Formed in 1999 by Rob Waller and brothers Paul and Anthony Lacques during a philosophical discussion and rock throwing session on an East Mojave desert trek, I See Hawks In L.A. wrote their first batch of songs and then sought advice from local country rock guru David Jackson, sideman with John Denver, Dillard and Clark, and Emmy Lou Harris.
Jackson set up a few mics and recorded Rob and Paul, playing along on bass. This demo turned into featured songs on the Hawks eponymous debut on now-defunct Ethic Records, featuring legendary fiddler Brantley Kearns (Dwight Yoakam, Dave Alvin, Hazel Dickens). The CD established the Hawks signature sound: high lonesome three part harmonies, twang guitar and unadorned acoustic arrangements, with lyrics musing on mortality, whales, and the geography of pre-apocalyptic L.A. I See Hawks In L.A. received rave reviews, made the F.A.R. Alternative Country Chart, and continues to get regular airplay. With its experimental spirit and wide ranging musical influences, the record tweaked some traditionalists. But most agree that the Hawks have broken new ground.
The Hawks hadn't planned on much more than back porch songwriting and beer drinking, but the buzz prompted them into live performing, and they quickly rose to the top of heap in the brand new Los Angeles alternative country scene. Bassist/vocalist Paul Marshall (Strawberry Alarm Clock, Hank Thompson, Rose Maddox) threw in with the Hawks after sitting in at Ronnie Mack's Barndance in Burbank, and after brother Anthony left to pursue documentary film making, drummer Shawn Nourse (Dwight Yoakum, James Intveld) signed on for a trip to Texas and SXSW and never left. Shows all over SoCal, from their basement downtown home of Coles Bar, down Sunset to the House of Blues, and across the 405 to the Cinema Bar, garnered the Hawks two L.A. Weekly Best Country Artist awards in 2002 and 2003.
The Hawks second CD, "Grapevine," was released on the summer solstice 2004, and immediately went to #1 on the F.A.R. Chart, lingered in the Americana Chart's top 100 for months, and hit #2 on XM Radio's X Country station in January '05. Strong press reviews and a national audience followed the Hawks 28 city Summer '04 tour, from a state prison in Vermont to a Mississippi roadhouse to the Cactus Cafe and KUT's Eklektikos in Austin, to Hempfest in Seattle. Summer of '05 West Coast and Rockies tours brought the Hawks to the woods, and the woods to the Hawks.
In their past musical lives, in bands ranging from 60's psychedelia, 70's country, hardcore bluegrass, circus, cabaret, 80's country, 90's country, punk rock and world beat, to experimental guitar instrumental music and avant garde polka, the Hawks members have scored a feature film and several documentaries, provided songs, and appeared in countless movies and television shows, including, Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls, McCabe And Mrs. Miller, Tapeheads, Far Out Man, Condo Painting, Heart of the Sea: Kapoliokaâ€™ehukai, and Crime Story.
In 2003 The Hawks scored a "Modern Marvels" for the History Channel, a documentary on American cattle ranching, creating soundscapes with old time fiddle, dobro, and jawharp, 1960's country stomp, and some space age (al la "Jetsons") guitar and human beat box.
In 2006, I See Hawks in L.A. filmed their first beer commercial. In a strange twist of fate, the band signed on to appear in a San Miguel Beer commercial for the Spainish market. Cast as a burnt-out cowboy band, the Hawks play for a roomfull of bored line dancers. Then the beer arrives, the spainish disco music kicks in, everyone chants "Hey!" and goes crazy. Rob fires two pistols in the air and whispers 'Paquito' to Brantley for no known reason. Yes, these are strange times we're living in.
The Hawks can be found in their native habitats: Coles Bar and outdoor fest Grand Performances in downtown Los Angeles, The Cinema Bar in Culver City, Ronnie Mack's Barn Dance, Pappy and Harriets and Gramfest in the high desert, and Ben Vaughn's Wonder Valley Music Fest at the Palms bar, even further east of nowhere; at acoustic house concerts, and any dive that will take them, from Seattle to San Diego, and all the Sans and Santas in between.
The Hawks have just released their third CD, "California Country," with guest spots from Chris Hillman, Rick Shea, Cody Bryant, Danny McGough, Tommy Funderburk, and other SoCal roots brethren. Tackling subjects like despair in Disney World, blackjack in Jackpot, hippie parenting, donkeys, and Senator Robert Byrd from West Virginia, "California Country" brings more bluegrass, Phase 90 country psychedelia, and steel driven honky tonk to the Hawks sonic empire.
After a kickass 7 show run in Houston and Austin's SXSW in mid-March, the Hawks are looking forward to the U.S. summer '06 tour, and a tour of UK in August. See you out there!