Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins
A place of change, a place of growth
For his latest release, Ron Hawkins and his band the Do Good Assassins decided to try something new.
After an invitation by Revolution Recordings in Toronto to try a day of recording, Hawkins realized they had something incredible on their hands.
“My intention was to do five songs and make an EP out of it,” he said. “So we came home with it and it was amazing and I was amazed at the band’s ability to play off the floor and the vocals off the floor.”
The live-off-the-floor recording technique the band used at the studio refers to the drums, bass, guitar and vocals, which are are all recorded at the same time with everyone in the room.
This means if one person makes a mistake, everyone has to start from the beginning.
Hawkins said recording off-the-floor was exciting and “felt like it was 1965 or something.”
The result of their time at Revolution was Garden Songs, released Feb. 3 on Pheromone Recordings.
Hawkins said that while making the record there wasn’t a specific plan for writing the songs, calling it an “organic” process.
“That’s why we called it Garden Songs. There seems to be an organic sense of how it’s played and how the band approached it and this sense of not a lot of trickery involved.”
Several songs, such as the album opener “Peace and Quiet,” brings to mind very specific details about Toronto, the city the album was recorded in and where Hawkins is from.
But he cautioned about it being entirely influenced by the city.
“It could have been written in any other town but it’s specifically about [neighbourhoods in Toronto]. Its such a cinematic place holds a mythological place in my mind,” Hawkins said.
The Do Good Assassins will be playing at Starlight this Thursday, followed by a few other dates across Southern Ontario.
Though Hawkins has been playing music live for the past 25 years, this tour holds some special meaning.
On top of a set by the Do Good Assassins each night of the tour, Hawkins will also be drawing material from his first band The Lowest of the Low, which gained popularity in the early 1990s.
“Everyone who leaves a popular cooperative and then goes on their own is chased and haunted by their successes of the past.”
Hawkins recalled when he was touring with The Rusty Nails, a band he formed in the late 90s, it was disheartening to him to hear requests for The Lowest of The Low.
Although he has overcome those hesitations, he still marks a difference from his former band.
“I kind of have to sing them like covers. My voice is higher and thinner then it was back then. I think the years have changed my voice for the better, but I have to approach the songs like they aren’t me.”
“There is something great about songwriting which is that it can thrust you back into that place, kind of transports you.”
On top of coming to terms with his former band, Hawkins also stressed an important lesson he has learned over the years.
“I learned a lot from my time busking in Toronto, such as you have to get a rise out of people, whether in a good or bad way,” he said. “But I think that’s what I’ve learned in the long haul, that it can’t just be people standing at a recording player. There has to be an experience of people.”
With the release of Garden Songs and the upcoming tour dates, Hawkins doesn’t want people to think he has moved beyond writing rock music.
“I think a lot of people think it’s a trope with the new record, that I’m getting older. But the next album I’m planning to do is a full-blown rock explosion. The next record is almost ready to go and I’m hyper excited to get it going this year.”