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Hawak Release Debut Full Length

In Music
LET IT OUT: Hawak performing at Gilman in the pre-pandemic days.

LET IT OUT: Hawak performing at Gilman in the pre-pandemic days.

Last week, after more than a year and a half of delays, Bay Area screamo band Hawak released their debut full length nước. In Vietnamese, the word means “water.” Simultaneously, it also means “country”—a duality with particular significance for the band.

“I feel that dichotomy,” says singer/guitarist Tomm Nguyen. “I grew up in America, but my identity is rooted in Vietnamese culture. Where do I belong? Your country, your origin is so fluid.”

Bassist/singer Jon Ruiz agrees.

“I’m Filipino and American, and I also grew up in Japan for eleven years,” he says. “It does something to you when you feel like you don’t belong a lot of the time.”

Musically, nước bears this fluidity in its constant undercurrent of subgenres, flowing quickly from screamo to hardcore and D-beat, math-rock to post-rock and sound collage, each rushing together like overlapping waves crashing on the shore. Always, there is a sense that there is a deeply necessary emotional exorcism at work.

“A lot of the children of first generation immigrants, we have to inherit our parents’ traumas unknowingly,” Ruiz says. “It’s not very widely talked about, but it was super important to us to highlight.”

On opener “realign,“ Nguyen sings of “an ocean’s length that separates shores of past,” asking ultimately: “can I find a place I can call home?” The song’s opening lyrics burst forth after thirty seconds of somber, elegiac Vietnamese zither recorded in Oakland’s Fruitvale Station, where, not so long ago, 22 year old Oscar Grant’s life was tragically taken, sparking the Black Lives Matter movement.

Prior to Hawak (which means “to hold” in Tagalog), Nguyen and Ruiz played together in another screamo band: San Jose’s Matsuri. Though far from a retread, there is an element of their earlier project present in Hawak. 

“We really tried to take what we did in Matsuri and magnify it,” Ruiz says. “Slow parts slower, groove parts groovier, heavy parts heavier. We didn’t limit ourselves stylistically.”

Hawak nước
Out Now
Hawakca.bandcamp.com

 

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