A few months ago, when David Hawkins wrote “Truth To Power — premiering below from his upcoming Hawk album Fly — he saw it as a topical political and, yes, anti-Trump anthem.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the riffy, hard-rocking track has become something even more poignant.
“Everything changed,” Hawkins, who’s based in Los Angeles, tells Billboard. “It’s pretty straightforward, I think — kind of a cry for unity and a call to revolution, really, to come together and unite against these powerful forces. I’ve been feeling that strain of injustice, personally and collectively, parts of the economy not participating as they should be. It’s not a new story, but it’s kind of exacerbated by (the pandemic).
“Political songs are kind of tricky. I hate to be on a soap box too much, but sometimes you have to say something. It’s funny; The song is all about ‘it’s time to come together’ — with kind of a disclaimer, ‘not right now,’ right? (laughs) At least not physically.”
Hawkins adds that he shared “Truth to Power” with the Bernie Sanders campaign. “I thought, ‘Omigod, it speaks perfectly to all the issues that are going on.’ He’s the biggest champion of all these issues. I don’t know if they used it, but they seemed appreciative to have it.”
The Fly album, due out May 15, is Hawkins’ follow-up to 2018’s Bomb Pop and features a band comprised of the Posies’ Ken Stringfellow, Elvis Costello’s Attractions/Imposters drummer Pete Thomas and keyboardist Morgan Fisher (Mott the Hoople, Queen, Yoko Ono). “I had to pinch myself, honestly, at times to go, ‘Omigod, I can’t believe I’ve got such a great band with me’,” Hawkins says. “It was exciting to be able to capture the songs the way I hear them in my head.” Recording Fly was also a globe-trotting adventure, with tracks recorded in Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, Venice, Calif., Tokyo, Seattle and France.
“That was really fun,” Hawkins says. “Everybody is spread out; Ken lives in France and Morgan’s in Tokyo. And we did some stuff at (the late) Dave Bianco’s studio (Dave’s Room) here in L.A.; That’s one of Pete’s favorite places to record. It was challenging but a lot of fun to put together.”
With gigging on hold for the time being Hawk is turning his attention to the next album by Be, his band with Stringfellow that features guest vocals from the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris. There are, in fact, “several Be albums in the can,” according to Hawkins, who recorded some tracks with the Master Musicians of Joujouka in Morocco. Be hopes to release the first of its albums during early 2021, and Hawkins predicts there will probably be more, sooner rather than later.
“The first couple weeks of the pandemic I was in shell shock. Now it’s a feeling of, ‘Let’s get to work while we have time’,” Hawkins explains. “I’m excited for the Be stuff. On this (first) record it’s more orchestrated. I love (the Beach Boys’) Pet Sounds and Smiley Smile. Several of the songs go down that rabbit hole a little bit. It’s going to be an interesting record.”