Sometimes it takes the demise of a semi-successful band to spawn a hugely successful one. That's what happened to Youngblood Hawke. The principal members of the Iglu & Hartly, Sam Martin and Simon Katz, used the lessons learned from their first band in order to propel Youngblood Hawke to heights they never saw coming.
The Los Angeles-based, San Antonio-bred group, named after author Herman Wouk, fuses elements of catchy indie pop and rock, and have caught on with the music listening public on the strength of their surprise hit, “We Come Running.” “We love touring and playing shows, it's our favorite thing to do,” lead singer Simon Katz says. “We're also writing at every chance we get. If you keep pushing and keep working at it, you're just going to get better. It's a seize the moment sort of thing.”
They recently released their debut album, Wake Up, and just returned from a three-week east coast run and are in the midst of their West Coast run before zigzagging the country to begin the first of many festival dates that will keep them busy through the end of the year. Before their show at The Observatory, we spoke to Katz as the band headed down to San Diego, where we talked about “We Come Running,” how his experience in Iglu & Hartly helped strengthen his resolve and his thoughts the championship prospects of his hometown San Antonio Spurs.
OC Weekly (Daniel Kohn): Obviously we have to talk about your big hit, “We Come Running.” When you first wrote the song, did you ever expect it be a hit, nevertheless being licensed to film and TV as it has?
Simon Katz: Absolutely not, no. It was between that and a couple of other songs for what to put out first, but that song kind of has a special place because of the situation when we were writing it. We were really fortunate for people to connect with it the way they have. It's one of those things where you really hope for the best because you never know what's gonna happen. We've been very happy with how well it has been received.
What was it like hearing it as the theme song for the first episodes of American Idol?
There are a lot of things that are happening that we're so stoked about. We're going to have a Coke commercial as well and it's a beautiful commercial.
How has the crowd's reception been to the other material on the album?
It's actually been really amazing to see because the record just came out and we've been playing this east coast tour. Starting at the beginning of the tour when the record first came out, the crowd slowly started knowing the songs outside the ones that were on the EP. As the tour progressed, we started selling out more shows and everybody would know the lyrics to every song and would sing-along. It's a crazy good feeling.
Is it easy to stay grounded because of what happened with your first band?
To be honest, because of the previous band's experience, I think we had the ability to stay grounded much more. We had a lot of success with the other band, but we've seen success, lost it all and had to start over from scratch scrounging together $5 for a burrito. It definitely humbles you and makes you appreciative for everything you get now. I know it's a whole new beast that's taken off in a whole new way, and we're very fortunate for that, but there hasn't been a moment where we're satisfied or comfortable yet.
Listening to the album, it sounds like you guys went through some stuff. Was it a trying time?
Yeah. This whole record was written from kind a dark place we were in and at the time the past band had all these differences, and it was like one week were playing Coachella and the next we were done. That was a really weird experience for us. We didn't know what we'd do and if we'd go back to school. The thought of starting another band was really daunting because we put six years of our lives into the previous project and couldn't imagine doing it again. But, we're so passionate about writing and creating music, we were like 'Fuck it and write songs and see what happens.' The lyrics are really dark and we're very self reflective in our lyrics. A lot of crazy stuff happened in the time we were writing this record like being broke to losing relationships. We always try to have confidence and that's why the songs came out in that perspective I guess. We persevered.
Speaking of persevering, what do you think about the San Antonio Spurs chances of winning the title this season?
I feel pretty damn good about it. I'm not a big sports guy but when it comes to the Spurs winning, that's when I start paying attention. All my friends back home are stoked, but they're looking strong and they've done it before multiple times, so no one should doubt them.