THE HAWKINS: Interview with Johannes Carlsson
Interview with Johannes Carlsson (THE HAWKINS) about the new album „Silence Is A Bomb“
THE HAWKINS will release their album “Silence Is A Bomb” on September 4th, 2020.
It has become a multi-layered album with great melodies and full of energy. (More details in the review.) There is a lot to discover: musically but above all in the lyrics. Since I like word games and allusions e.g. with literature, musicians, pieces of music or ideas, I also had a lot of joy (of discovery) in this respect. I spoke to Johannes Carlsson, who is responsible for the lyrics, about two of these allusions.
The lyrics (on „Aint Rock ′N Roll)“ have a socially critical view. Whether it is about dealing with expectations that the environment has on the individual, or about a topic that is not only relevant in Sweden: dealing with Nazis (as in „Fuck All I’m Outta Here“ or „The Astronomical Fool“). The lyrics of the new album address personal or social aspects more or less directly. I also noticed some interesting allusions (two examples below).
Please tell us briefly from your point of view what the lyrics are about. (Maybe you have a text / topic that is particularly close to your heart.)
The lyrics for “Silence Is A Bomb” truly are very personal stories. It’s in a way pretty gonzo when I think about it; almost every song is a reflection of a person in an extreme state of mind. For me the album represents that build-up of things that I hadn’t talked about. And yeah, to be fair, almost ALL music is an outlet for stuff you couldn’t or wouldn’t express otherwise, but this album became so filled with intense emotions, that that’s what it represents to me.
The lyrics deal with serious, life-determining topics. The music is Rock ‚N‘ Roll (and yet again not), rock and a little punk (?). For me it is the perfect music while driving a convertible on country roads. Fast paced, somewhat chaotic, sweaty and debauched.
Initially, one does not necessarily expect socially critical and differentiated lyrics with such music.
Why does these fit well together for you?
For me it works good because of the contrasts within the song and the fact that it actually is unexpected and/or fascinates and chafes. Probably the biggest meaning I find in listening to music is the feeling of loving something that you can’t really understand why you do. It could be felt in the song structure, the harmonical content, the performance, the lyrics and/or the context of where the music is heard. Those moments occur from time to time, when exposed to music and is probably the purest feeling of love I can feel. To me it is also the closest feeling of something magical. It makes me want to live and evolve and create. I want to evoke those feelings through my own music. That gives me great purpose.
How does the contrast come into play?
I like using contrast to make a point but also a reaction. The contrast can create abstraction and unanswered questions. Because contrasts can be provocative, uncomfortable and it can often leave a whole lot of “Why?”. Perhaps I’ll find the contrast-thingy boring later, but right now it is fun.
As I read the title of the album, I was excited to see what you would make of it.
Later when I read the lyrics referring to John Cage’s „4’33“ in a nice play on words, I thought about what Cage said about „silence“. That there is no silence, no empty space or empty time, since there are always noises.
Glad you picked up on that! Yeah, I guess that was partially one of his reasons for writing „4’33“ as well. I got intrigued by him expressing that he enjoyed the sound of silence(environment) more than written music, because he liked how those sounds didn’t try to tell him something. That he just liked sounds the way they are, that they don’t have to be constructed with an ulterior motive or such.
What does silence mean to you? In what way is it a bomb?
Although most of the silence referred to in our album has very little to to with this(I just wanted talk a little about John Cage haha). The silence in this album is more as expressed above. The silence where you go in a deep downward spiral with thoughts escalating. But it is also a silence that will break. The balloon will burst at some point.
In „Cut Moon Bleeds“ you take up the phrase ‟Silence is a bomb” again. You also use ‟Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An” a title by PROPAGANDHI, which addresses the human rights violations in East Timor by the Indonesian Suharto – regime.
It all sounds pretty „cryptic“. What does it mean to you? What is your intention, the point about it?
You’ve actually been listening(not all interviewers does that, haha)! It makes me happy to hear!
I am a bit ambivalent about spoiling songs;
On one hand people should be able to make up their own minds and through the abstract data, that a song might be, paint their own picture. I love that about art, ‘cause the creation through interpreting a song can not only make you learn something about yourself, but it can also be very rewarding in a “creativity-dopamine-kick” -kind of way.
On the other hand, I love analysis. And I feel this urge to explain what all references mean.
I can come to terms with answering your question like this:
Cut Moon Bleeds is essentially a song about personal and creative freedom. Propagandhi symbolizes that to me. Falling in love with their music, their lyrics and just how they are as a band, and the decisions they’ve made throughout their existence has meant so much to me. And it all started with the song “Mate Ka Moris Ukun Rasik An”. So see the allusion partially as a homage.
There is also a literal point I want to make with the phrase, but I’ll leave that to the listener to figure out.
By the way, if you look again you might just find some more funny references…
Yeah, I already have. I think we could talk about that for a long time. But it should be enough for today.
Is there something you want to tell our readers to take along?
Well, check out our new album “Silence is a Bomb”. Listen through it from start to finish, and repeat this procedure.
So I have nothing to add to this. Thank you for answering the questions.
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