Hamish Hawk appears to have come out of nowhere and onto the BBC Radio6Music playlist with his current single “Caterpillar”. I was astonished to find that his next album will be his third following From Zero to One (2018, under the moniker Hamish Hawk & The New Outfit) and Laziest River (2019). I was further astonished to learn that he is based in my hometown of Edinburgh and realised I had met him when he worked in Assai Records, one of the city’s independent record stores.
“Caterpillar” from the next album Heavy Elevator always makes me stop when I hear it on 6Music. It has such a different quirky industrial sound compared to its contemporaries. Its angularity is reminiscent of bands like Bauhaus or Visage – that edginess or discomfort being expressed through the music. Heavy Elevator has been produced by Rod Jones of Idlewild, who Hamish met at the Iona Village Hall Music Festival in 2016. Jones mentioned he’d be interested in recording some sessions at his studio in Edinburgh and, says Hamish; “One session became a couple of sessions, a phone call here and there became pretty regular contact, and an acquaintance became a producer, a producer became a mentor, a mentor became a manager.”
We can expect this album to follow in the vein of single “Caterpillar” rather than the gentler vibes of his previous releases. The rhythm reminds of a train travelling and the intensity does grow as the song progresses. The opening lyrics, “Spent the last three years asleep, in a town called misery. No-one seems to live here, except me obviously,” perhaps demonstrate the quirkiness of Hamish’s world. It’s a dark thought but with a comic twist. Hamish is drawn to songwriters of lyricism and wit. He says, “I find an irritating feature of a lot of contemporary music is its tireless sincerity. Humour is a big part of my life, and I believe it is inherently related to truth and deserves to be given the chance to voice itself in song-writing, just as it should in all other artistic fields.” For the first time, Hawk has written with Andrew Pearson (guitars) and Stefan Maurice (keys, drums), who form the core of his band.
And do watch the video with its David Byrne style. Its simplicity and yet impact in black and white is extraordinary. And who needs to wear shoes to make a video! It was directed by Ellen de Faux, who perfectly captured the edginess of “Caterpillar”.