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Hawk Nelson: Live Life Loud

By Hannah Goodwyn Producer

CBN.comWith a clever, praise-worthy album cover, the strategic use of bagpipes and a ukulele, and their pump-your-fist sound, Hawk Nelson is celebrating a great release in their latest album. Live Life Loud peaked at the No. 3 spot on Billboard's Top Christian Albums chart. Using 3D glasses (which are included), fans will soon discover that this new record from one of Canada's best Christian pop/rock exports is full of heart and, of course, lots of fun. spoke with Hawk Nelson's leading man Jason Dunn about the new album and his completely Platonic love for one of Christian music's biggest names.

Hannah Goodwyn: Live Life Loud seems a bit deeper than your records of the past. Was that the original intention?

Jason Dunn: Every artist writes a song with hope for it to go to radio, and we’re guilty for that. This time around, we didn’t do it. We were like, “You know what? Let’s just record a record. Let’s just write some songs that we’re happy with, some that we’re proud of." And I think we accomplished that. By the end of the record, in the studio, we were like, “This feels good.”

A couple songs are definitely sort of random. A lot of my favorite songs are songs you would never hear on radio. One of my favorite records is Recovering the Satellites by Counting Crows. The very last song is called “Walkaways.” It’s 58 seconds long, and it’s one of my favorite songs. It’s just a cool idea where it’s not like they wrote it knowing that radio’s not going to play it. I think that’s a really cool approach, and it makes you be a little more genuine and little bit more honest because we weren’t trying to think of what we could write lyrical that will please everybody. We just wrote from our hearts, and I think that really turned out to be a better thing for us than doing something that someone else wants from us.

Hannah: Fans may have heard “Live Life Loud” already. What can listeners expect from the rest of the album?

Jason: “Live Life Loud” is one of those songs that definitely we did write for radio, I’ll be honest. (laughs) You know you’ve got to have a couple in there that radio will chew on, but the others we did for ourselves.

I think it’s a pretty good balance. We recorded the record in two sections. The first half we did earlier in the year, and it’s your usual power pop, “Hey, let’s have some fun”, “let’s enjoy life the fullest” kind of songs. The second half is a little more – I don’t want to use the word grown up, but we definitely sat back and made a little less our style. It's a style that I’d be more inclined to listen to than up-beat, poppy stuff.

We’re all growing up, so our tastes in music have changed drastically over the years. That’s kind of what I’ve been listening to lately, as you can tell.

Hannah: So, your songs are starting to reflect your age?

Jason: I hope not! (laughs)

Hannah: Your maturity?

Jason: Yeah, my maturity, you know. We’re getting older. I’m going to be 27 this year. Can you believe it? I’m getting up there.

Hannah: Wow, that’s pretty old.

Jason: I know! (laughs)

Hannah: Who’s playing the bagpipes live for new song, “Tis So Sweet”?

Jason: We had this guy come in and…

Hannah: I meant who in the band is going to try and play it on the road?

Jason: Oh, no. No. (laughs) I don’t think so. I think one day I’d like to do that. Recording bagpipes on a record has always been a dream of mine. It came true on this one, which is kind of why it’s my favorite record now, I guess.

Hannah: You’ve said that you want to encourage fans to “Be bold. Let your voice be heard.” When everyone’s giving their opinion how do you know who to listen to?

Jason: A lot more than that, actions speak louder than words. Your actions, everything you say, everything you do, it reflects hopefully the light of Christ. That’s kind of what we’re trying to say here, in a non-in-your-face kind of way. We love what we do, and we’re hoping everything that we say and everything we do reflects the light of Christ. Yeah, actions do speak louder than words, and hopefully we’re proving that everyday.

Hannah: “Shaken” is a sort of go outside of yourself kind of a song. Tell me about the work you guys are doing with TOMS Shoes.

Jason: Yeah, well that’s kind of where that came from. TOMS Shoes is an organization that we are all huge fans of. The fact that they just go out and want to change lives and make a difference in people’s lives, that says a lot to us as a band. We were all on the same page as soon as we saw what they were doing. We were like, “How can we help out?” So we hooked up with them.

We’re teaming up also with The Hands and Feet Project, started by Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline. So each pair of shoes that TOMS Shoes sells through us, or we sell through TOMS Shoes, they’re going to send a pair to a kid in Jacmel, Haiti, where The Hands and Feet orphanage is located.

We’re making change, and that’s a really cool thing for us.

Hannah: The album’s message centers on the “gift and purpose of life itself.” What about those days when you feel like it’s not a gift, it’s a curse, when you feel like you have no purpose?

Jason: That happens a lot. I think we’re all guilty of that. But, at the end of the day, it’s not about me; it’s about us. And sometimes we’ve just got to break out of our selfishness and say, “You know what? The reason I’m here is not for myself.” Sometimes that does seem like work, but at the end of the day it’s all worth it.

Hannah: I recently saw a funny video on YouTube of you talking about Michael W. Smith.

Jason: Uh oh. I’ve never seen that one. (laughs)

Hannah: … and you’re gushing over him, suggesting to him that you guys should do a Change Your World tour.

Do you not think that’s a good idea?

Hannah: It actually sounds like a good idea.

Jason: Change Your World was Michael W. Smith’s greatest record. The funny thing is, nowadays, that style of music is coming back. It’s coming back around full circle. If he re-did that record or re-toured it, oh my gosh! That would be the ultimate tour because all of the youth leaders who are all the biggest MWS fans will go there, they’ll bring their youth group kids, just for their own pleasure. Then, we’ll steal their youth group kids. Then, perfect world. We’ll get to hang out with Smitty on the side. Perfect world!

Hannah: Speaking of “Smitty” (Michael W. Smith), I saw his glowing praise for your album cover.

Jason: That melted my heart. That was like the most unbelievable thing.

Hannah: Last question, why are you fighting your elders in the “Live Life Loud” music video?

Jason: I don’t know. I made up that video myself. (laughs)

Hannah: Oh, you did?

Jason: It’s always been a dream of mine to fight old people, for whatever reason. But you know what? Whenever older people are in a skit or in a movie, it’s just funny. We let them win at the end of it all. So, it’s a win-win.

Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn gave Hawk Nelson's Live Life Loud a 4.5 Spins rating. She serves as the Family and Entertainment producer

For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.

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featured album

Live Life LoudLive Life Loud
(BEC Recordings, 2009)




album review

Just by looking at the 3D album booklet, fans can rightly assume that this is a creatively thought-out record from Hawk Nelson. "Live Life Loud" - the title track - is the record's token anthem, reminiscent of their past hits, "Friend Like That" and "Bring 'Em Out". It's a catchy, never-going-to-get-it-out-of-my-head song. Luckly, once you get passed the expected "let's party!" tracks, listeners will discover the true favorites.

Famous for their kazoo work in "Hello", the guys break even more punk rock rules by adding the ukulele, a church organ, and bagpipes to the album. It works. Actually, it's what makes me inclined to agree with lead singer Jason Dunn; Live Life Loud is the band's best album to date. - hannah goodwyn

Highlights: "Meaning of Life", "'Tis So Sweet", "Ode to Lord Stanley", "The Final Toast"

watch the new music video

did you know?

  • Jason loves Celtic music; his favorite band is The Irish Rovers.

  • The dog on the cover of Live Life Loud is Jason's dog, Murphy.