Fort Worth-based band Quaker City Night Hawks found themselves in a social media slipstream a few years ago. Thanks in part to a few celebrity shoutouts and their genre-bending 2016 release, El Astronauta, the band have gone from hometown heroes to renowned rock ’n’ rollers. And after a short break, the Night Hawks are back on the road eagerly awaiting the release of their latest album.
“Right now it feels like the calm before the storm,” says Sam Anderson, the band’s guitarist, singer and co-songwriter. “We’re definitely busy, so it’s not necessarily a calm, but I think we know once March 1 hits, our schedule gets pretty hectic and hopefully that is exacerbated by some expressed interest in the new album from people.”
Quaker City Night Hawks will host a release party for their latest album, QCNH, at 9 p.m. Friday at Shipping & Receiving Bar in Fort Worth. Anderson says they’ll be surrounded by friends and family, which should cut down on some of the stress of performing new songs for immediate consumption. But the Night Hawks have every reason to feel confident in their latest release.
“The first album we ever made was not necessarily a mile wide and an inch deep type situation but the opposite,” Anderson says. “We knew like two or three things to do and we just did the hell out of those, and I think sometimes that kind of focus benefits the song better … just kind of diving deeper into stuff that we know we’ve always liked. I think that came out on this album a little more. A pure extract rather than anything sullied.”
After the spacey vocals and science fiction motifs of their last album, QCNH delivers more on the band’s roots as Southern rockers with a 1970s aesthetic. Blending out some of the rough edges of their sound, the band has seemingly merged the disparate corners of their influences. Anderson says they’re more focused on creating the sound they want, more than they hope to avoid being seen as merely another band with a “throwback” sound. But with tracks off the new album like “Grackle King” and “Better in the Morning,” it would appear that the Quaker City Night Hawks have well spent the time between releases, despite a few pitfalls.
“If anybody in a band tells you they know what they’re going to be doing in three years in that band, they’re crazy,” Anderson says. “Over the course of 10 years, a lot of shit happens in a band. As long as the songs have been there, and they always have, the other stuff … it’s just a hiccup.”
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After the departure of former bassist Pat Adams, the band took some time off to regroup and continue working on QCNH. Replacing Adams on stage is Maxwell Smith of local cosmic country act Atlantis Aquarius. Anderson says their new bassist was able to quickly find his place in the group as the band geared up to head back on tour. And in the studio, co-songwriters Anderson and David Matsler wrote half of the album’s songs in the moment, with the rest of the band present to fill out the musical composition.
“It’s a really cool dichotomy of very familiar songs, and I also like the aspect of exploring in the studio and then half of the songs were us figuring out how we wanted it to go as it went along,” Anderson says.
With a fresh lineup and an impressive new album showcasing the most evolved iteration of the band yet, Quaker City Night Hawks find themselves in top form in the early months of 2019. Prepared to recapture the wave interest generated in 2016, the band has two new music videos in the works as well as a European tour on the horizon. And it all starts with the release of QCNH on the first day back home Friday.
“We’re on tour the entire time till then, so that’ll be literally our first day back from being gone for about a month, so I know we'll be aching to get in there, and that always makes for a great show," Anderson says. “It’s a whirlwind of emotions, but it’s worth every minute.”