With their four-part harmonies, crushing riffs, progressive drumming and confrontational lyricism, London-based band Hawxx make for a pretty intense live experience (check this out) and they brought that magic to this year’s Download festival. The Midlands Rocks was there and caught up with Anna (vocals/guitar) and Jess (drums/backing vocals).
I understand the band all originate from different parts of Europe. Can you give me a brief history of the band? How did you all meet?
Jess: Anna and Hannah [guitar/backing vocals] met first at a recording studio in which they rehearsed, and the rumour is that Anna heard Hannah playing through the wall and was amazed and wanted to get to know her. I didn’t join the band until I met Anna one night in Soho at a bar, we were both playing, it was one of those events where you play and play and play and get paid next to nothing, so we were both not having a very good time, so we both kind of bonded over that, and invited me to hang out with the rest of the band.
Anna: There was a G-String involved!
Jess: I forget to mention, ever since I offered Anna a G-String on the night, we became good friends…it kind of sealed the deal!
Anna: I was found by Hannah on the dark web, we took a few months to play together, get to know each other, played a gig and then we knew that we are fine together and that became the line-up.
I wonder who were your musical influences growing up?
Anna: The four of us all have different musical tastes when it comes to making music together, we all bring something different to the table, but we all like heavy music. For me personally, it is punk and new wave, my favourite band is Bauhaus, so growing up I was into Siouxsie, Nico, strong female musicians, I’ve always wanted to be in a cool band where I belong, and I think that’s what Hawxx is.
Jess: When I was younger and I started drumming I was into metal and emo bands, stuff like Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium, I was super into, but then I fell out of that and started studying jazz drumming, artists like Art Blakey and Tony Williams, but deep down inside I always wanted to play in a metal band, but it never seemed to happen until I met Anna, and it felt great to get back and explore my early influences.
Is there one band that unites you all? Someone you all rock out to in the van?
Jess: I think we all have a lot of mutual tastes, Gojira…
Anna: There’s a lot of guilty pleasures in there…
Jess: We listened to Smooth Radio the entire way to Download.
I recently saw you at Uprising Festival. What are your memories of that day?
Jess: I brought a really nice T-shirt that day, and I remember a really delicious sandwich! Everyone was so lovely there, it was really nice.
Anna: It was really well organised, it had a great atmosphere, and it was a pity we couldn’t stay there too long, we had a big issue, but it was so well run, and we got some lovely presents as well.
Jess: It was a really lovely festival, and we’d love to play their again.
Now you are due to play Download. Obviously, you are very excited, but what are your expectations?
Anna: We’re filled with pure energy, and we know that it is going to be explosive. We just want to connect with the audience, we know that it’s going to go really well. We’re feeling positive, it is a short set so we’re going to give it everything we’ve got. It’s going to be great to meet people after the show, and hopefully we’ll make some new fans and get our message across.
And are there any bands you’re looking forward to checking out while you are here?
Jess: Yeah, we are very excited to watch Architects, Bring Me The Horizon, we saw Metallica yesterday, and we’re looking forward to seeing them again. And Brutus, I really want to see Brutus, they’re so good.
You proudly wear your affiliations on your sleeves. I wonder have you face much hostility for being so outspoken?
Anna: It is mainly from online trolls once in a while, that seems to be unavoidable, but in person I’m not quite sure. We are able to have discussions, if someone comes up to us and they don’t agree, then we talk to them, but I haven’t faced blatant hatred, but some of the language used around us being a feminist metal band hasn’t been great, but we just want to be equal, we want to show the world that you don’t have to be a male metal band to be powerful and channel rage. We just want people who are marginalised to feel empowered and strong, and to come to the front and to rock out with us, and that’s all we want. That shouldn’t create division.
Do you think your music can instigate social change, or are you trying to influence people on a more personal level?
Jess: Definitely both. I think music can help people feel united, especially with people who all believe the same thing. At a gig, you know that most people will be on a similar wavelength to you, and you’ll feel stronger in bigger numbers, but on a personal level, definitely. When people are listening to music alone, whether ours or someone else’s, that certainly has an influence.
Anna: I think that the feedback that we get at gigs really shows something, that change is possible, and more and more bands are starting to say something, especially in metal, and things are looking positive.
And people like me asking you about feminist issues. Would you rather we got to the point where I didn’t have to, and we just talked about the music?
Anna: Yes, ideally. That’s the dream, not having any societal issues and inequalities to talk about, but here we are. I think it is important to have this conversation with everyone, because that’s the way to understand, we need to talk, and we appreciate people asking, even coming from a place of not knowing or ignorance and asking about these issues, and then we can explain. It is good to be open-minded, sometimes metalheads can be old-fashioned and conservative, but it doesn’t need to be that way, we should all be working together.
I think all of us into metal are outsiders and should unite against mainstream society.
Anna: I think if you’ve experienced any type of discrimination, then you deserve to be heard. This is the age of the individual, we are focused on more personal issues as well as collectively, so it is important that people hear those voices, and people are not afraid to speak out, if a member of the audience has experienced something wrong at a gig, they should speak out, and we should make sure that the scene is safe for everyone.
So, what type of direction do you feel your music will go in the future?
Jess: We seem to be progressing to heavy and heavier over the period we’ve been together. When we started off, we weren’t doing too many rock tunes, it was almost bluesy when we started, and it has just got more and more heavy. There are more screams in the music and we are definitely getting more fearless. We’ve got a new heavy song that’s going to be on the forthcoming album, and it has definitely stepped-up a notch.