There was a time, not so long ago, when any mention of “Youngblood Hawke” would have made me think of the book Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk. To tell you the truth, I’ve never read it, but it’s on the list of books that I intend to read in the not so distant future, largely because it’s about an aspiring writer, something I can relate to. Back on point, I had no idea that there was a band called Youngblood Hawke. It wasn’t until Caught A Ghost’s publicist mentioned that they were opening for them that I became aware that there was a band going by that name. But I was intrigued, so I contacted their publicist, who kindly hooked me up with their album, Wake Up, which proved to be insanely good, chock full of super catchy anthems that make you want to raise your fist and yell. But in a good way. And there aren’t enough albums that are so turbo-charged and flashy throughout. The only album I’ve heard recently that’s as powerful as Youngblood Hawke’s album would be I Heart Sharks’ new album, which is appropriately entitled Anthems. Other than that, Youngblood Hawke is the most inspired and inspiring band I’ve come across since starting Love is Pop roughly two years ago. In fact, I’m so into them that interviewing vocalist Sam Martin was not enough Hawke for me. And so I interviewed background vocalist and percussionist extraordinaire Alice Katz…
Wednesday night’s show [8/16/14] in Boston was fantastic. I love your album, but there was something a bit more special, I think, with Sam, Nik and yourself all attacking the drums at once during various parts of the show. (It definitely gave you a heavier sound.) When did you come up with the idea for you and Sam to drum in unison like that and how much practice did it take to get that just right?
Nik, our drummer, came up with the idea in the very beginning. We practice a lot!
How do your arms not get too sore to perform after a few nights of hammering away like that? Do you own stock in Aleve?
My arms used to get pretty sore, but they don’t anymore, thankfully!
How long have you been on the road now?
We’ve been on the road now for about three weeks.
Are you already on tour with Panic! At The Disco or is that forthcoming still?
We’ve had two shows with Panic so far. We’re playing in Boca Raton tonight. It has been pouring outside!
Are you more comfortable playing intimate clubs or large arenas?
There are benefits to both. I love the intimate venues because you can really interact with the crowd, get right up in their faces and sing to them. There’s no barrier. On the other hand, I love playing the big arenas, too. Seeing thousands of faces in the crowd is exciting and having all that space on stage is fun, especially since there are six of us.
Do you get nervous before huge festivals?
I never know when I’m going to get nervous. Most of the times I think I’d be nervous, I’m not, and vice versa. It’s so random!
Was the artwork on your Wake Up album cover painted (assuming it’s a painting) specifically for you or was that an existing piece that you decided to use?
It is a painting. An artist named Ashkahn out of Los Angeles designed it for us.
You swim with sharks in the “We Come Running” video, which I’m sure you’re sick of talking about, so I won’t ask questions about it. Except this: I recall reading an interview where you said that you wanted to go back and do it again — have you found the time do that yet? If not, are you still planning to at some point?
We haven’t found time to dive with sharks yet. I definitely still want to do that again. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
I understand that you and Simon are married. Did you get married before or after you were in the band together?
Before the band.
Does being in a band together make being married easier or more difficult? I was just wondering if it gets frustrating to be together so much of the time.
We feel like we won the lottery!
What are your thoughts about streaming? Does it not bother you that people are doing this instead of buying your record in many instances?
No because things are changing, and you can’t fight that. Personally, I like to be able to stream sometimes, too. I believe we’ll figure out how to make sure artists are fairly compensated because we have to! There’s no other choice. We just have to play major catch up to the technology, which is a challenge because it’s still fairly new and also ever-evolving. It’s a challenge we have to figure out, but the ability to access music and discover new music online so easily is pretty great.
Sam’s previous band was huge in the UK especially. Is Youngblood Hawke more popular in the UK as well?
I’d say we’re more known in the US.
How did your recent collaborations with Chiddy Bang come out?
Great! The Chiddy Bang song is in the new movie Earth to Echo.
Having lived out there for a few years myself, I am curious: where are your favorite places to chill out in LA?
First and foremost, I love being at home. Other than that, Echo Park and Silverlake are great. Food wise, I’m from Texas, and I’m always yearning for TexMex. Guisados in Echo Park has great tacos, and there’s this new spot in Los Feliz called Homestate. A woman who lived in Austin opened it because she missed TexMex, too… there are many of us apparently!
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or Starbucks?
Now, a few from our random questions bank:
Name five of your favorite movies, books, albums or TV shows:
Brothers Karamazov by Dostoevsky
Anna Karenina by Tolstoy
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Life is Beautiful
OK Computer, Radiohead
Do you think you’ll ever do a concept album?
Never say never.
Do you know any foreign languages?
I know a little of a few: Spanish, French, German. Spanish was my first language. I need to practice more though because they’re all majorly slipping.
Thanks to Alice for taking the time to do this interview and thanks to her publicist, Rose Campbell, for setting this up! Thanks also to Daniella Rech for the awesome photo of Alice and to Janell Shirtcliff for the group photos!