NOTHING MORE INTERVIEW with Jonny Hawkins By Dawn of the Underground

Humble, genuine, committed, forward thinking, positive, and talented are just a few of the words that come to mind when I recollect my encounters with NOTHING MORE.  I have been privileged to interact with the band at several music festivals that I have assisted in providing coverage for.
(Here is a video interview with the NOTHING MORE and Lacuna Coil at Welcome to Rockville, with – providing live stream interviews and backstage experiences)

NOTHING MORE’s musical complexity, and diversity is comparable to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. The musical ebb, flow, and texture is at first whimsically unorthodox, but you cannot dismiss the vocal ability, and overall effectiveness of the layered, dynamic effects and the musical changes which create an overall completed sound.  Jonny (lead singer/drummer) was honored with the comparison and said that that was what the band was striving for.

The definition of ballast is something that provides security and balance.
  1. An example of ballast for some people is their belief in God.
  2. An example of ballast on a boat is gravel used to balance or make the boat stable.
  3. An example of ballast is bags of sand in a hot air balloon.
Their newly released album “Ballast” symbolizes something that is initially meant to hold you in place, or steady but sometimes holds you back.  A ballast is supposed to keep a ship steady (mostly found with submarines), but sometimes the things we hold onto for comfort are the same things that hold us back, and its not until we let the “ballast” go that we can move forward.
After some lighthearted conversation, I moved onto asking Jonny some questions, here are his answers.

DOTU: What is the name of your genre? I mean you can make it up, what would you consider your musical genre if you could create a name.
  (Jonny laughed)
Jonny : “I don’t know”,  “passion driven, forward thinking, layered, progressive rock”.
I suggested that we make an acronym for that, “PDFTLPR”

DOTU: Main musical influences that contributed to the unique sound of NOTHING MORE?
Jonny: "There are so many to narrow down.  Some of the pillars were Rage against the Machine, Muse, a band called Dredge, TOOL, Metallica, Imogen Heap, and Thrice.” Thrice was a huge influence, lyrically.”

DOTU: What was your most memorable show/city and why?
Jonny: “Most memorable show was not necessarily my favorite, it was hard to forget.” 

According to their Facebook page on May 18th -
To the Unwavering -
“Yesterday at Rock on the Range was epic! When one piece of equipment after another failed, it was you who stood by us and gave us the will and the energy to keep playing. You gave us everything you had and we will never forget!”

“The equipment went down at the biggest festival we had played up until then. It was challenging, and memorable and we worked through it.  A psychologist was once asked why you remember bad dreams, more than good ones.  The psychologist replies something like, its more beneficial to remember how to run away from a tiger than something like ‘unicorns and rainbows’.  And that show was like a bad dream, and it made us grow as a band.”

DOTU: Of all the bands you’ve opened for so far which was your favorite?  and who would you like to tour with in the future?

Jonny: Really liked Karnivool, a band from Australia, one of our favorite bands and the second would be Chevelle they are really cool guys.  I’d wanna tour with MUSE and I think it would be interesting. NIN (Nine Inch Nails) or Muse. 

DOTU: Who would you want to open for you?
Jonny: A band that I would consider would be the Dillinger Escape Plan, it would be an interesting night to see what happens.

DOTU: What is the secret to a successful relationship(s) – on the road, management, and personal?

Jonny: Mainly it is a sense of humbleness, the ability to lay down your sword.  There are times in any relationship that you bump heads and its in those times that you try to hold on, and both lay down your sword and genuinely listen, non defensively, and surround yourself with people who do the same.  You can fix things, move on and let go of the shit that doesn’t matter.  Letting go, and surrounding yourself with people who you can honestly be able to trust. 
Those two things are most important.

DOTU: What have you seen as the response to your music in America and Europe?

Jonny: “By and large Americans are a little ADD, Europeans aren’t multitasking - on the phone, texting during the show.  Europeans are a little more laid back, so it translates how they listen to the music as well.”

DOTU: When did you discover your vocal range? And do you believe there is more?

Jonny:“It really has developed, I wasn’t born singing.  A lot of singers are born, being encouraged, that was not me as a kid. I was definitely shy. When I started singing I wanted to be as good as possible – it was more out of need/necessity. When I started my vocal range was not that large. I kept at it, applying myself, and results will come with effort. It took almost 2 years to feel like I was not mortified by the audience, when they stared me in the eyes. Now it’s very liberating.
(Check out their song Fat kid and their LIVE acoustical performance at Peaches Record Store in New Orleans

DOTU:             Is the writing process collaborative? Or who primarily comes up with the lyrics? Melody? Song Ideas?
Jonny:             “Collaberative. We get into a room and work out every step, together.

Even with the song ‘God Went North’, which is based on Jonnys’ personal experience – a struggle between his mothers’ cancer and their differing views on religion as the end came closer for his mom. The band still worked together and created the song. The song will give you goose bumps as you listen, as he pleads to “God” if you cant save her, please just take her.  His pleas, become, an almost inconsolable wail as the song progresses and the struggle becomes more desperate.

DOTU: What is your end game?
Jonny: There is no end, but our game is to be always growing musically. Our destiny is in the journey to keep doing this in new and exciting ways, every year. To be the biggest band in the world, I know that sound boisterous but in our minds and our hearts that what we are meant to be. To be beyond being a rock band.”

DOTU: And the last question is a personal question, I noticed when I took a monochrome picture of the album to post - that symbols appeared as a background, behind the NOTHING MORE symbol.  What do they mean or are they just an artistically placed background.

What he told me next I had not anticipated.

Jonny: “I will give you some information, and some we will withhold.
Some fans can figure out and post it.  It’s a code. What we wanted to do is use math symbols, and one or two symbols used in English. Like math symbols placed next to each other that say that a statement is true or false, or if an element of whatever you put next to it will make a statement. 

Underneath the NOTHING MORE symbol their statement can be translated;
“There exist an element of truth that does not divide but it unites above the intersection of difference. This element of truth exist for all”

Call it their mission statement, their belief statement.
The code is there, waiting for YOU to decode it.

The bands pure positivity, and passion are contagious,
I finished the interview, feeling enlightened, happy, and motivated.  
Like their music, their band is complex, intelligent, dynamic and engaging. 
I can listen to NOTHING MORE’s songs on repeat, on 11.

Be sure to support NOTHING MORE, buy purchasing their album, or supporting their LIVE performances. 

This fall, NOTHING MORE will be on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat, and HELLYEAH.


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