Youngblood Hawke's Debut Album Was 'A Cathartic Experience'

Youngblood Hawke performs during the Spotify Live Runway at SXSW.

Casey Flanigan

"Wake Up," out April 30, was recorded after a bitter band break-up.

Forming a new band wasn't exactly top of mind for Youngblood Hawke principals Sam Martin and Simon Katz after their acrimonious departure from Iglu & Hartly in 2011.

"If anything, we were kind of afraid to after all that happened with (Iglu)," Martin tells Billboard. "The band fell apart basically because of relationships in the band. We felt like we never had a voice in that group, and it got pretty bad. So the thought of putting a whole other band together and doing all that over again was extremely daunting to us."

But working on new material together, Martin says, ultimately gave birth to Youngblood Hawke. "We really just started writing songs and pouring our hearts into them and getting all this stuff off our chest," he recalls. "It was a cathartic experience to get all these emotions -- anger and fear and whatever we were going through the time -- out. And it started to feel really magical and we were like, 'We have to start performing these.' We just made the decision to do it again, to go for it. So we recruited our best friends in the world and started the band."

Despite the doubt, however, Martin found himself ready with Youngblood Hawke's name -- taken from a Herman Wouk novel favored by a much-loved uncle -- well before the band idea took root. "I called Simon and said, 'Hey man, I got our band name,' and he said, 'What band?'" Martin says with a laugh. "I was like, 'Well, we have a name, now we have to make a band!'"

Youngblood Hawke announced its arrival during the summer of 2012 with a self-titled EP -- which hit No. 3 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart -- and the single "We Come Running," which hit No. 7 on Alternative Songs and No. 22 on Rock Songs. The group's self-produced debut album, "Wake Up," comes out Tuesday (April 30), and Martin says he's pleased that it represents exactly what Youngblood Hawke wants to be at this point in time.

"We did most of it in Simon's second bedroom, a really tiny little room, and it was intimate and comfortable and we felt like we could do whatever we wanted," Martin says. "Sometimes you get in those big, expensive rooms and you're like, 'Oh. What now?' So it was great. We'd wake up every morning at noon, get coffee and then lock ourselves in the studio and go into our own little world and experiment. We probably wrote over 100 songs; some of them were terrible, some of them were great, but it was all about finding our style and what would stick with us."

Youngblood Hawke, which has previously toured with Keane and Passion Pit, is currently on a headlining run and will also perform at the Rockin' The Midway at the Funshine Music Festival on May 3 in Tampa, Fla., the Sun God Festival May 17 in La Jolla, Calif., the Sasquatch! Music Festival May 26 in Quincy, Wash., and the Bunbury Music Festival July 12 in Cincinnati.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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