Hawk Nelson Interview
Bass player Daniel Biro on the band’s latest album, a new lead singer and why young people matter.
Adrenaline-pumping beats, thoughtful lyrics and faith in the Almighty, Hawk Nelson is a force to be reckoned with.
However, before we dive in to the full interview, Fervr would like to note that while we were eager to talk about all-things Hawk Nelson, Daniel constantly side-tracked our questions in order to proclaim his love for (Fervr's home country) Australia.
Daniel on Australia
He said this …
"I love Australia. I seriously do. Probably everyone you interview says that, but if there was one other place in the world I could live, like if I had no family, and it wasn’t an issue that it was so far, I would seriously move to Australia."
And this …
"Australia’s so beautiful. It’s like the quality of the food is fresh and the people are nice."
And, uh, this …
"One time I was walking around the Botanical Gardens [in Sydney], and the sun was going down, and all of a sudden, like, I’m not kidding, millions of bats started swarming my head. I was so freaked out, I couldn’t get out of there, it’s such a huge park."
He also showed Fervr some love...
Daniel on Fervr
"I actually just went to the site and read a few articles. I just wanted to see where you guys were coming from, and you actually have some good stuff. I read this article on Macklemore’s Same Love—I thought it was pretty well written. I like that you guys aren’t scared to talk about real things that are going on. Because some people would be like, ‘Macklemore, they’re evil and don’t even listen to the words or think for yourselves—they’re bad’. It was a good article."
And now finally ... Daniel on Hawk Nelson
The song Made has a positive message about being happy because we are perfectly made by God.
Oh my gosh. Yeah, totally. Every artist tries to say something during their show and, a few weeks ago, it dawned on us; we were up [late one night] talking and having an in depth conversation and I said something like ‘You matter’ and, all of a sudden, we all just looked at each other. People just need to know that they matter to God—those are the two simplest words we say during our show, just ‘You matter’—and it’s like, the whole room just goes quiet and everyone has to reflect on it and it’s really awesome.
The album (also called Made) is great. Can you tell us about making it?
Yes. You may or may not know this, but we have a new lead singer. So we were going to throw in the towel and quit [after lead singer Jason Dunn left]. We prayed about it and Bart, the singer from MercyMe pulled aside our guitarist Jonathan and said, "You need to be the guy who steps up to the plate and be the singer".
And so, this record for us is about transition, being re-made as a band and realising who we are: made in Christ. You talked about that song Made and how we’re made in his image—we’re made with purpose and with a plan and we’re made beautiful—those are the messages people need to hear, and those are the messages that we needed to hear [while all this] was going on as a band. That’s Made in a nutshell. Obviously, there’s a lot of fun moments and there’s a lot of in-depth stuff too because, as Jonathan became the singer, he brought a whole new element of songwriting to the table. I’ve always really respected him and I think he’s doing a great job.
Made has themes about being purposeful and intentional. Can you expand on that?
Yeah, I think that I loved fun music and when we started as a band in high school, instead of going to university, we pursued music in Hawk Nelson, and it was fun. But now, fast forward ten years, we want to be more intentional about our music, knowing that it really has an impact on people who listen and who are actually open to listening to the words.
Music influences all of our lives, whether we really think so or not, it really does, it’s a powerful tool. We were all going through a lot of life changes: Jonathan’s sister was battling cancer while she was pregnant, and there were a lot of huge things going on. So we had a lot of material to pull through, you know, the unsures of life where you don’t know where God is in those moments. And it’s good material for writing, it’s challenging. So it’s not like everything was perfect, and we’re just happy. It’s more like, ‘God, where are you?’ and if you look, you find him.
It sounds like you guys have gone through some difficult times.
Oh my gosh, it’s been a crazy couple of years, but a good couple of years for growing. You don’t really grow when everything’s cushy.
Why is it important for your band to be faithful to God?
I think the reason that we’re faithful in small ways to God is because he has really been faithful in our lives in big ways, and it’s just a reciprocal thing. It’s not like we’re more holy than anyone else, or anything like that. Personally, I love to pray about big things and small things in life. Big things—your job, your relationship, your kids, your family, those kinds of things. I think it’s very important to regularly pray that God continues to open the doors or close the doors, and direct your path. That’s happened in this band for over a decade, and the only reason I know that we’re still here is because God continues to open the doors. When you look back over the course of your life, you can see how God has answered prayer. Sometimes he’s answered with a ‘no’, but he’s given you something better, you just didn’t know what to be praying for.
How do you guys keep your faith strong on the road?
That’s a great question. Sometimes there’s like spiritual leaders, like if we’re with TobyMac or something, there’s usually a devotional. But not always. And on the tour right now, no one’s taken the lead, so we really have to take the lead ourselves. So honestly, sometimes that’s just two of us, talking about life and opening up. And sometimes that’s personal time; I like to get away and find a trail and have alone time with God. I think that’s really important when you’re around so much noise and so many people all the time, you can get distracted. Like Jesus, he would always be in front of thick crowds during his ministry but he would always have his quiet time with his Father, you know. I think for me, that resonates and I think that’s a good example.
Have you felt pressured to compromise your faith? How have you dealt with that?
I really haven’t. I don’t know, maybe some artists do but we’ve had so many opportunities [to feel pressured]—we got to go to Hollywood and be in a movie and we did some general market "club tours"—but people were pretty accepting that we were openly, overtly like, ‘Okay, we’re Christians’ … ‘This is who we are, take it or leave it’.
I don’t know, maybe when I was teenager it might have been harder because you’re figuring out where you belong. You can’t please everybody, and so I’d rather please God. I’m not perfect, I’m not perfect! I want you to know that.
Can you tell us about Food for the Hungry and how our readers can be involved?
Yeah, Food for the Hungry is a non-profit humanitarian aid organisation, similar to World Vision or Compassion. Their headquarters are in Phoenix, Arizona, United States. They work all over the world. And we got to go to a slum outside of Manila in the Philippines last year and visit a little community called Tanza, and our goal is to raise sponsorship for 300 children in that community. They give access to food and they help pay for education and medical supplies. They’re a Christian organisation. Their goal is mostly to help communities become self-sustaining.
I was kind of blown away that there’s actually a highly Christian population in the Philippines. And even though they didn’t have a lot of material resources, they seem like really happy people. So it felt really good helping out your brothers and sisters—it wasn’t like you’re going there to "convert" them or something, you want to help these people because they’re in need. But they’re also like super, super happy and we can learn something from that in Western culture where we have so much but we’re still so miserable.
Good lessons learnt, I think. I think everybody should do those [trips], just to get your perspective of the world, that there’s more going on. It’s very healthy for us because then you appreciate things more, and you realise how trivial some of our first world problems [are].
Do you have any final words of wisdom for teens reading this?
I remember being a teenager, which wasn’t that long ago, but I still remember that feeling of not knowing where I’m going. I want to relate that I still don’t really know where I’m going on a job level, socioeconomic kind of way, and that’s okay. But where I know I’m grounded is in the fact that there’s a God, and he loves me, and that’s like the biggest foundation that you can build your life off of. And for me, that’s made all the difference. I still don’t know exactly where my life is going to go, or how many kids I’m going to have, or where they’re going to school, or if I’m going to have enough money to retire. And that’s okay, I don’t need answers to all those things because I know where I’m going in the grand scheme of things, and that’s closer to God. So look for those things that are important in life, search for meaning, and not money.
Get tickets to the Hawk Nelson US tour at http://www.hawknelson.com