Home for the Holidays

Hawthorne Heights Plan Black Friday Show at McGuffy’s

By Matt Clevenger

Hawthorne Heights

Hawthorne Heights has plenty to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s been a good year for the Dayton-based rock group and with a new album, a new record label and a successful European tour just coming to an end.  They’re stopping by McGuffy’s House of Rock to celebrate with a special day-after Thanksgiving show on Friday, November 26.

“We’re playing in Prague tonight, one of several places we’re visiting for the first time,” lead guitarist Micah Carli said of the tour in an interview last week. “It’s simply unbelievable to visit such beautiful cities and see things you’ve only witnessed in books.”

“This European run will wrap up and have us home just in time for Thanksgiving,” he added. “Although we do have a few weeks of shows in December, we are planning to be off for the holidays.”

The break is well-deserved, as Hawthorne Heights finishes up one of their busiest years yet. The group released Skeletons, their first album on new label Wind-Up Records, early this summer and a greatest hits album called Midwesterners: the Hits just came out on Victory Records, November 9. The band has also been touring extensively.

Friday’s show will be a homecoming of sorts, given Hawthorne Heights’ deep ties to the Dayton area. Starting out locally as A Day in the Life, the band changed its name before releasing their platinum-selling debut album The Silence in Black and White on Chicago-based Victory Records in 2004.

“All of us are from this area and got our start playing clubs, grange halls and any other place that would let us play,” Carli said. “We definitely retain a sense of gratitude and hometown pride for this place.”

“I was asked to join in the summer of 2002,” he explained. “I had one rehearsal to learn an EP worth of material and we were supposed to perform in some old repurposed church in Yellow Springs. The show got shut down for some sort of noise violation before we even played, but some local kid stepped up and offered his house just down the street for the remainder of the show. So all the gear and kids were transplanted into some teenager’s parents’ living room, and that’s where I performed my first show with this band.”

“We were quite disciplined with our efforts from the very beginning,” Carli said of the group’s early days. “We did a number of self-booked tours around the country and eventually sent press kits out to labels.”

Following the release of The Silence in Black and White, Hawthorne Heights went on to score major hits with the single “Ohio is for Lovers,” which received frequent airplay on MTV and VH1, as well as their gold-selling second album If Only You Were Lonely in 2006. However, things came crashing to a halt in 2007 after the tragic accidental death of guitarist/vocalist Casey Calvert during a U.S. tour.

“Dealing with the loss of our friend Casey was insurmountable then, and is still difficult to this day,” Carli said, noting that after consulting with Calvert’s family, the remaining band members unanimously agreed to persevere. Since then, the line-up has consisted of Carli, guitarist/vocalist JT Woodruff, bassist Matt Ridenour and drummer Eron Bucciarelli.

“The decision to remain a four-piece was made with the mindset that there is literally no replacement for Casey,” he said. “However, we have recently been bringing out a good friend, Mark McMillon from The Story Changes, to play guitar with us on tour.”

The band’s latest studio album, Skeletons, offers a more developed sound than previous releases, with several more experimental tracks featuring exotic instruments ranging from steel guitar to electric sitar.

“We spent a great deal more time writing and refining this record,” he said of Skeletons. “So with a lack of time restraints, we tried to step out of our comfort zone a bit and try some things that weren’t so stereotypically ‘Hawthorne Heights.’”

Carli also described the recent greatest hits album, Midwesterners: the Hits, which includes songs from the band’s albums on Victory Records and other bonus tracks. “It was kind of fun looking back through our older material,” he said. “I took a few photos around Troy, my hometown, and they’ll be part of the album artwork.”

After a short holiday break, Carli said the band also plans to do an acoustic tour in February and March, and hopes to record more new material soon.

“We have stuff booked pretty much right up until Christmas,” he said. “Then we’ll take a nice break to decompress from the year’s ravages. We’ll most likely be recording again this next spring or summer.”

Hawthorne Heights will appear at McGuffy’s House of Rock on Friday, November 26 with opening acts The Story Changes, Nightbeast and Acidic. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m. More information can be found online at  HYPERLINK “http://www.hawthorneheights.com” www.hawthorneheights.com or  HYPERLINK “http://www.mcguffys.net” www.mcguffys.net.

Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Clevenger at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com

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