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Hawk Nelson's Crazy Love

By Hannah Goodwyn Producer

CBN.comThe Canadian punk rock force known as Hawk Nelson is back with a brand new record, Crazy Love, releasing February 8. Accompanied by The Light Sides, an acoustic album featuring some of the band’s favorites, the 2-disc Crazy Love set is destined to be a fan favorite. It highlights the four-man group’s rock style, but also has more of an emphasis on personal faith compared to their previous projects.

Frontman Jason Dunn recently spoke with about the new record and what’s next for the band now that their contract with Tooth & Nail Records is ending. You’ve described Crazy Love as being true to your punk rock style, yet still having songs your mom would appreciate.

Dunn: We did our fifth record and our last one with Tooth & Nail, so we wanted to give it our best and we wanted to stay true to our roots a little bit with the punk rock kind of vibe that we started with when we were just kids. The record is pretty fast. And the four songs or five songs that were that, you can just listen to and you’re, “Oh, OK.” But it’s still an album that my mom can listen to. So I think it’s a really good mix. It’s something I think we’re all really proud of.

The Light Sides does help in that aspect too, for the parents. It’s basically 12 songs that we’ve recorded over the last, well since we started, and we re-recorded some of our favorites over the last little while, and we have the light side. So, it’s two in one. The album was inspired by a book, correct?

Dunn: Yeah. It’s a pretty interesting story, actually. Crazy Love was originally called something else. I had a working title called “Truth Bombs”, so a lot of the songs are about honesty and truth and confessions.

We did the record with [producer] Ian Eskelin. He and I spent a lot of time working on the record together. Before we’d start every morning, we would read Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love, just to get the day started right. It was a really good read and we really enjoyed it. Then it just hit us, “Let’s just write a song called ‘Crazy Love’.” In less than 30 minutes, “Crazy Love” was born. The next thing you know, we’re calling the record Crazy Love. The next you know, that new song is the first single off of it. It worked out really well, I think. The album is more overtly faith themed than your past records. One particular song, one you guys agreed was the band favorite, was “My Next Breath.”

Dunn: It was just one of those things. One morning I woke up, and I was just feeling very appreciative of what we’ve been given. This life is a gift and every breath we have is a gift from God. This day in particular I was feeling very thankful for the breath God’s given us.

I don’t want to ignore the fact that He’s there for us, but sometimes we do. We just focus on what we need to do every day, day to day life. But this one day in particular, I was just like, “I need God more than the next breath that I have.” You can say that about a girl or whatever. “She gives him his next breath.” But we need Him more than that, and that’s a real honest statement. It’s not just a metaphor. It’s for real. The album does have the punk rock tracks on it, one being “Skeleton”.

Dunn: Yeah, that goes back to the original working title, Truth Bombs. Officially our audience is a lot of teenagers. Being a teenager is a very stressful time in anyone’s life, because you’re still trying to find out who you are. You’re trying to find your identity. You want to impress people without being too different from who you are. You don’t even know who you are at this point in life. You’re still trying to establish all those things. And this is a very stressful time. You want to be accepted.

Things happen in life. Maybe something happened when you were a kid, and you don’t want your new friends in high school to know about these things. So you start harboring things inside. An analogy is a skeleton, skeletons you hang in your closet kind of thing. “Done Holding On” is kind of the same idea. It ties those two together. It’s just an honest coming clean and getting rid of those skeletons you hide in your closet. The 11th track on Crazy Love is insane and it’s called “LAX”. What happened to you there that gave you so much hatred for airports?

Dunn: Well, that song is really about eight years old. We used to live out of a van and tour full time. I used just sit on my computer and make up these just random, stupid little songs. And I just had this idea of making this side project, this metalcore project. It was just something stupid I would do for fun. I had a ton of songs like that, really weird.

It was one of those things we all just joke about as a band. Because we’re driving and every time we’re at an airport, someone started saying, “I hate airports.” Then we’d just start laughing. Then I was like, “We should tape that on the record. This is our last one on the label, so let’s just put it on there, because it’s for Hawk Nelson. We have to have at least one weird song on every record.” Last one [on Live Life Loud] was the ukulele song. Before that…Oh, never mind. I never recorded anything else crazy like that. It just seemed appropriate at that moment in time, so we put it on there. This album represents your faith more than your past releases. What’s your hope in doing that now?

Dunn: It’s funny because the title changed, so you change what you’re trying to say. Originally with our working title, we were trying to get people to just be open and let go of your secrets, because holding things in like that, it can't be healthy. But with Crazy Love, with that theme, I guess what we’re trying to say is, “Do something extraordinary. Do something out of the ordinary. Do something crazy for somebody else.” Maybe it’s something that’s uncomfortable. Every time you do something uncomfortable, it’s never easy, but you always grow from it and it’s a way of showing love to people.

Recently, I’m started to do hospital visits with the American Diabetes Association. When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It was one of things, one of those secrets, one of those skeletons I kept in my closet. I didn’t ever talk about it. That was just my personal life and I didn’t bother talking about it. But some people caught wind of that. And some kids who were diagnosed with diabetes, they were like, “Well, if Jason has it…” so they kind of seek advice from me. And I was like, “Wow.” I didn’t realize I can make a difference in that area of my life. Something that I thought was a hindrance, something that I thought was holding me back, is actually being used as a positive thing. I thought that was really cool. So I get to take it one step further. I’m going to the hospital. I’m going to go talk to kids, help them with their problems and talk to them, saying, “It’s not the end of the world when something like this happens.” Hopefully, they’ll grow from it too. You mentioned that this is the last record on the Tooth & Nail label. What’s next for you guys?

Dunn: I don’t know yet. This is a whole new phase in our lives as a band. We’ve been under contract since we were 19 years old, so I obviously don’t even know what to think. Obviously it’s a whole new thing, so I’m not really sure what we do next. I guess we’ll find out in a year. Ask me in a year.

Hannah GoodwynHannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.

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Releases Feb. 8, 2011