Youngblood Hawke’s Sam Martin Talks Literary Influences and Teamwork

If you’re looking for new road trip music, might I suggest Los Angeles’s Youngblood Hawke? The indie pop band makes music that’s upbeat, uplifting, and perfect for singing at the top of your lungs as you drive to the beach. And their song “We Come Running,” is bound to be a summer playlist staple. We chatted with singer Sam Martin before Youngblood Hawke plays Sasquatch! later today.

What drew you to the book the band’s name comes from? I called my dad and was like “Hey Pop. Can you give me a book to read?” He was like, “Have you ever read your Uncle Mike’s favorite book?” My Uncle Mike was the cool outlaw, crazy guy of the family but super sweet. He passed away before I was old enough to get to know him. My dad was like “Have you read Youngblood Hawke? That was your Uncle Mike’s favorite book.” The story is about a young guy who moves from Kentucky to New York to pursue literary success.

The story really resonated with me … We were in a different band for six or seven years, being thrown into a new world like the character in this book. I thought the name was perfect for the project. We were just writing songs at that point, we didn’t really have a vision for a band. We had the name and just went from there.

Are you reading anything noteworthy right now? I just re-read The Great Gatsby. I just saw the movie, the old one. I was excited to pick it up again.

Do you always read the book before seeing the movie? I’m a big book first guy. You have to read the book.

Wake Up has been out for a month now. What sort of feedback have you all received? It’s been really positive. The fans have been really excited. The one thing I love is different people have different favorite songs. We’re really proud of the record. We spent two years making it, so we couldn’t be happier.

Where did the idea come from to feature a children’s choir on “We Come Running” and “Stars (Hold On)?” That was one thing in the back of our minds that we always wanted to do. “We Come Running” is about charging through any obstacles in your way and not letting your fears hold you back. When you’re a little kid, there’s nothing you can’t do … We felt like it would really resonate with the message, to have that youthful vibe. It was really special. The minute they started singing, the whole studio started smiling.

Did you see yourself becoming a musician when you were a kid? I didn’t. I really wanted to be a director or film writer.

One of the big themes I get from Wake Up is the importance of hard work and perseverance. I think it came from we put six or seven years of our life into that [other band], and it fell apart. I think we were at a crossroads … We were thinking about leaving music behind or going back to college. Then we decided “This is our passion. We shouldn’t let anything get in the way.”

I also got a “We’re all in this together” vibe. Exactly. We all did this together, and it took everybody to do it, so that’s what naturally came out.

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