I recently had the chance to chat with Eron Bucciarelli, drummer for the Ohio post-hardcore band Hawthorne Heights. They have just released their fifth studio album, Zero, through Red Entertainment. You can catch them on the road this summer on the Vans Warped Tour, and they will once again be hitting the road in the fall. Eron and I talk about new music, life on the road, social media and more in the interview below:
Hawthorne Heights have been active in the music business for quite some time now. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 10 years since your first record. What would you say has changed the most within the music business since you first started?
Oh man, where do I even begin? Well, definitely I have to say the downfall of the CD, and the rise of the MP3 and digital world have changed things drastically. We’ve watched so many labels shut their doors, for we live in an era where it isn’t what it used to be. Labels somewhat now invest money and time into singles as opposed to bands and tours, and they are more unlikely to take a chance on something that is experimental or different. I don’t know, so many things are different. We are lucky to have such a nice career in music.
Do you feel that your career is still a lot to take in? For instance, does it ever become normal with the fame and life on the road? Does anything ever still seem new to you?
Some things more than others, but yeah, a lot of it still seems new to me. Every tour we do is drastically different. No matter where you are in the world, it’s always cool. That’s one of the coolest parts about this job. Our careers have taken us all over the map as far as success levels go. We had a crazy dramatic rise in popularity, which was accompanied by some devastating blows on a professional and personal level. It took a lot for us to take the bull by the horns and remain strong in order to reestablish ourselves and people’s faith in our music.
Last year we got to go to countries we’ve never been to, which for us was amazing, but you never know what kind of response you’re going to get. It’s the life experiences. No matter what level of success you have, that’s something you’ll always remember.
Can you tell us a little about the title of the new record, Zero, and if there is a particular theme on the album?
Zero is basically a story of good and evil. The setting of the record exists where power rises in the wake of disaster.
I saw that you guys recorded Zero in Nashville with Brian Virtue. How was that experience?
That was our first time recording in Nashville, which was really cool and new for us. Brian Virtue has worked on so many awesome projects with bands like 30 Seconds To Mars and so many more. He brought a real fresh perspective to our recording process. We didn’t go months at a time with everyone recording their parts. His approach to our recording process was very instrumental in our creativity. We were all constantly working, which made us really think about the songs. We are all really happy with how it turned out.
How do you pick what goes on the records? Do you have a ton of songs that don’t make it each time that you just never use?
We always write a ton of songs and pick the best out of the group. Some songs we realize just aren’t ready when we need them to record, so we will hold them back and then eventually dust it off and come back to it. We always go back to it.
Hawthorne Heights are about to embark on the Vans Warped Tour this summer, and it’s been about six years since I’ve last seen you guys on it. Obviously, a lot has changed in the last six years. Are you excited to relive a tour like this?
Yes, definitely. We love Warped Tour; it’s one of the tours that gives your band unlimited exposure, for you get to play in front of so many people every night. Right now we are on the road to reboot our career, and this is the perfect tour to do it on, to bring music to our current fans and hopefully some new ones.
If you really think about it, this may be the first time a lot of those teenagers are ever hearing Hawthorne Heights.
Yeah, you’re right. We’re thinking that the last time we played the tour six years ago may have been the first time a lot of them had seen Hawthorne as well, and hopefully they have grown with us as the years have come.
On tours like this, do you actually have time to watch other bands on the bill?
Yeah, I mean, once in a while. The tour is pretty long, so we definitely get to check bands out that we want to see too. There are always a few bands that no matter where you are or what you are doing, you will always hear them. We try to watch bands in between signings and meet and greets too. We love taking time to hang with our fans.
Do you have any special tricks to staying motivated on the road? Does it ever get tiring or do you get homesick?
I always tell people to maintain some sort of normalcy on a day off in between shows. Try to go your own ways, you know, relax and take some personal time. Then regroup, talk about how things are going, ways to improve, and stuff like that. You have to do that; readjusting is very crucial in preventing you from getting burnt out. Touring can be very tough on your body. I, in fact, read in an article that a professional drummer should be in as good a shape as a professional athlete. You don’t realize how much energy it takes.
Are you guys planning on touring the new album on your own when Warped is done?
We will be touring in the fall—overseas and in the U.S.—but I cannot give you much more details who it is with. But yes, we are touring again.
I saw that the band decided to use PledgeMusic for this release. What made you guys decide to go in that direction, and what was your experience like?
Well, a little backstory on it: When we did the Hate And Hope EP, we did pre-order packages and landed up using it for fans to connect, you know, get updates, and we found that it was a very effective tool. It offers a lot of interesting packages that we were never offering before, and we try to give back as much as possible. It was great, we’d do it again.
Who are some artists that you are listening to right now? Any new music?
I’m really digging the new Strokes record; don’t have as much time as I’d like to check out new music.
With social media somewhat taking over the world, I’d love to know your thoughts on it as an artist using it as a tool.
I think social media has a place when used properly. When Myspace first came out, it was what it was; we used it to allow our fans to listen to our music and expand our fanbase. We control all of our social media pages and we love to interact with our fans, so any time you post something and you see a response, it’s 99 percent of the time us. Nothing beats the one-on-ones with fans, but it’s not going away, so…
Hawthorne Heights have always been open about their struggles with record labels, eventually leading to the start of Cardboard Empire, your own label, and trying to things in the industry. Do you have any advice for bands that are trying to make it in the industry today?
Jeez…this is always a tough question for me to answer. Back to what I said before, things are so different now. I cannot even imagine what it would be like if Hawthorne was just starting out now. I have so many mixed feelings about it. There are so many more bands that are competing for the same listeners these days, and honestly, the listeners’ attention spans are constantly dwindling. If something doesn’t catch their ear within the first 15 seconds, they’re on to the next song—if you’re lucky—or on to the next artist.
Honestly, when you release something, you have to make sure you put your best foot forward. No matter what happens and what changes, catchy songs will always shine through—songs that people can believe in. There are so many gimmicks and images being pushed down people’s throats. It’s a scary new musical landscape. But keep doing what you’re doing, and trying hard, playing shows, touring, and making fans. There is definitely still hope out there for artists on the rise.
Be sure to catch Hawthorne Heights on the Vans Warped Tour, which hits PNC Bank Arts Center July 7, Susquehanna Bank Center July 12, and Nassau Coliseum July 13. Their new album, Zero, is available now. For more information, go to hawthorneheights.com.