By John Benson
Hawk Nelson spent the better half of the last decade as one of contemporary Christian music’s rising acts with a distinct pop-punk sensibility.
However, today the group has been re-imagined after its lead singer, Jason Dunn, split for a solo career. Now, the quartet is a trio with longtime Hawk Nelson guitarist Jonathan Steingard adding vocal duties. Rounding out the group is bassist Daniel Biro and drummer Justin Benner. The new-look outfit started its next chapter earlier this year with studio release “Made.”
“I feel like the past few records we made were kind of disjointed and didn’t have themes running on them,” said Biro, calling from outside of Toronto. “With this one, it was kind of more hopeful and realistic. ‘Made’ is like we were being a remade band but we also wanted to give people a lot of hope.”
That hope includes giving people a spiritual message that is portrayed in the threesome’s music.
Now the group is spreading this message as part of this fall’s United We Stand Tour, which comes to Warren tonight for a show at Grace Fellowship Church. This year’s lineup features Hawk Nelson along with Building 429, The Afters and Finding Favour.
In terms of the contemporary Christian music world, the outing is tantamount to a spiritual-based Warped tour.
“We had only toured with The Afters before, but I think it’s kind of exciting to go on the road with new bands,” Biro said. “You’re taking a bit of a risk. We weren’t sure what to expect. Everyone has been super-nice and has been pitching in. Actually, right now I’m home with a tumor in my leg so the bass player in Finding Favour is filling in for me. And their drummer had a death in the family, so our drummer is filling in for them. It’s kind of comforting to be on a tour where everyone can help each other out.”
While Biro was on the road for the first three weeks of the United We Stand Tour, he did go home last week but hopes to be back in Ohio for a few shows.
Considering his current medical condition — he said a tumor is affecting one of the bones in his lower leg — Biro stressed that music has taken on a new meaning to him during this trying time.
“There’s a song on the new record called ‘Faithful’ that Jon, our singer, wrote two years ago about his younger sister who was pregnant and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma,” Biro said. “The song is meaningful because it’s our latest single, and his sister is cancer free.
“Now, I’m in a situation where I’m touring the song, and I find out I have this tumor. I don’t technically know if it’s cancerous or not yet. I just cling to the song and the hope that God is faithful. That’s where music fits in for me right now.”
When it’s pointed out that many fans attending the upcoming show may be going through a similar situation and are finding refuge in Hawk Nelson’s music, Biro said, “Everyone can relate to pain and struggle. Everybody needs a little bit of help in their lives.”