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Youngblood Hawke was an accident, by all intents and purposes. Lead singer Sam Martin and guitarist Simon Katz had just parted ways with their former group Iglu & Hartly, and if anything, they were taking a break from the whole band thing.
“We just had a lot of emotions attached to the last project and it kind of was like a roller coaster ride,” Martin said. “It went up really fast and went down just as fast, too. So, we found ourselves kind of empty handed and started writing these songs as a way to kind of deal with all the stuff that was going on in our lives.”
They soon realized that they had written about a hundred songs in the tiny bedroom/studio they were working in and it wasn’t long before they got the itch to start performing live again. It didn’t take much convincing for their friends and fellow musicians Nik Hughes, Alice Katz, and Tasso Smith to join the duo and thus began the optimism-infused California folk rock that is Youngblood Hawke.
I got to chat with Martin before their show this Friday, opening for Kean at House of Blues, and was pleasantly surprised to find that we vibed on the important stuff: the greatness of The Mask, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and pasta.
FrontRow: What is the best concert and the worst concert you have ever been to?
Sam Martin: Oh, that’s a great question. Best concert…you know what? I think it was my first concert. I had two older brothers that were like 10 or 12 years old or so, and I was exposed to a lot at an early age. But they took me to a Public Enemy concert when I was in fifth grade or something. I remember being so afraid because it was at this tiny little club in Portland. It was pretty creepy. You know, they have those guys on stage holding fake guns. It was cool though because I ended up listening to a lot of it, even at an early age, I picked up on the black concerts that were happening. I don’t know, I just really felt like I learned a lot from their music.
I guess the worst concert was this band I went to see a few weeks ago. I won’t say their name but the sound kept cutting out and the lead singer totally got frustrated and like threw a little temper fit on stage in front of everybody and was like yelling “f*** you!” It was pretty bad. That was not good at all.
FR: What was the first movie you saw in the theaters?
SM: I have the most terrible memory. I don’t know. You remember that movie The Mask with Jim Carrey? I lived in a house behind the theater and I literally saw that like six times. That definitely wasn’t the first one, but I literally can’t remember stuff that happened like two years ago. It’s all a blur.
FR: If you were auditioning for a voice competition show, which song would you choose to sing?
SM: That’s a good one. Probably “Happy” by the Rolling Stones.
FR: What’s the closest you have ever come to dying?
SM: Definitely when we swam with 14-foot tiger sharks in the [“We Come Running”] video. That was pretty scary. It was a beautiful experience, but I definitely blacked out when I was under the water. There were only a couple of tiger sharks and they don’t really get that, you know…they’re like five feet away from you. The lemon sharks were the ones that were frenzied and eating all the fish and the tiger shark only opened its mouth once and you’re stomach feels like you’re going to throw up. His teeth are like six inches long and then their jaw retracts and they pull their jaw back and it literally sent shivers down my spine. It’s insane.
FR: If you could choose any decade to live in, which would it be?
SM: I think right now. I’m digging what’s going on right now.
FR: What was your favorite toy as a kid?
SM: I think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were always up there. I mean, I still like that s***. I just saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie the other day. You know the first one where they look kind of real? That was cool.
FR: Should the United States adopt a national healthcare system similar to the United Kingdom or Canada?
SM: Absolutely. I mean, I think it’s ridiculous how much people have to pay just to get medicine. I totally agree with what Canada and the UK are doing. Half of us don’t have health insurance, and it’s like if you break your leg, that’s twenty grand you know? An accident like that to your body and if you’re not rich, it can really affect your entire life and your family’s lives. So yeah, I really feel strongly about that.
FR: If global warming melted the ice caps covering 90 percent of the known world with water, what city would you hope was spared so you could live there?
SM: Let’s go with Rome. It’s probably my favorite city that I’ve been to. I was just completely enamored by it and the history. I really love history and it just blew me away and it’s so beautiful. And the food is so ridiculous. I’ll live there when the whole world’s full of water and I’ll be getting fat off of pasta.
FR: If you could change one law — make something that is illegal legal, or something legal illegal — what would it be?
SM: That’s a good question. You got some good questions here, I like them. Well, I think gay marriage should be completely accepted everywhere. Is that in just some states right now? I mean, that’s got to change. I think we’ll probably look back on history and feel ashamed that we didn’t let gay people get married.
FR: If you weren’t playing music and had the talent and circumstances to do anything else, what would it be?
SM: Definitely film-making, either writing or directing. That was my first passion and then I took a different direction and obviously, I love music more than anything. But when I was younger, that’s what I really wanted to do. Not so much anymore, but yes, if music wasn’t a possibility I’d love to write stories and make them come to life. I think that would be a really good job.
FR: What’s on your playlist right now?
SM: It changes everyday but I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan. I also like hip-hop. I like the new Kendrick Lamar. I don’t know, that’s my guilty pleasure. I like all the Kanye stuff. That stuff’s incredible. I like Radiohead. I mean everything. Literally, everyday I listen to new stuff.