ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Hawksley Workman talks
By Maggie Wrobel
Gazette file photo
GOING TO BEAT ME UP! Hawksley Workman is both a lover
and a fighter on his recent album.
Remember that part in Almost Famous where Billy Crudup's character,
Stillwater guitarist Russell Hammond, stands on a rooftop at
a party practicing his last words? All he manages to come up
with is "I'm on drugs."
Well, Hammond should have consulted Hawksley Workman before
climbing up there because the mysterious yet jovial singer-songwriter
has a flair for words. He delights in playing with them, emphasizing
them and seems determined to use as many of them as he possibly
can before his firecracker of a star burns out in this life.
Workman doesn't so much write songs as he creates odes to everyday
people and events that somehow manage to recall a distinctive
sense of old-fashioned romance while simultaneously oozing with
primal, raw sexuality. Since the release of his debut LP, 1999's
For Him and the Girls, much has been made in the media of the
singer's so-called quirks. His tendency to speak playfully and
poetically in interviews and his active imagination are just
some of the reasons the word most frequently used in his press
clippings is "eccentric." One might even say he is boxed into
a particular image, but the ever-optimistic Workman sees it
"I love those boxes!" he enthuses. "I love boundaries and limits
because they allow me the chance to go beyond them. I really
don't want to sound too sinister and manipulative or anything,
but with that whole ‘eccentric' image, I feel like I almost
played that up a little too much where the media is concerned.
I just wanted to give people something to take notice of me
and the fact that I had a record out and to get people to talk
about it and listen to it."
And listen they did. Well, at least some of them. For Him and
the Girls became an instant classic with fans of quirky independent
folk/rock music. Workman reveals he was somewhat caught off
guard by audience reactions to the album.
"When I was making For Him and the Girls, I thought I was making
the most accessible pop record ever," he laments laughingly.
"But instead, the people who gravitated to it were the people
who were sick of hearing the same things time and again and
wanted to hear something really different. And I really thought
I had created this universal pop record."
With his latest album, the saucy yet sentimental Lover/ Fighter,
Workman is adamant he went into his little private studio with
a definite goal in mind.
"I think my other two records were a little too disjointed
and scattered, so I consciously wanted this one to be different
- more focused," he states emphatically. "I really wanted this
record to have nine songs. I actually wrote 30 songs for this
album and that doesn't mean that I only wrote nine good ones
and 21 crappy ones, but just that these nine fit together the
best and get across the overall theme and flow of the album
as a coherent collection.
"I'm always thinking of what people want to hear. Truthfully,
I can't really understand those kinds of artists, the ones who
say 'oh, I make music for me and if anyone else likes it, that's
just a bonus.' I'm always thinking about people."
Hawksley Workman plays at Club Phoenix on Tue. Sep. 23 with
his band The Wolves. Tickets are available for $15 at Ticketmaster
outlets or at the door prior to the show. The show is 19+ and
doors open at 8 p.m.