I’ve always enjoyed exploring the world and of all the places I visited, there’s something I noticed in Australia that didn’t catch my attention elsewhere. I am guessing that education is responsible for it, but also the fact that the country is huge and isolated. It takes, therefore, less influence from the outside and relies on its own wealth. Typically, Australians are known for their “mateship” and overall laid-back attitude, but there’s certainly a reason for this. What if taking stunning walks along infinite cliffs overlooking the clearest waters after finishing your day at work then hiking in huge rainforests on weekends was what we, humans, need to feel alive? It seemed to me that these people are aware that they are very fortunate to be able to live in such places and experience health, thrill and relaxation practically everywhere. In my opinion, it is clearly lacking where I live and where I am from. Being able to experience it away from home was a catalyst for my inspiration and creativity. Australians are proud and culturally ambitious but they also know it is their duty to protect this culture and their environment at all costs and explain it not only around them but everywhere possible. In this regard, there is no wonder why so much art sees the light on this territory in diverse forms, including music.
In our spectrum, it goes from Powderfinger to the Gooch Palms, to Violent Soho to Tash Sultana, to In Hearts Wake to Parkway Drive and so on. It keeps growing, but how does it survive? In music, internationally touring bands from our community such as In Hearts Wake have early understood that their environment is their fuel, it’s where they’re from. But they also have to protect their homeland as the World where we live and we are only borrowing. Through their music, In Hearts Wake explain environmental challenges to the general public and take action to show the path to a more sustainable lifestyle and ultimately inner peace.
Having just finished a month-long national tour in their homeland of Australia, In Hearts Wake put dedication and consciousness into their work, but aside from the hard work, their current achievements mainly come from their mindset. We discussed this subject with vocalist Jake Taylor a few months ago.
2017 marked for the band the year they played their first European headliner, which they ended up dominating, even though they didn’t know what to expect. In fact, they didn’t try, but they knew that they would give everything and have fun, because the difference with all of the shows they played in our shores before, is that these were their own. The purpose is obviously different: “When you are opening for a band, you try to get your best 5-6 songs and please the audience sonically […] now we put on a show and it’s more than just playing your songs. It’s comedy, it’s fun in between the songs as well. It’s also significantly less stressful.” We couldn’t immediately measure the impact – clearly a milestone, looking back — but we got to pinpoint the elements that help the band ensure steady progress and keep themselves sane while making music and basically living on the road all year-round. With no surprise, most of it comes down to remembering where they’re from.
Sitting on a tiny greenroom’s only couch, Taylor seems relaxed and apparently wants us to feel the same way, as he proceeds to question us about our day and normal activity. Probably just small talk, but it definitely sets the mood, plus it’s appreciable. That’s also when we learn that they have been staying at a campsite located in a forest on the outskirts of Paris, the day before, which allowed the band and their crew to soak up on some nature and refuel.
“It sounds corny but I like parks and trees […]It was really nice to have trees everywhere, like an hour drive outside of Paris.” Hearing such thoughts didn’t surprise me, especially since this is exactly what I was looking to discuss. Sure, being skilled and working hard helps, but is that it? What keeps the creative juices flow and remain sane in such a lifestyle?
Moments later, Ark‘s (the song) first notes are ringing, and the small crowd is excited. Starting with the three first tracks of In Hearts Wake‘s latest record (Ark into Passage into Nomad), the audience is already bouncing and moving around.
People shout many of the lyrics and we can’t help but think that it must be an incredibly overwhelming feeling to notice that your art resonates with strangers so far away from home. “We’re only able to do this because we take risks”, explains Jake. “People don’t think about it but as Australians, coming over to Europe costs a lot […] we’re gonna take a risk in itself just coming here every time, so if we’re gonna do it, we gotta do it right. Taking these risks also bleeds into your art and contributes to creativity, because taking risks is what takes you farther.” It gets daunting and after all, why do they keep doing this? “It’s for the message.” Playing music all over the globe is all fun and games but making an impact is even more rewarding. This band can take pride in succeeding at creating empathy for the environment and encouraging their listeners to shift towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
In Hearts Wake‘s healthy behavior and way of thinking didn’t happen by chance. They are aware that they come from an inspiring place, which fuels creativity and promote a healthier way of living. We tend to forget this on our side of the world, where urban density is very high and lifestyles organized around these places. However, these are also the places where bands like In Hearts Wake tour frequently, where their listeners live and consequently the places where they can raise awareness and make a difference. Back in their home in the town of Byron Bay, the band would organize massive cleanups at local beaches, during which they would remind people about their incredible luck to be able to live in such places. For the others, it takes one holiday or one music video to realize that maybe dirty air trapped between massive buildings isn’t what we need in our lives in fine, nor how we want our children to grow up.“That simple acknowledgment is where it starts, you don’t have to protest. You just start with being aware that when you smoke a cigarette you just don’t throw it on the beach. It starts with the simplest things, but they make a big difference, that’s my message.”
“We have to learn to love ourselves”
Being on the road, at various places of the world isn’t the easiest way for In Hearts Wake to promote this environmentally conscious way of living because many factors don’t always depend on them. As a band, everything’s constantly delivered to them, while they are moving: “Back home, I have my own water tank, but for many reasons, things as simple as this are hard to do by yourself, like limiting the packaging and plastic and it gets frustrating. It’s not about me but it’s about the message that we share and we spread. It’s making us just more aware and also making the others hopefully more aware.”
Moving constantly can also take a toll on anyone’s sanity, especially when dealing with places and ways of living so radically different. Keeping connected, keeping this spirit alive and focusing on mindfulness is hard-work in this context. “It’s very hard, honestly. I have to constantly remind myself what it is and not forget what it’s like to be from where I am. It’s meditation; I remember: This is where I am from and this is what I do.” After thinking for a few seconds, Jake Taylor adds that stretching and doing yoga helps to keep focused when they don’t get to see parks and trees. “It helps because it keeps you grounded.”
Ideas are always flowing, whether the band is on the road or relaxing at home. Some of them will never see the light, others are yet to be created and it all simply happens to be a combination of factors and context. However, within the band, regarding either putting on shows or even making music, it’s all openly talked about between all of the members. However, the vocalist points out that it is his role as a frontman and lyricist to come up with the main directions on what the band should be about:“I don’t tell the other guys how to play or what to do, but it’s my role in the band to remember what we speak about and hardly ever we disagree on what we are saying as a band.” Even when there’s darkness, which naturally happens, it comes from good intention it seems and Jake Taylor is proud to be in a band that is constructive instead of critical.
While we joked that In Hearts Wake‘s heavy music oddly contrasts with what is predictable when it comes to meditation and environment, the vocalist points out that sometimes, things need to be shouted. In addition to this, “the tranquility of the places that we live in inspire us. The guitarist writes the melodic parts that he does because it inspires him to have this, instead of being in the noise and chaos…but there are things that need to be driven with force.”
No one would ever ask you to pay attention to animals in the middle of Paris, which is where some storytelling from the band during their performance proves to be useful. It’s especially pleasing and interesting to learn these songs’ backstories because it adds depth to the average stage-performance and keeps linking the band to their desire to raising awareness through what they have to artistically offer.
Just before the song Frequency, Jake tells the story of this lonely whale lost in the ocean. Singing at a higher frequency than its counterparts, there was no possible communication, hence the loneliness. It is based on a true story that In Hearts Wake used as a metaphor. As humans, we communicate differently, but we also want to find out who we are. Only coming to terms with our true self will help us find those who sing at the same frequency as ours.“We have to learn to love ourselves”, says Jake. This is how we find peace. Having this in mind obviously brings this song to another level and these are the elements you’ll discover throughout In Hearts Wake‘s entire repertoire.
In Hearts Wake‘s debut European headline tour was a success and in their own words, “a step of courage and bravery”, that loving crowds over 29 cities in 11 countries warmly rewarded.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Special thanks to JB Bénard for the collaboration.
- In Hearts Wake have recently released ‘Ark Prevails’, the “re-imaginings” of three tracks taken from the bands latest full length of the same name, as well as a bonus track. All Bandcamp proceeds will go to Sea Shepherd Australia to help their work clearing waterways of marine debris.
- In Hearts Wake are back on the European roads this week with Heaven Shall Burn, August Burns Red and Whitechapel.