Volume 92, Issue 10

Friday, September 18, 1998

cheque please


Hawkins ain't got a thing...

By Clare Elias
Gazette Staff

Record labels never seem to fail jumping on the band wagon of the latest craze and the '30s swing revival appears to be the newest trend. Decked out in their best saddle shoes, dancers burn up splintered floors while trumpets bang out their brass and bassists strum the grooves to the fly songs. It's nostalgia at its best – it's also a music marketer's dream come true.

Ron Hawkins, ex-member of Lowest of the Low, knows all about the swing thing and the entertainment industry's need to milk it for all it's worth. "[Record] labels hear the sounds from the street level and they take them to a sizeable area where they can make the most money," Hawkins said.

Mainstream is currently bombarded with the jivin' sounds of swing, but when will this fad fade out? "You have to wonder what bands like the Cherry Poppin' Daddies will do when the energy of swing rides out," ponders the singer/songwriter.

Ron Hawkins and the Rusty Nails don't feel the need to be concerned with the corporate control of mainstream trends. Their first release, The Secret of My Excess combines blues and swinging punk, while their most recent release expands and perfects this style. Grease and the star machine offers a chance for Ron Hawkins and The Rusty Nails to become focused as artists and musicians.

"We're less erratic and more consistent as a band and our personalities are stronger," he says. Hawkins attributes this strength to playing live, which helped to smooth out the kinks and corners of the group. This six-piece band, formed in late '96, still maintains their philosophy of trying new sounds and pushing new ideas.

"We don't restrict styles, we build our ideas from the ground up and this way of doing things just struck my fancy. I get easily bored with styles and need to try new things," Hawkins says in reference to his old band. "I did two albums with Lowest of the Low and they were great, but we ran out of ideas. Now I feel like I've bridged both bands and there's a cohesiveness."

The bridge was built by Hawkins between his time spent with the Lowest of the Low and the years he's now spent in helping to construct The Rusty Nails. "With the Low we were dealing with dark subjects and now, our lyrics are still dark and probing, but intelligent. I guess I just got tired of constant angst."

Hearing the same sounds again and again for either the musician or listener will always result in monotony. This explains the music industries natural progressions in trends from punk to pop to grunge to, well, swing. Ron Hawkins and the Rusty Nails recognize each sound as just that – trends.

"We don't see us fitting into anywhere on the mainstream. Our swing isn't orthodox, it's bits of swing, pop and punk," explains Hawkins.

This six-piece swinging punk ensemble remains an indie band which rejects the monopoly of a major label by continuing to explode beyond the fads of the time. And in so doing, they won't fade out or become rusty.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998