Hawthorne Heights' performance at next weekend's Bamboozle Left festival will be their first show since the untimely passing of guitarist/screamer Casey Calvert last November, and the band still isn't sure how it will go down. "There is one song that we"re playing especially for Casey. It's a new song," says drummer Eron Bucciarelli. "Once we're out there, we"ll announce it and let people know what it is. It's going to be on our next album, but the song is still a work in progress and we're changing it day by day."
The band — Bucciarelli, frontman JT Woodruff, guitarist Micah Carli and bassist Matt Ridenour — have been sorting through material from 2004's The Silence in Black and White and 2006's If Only You Were Lonely to see what will work best for next Sunday's show in Irvine, California. "We have to relearn these songs and figure out how we're going to play them with just the four of us," explains Bucciarelli. Calvert, who accidentally overdosed from a mixture of prescribed anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medication and a painkiller for a root canal, was an integral part of Hawthorne Heights. "We played around with the idea of sampling his screaming parts from our records and just playing this through the PA, but we decided that that wasn't really real and that it would be better to just let the fans scream along to those parts if they want," Bucciarelli says.
Hawthorne Heights have learned several hard lessons in the past year. Prior to Calvert's death, the band filed a lawsuit against Victory Records for breach of contract and has also had to defend the counterclaims. Last March, a judge ruled in Hawthorneâ€™s Heights' favor, saying that the label does not hold exclusive rights to the bandâ€™s recordings, but the matter is far from over. â€œWe want to be able to release a record however we want. We had sort of been misguided a little bit at the beginning of that whole process. I think if we knew then what we know now, we may not have even filed a lawsuit to begin with. Our legal system is set up for justice, but that doesn't really matter in terms of the record industry because artists' careers are so short, you can't just be tangled up in lawsuit for two or three years. It's impractical."
Hawthorne Heights do, however, have a ton of new songs written and demoed. "We could go into the studio next week if we're able to and make this new record," says Bucciarelli. "Hopefully, we can get things worked out and maybe we will be in the studio." Calvert appears on some of those tracks, but the band hasn't come to a consensus on how to use them. "I think we're going to take it song by song and see where it makes sense," he says.
It's only been a few months since Calvert's death, and Bucciarelli is starting to gain some perspective on what happened. "It was a shock, I can tell you that, and it was something that none of us expected," he says. "Obviously, with Casey's passing and then you had Heath Ledger's passing not long after, it shines a spotlight on how overmedicated our country is these days and how people are so quick to throw medicine at a problem, when in reality there have been studies that prove that that medicine might not even make a difference about how the person feels. A placebo could do the same thing. It's just all in the person's head."