When you hear of a band who decided to name themselves after a celebrated novel by Herman Wouk, you might be lead to believe this band’s sound would please the more bookish of indie-rock nerds.
Yet if Youngblood Hawke the band are up for anything, it’s upsetting expectations, which is why their debut EP is maximalist pop in the best way imaginable. Mix two parts MGMT, one part fun., serve chilled.
The group’s powerful, distinctive sound, however, is not a happenstance accident by a couple of newbies, no. Instead, Sam Martin and Simon Katz are actually well-worn veterans of the pop-rock landscape, having already scored a hit with the song “In This City” in their previous group Iglu & Hartly. A lot went into the touring and creation of their 2008 debut, but it would turn out to be the only effort from the band, and now, with Youngblood Hawke, the guys are fully unleashing their pop inhibitions, with dance beats, children’s choirs, and peppy guitars popping up all over the place. In lesser hands, it would be a total mess. In Martin and Katz’s, however, it approaches something close to pop nirvana.
With their EP now finished and their debut full-length on the way, Sam Martin has taken some time out of his schedule to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, here revealing how The Notebook made him cry, which Rolling Stones album he calls the greatest of all time, and why he feels best in “silk pants from the hills of China” . . .
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Honestly? The Notebook. I really wish I could say that this is a girl answering this question . . . but c’mon, could that movie get any more sad!?
2. The fictional character most like you?
Peter Pan! Because he’s curious as hell! Always looking for an adventure!
3. The greatest album, ever?
Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street. Every song rips! So much depth and amazing writing on this album. The story behind how it was recorded is wild. Most of my favorite songs of all time are on this album.
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Wars! Just watched all the old ones the other day for the first time in years. Star Wars is mind-blowing!
5. Your ideal brain food?
Uh, grass and coffee? Solid mix.
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
I’m proud of beating these quick little 9th graders at basketball the other day. They’re so agile! I swear they could run for hours. They’ve beaten us multiple times and it makes us feel old. We’re not old. The other day we were victorious. Now, go do your homework, kiddies.
7. You want to be remembered for . . . ?
I’d like to be remembered for our music. We’ve put all we have, all we are into our tunes. Our songs are the narration of our lives. All the weird things we’ve been through, seen, felt, they’re all in the songs.
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
My parents. I have no idea how they raised my two crazy brothers and me. They’re the strongest people I know. I have so much respect for their outlook on life, the way they treat people. Solid as oak.
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
Blood on the Tracks.
10. Your hidden talents . . . ?
Painting? Although talent may not be the word. It relaxes me, lets me escape.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Do what you love! Life is too short not to wake up in the morning and do what you’re passionate about. I don’t think there’s any other way to live. I’ve seen people close to me get up every morning and go to a job they hate for 40 years. That can wear you down.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
The best thing I ever bought was a Native American pipe in Yellowstone that also served as a weapon. It had antlers and beautiful feathers hanging from it. Dangerous and beautiful. And ridiculous.
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . . ?
Silk pants from the hills of China.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
Bill Murray. I think he’s one of the most hilarious, dark, interesting entertainers of our time.
15. Time travel: where, when, and why?
I want to see a fucking dinosaur! Bring me back to when the T-Rex was dominating the planet! I think that’s every childhood boy’s fantasy. I probably need to grow up.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
A run! Or 14 beers!
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . . ?
Coffee, tacos, ranch dressing.
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Somewhere deep in a jungle with no phone or internet. South America?
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Good luck. No, I’d say lower college tuition, and call up Jay-Z, let’s shoot some hoops!
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Finishing the album! A few more songs, and we’re done! Can’t wait to show it to people!