Shortly after the release of their third studio album, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend, we spoke
to Hawk Nelson vocalist Jason Dunn and bassist Daniel Biro at GMA Music Week 2008 to discuss the release, video games,
and stir up their initial thoughts on the board game that comes inside their CD packaging...
This interview took place on: 4/22/08.
**Hear this interview on our iTunes JFH podcast!**
Jesus freak Hideout (John DiBiase): I was thinking recently - you guys got your name from Tony Hawk and playing
with PlayStation -- Are you guys gamers?
JFH (John): What do you guys play?
NHL Hits '02! Are you familiar with NFL Blitz?
JFH (John): I don't really play sports games...
Oo! Then we'll get along.
It is the best game!
I have at home, set up right now, the regular NES and the SNES, and that's it. Just finished playing some Donkey Kong Country
this week! Bought the cartridge with the booklet with everything. Sometimes I'll bring the system on the bus and I can hook it up in my bunk to the little
TVs that fold down...
See, I thought of doing that, but I would NEVER sleep if that was the case. *laughter*
It takes a lot of room...
I usually stay up to 3 or 4 in the morning until I'm like "OK, I gotta quit..."
Kids don't get it these days. The classic games are where it's at!
JFH (John): Dude, that was totally one of my questions -- what do you think of the evolution of video games and the
fact that kids these days are growing up when things are already all high tech and realistic -- and I think we had it best!
I do agree. I think the older games are way better. That's why NHL Hits - it's still arcade-y. It's two buttons: pass, shoot, and hit. See, I'm
It's simplicity. People don't need more choices. There are too many options, there are too many choices.
It's like, "press R7 on the back on the trigger and..." There are so many buttons.
Dude, Super Mario Kart? That's where it's at! Stuff like that.
JFH (John): Do you have a favorite NES game?
Probably Mario Bros. 2. It was the best of Mario's --
NO WAY, really?
Because it was like a weird dream that he was having...
Yeeeah, I wasn't into that.
I really like it cause it's different.
I like Mario 3
JFH (Amy DiBiase): I do too!
Everyone likes 3. I like 3, c'mon! The thing about 3 is... I'd saved up all these popsicle points [to get Mario 3]
and sent it in and they were like "We don't have it anymore." So they said "We'll send you these two games" -- and they were lamer games -- So I said
"OK, I'll take those." And then they said "Oh, we don't have those now." So they sent me a thing for $10 off on popsicles...
You got taken for a ride, man!
And then they sponsored us last Summer!
JFH (John): Haha and the players would run SO slow!
*Starts doing the "R.B.I. Baseball" tune*
JFH (John): My brother and I would often play, and I'd always throw the ball away and try to catch him stealing
bases... but he still beat me...
Jason: Oh yeah! ...Blades Of Steel was always a good one too.
Blades Of Steel's AWESOME!
Jason: "FACE OFF!"
Dude, there were so many good ones.
Duck Hunt was always good. Dude, the new Wii has this game -- I bought the gun thing and it comes with a game like
Duck Hunt, a little more modern. Pretty awesome.
Nintendo's done a really good job with the Wii. I think it's their saving grace. I would actually get a Wii.
Yeah, they're awesome. I talked about getting one, but my girlfriend - she's in South America right now, but before
she left, she was like, "Hey, I got you a gift!" and she got me four controllers and eight games, but didn't buy me the system! So she was like,
"Now you have to go buy the system," knowing she wants to play it! *laughter* And knowing I'd do it because I love games!
I'm like, "Shoot!!" So I had to go buy the system and I got it and it's changed my life. Perfect world. *laughter* I love it.
JFH (John): So... who designed the game for physical CD release of Hawk Nelson Is My Friend?
Don Clark of the Clark brothers and Demon Hunter. Originally, I don't think we had any ideas. I never really trust Tooth & Nail to come up with
stuff themselves. Like, with the first record, it was our idea to have the photo shoot in the school and the different kinds of poses. And if we
didn't have that, I know there'd be nothing. The second one, we did the photo shoot here in Centennial Park. And that kind of formed the whole
"End of the World" theme. And then, with this one, my wife found a bunch of old vintage games - like The Beatles and The Monkees - online.
And we forwarded them over to the guys in the art department and they were like, "This is the coolest idea, we're going to run with it!"
And you could tell they were really into it because it turned out really good.
JFH (John): Yeah, seriously, and it's interesting because we were just talking to Andrew Schwab
about packaging of music and how everything is going digital -
Daniel: Yeah, they're going to stop making records.
JFH (John): And it bothers me because, first of all, I like to have the whole package.
Jason: I used to. I'm changing my ways now.
JFH (John): Really? And the artwork for the most recent Project 86 record was amazing. And I thought this (the game board
packaging for Hawk Nelson Is My Friend) is a phenomenal idea.
Daniel: Well, you're getting more than just the record! I haven't played it yet, have you guys?
JFH (John): No. I haven't gotten around to it.
*Opens up a copy of the "Hawk Nelson Is My Friend" CD and unfolds the game board CD jacket* I want to see if this works.
*In response to Daniel having trouble spinning the disc* Well, that's pretty crummy, I'll be honest.
JFH (John): Well, the Special Edition has nicer paper or something...
Jason: Well, that depresses me actually. I thought it would be...
Daniel: But if it's on a hard surface, dude! *Daniel was trying this out on the hotel bed, but then tries it on
something else* That's not bad! I don't know... the Special Edition is better. You can use the DVD and the DVD has different numbers.
JFH (John): Is there any song on the record that you're especially proud of?
Jason: Yes. My favorite song is called "Somebody Else."
Daniel: Oooo! Hawk Nelson / Raine Maida!
Jason: Raine Maida. He's the singer in a band we grew up idolizing - a band called Our Lady Peace. They're from the Toronto area
too. We just love that band! Still do. I just thought it'd be cool to get together with him, and their manager's like, "OK, we'll work that out."
And we were like, "Oh, yeah, that's not going to happen." I'm a very pessimistic person, maybe? But it happened. We flew to L.A. and went to his house.
I was literally starstruck. I try to maintain professionalism, y'know? But I was like "Omigoodness, this is SO crazy!" I remember we were getting lunch
before we went to his house and I remember he called our manager and I heard him talking on the phone and I was like "Is that him on the phone? Omigosh!"
And I remember we went to his house and we rang the doorbell
and he answered the door and I was literally freaking out. And I try not to get starstruck, but I said "Hey man, I'm Jason." and he was like,
"Hey, I'm Raine" (*in a cool, calm voice*). I'm like, "Oh, gosh! I know who you are man, you're freaking Raine Maida!"
Daniel: My first concert...
Jason: And it was just really cool. Then we wrote a song together and we spent the day at his place.
And I'm honored. It was a really great feeling.
JFH (Amy): So you wrote the song together. But you performed it by yourself on the record?
Jason: Yeah! We did a lot of cowrites on this record, which I think is very smart. I think every band should do it. So your records don't
mesh and sound the same. So... I have a voice recorder that's full of ideas and I remember sitting at breakfast, "I'm going to take this today." And I just took
it to him. And he said, "Well, let's change this and move some things around." And I was like, "Omigosh! That sounds awesome! I never thought of that before!!"
He had some cool ideas.
JFH (Amy): We were talking to another artist about cowriting as well. It's something that that individual thought
was wise as well
Jason: I don't know, for some reason, there seems to be this pride issue with a lot of people. They're like, "No dude, we have to write
our own songs!" I don't know. If you want to be successful, you gotta write with people that are better than you. Collaborations are the key. You learn
Well, yeah, it's always important to understand that your success isn't just you. If you have that mentality, I don't want anything to do with a person
like that. I mean, it's a group, team effort -- between everyone from the label to the management to the radio to you guys.
Jason: There's no "I" in "team!"
Daniel: But there is an "I" in "win!"
JFH (John): Was it hard to write a song like "I Still Miss You?"
Jason: Ummm... no. Well, it was a little weird. It was one of those things I had a really hard time dealing with when my grandmother
passed away. Cause I was raised in a Christian family where everyone believed, "well, just pray for them and they're going to get better!"
Y'know, I was raised like that, so if I had a cold and I prayed, a couple days later it went away and I'd be like, "Wow! I got healed!"
So when my Grandma got sick, the whole church was praying and people were gathering by her bedside and laying hands on her and praying for her
and she never got better. And it really hit hard for me. Because I was on the road and she got really sick and my Mom was like, "she's probably not
going to make it." And I said, "You guys are praying, right? If we're all praying, then we should be better." So I flew home, and I got home and she
died that night.
JFH (Amy): Wow, you were there?
Jason: Yeah. It was weird, because she was basically nothing for three days and they're like, "This is really strange" and
they asked my Mom, because she was my Mom's Mom, "is there anybody in your family that's missing?" and my Mom said, "Well, my son's on the road. He's
on the stage right now." And they told her, "He needs to get home." As soon as I got home, the doctor called and said, "Hey, can you just call the hospital
when you get home?" "Yeah, OK." So I got home and I called and within the hour, she died. It was pretty crazy, y'know? It made me really think - this doesn't
make sense because I was told if somebody's sick and you pray, they're going to get better. And it really made me - not question my faith, but this doesn't
make sense, y'know? And I'm like, "Well there must be, obviously, a plan." So I remember sitting here, it was actually in Nashville, just messing around
on the piano and I got the idea. I just started thinking about it, "OK, why did this happen? God obviously has a plan, what's His plan?" And I came to the
realization as I was getting through it that His plan is way different from our plan and God's timing sucks. I'll be honest, you want things to happen
and happen now, but it's not going to happen because humans have their own time frame. They think of something a certain way and then God
thinks His way and we have to remember that it's not our time and we can't do things our way. And we often flip into that feeling where we do have
to do it our way and that's all we know. So I don't know what the plan is. I really hope this song is the start of something big. Because, already,
I've gotten at least 30 or 40 emails already saying "Hey, that song has really helped me with the passing of my Mom" or "the passing of my Grandmom."
Cool! Mission accomplished. I mean, maybe that was the whole entire plan, I don't know? I know she went through a lot of suffering, too, because
she had cancer. And that sucks. I don't know what that feels like, but I know it's not pleasant, obviously.
JFH (John): So then God was able to use your experience with that for good. That's awesome.
Jason: Yeah! That's cool that He got to use me through that.
JFH (John): Lastly, I'll close with -- How'd you get to work with Amy Grant?
Jason: Well, what it comes down to... our manager grew up an Amy Grant fanatic. I think that's what it came down to.
So she made it happen. She was freaking out more than we were. I mean, Amy Grant's cool, but she's no Michael W. Smith. She's an awesome lady,
I'm really glad we got to do the song together. Our manager was like, "OMIGOSH!"
Daniel: I saw Michael W. Smith last night...
Jason: Aw, dude, I'd do anything to work with Michael W. Smith! That guy's the man!
Hawk Nelson's latest album, Hawk Nelson Is My Friend, is in stores now!