Hawks Bio 2018

On June 29 2018 I See Hawks In L.A. will release their 8th CD, “Live And Never Learn,” with a UK tour from July 18 to August 13.

In this 14 song collection of folk ballads, psychedelic rockers, and the Hawks’ unique brand of honky tonk, the usual Hawks eclectic range of topics will be covered:  traffic and the collapse of society, desanctified churches of Ireland, fires in the L.A. hills, gender fluid street kingpins in L.A. adjacent Rosemead, card sharks in Memphis, and the fractaling of the modern spirit.

The Hawks are noted for their lyrical celebrations and lamentations of earth and ecosphere, odes to the endless highway, and wry social commentary—not exactly the trucks and tight jeans of mainstream country. They’ve a loyal following around the globe from many U.S. and Europe/UK tours, consistently rave reviews from critics, and a serious presence in the top 10 of the Freeform American Roots chart (#1 three times), the Americana Chart, and the Euro Americana chart (top ten several times). Their live show, whether all acoustic or hard hitting psychedelic honky tonk electric, lights up the stages from their own high desert to Stagecoach in Coachella, to the folk clubs of UK and Germany.

Formed in 1999 by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques during a philosophical discussion and rock throwing session on an East Mojave desert trek, I See Hawks In L.A. first gathered on the front porch in Echo Park, Los Angeles, drank whiskey and wrote their first batch of songs. They then sought advice from local country rock guru David Jackson (John Denver, Dillard and Clark, EmmyLou Harris).

Jackson promptly joined the Hawks for their eponymous recording, featuring legendary fiddler Brantley Kearns (Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin). The CD established the Hawks signature sound: high lonesome three part harmonies, innovative telecaster and steel or unadorned acoustic arrangements, with lyrics musing on mortality, whales, and the geography of pre-apocalyptic L.A.

The Hawks’ second CD, “Grapevine,” was released on the summer solstice 2004, and immediately went to #1 on the F.A.R. Chart, and hit #2 on XM Radio’s Outlaw Country. With the addition of heavyweight bassist and big league vocalist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock) and Dwight Yoakam’s drummer Shawn Nourse, the Hawks live sound got big and started to rock and psychedelicize. The Hawks herb anthem “Humboldt” turned into a 20 minute jam on the Hawks 28 city Summer ’04 tour, from a Vermont state prison to a Mississippi roadhouse to the Cactus Cafe and KUT’s Eklektikos in Austin, to Hempfest in Seattle.

The Hawks released their third CD, “California Country,” in June 2006, with guest spots from Chris Hillman, Rick Shea, Cody Bryant, Danny McGough, Tommy Funderburk, and other SoCal roots brethren. Tackling subjects like despair in Disney World, blackjack in Jackpot, hippie parenting, donkeys, and Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, “California Country” brought more bluegrass, Phase 90 country psychedelia, and steel driven honky tonk to the Hawks sonic empire.

That summer the Hawks hit the road with Tony Gilkyson and Kip Boardman for a 57 show tour of the US and UK: thirty states, two currencies, many varieties of local whiskey, including highlands single malts and North Carolina moonshine, not a lot of sleep, and too much fun. Highlights include the Belladrum Festival with peat fires and teepees near Inverness, Scotland; a Vermont barn dance; an outdoor festival near Yellowstone and Seattle’s Hempfest; and Joe’s Pub in NYC. And the first of many falling-in-love-with-Celt/UK journeys, a 12 day tour from London to the highlands of Scotland, and the green and the rain, with great support from BBC radio.

The mid-oughts saw the band embraced by many of their roots country predecessors. The Hawks were billed across the country with Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin, Old 97s, The Mavericks, Peter Case, Bernie Leadon, Chris Hillman and Herb Petersen, and Ray Wylie Hubbard.

In March ’08 the Hawks cut their 4th CD “Hallowed Ground,” with stellar guest spots from fiddlers Gabe Witcher and Dave Markowitz, pedal steeler Dave Zirbel, and accordionist Richie Lawrence. It’s clear how mightily the Hawks have been smitten by their time with the Celts, with two songs—a psychedelic road journey called “Pale and Troubled Race,” and a narrative song channeled from 19th century County Kerry, “The Salty Sea.” Released to rave reviews, “Hallowed Ground” hit #1 on the Freeform American Roots radio chart, hovering in the top 10 for four months, and hitting #4 on the Euro Americana Chart.

Spring 2010 brought the release of “Shoulda Been Gold” on American Beat records, an ironically titled compilation of the best of the CDs, early unreleased recordings, and some brand new songs.

“New Kind Of Lonely” was released in 2012, right on time–I See Hawks In L.A. by fate or mysterious internal rhythm put out a CD every other year since their first release. The very personal and somber (except for the comedic moments, of course), all acoustic new music, and a big reception at the FAR West Folk Convention and the national folk convention in Memphis, expanded the Hawks audience to the folk world. Psychedelic honky tonk or old timey acoustic? The Hawks choose both, and both have chosen the Hawks.

Most recent release Mystery Drug was a return to the surreal and fearless wordplay of early 2000s Hawks method–a reconvening of the tribe, the stellar musicians that enrich the Hawks sound, including Rick Shea on shimmering pedal steel and original drummer and lyricist Anthony Lacques, with musings on Starbucks baristas as surrogate friends, Irish ancestors trekking across Texas, Comanche ghosts watching aquifers wither, and existence as a moral construct. The record was cut mostly live and you feel it in the tracks.

I See Hawks In L.A. are headliners at McCabes, Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago, Slims, Joe’s Pub NYC, Grand Performances (L.A.) and other top national venues.

Festival appearances: Stagecoach (2x), Strawberry Festival (CA), Down On The Farm (Halden, Norway), Maverick Fest (UK), Solas Fest (UK), Belladrum Tartan Heart (UK), Hempfest (Seattle), French Broad River Fest (NC), Earagail Arts Festival (Northern Ireland), Westport Bluegrass Festival (Ireland), Celtic Fusion Fest & Earagail Arts Festival (Ireland), Carter Ranch Fest (CA), Frogtown Artwalk (CA), Humboldt Summer Music And Arts Festival (CA), Cadenberge Festival (Germany), Albino Skunkfest (SC), Silverlake Street Scene (CA), Santa Monica Music Festival (CA), Los Feliz Street Scene (CA)

Contact: lacques@sonic.net