Interview with JT Woodruff of HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS at Warped Tour ’17

Rei: Hey, guys, Rei Haycraft here with Fuel The Scene Magazine. I’ve got JT Woodruff from Hawthorne Heights here at the Vans Warped Tour. How are you doing today?

JT: I’m doing good. It’s a wonderful day in Charlotte. No complaints.

Rei: Everything just got started. When are you guys hitting the stage?

JT: Eight-something. We’re last on our stage so we’re closing out the Journey’s Left Foot stage tonight.

Rei: Awesome. What does a typical day on the Vans Warped Tour look for scene veterans like yourselves? You’re usually playing later on in the day. What do you do during the day?

JT: I am working all day. Our band is kind of unique. What we like to do is everything. We have two people out helping us but for the most part we’re very DIY, very hands-on so I’m up every day at 7:30. I help our merchandise liaison Amanda. She and I take the tents out, pick out the spot, pop it up. That normally takes us until about 9:30 or 10:00. Then we find out our schedule and then I schedule my press and, you know, any sort of interviews, then our two signings that we do a day and then our set, so.

Rei: Damn. That is dedication.

JT: Not a lot of rest. Otherwise, we’re hanging out with all of our friends out here in between pockets of time.

Rei: You get time to sleep? At all? A little bit? While you’re driving?

JT: Yeah, about midnight until 7:00 in the morning is my sleep time, so not a lot of late-night partying but I don’t do that anyway, so who cares?

Rei: That’s all right. So this is a huge year for Hawthorne Heights. You all have had a comeback—I mean, you didn’t really go anywhere, but, you know—

JT: Yeah, we didn’t go anywhere.

Rei: But you all are touring like crazy and then there’s the new album coming out. What can you tell us about that?

JT: We’re about 10-12 songs into our new album. We want to write couple more, then we’ll start heavy tracking. We want to get it out by the end of the year. If not, it will be the beginning of next year. We like to take things kind of chill, we’re our own, I guess, bosses. You know, we don’t have anybody yelling at us, telling us we got release dates and stuff. When we’re ready, we’ll put it out. We’ll be good to go.

Rei: Awesome. If there was an overall theme that you’re feeling emerging from this record, what would that be?

JT: I would say that we always try to inject positivity, hopefulness, and just a shining light into like dark seas of sadness, so it’s always going to be a little bit dark, it’s always going to be a little bit heavy, but, you know, we’ll try and add some melody in there but also some sort of positive message to kind of get people through dark times.

Rei: That’s like a hopeful melancholy.

JT: Yeah, that’s kind of, I mean, one of my favorite bands growing up was Smashing Pumpkins. So that’s probably kind of where it comes from, I guess. I’ve always liked sadder-sounding, melodic bands so like you get that sourness and then you get like the sweet melody and the hook and stuff like that.

Rei: I like it. So what has the song-writing process been for y’all this go-around, having put so much material out and having toured the circuit, been around the country, out of the country—you’ve done it all, so what has been different this go-around?

JT: Yeah, we’re kind of a unique band. You wouldn’t think it’s unique but a lot of people have one, kind of one member, maybe two members that kind of write everything. We all write. We all put in the time. I write all the lyrics and melodies for the most part but we all sit in a room together and then we also do our little own, independent writing and then so far everything’s worked out. We’re all kind of on the same page, which is sometimes hard to do but sounding cool, I guess.

Rei: So you feel like everyone has their own voice in the songs?

JT: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.

Rei: That’s awesome. And you are the primary lyric writer?

JT: Yeah, yeah.

Rei: How does the lyric writing process go for you? Do the lyrics come first, do you take pieces from things, or is it the music first and you let that inspire you?

JT: Kind of both, really. Like me as a guitar player, like I’m always writing with a guitar and a pen and a paper but it doesn’t mean that I’ll use the chords that I was writing it to because sometimes it’s just for flow purposes. Sometimes it helps spark a melody and stuff like that, so, really, all hands on deck by any means necessary. You can find a song in any situation that’s happening to you.

Rei: I love it. And I love to see bands that are really working, like, as a cohesive unit to make the things happen because that’s how it can actually, you know, come true.

JT: Definitely. And it’s more fun, it’s more rewarding for everybody. And, you know, it’s just, it feels better for me to do it that way.

Rei: So what has the fan response been this past year as you all have been touring, been on Warped Tour, announcing new material?

JT: Great. I think every once in a while you’ve got to re-energize your fans. You’ve got to give them new music. Constantly touring because it’s fun but, you know, we try to take time off in each market. So we’ll go to like, right after this we’ll not hit the States for a little bit. We’ll go to Australia, finish our album, stuff like that, so … We feel good, we feel fresh, we feel energized. We feel like we’re 20 years younger than we probably are but we feel good.

Rei: If you all were to write your memoir right now of Hawthorne Heights, what’s one memory that would be your opening chapter, something that sticks out in your mind?

JT: That’s a good question. Probably just weird things like being able to tell your grandparents, who don’t fully get what you do, you know what I mean? Like, “Oh, you’re in a band,” but when we were able to do stuff like play Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien and stuff like that, that’s stuff that’s on TV that they recognize. It’s like, “Oh, okay. He’s actually in a band, you know? He’s doing something that like …” So big moments like that are, while they’re big moments but they’re tiny moments to us because of the longevity and how long we’ve been doing things, to be able to, like, show people that and to, I don’t know, it feels good when your grandma has no idea about anything you do and it’s like, “Yeah, you’re on Jay Leno. That’s pretty cool!”

Rei: “I know him!”

JT: Yeah. And me, I’m like, “No way, man. We’re on Warped Tour all summer long. That’s incredible. There’s so many awesome bands.” That’s like more special to me. I love all of it but like being able to play with all these bands is always much more fun to me.

Rei: Oh, yeah. This is a killer line-up. I’m stoked that, like, I can kind of get to hear some of it while we’re back here.

JT: Oh, yeah.

Rei: So what are some final words of wisdom for your fans back home? What would you want them to know?

JT: Our advice is always to look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Always search for positivity during dark times. Be true to yourself. Don’t worry about being different because every single human being is different but that’s what makes it beautiful and special.

Rei: I love it. Man, you’re just so poetical today. It’s a great way to start. All right, thank you so much for taking some time to talk to us today.

JT: Thank you, oh, yeah. Enjoy the rest of your day!