A Little Bit Country, A Little Bit Rock And Roll
by Jennifer Savage
June 17th, 2005
“I set I See Hawks¹ new album, Grapevine, on ³repeat all² a week ago and haven¹t tired of it yet. Full of straightforward country rockers, pretty atmospheric tunes I could drop Drive By Truckers, My Morning Jacket, Merle Haggard, but I don¹t want to narrow their sound down that way each song tells a little story of its own. They even bring out the jawharp on ‘Humboldt’ how could it not be love at first listen?”
San Jose Mercury News
I See Hawks in L.A. and Rick Shea
San Francisco, Felton and Monterey
Ever wondered what would have happened if Gram Parsons hadn’t flamed out and the Burrito Brothers were still playing? I See Hawks in L.A. has it all — twang, distortion, backbeat and lyrics that blend cowboy poetry with an ironic vision of the West. Throw in Rick Shea, the former guitar player for Dave Alvin’s Guilty Men and a helluva country songwriter, who’ll open and then sit in. You’ve got a can’t-miss double bill that should make you forget taking out a second mortgage so that you can afford to see the Eagles this summer.
by Bob Doran
North Coast Journal
June 16, 2005
Here in Humboldt you see them all the time: hawks perched on a freeway sign or a light pole scanning the grass in the center divider searching for prey. They serve as a little reminder that nature perseveres despite the urban overlay. And it’s the same thing in Los Angeles. Thus the name of the band, I See Hawks in L.A.
“That’s exactly what the band’s name is all about,” said Paul Lacques, calling while on a break from his day job. “It’s also about our declining awareness about our natural surroundings. We ask our friends and people at our shows if they ever see hawks in L.A. Almost all of them say no. But all you have to do is look up. I still see them every two or three days. That lack of awareness keeps us from making certain decisions we have to make soon if we want to survive as part of this natural system.”
Lacques started the band in 2001 with his brother Anthony and Rob Waller. “We’ve always loved country music and I’ve been in country and bluegrass bands since the ’70s, but at that point we were coming from very different bands. I was playing in a band called the Aman Folk Ensemble. It was a touring group that had been around for about 40 years supporting a folk dance company — very eclectic world music and all without electric instruments.
“Rob and Anthony were coming out of a rock band called The Magic of Television. They played roots music with a country feel and were moving toward more country. They did a couple of Gram Parsons covers and countrified versions of Lou Reed songs. They were flirting with country but hadn’t made the leap. The three of us decided we’d try the straight-ahead country approach.”
With its crying pedal steel and close harmonies, the latest I See Hawks in L.A. album, Grapevine, brings to mind that classic era of California country rock, late ’60s records like The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
Lacques doesn’t mind the comparison. “Sweetheart of the Rodeo is one of my favorite records and there’s no denying that The Byrds and the Burrito Brothers influenced us. We also do some pretty straight ahead old-time bluegrass stuff, which will show up a little more on our new record. There are many influences cross-pollinating.”
Among the songs on the Grapevine disc is one titled “Humboldt,” a paean to the county and its local cash crop. “I’d be glad to plant corn in the ground, but corn don’t go for $3,000 a pound in Humboldt,” sings the vocalist, stretching the county name through several bars.
“I know we’re not being fair to the region,” said Lacques. “We’ve all been through there, but it’s certainly painting an imaginary landscape. It’s not like writing about Los Angeles, which, unfortunately, I know like the back of my hand.
“We come from many ideologies. I’d say Rob and I are very far left, really far. Our bass player’s a libertarian and we have huge political arguments, but we all agree that the government should leave people alone. We all feel the hammer coming down and America slowly turning into an oppressive society with a powerful central government.
“We particularly feel that laws about people’s personal behavior should be eliminated — the drug laws in particular are a major disgrace. People should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to alter their consciousness or not. I hope we don’t exploit the image of the county or people of Humboldt, but the theme is that people should be free to do what they want.”