“Am I very eccentric?” Hawksley Workman laughs. “I don’t know, but I do get called that quite a bit. Is it really justified?” It was last Friday night as Workman and his crew walked on stage sporting antennae caps and then closed the show in neon green jumpsuits.
“What I do seems pretty normal to me, but maybe it isn’t normal,”Workman admits.
Famous for his idiosyncratic glam rock/dark pop cabaret, (and of course his soaring, stunning vocal performances) it seems Workman just can’t help who he is or what people will say.
“We have so much to talk about!” Hawksley grins with his world famed charm. With an astounding new album, a cross-country Canadian tour, and a European leg to follow, the peculiar singer-songwriter is right. There is much to talk about.
Hawksley, you’re back with your new album Between the Beautifuls. Critics and fans alike are saying this record is so different. Tell us, is it really?
Every record I’ve ever made is different from the last record. I would say that it’s in keeping with what I normally do. I’m not very focused on trying to sound the same. I know that now in rock n roll your records should sound the same so that somebody could say that you’re a goth-emo guy. But it’s much more fun to do whatever you like.
Because I record albums very quickly, I always just trust that whatever is happening is right. It wasn’t a conscious decision. The record took 30 days to make and when those days were done, that’s how
What is it that drives you to record so quickly?
Thinking in music can be a really bad thing to do. The longer you live with something, the more inclined you are to mess with it. If you start messing with it, chances are you are going to get further and further away from the things that were beautiful about it in the beginning. The longer you think, the worse it can get. Thinking in music is just a devastating thing.
What have you found in between the beautifuls?
What I’m realizing is as an artist I’m never completely satisfied, I’m always going to be self-critical to a hyper degree, and being between is the place I inevitably end up living. I never end up finding myself in a comfortable state of arrival where I can put my bags down and
unpack. Between the Beautifuls is capitulation to that idea.
Are you comfortable sitting there between the beautifuls?
I have to be, it’s all I get!
There is so much poetry and personality in your music. Could you describe each major album as though they represent a time in your life?
You’re right and they do. Because I make them so quickly they really are very acute and detailed representations of the time I was living in.
For Him and the Girls was very na’ve and very exciting. It was a falling in love with making music record.
(Last Night We Were) The Delicious Wolves was very ballsy. I felt like I could do whatever I wanted.
The Christmas record, Almost a Full Moon was a record of wondering what the hell was going on in the world. I also wanted to make sure my grandmother knew how important she was to me.
Lover/Fighter was a sprawling rock n roll record that happened to me at one of the best times of my life after my tours had become more and more successful. I had a lot of confidence at that point.
My Little Toothless Beauties I had definitely spun out in my life. I was living too excessively in too many ways. I was feeling very loathing, low and apocalyptic.
Treeful of Starling was the safety net that I caught myself in. I remembered how nice it was to sing, play and enjoy the music. I started to remember to be full of care with myself and with my voice.
Between the Beautifuls is very similar to Starling, I made it when I was able to sit very comfortably and peacefully in a Canadian winter without having to travel or have my mere image obscured by anything. I was able to feel very settled and I don’t usually get to feel that way.
Between the Beautifuls seems to be a collection of songs about lost love. Has your concept of love changed since 2003’s Lover/Fighter?
The psychotherapist people in my life once told me that wherever there is expectation there is the opportunity for disappointment. Love comes with many grand expectations. We’re not that acquainted with love as a thirty year prospect like in the movies, television, or poetry. More
often than not the movie credits are rolling at the height of somebody’s sexual relationship.
When I was younger love was a feeling and I believed in that feeling. The feeling is the initial lusty intoxication and then it’s something that needs to be nurtured and grown in a very sober and dedicated way. Now I believe love is more of a decision and a commitment. Love is something that you decide to commit to with all your faith and all your heart. That connection with someone else is the decision to be committed through thick and thin and to see all the highs and lows.
You have undeniable poetry and sex appeal surrounding you. Are you really a Casanova Mr. Workman?
(Laughs) It’s far more easier for me to be charming when I’m not put on the spot with having to impress. When I’m by myself with my computer, boy I’m hot. But in real life, it doesn’t happen that easily.
Still it’s not something that seems to scare you. What does scare you? What about a few years back, you had an accident on stage where you lost your hearing for some time. Did you come out of that incident
feeling more alive or did it frighten you off the stage?
It scared the sh– out of me! It was just terrifying. I was horrified. I was definitely questioning everything I was doing. It really made me careful about everything. My whole life flashed before my eyes. After that I wanted to make sure that whatever I was doing was real and true. I still live with the memory of losing my hearing and being very depressed by it all.
I go on stage now and I remind myself to enjoy what I’m doing and be in the moment with it as much as I can.
Do you have a more intimate relationship with your studio recordings or the live versions of your songs?
Today I feel that live is the only thing that counts. Live music is the only thing that is really living. I love recording music I think that in many ways the recordings that I have are special in their own ways, but at the end of the day I would just rather be on stage. Being on stage, between the beautifuls is what keeps me alive.