Interview: Tyler Pollard of Robotic Hawks
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
We were all 70’s AM Gold kids and that was the clear foundation for what types of songs we are all collectively drawn to. I bought a guitar in 1985 with my lawn mowing money and simply wanted to learn ‘Eruption’. I hadn’t considered making music of my own until I saw the infamous Replacements performance on SNL. They were everything; funny, filthy, real and clearly playing in a band that they loved. After that, there was no other option. There are no other outlets that fill our lives with as much meaning and purpose (well, except marriage and fatherhood…)
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
We are all married dads with a total of seven children. We work and try to remember who has to be where and when. Being men of ‘this age’ has everything to do with our music. The only way to connect to an audience via recording or performance is with authenticity. Sure, other writers find ways around that, but not us. The hardest part of our perspective is how to be true and relatable even if the listener isn’t in the same place.
How long has your band been around?
Robotic Hawks have been together for four years. We met through Craigslist and just clicked right away. This was the first time that I have built a band with ‘strangers’ and it has turned out to be our strongest asset. We don’t know everything about what each other is capable of. We continue to dig new things out of each other and it’s rewarding.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Two of us are in Hudson, NH and the other is in Dracut. Our location is only significant for the fact that it allows us to pursue shows in Lowell and Manchester. Back when I lived in Boston, nobody came up here to play. Foolish…
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
Originally I had suggested The Hudson Hawks. Yes, the Bruce Willis movie. No shame. Oddly, there is already a band called Hudson and the Hawks. We liked the Hawks part of the name and just swapped in Robotic. I mean, who doesn’t love that eagle from the Judas Priest album ‘Screaming for Vengeance’?
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
Our most memorable show to date was actually our first ‘show’ at an open mic night in our hometown of Hudson,
NH. We signed up for a slot and played 3 covers; ‘Light of love’ by Rick Springfield, ‘Diddy Way Diddy’ the Fabulous Thunderbirds version and ‘Let your love flow’ by the Bellamy Brothers. Some guy came up to us excitedly after we finished demanding to know who we were. ‘You guys must be somebody! I’ve never seen anything like that here!’ It was a great launch for the band.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
We are a LOUD band and translate best at venues equipped for such things….For that reason, one of our best gigs to date was at the Middle East upstairs. We need to be able to boom.
I’m just going to put our dream venue out into the universe, let’s see what happens. Our goal is to snag a great opening slot at The Sinclair in Cambridge. Great sightlines and talk about a boom….room!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Dream line-up: The Figgs, The Shods, Goddamn Draculas, and Robotic Hawks
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
The advice I desperately needed in my younger band days was to get out and tour. Do it yourself. Do not wait for someone to tell you to go.
The other advice that is more pertinent to Robotic Hawks would be to network more. Let’s face it, it’s about forming great relationships with our peers and the community.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Our song ‘Go-Video’ from our debut album is my favorite. I worked at a video store back in 1990 and that’s what the song touches upon. I didn’t go right to college and staying in town was a real empty feeling. The song really captures that bracket of my life. Plus, this is as close to Rush as we get.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Our most requested song is ‘Transitions’ and yet, it is my least favorite to play. It’s a good song, but it is our ONLY Mid-Tempo song. I always get anxious that it’s boring when we play it live. However, people always comment on it.
Our favorite song to play is ‘Quitter’. ‘Quitter’ is a hard edged R.E.M.-like freight train. The song epitomizes one of our main rules, ‘make ‘em dance’!
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
We are a three-piece rock band that writes together in one room or not at all. Job one is for the music to be interesting to each of us on our perspective instruments. If the music passes the 3 man test it will move forward to melody and lyrics.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Write what you know. Our lyrics are from an old married man’s perspective. No sex or drugs, just relationships and bitchy observations of the world.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
This band never argues. We are all very reasonable and mild-mannered. If anything raises a hint of concern, we talk it out like we were giving the ‘sex talk’ to our kids. ‘Does that make sense?’. ‘Do you have any questions for me?’.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We’re old, we’re not touring, we have no delusions of grandeur. Our only future plans are to continue cranking out new songs and recordings while trying to get better and better shows opening for bands that we would actually want to go see on our own.