Interview with JT Woodruff from Hawthorne Heights

Hawthorne Heights will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

Hawthorne Heights will play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at The House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

By Heather Skrip

There are tons of hit songs people listened to in high school that seemed to define their lives and led to excessive playings.

“Ohio is for Lovers” by Hawthorne Heights is one of those songs.

However, since the song hit the charts in 2004, the band has been hard at work and has gone through its share of struggles. With four albums under their belt, Hawthorne Heights lead singer JT Woodruff took the time to talk with the Northern Star before playing a show at Middlewest Fest this Saturday.

Northern Star: It’s been six years since “The Silence in Black and White,” how would you say your music has changed, if at all?

JT Woodruff: Obviously, we have went through some well-documented crazy times. Life can be really unfair sometimes, and I try my best to chronicle that into our music. Every bit of happiness and sadness in my life is worked into a song some way or another. I think that our music has stayed consistent to what we have set out to do. I think we have become better songwriters, even if we don’t scream as much. Screaming isn’t songwriting, it’s just a piece of the puzzle. We realized long ago that sometimes we are working on a different puzzle than some people want us to. We do, however, try our best to make music that we are proud of. I think that’s really all you can ask of yourself.

NS: I’m sorry for your loss when [drummer] Casey Calvert passed away, but what do you think he would say about your new music?

JW: Thank you, we appreciate it. There is still a big hole in my heart from when we lost Casey. I think Casey would be happy that we have weathered the storm, even though we had to chart a new course. Sometimes there is a fork in the road, and you really have to guess which way to go. He would probably ask us to write more breakdowns, because he really enjoyed playing them live. It still hurts to not have him here.

NS: Back to “The Silence,” with the song I think everyone in my high school, including myself, worshipped: “Ohio is for Lovers.” Do you still take credit for forming what some may call the “emo” scene?

JW: I don’t think we really take credit for anything other than writing our own music and performing it live. Genre classifications come and go with the times, so pretty soon it will be as if it was never there. Rock music on the other hand, will be around forever. Certain people like to listen to loud and aggressive music, and that makes me happy. We appreciate anyone who has ever liked anything that we have ever done. Most people never get the chance to be heard, and we have had that chance. It still makes me smile to think that music actually does matter to some people.

NS: Are you happy to be back playing shows in the Midwest?

JW: I am a Midwesterner. That’s all I have ever known. So, I am always happy to be back amongst the corn and flat land. I really like the hardworking attitude of the Midwestern states. People are just trying to live life and find their little bit of happiness. I think there is a lot to be said about that. These people are not trying to be something they are not. There are no cameras here to ham it up…they are just real. And I love that.

NS: What are you most looking forward to when playing Middlewest Fest in DeKalb, home of NIU?

JW: I think we are looking forward to drinking a lot of coffee at the House Cafe and sharing the stage with great bands. Middlewest Fest is a great showcase of the talent that can be found all over this area. You don’t have to be from a coast to make great music. You just have to work hard and write what you love. So, DeKalb, thanks for inviting us. And thanks to John [Ugolini of Kickstand Productions] and Middlewest Fest for having us.

NS: What bands, if any, are you planning on checking out during the festival?

JW: I would say that I am looking forward to the Felix Culpa and all the other bands we are playing with. I hope I get to see Mark Rose [of Spitalfield] because he is a great dude and a killer songwriter. He can’t hang with real coffee drinkers though.

NS: Looking ahead, what are your plans for the future: any studio plans, EPs, etc.?

JW: It’s hard to look ahead when you just had a new record come out, especially when the industry is still trying to figure out the “right now.” I’m sure someone will figure out a way to make music profitable again, but that’s not up to us. We are always excited to write more songs. I always have a guitar in my hand and am always ready for new sounds and challenges.