5 Questions With Nothing More’s Jonny Hawkins and Daniel Oliver
Nothing More have been climbing up the charts with their single ‘This Is the Time (Ballast)’ and making jaws drop with their innovative live shows. With their new self-titled album recently released, they’re gearing up for a summer tour with Sleepwave followed by a massive fall trek with Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat and Hellyeah.
We had the opportunity to catch up with frontman Jonny Hawkins and bassist Daniel Oliver to talk about their forthcoming fall tour, as well as their unique stage show. They also dished about creating their new full length album and their future hopes and desires for the band. Check out five quick (or not so quick) questions with Jonny Hawkins and Daniel Oliver of Nothing More below:
What are your thoughts on the forthcoming tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Volbeat and Hellyeah?
Jonny Hawkins: To date, this will be the biggest tour we’ve ever done. It’s our first arena tour, it’s also our first tour with that many heavy hitting bands all on one bill. Usually there’s a headliner and then there’s us and another opener, this is a tour with big established bands and musicians who have been doing crazy cool things and have been in the industry for a long time. I think it’s going to force us to elevate our game because we know we’re playing with these guys and we really have to step it up and that’s always a positive force to be connected with.
Daniel Oliver: Another really neat thing is that we’ve been on a bunch of festivals with Five Finger Death Punch and Hellyeah. There’s always this kind of awkwardness when you get on a tour and you meet the band for the first time and it’s weeks before you’re finally hanging out, but on these festivals they’re starting to come side stage while we play and introducing themselves and all that. On top of it being a phenomenal tour, I think there’s this great sense of community that we feel and it really changes things for an artist when you know that people want you to be there every night. It’s all four bands as a team doing a real tour, I think all of that is going to spiral into a crazy amount of energy for all those shows from each band.
Where did the ideas for your stage setup with all of the percussive instruments onstage and the awesome contraption for the bass come about?
DO: It all started years ago when we started touring back in 2005. We set up to be this extreme DIY band that wanted to take over the world on our own. One of the facets that we implemented were that we’re not just in the music business we’re also in the entertainment industry. We’re all technical musicians and it just became a huge outlet for us as players to create these very entertaining compositions with the very Taiko style drums, the drum solos and that crazy multiple person bass solo you saw. All of the metal work I built and it just started a long time ago. Jonny used to be our drummer and started singing, we just built him a kick drum and a snare on legs and the bass guitar stand was a simple speaker stand with a board on it.
JH: It was just ghetto rigged. I remember specifically I told Daniel that I wanted to stand on my drums so he built this huge metal thing that the drums are now encased in which I wasn’t expecting at all. When I saw it I was like, “Holy S—t, you really built something here!” I just thought he was going to make it sturdier or something.
DO: Yeah, we used to put the bass on this stupid stand and play it and we had an idea to just turn it up the other way so when Jonny was playing it with sticks his back wouldn’t face the audience. From there that just evolved into the idea to create some massive contraption to spin the bass into the air and the grand finale is Jonny up on the drums sticking it from above.
I’ve always wanted to build stuff but I’ve never had the means, I’ve tried with wood and I’m an awful carpenter so I knew I had to move and build things out of metal and I just started going to town. I was amazed, that bass thing was the first thing I ever built, that’s the original and it hasn’t really been tampered with at all and I was so surprised that it worked. [Laughs] I didn’t know what I was doing, it was just trial and error. It’s become a huge passion of mine and I’m looking forward to the next phase of our live show and the next phase of art onstage, functional art. That’s what I like about it — it just doesn’t look cool, everything is designed with a purpose.
How was the overall creative and recording process for the new album?
JH: It was slow, definitely difficult but it was worth it. It was basically a two and a half to three year process in which we had accumulated about five years total of life experiences, heartache and trials and a coming of age and rite of passage for all of us. It was all of those experiences that we basically had and cataloged a huge amount of ideas that we had to work on. We started with like 60 song ideas and went down to 20 and then from 20 then to 17 and the first year was just that whole filtering process.
After that, the next two years was just like, “Okay we have all these songs and ideas, now how do we execute them in a way that’s going to compete and sound just as good as any other CD on the market today without having any money.” That was the challenge, we were on a shoestring budget, we raised a bunch of money from our fan base using Kickstarter at the time just to literally kickstart the project. Then we moved into a house together and turned each of our rooms into some department of the recording process and we just lived and breathed it for two years. Because we didn’t have the money it took longer but we still got to the end and we weren’t going to release it until it was done and that’s what we did.
What are your future aspirations for Nothing More?
JH: Really just always growing whether it’s as a band and the people we are getting connected with, fans, friends, new musicians along the way and growing in reach. Also growing musically as a band, being able to travel more places but overarching all of it is just being able to do it and bringing the ones that we love with us and just to see the world and share our music would be amazing.
DO: Same thing, just sustain the evolution. Each year I think it gets a bit easier in some way, we’re maturing as artists and adults. Everything is growing very rapidly now. The future just looks so bright, there’s just so many more people to help us now and we don’t have to do nearly as many things on our own and we’re able to focus more on creating. As things get easier it just frees up time for loved ones, there really is no destination for the band, it’s the journey.
With all of this upcoming touring, what is one thing you must bring on tour with you. No electronics.
JH: I’d have to say coffee, it’s the most universal for our operation.
DO: I don’t know, there’s got to be something, it’s a good question. Even the books I read are on an electronic device.
Check Out Nothing More’s Lyric Video For ‘Christ on Copyright':