As the Grammy Awards came to a close at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, one of America's hottest rock bands was getting ready to take the stage about 10 miles from the industry gala.

As the Grammy Awards came to a close at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, one of America's hottest rock bands was getting ready to take the stage about 10 miles from the industry gala. For this group from Ohio and signed to an independent label in Chicago, performing in the shadow of the music industry's biggest party was fitting.

This week, Victory Records will release Hawthorne Heights' "If Only You Were Lonely," the follow-up to the act's 2004 album, "The Silence in Black and White." To date, the latter has sold 762,000 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It did so with substantial touring -- and negligible radio play.

While much of the music industry and press were looking the other way, teenagers were paying attention. And what they found in Hawthorne Heights was a five-piece band that took hardcore elements and melded them with the pop sensibility of a Jimmy Eat World. With JT Woodruff's earnest songwriting, Hawthorne Heights has become the kind of heart-on-its-sleeve rock band whose lyrics grace the folders of high school kids everywhere.

"We were finally able to sit back and take a break from each other this past December," Woodruff says. "As soon as we all got back together, we all looked at each other and said, 'My goodness, have you guys realized what has happened to us?'"

What has happened has put the band in a position to make history. Victory is projecting "If Only You Were Lonely" to debut at No. 1 on The Billboard 200 "with an estimated first week of over 200,000 albums sold." If the prediction holds true, Hawthorne Heights will be the first independent rock band in the SoundScan era to debut atop the big chart.

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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