Hawk and Dove, indie band with local connections, plays tomorrow at Cap Center
Don’t be fooled by their darkly pensive lyrics and vaporous sounds. Things are looking pretty rosy for the band Hawk and Dove right now. The Brooklyn-based musicians, who will perform at the Spotlight Café tomorrow night, are quickly filling up their calendar with gigs big and small, working feverishly on their second record, enjoying widespread radio airplay and negotiating a tour and record release in Europe.
The formula for their success is as complex as any of their melodies, but it’s owed at least in part to the alchemy of local musician and former U.S. representative Paul Hodes – who has a special interest in the band. His son, Max, who grew up in the Concord area, is a member.
“Max called me and told me about these guys he was working with, and he said, ‘This is something special,’ ” said Hodes, who signed on as the band’s manager about a year ago and is involved in everything from polishing their stage presence to putting legal matters in order. “It’s a band on the rise. We’re at the beginning of what could be a long and successful and satisfying career.”
The band traces its roots back to the days when Max was running around the studio where Hodes and his wife, Peggo, were writing and recording kids’ songs. Max and two other band members, Elijah Miller and John Kleber, all attended the same summer camp in Massachusetts. Many years later, Kleber and Miller ran into each other at a bar in Brooklyn.
“At the time I was working on my stage fright and songwriting skills at open mics,” recalled Miller, lyricist and lead vocalist for the band. “I invited (Kleber) to an open mic . . . and not long after that we started playing together.”
Max Hodes came into the picture a few years later, after Miller and Kleber had put a band together and were ready to record an album. A graduate of the sound engineering program at Berklee, Hodes was working as a freelance recording engineer and had become fairly well known in the Brooklyn area for his skills. But while working with Hawk and Dove on the album, Hodes somehow became part of the band.
“He kind of just made himself indispensable,” Miller said. “There was a funny middle time where he was doing our sound for us and also doing some back-up singing . . . which was kind of ridiculous but somehow worked really well for us.”
As it turned out, Hodes had even more to offer the band: a dad with the connections, experience and enthusiasm to take them beyond the Brooklyn bar scene.
“It’s wonderful to relinquish control. Paul’s doing a really great job with it,” Miller said. “We’re playing a lot more.”
But if Hodes is bringing a father’s zeal to the job, he says he didn’t get involved merely to help his son with a pet project. He truly believes in the band. “One of the intriguing things for me was listening to the aural conceptions behind this music,” Hodes said. “It’s a really extraordinary sonic experience. This is a record you can really sink into. The songs are not light and frothy. It’s passionate and it’s intense.”
Miller describes the music as a study in contrasts. “One critic described us as the ‘loudest quiet band’ they’d ever heard,” he said. “We really try to incorporate aural and emotional dichotomies in our songs. Our sound is aggressive and restrained at the same time.”
The lyrics, too, are redolent with a resigned melancholy that is somehow liberating. Most of the songs have a specific story behind them, Miller said. “A Song for Him,” for instance, was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s song “The Story of Isaac,” and the symbolism of the well-known Bible story. “I was really intrigued by the kind of universal idea of the way that all parents kind of sacrifice their own children,” he said. “It’s something that I feel all children have an experience with, and everyone can relate to.”
Dark and complex though their music may be, the band has an uplifting energy on stage. And they’ll have plenty of help getting the energy flowing: They’ll be joined tomorrow night by the band Darlingside, an up-and-coming New England band known for its authentic sound and passionate stage presence.
Hodes heard Darlingside perform at the Concord Community Music School last spring and thought their music would be a perfect complement to Hawk and Dove’s. “There’s territory they’re both exploring in terms of music that is dynamic and smart,” said Hodes, who worked with the Capitol Center for the Arts to arrange the double bill. “I think it’s going to be a really, really exciting show.”
The two bands have deep connections too. Max Hodes and Darlingside drummer/vocalist Sam Kapala grew up together at the Canterbury Children’s Center and the Concord Community Music School.
“We’re really excited to be playing together,” Miller said.
(Hawk and Dove and Darlingside will perform tomorrow night at 8 at the Spotlight Café at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at 225-1111 or ccanh.com. )