If I had to describe my hometown in one passage, all I would have to sing is; 'The sun is shining, the weather is sweet... makes you want to move your dancing feet,' from one of Bob Marley’s timeless classics followed by a refrain of clinking Coronas (cheers!). The best part of visiting San Diego is being vastly overwhelmed by an endless view of the Pacific coast while immersing yourself into a culture that reflects the sun's euphoric state. San Diego, to me, sounds like music in paradise and this very town is a breeding ground for just that. One of the most prevalent sounds to have whole-heartedly characterized this sun-city is the roots/rock/reggae genre. Recently I had caught up with Evan Hawkins, the lead singer of San Diego's native band Through the Roots, to discuss his many successes.
SavantSiren: “Have you always lived in San Diego? What does your hometown mean to you?"
Evan Hawkins: “For the most part yes, I moved to San Diego from Los Angeles when I was just 5 years old. I don't remember much of Los Angeles, but I do remember San Diego being way nicer! Growing up in San Diego has been a very positive experience for me, and being surrounded by the beach, surf, music, sun, beautiful girls, and the people here, has really given me an idea of what kind of person I'd like to be. San Diego means a great deal to me. As a traveling musician playing over 200+ shows in over 50+ markets a year while representing my city with the music that we have created is awesome. San Diego… is me.”
SS: “In 2008 you started this reggae/rock sensation called Through The Roots, which hasn't stopped climbing since. What inspired you to do so and how did you figure this was the right sound to go with? Had anyone else in the band ever played reggae before this endeavor?”
Evan: "I've always loved reggae music. My Mom actually got me into it at an early age. I can remember playing Donkey Kong on mute, as a youngin', while my Mom would be pumping The BOB [Reggae legend, Bob Marley] or UB40. I don't think my family has a sense of volume control. Having that said, in 2008, a close friend of mine, Charles Amaro, passed away in a tragic drunk driving accident. In years prior to the accident, while growing up with Charles, we would always sing songs together and he would always tell me that I had a good voice and should do something with it. All the while, I was learning how to play my dad's guitar that he had laying around the house. I learned on one string; self-taught. When Charles passed, I really wanted to do something for him. I wrote him a song called, Man Down, which we actually recorded and put on our first EP entitled ‘Through The Roots’. The band formed right around this time, as the song got positive response from friends and family. I found our drummer Taylor first. He had never played reggae music before. He was strictly a metal head. Crazy right? After him all of the rest of the band members came into the picture as a sense of fate, or at least we think so. Everyone just seemed right. Bass player Bryan, loved reggae music at the time, and was beginning to learn that style while taking bass lessons. Keyboard player Brady O'rear, hailing from the Big Island of Hawaii, grew up on reggae music. It was really a part of his life (reggae on the radio is hard to get away from but who wants to get away from it anyways?) Chris Cruz, our outstanding lead guitar player, was actually an inspiration to my guitar playing. We went to the same high school, and I would always go watch him and his band jam. They were heavy. His influences are, Rock, Blues and Funk, Not reggae. Aside from Charles’ death, I saw the reggae/rock scene growing rapidly here in America. I really wanted to be a part of it. The message was good, the people in the scene are awesome, the music is obviously amazing, and the overall vibe is just something that I really enjoy. Playing reggae music just seemed like a no brainer for me. I love it.”
SS: “It seems as though you have always had some sort of project you occupied yourself with whether it may be dealing with construction, action sports, or music. What do you believe is driving your persistent output of energy?”
Evan: “I have a lot of energy period. Haha. Now whether that’s a good thing or bad thing, I couldn't tell you. I just like figuring out ways to solve problems. I want to do it all. I mean that’s what life is about right? You don't know until you've done it, and that’s a saying I've lived by since I was little. I suffered some broken bones, other injuries, and upsets throughout my life thus far, but I also have had a lot of positive and rewarding experiences come from living with this mentality. I feel we all have a purpose in life, and I think that that purpose is to learn as much about this place, and ourselves as possible. Whether we learn from school or from the street, just figure it out. Find out what you are capable of. I am very proud of the things that I accomplish. I find a strong self-satisfaction in creating works that people can appreciate or benefit from. Also sometimes I just want to create something to say I've done it. I just love being hands on, there are way too many lazy people in this world. I wish this world would create more hands on people. We need them.”
SS: “Well, we definitely could use more driven friends like yourself for that extra push some of us might need. I think it is also very beautiful that you had mentioned Charles earlier and how he had a profound impact on your career because he too had left me with a brilliant impression. I have always admired his significant value for building and sustaining relationships. Even his MySpace status' (back when we updated them) would consistently read, 'It's not what you know, but who you know,' which is totally relevant to the obstacles we face today while embarking on this journey to superior living. Now, after some time has clearly passed, I personally believe that to get you where you want to be you need both the aide of what and who you know in any industry. Though, in most cases, who you know has become a far more powerful tool for many entrepreneurs. You have managed to play with roots legends Alborosie and Barrington Levy, and bands such as Soja and Pepper (to name a few), all within the first few years of starting out! Do you believe that your relationships had a minor or major role in your immediate success?”
Evan: “Oh, hands down being successful in any industry is just that, who and what you know. I have met many awesome people who have been a huge part of linking us with the appropriate people. 4 people In particular, our manager Grant Betrix, and promoters/talent relation’s personnel, RP (Robert Perry), as well as Josh and Jeremy Pemberton. These guys have created some serious opportunity for Through the Roots like booking us shows, putting us in front of huge crowds (15,000+ people at 2009's Santa Barbara West Beach Music Festival), and getting us opportunities and tours in and out of the country. We honestly would never have been able to do these things as quickly, had it not been for these 4 bad-asses. They have really just always believed in us, myself in particular, just because of the relationships that have been created and bonding that we have all done with one another. Definitely is a plus knowing about your industry and really finding out as much as you can from the people who are already involved. “
SS: “So, after all of that has been said, I think it’s safe to say you are an all around go-getter my friend and a great example when it comes to drive and motivation! What's next for the band?”
Evan: “Well, we have 2 more tours in forecast for the fall. Can't name any names yet, but lets just say BIG tours, the biggest yet as far as the bill goes. I've been working on a lot of new music lately. We're trying to get more of this damn music to you people. Ha. I have a feeling this year is really going to be big for us. Every year just keeps getting better. I think it's because we keep working harder and harder and never stop. We want to take Through the Roots as far as possible. We want to win some f***ing Grammy's for San Diego. The reggae genre may be desecrated in the big scheme of things as far as the music industry goes, but it is very powerful. I think once people see that, then 'BOOM' goes the dynamite. We want to bring the legends that are still alive and have pioneered this music, out on the road again. They are really the ones who have gotten us started, and paved the way for us young guns. What’s next for Through The Roots? Success.”