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April 1, 2018


First effort since 2013 due in stores and digital outlets June 29, as band members cling to music and one another to overcome family loss, wildfires, and other travails.

LOSANGELES, Calif. — I See Hawks in L.A. soared relatively trouble freefor the first decade of their existence, but in 2018 they’re emerging from a stringof confrontations with mortality, life choices, and the slow leakage ofyouthful possibility. It’s been almost 17 years since the release oftheir eponymous debut — on September 11, 2001. They didn’t get rich, theydidn’t get famous, and yet they’re still here, perhaps benefitting artisticallyfrom the rocky passage. The rich flavor of battered soul. It’s clear theseHawks are in it for the music, for each other, and for the adventure of it all.

Live and Never Learn is the first new Hawks album since2013’s Mystery Drug. It’s been five hard years. In March of2015, member Rob Waller lost his mother suddenly to pancreatic cancer, and Paul Lacques lost both his parents this past year. Most of the songs on Live and Never Learn were written andrecorded while they were dealing with these primal griefs, as well as otherpersonal battles dire but with better outcomes. From the Hawks to those whohave lost parents: “Now we understand.

” Loving families, good friends, and making music helped get the band through those times, personally and artistically. The Waller/Lacques songwriting is augmentedhere with contributions from Hawks bassist Paul Marshall and drummer Victoria Jacobs. One song, the rocking “King of theRosemead Boogie,” features twisted lyrical and spiritual contributions by members of Old Californio.

Twosongs, “White Cross” and “Singing in the Wind,” were co-written via emailwith Peter Davies of the U.K.’s Good Intentions, and feature the Hawks’ signature electricsounds of reverby Telecaster, thumping Fender bass, and tight harmonies, while the lyrics take listeners from the backstreets of Memphis to the windsweptmoors of Northern Ireland.

“Last Man in Tujunga” brings us back home to the more familiar geography of smoky SouthernCalifornia hills. The song, written by the Hawks some years back, tells thestory of a breakup unfolding over a cell phone call as the flames getcloser. Its appearance here is all the more appropriate and timely, as Marshall wasforced to evacuate his Tujunga home twice in the fall of 2017. He was “almostout of minutes” as the “flames were licking at the gates.”

Many ofthe tracks on Live and Never Learn directly address the band’s personal struggles. “Poour Me” explores the dead-serioustheme of a drunk’s self-pity but it’s wrapped up in a light-hearted andhumorous approach familiar to any Hawks fan. Dave Zirbel addsclassic country pedal steel for this regretful farewell to drinking, as Wallercalls out, “I guess I better not have no more.” Zirbel hit the emotional coreof many songs on this record, subtle and surprising as always.

Drummer VictoriaJacobs, also an accomplished songwriter, contributes a wistful meditationon the passing of time with her psychedelic folk masterpiece “Spinning.” Nightworries and fantastical images illuminate this hauntingly beautiful tune. Jacobsalso narrates another touching fable in “My Parka Saved Me,” recounting herreal life head-on collision as a teenager on a winter afternoon by LakeMichigan. The Hawks’ doo-wop vocals, ’50s chords, and Danny McGough's sweet B3give the terrifying tale a soft landing.

Someclassic Hawks themes also appear on this album. “Planet Earth” and “Balladfor the Trees” reflect the band’s longtime interest in ecology andconservation. “Stoned With Melissa” appears to be another Hawks weed anthem,but with a sad and realistic twist. “King of the Rosemead Boogie” introduces animagined hero of the San Gabriel Valley in all her (his?) glory. Regretand earth/spirit duality return in “Isolation Mountains” and “Tearing Me inTwo,” both brought to fruition by the deep fiddle of longtime collaborator Dave Markowitz, and broke-the-mold accordionis tRichie Lawrence.

This spring, good news has returned for the Hawks and their families. The bandfinished tracking and sent the files off to four-time Grammy-winningmixer Alfonso Rodenas (Los Tigres del Norte), who mixed Mystery Drug as well as several other Lacques-producedprojects. The mixes came back sounding great, and the Hawks felt a surgeof optimism, perhaps irrational, perhaps a crucial tonic to these gloomy times. Now Live and Never Learn is here andthe Hawks sound better than ever. With shows in California and the U.K. comingup this summer they’refeeling good and can’t wait to hit the stage and sing,together again, together as always.

Live and Never Learn is available now to fans through a Kickstarter campaign and will be released in stores and all digital outlets on June 29, 2018.

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January 16, 2012


Cut live in a circle around three mics, the stripped down sound highlights the Hawks three part harmonies and cinematic lyrics.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — I See Hawks in L.A. have released five critically acclaimed albums since they began writing songs in their Echo Park living rooms 11 years ago. The band’s sound layers electricity and Southern California psychedelia over acoustic guitars and rich vocal harmonies.

Meanwhile, fans have always treasured the Hawks’ acoustic shows, where Rob Waller’s rich voice, the band’s subtle guitar arrangements, and the dark, literate lyrics take the spotlight. A three-year one-mic acoustic series hosted by the band at Cole’s bar in downtown L.A., and memorable acoustic shows all over the U.S. with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Chris Hillman, and Dave Alvin, have honed the Hawks’ sound.

So in 2012, the End of the World according to the Mayan calendar, I See Hawks In L.A. will finally release that acoustic album, New Kind of Lonely, recorded live in a circle at Marc Doten’s Echo Park studio with lovely German microphones. Street date is set for February 21 on Western Seeds Records.

It’s been a long and colorful journey for L.A.’s best-known alt-country band. Countless whiskey-fueled shows from Santa Monica to downtown to the high desert with Mike Stinson, Randy Weeks, Tony Gilkyson and dozens of other artists spawned a now-thriving roots country scene amidst the palm trees and yuccas. Four I See Hawks In L.A. releases notched #1 on the Freeform American Roots (FAR) Chart, and several have hit the Euro Americana Top 10. Dave Alvin has cited the Hawks as “one of California’s unique treasures.”

Treks to Europe and U.K. and repeated tours through most of the 50 states have created a solid following scattered across the globe. “We thrive in the margins,” the Hawks always say. New Kind of Lonely could be the recording to push them into prominence.

On every track, shimmering textures of Martins and Gibsons and upright bass, with touches of dobro and some beautiful fiddle from Gabe Witcher, embellish haunted themes. Death and loss, in very personal terms, weave into almost every song. L.A. Americana’s favorite sister, fiddler/songwriter Amy Farris, is mourned lyrically; the sorrow waiting at the end of every long and joyous marriage is explored in the bittersweet “Your Love Is Going To Kill Me (Someday).”

In reaching back to pre-electric traditions, the Hawks seem to have tapped into the mortality that looms in the work of Hank Williams, The Stanley Brothers, and the Carter Family, far from the feel-good suburbiana of today’s Nashville songwriting. Dark times do need some kind of acknowledgement. I See Hawks In L.A. have taken this on.

But much of the music is rocking and uplifting. “Big Old Hypodermic Needle,” a black humored two beat about two best friends overdosing, is perfect for a barn dance. “Hunger Mountain Breakdown,” in which the singer plans a dramatic ridgetop suicide, is driven by Cliff Wagner’s kickass bluegrass banjo and Gabe Witcher’s virtuoso fiddling. “The Spirit of Death” is hard charging Cajun rock. “I Fell In Love With the Grateful Dead,” a compendium of the three bandmates’ Dead show experiences over four decades, ventures into jam band territory, with lots of notes expended on guitar and bass.

I See Hawks In L.A. will launch New Kind of Lonely with, appropriately enough, an acoustic show at McCabe’s, followed by an electric version of the new tunes at Pappy & Harriet’s in the high desert. Over the summer they will hit the road to places new and familiar.

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