Becky Hawk is an Oakland based drummer who currently divides her time between the long running chamber folk act Amber Asylum and Laudanum, the pummeling doom band founded in 2003 with her husband, Judd. Her style is fluid, yet deliberate, crushing, yet precise. This is made wholly evident on Laudanum 2009 release, The Coronation. Becky Hawk was gracious enough to take the time to talk to Tom Tom about her experiences and philosophy as a drummer.
Name: Becky Hawk
Hometown: Jacksonville, FL
Lives in: Oakland, CA
Past Bands: Brainbloodvolume; Reina Aveja; Ovarydose
Current Bands: Laudanum, Amber Asylum
Gear Set Up: Slingerland 14″ converted snare; Slingerland 16″ rack; Ludwig 20″ floor tom; Ludwig 26″ kick
Favorite Food: My Mama’s fried chicken
Now listening to: Uriah Heep; Bass Communion
Tom Tom Magazine: When did you start playing drums?
Becky Hawk: 1995
Who/what inspired you to start playing?
I had been playing bass in bands for years and started wanting different things to happen with the drums in those bands so i would think about how i’d play the songs. That led me to actually sitting down on friend’s kits and trying to play. I felt an immediate connection with the drums.
Biggest influences past and present?
John Bonham and Dale Crover – past and present.
Please explain your approach to drumming.
I’m not quite sure what my approach is. I just go with what I feel. I’ve mostly played slow and heavy music and there is a flow to that sort of music that is liquid so you really need a smoothness to your style. With drums there is continuous movement no matter the speed or style which is why I have such a long swing when playing. It’s how I keep the time and the feel of the song.
What goes on for you during the song writing process?
I don’t usually write the riffs but I do write the drums for the parts. I’m really good at arrangement so once we have some parts going, I play a big role in putting the final song together.
How has playing drums shaped your life to be what it is today?
Music is how I express myself in so many different ways. I can’t imagine living without this creative outlet. I’ve met so many cool people and visited amazing places with my bands. It’s also a major part of my relationship with my husband. We’ve been in bands together almost as long as we’ve been a couple and I enjoy the collaboration immensely. We write and play very well with each other. I think that playing drums particularly has helped me open up more than with any other instrument. I feel really comfortable on the drums, even on stage, and i don’t hold anything back.
What role has gender played in shaping your experience as a musician?
Gender is always at the forefront, whether you want it to be or not. From what i’ve seen, women are the minority in almost all fringe styles of music, which are the types of music I am most interested in and have always played. But I have been lucky because I have had the opportunity to play in bands with some amazing women. The first band I played in was an all-female band and it was so easy to develop as a musician with other women. For me, I don’t think that would have been as easy with men. Now that I am a lot older and farther along in my craft, I am in another all-female band and it’s a completely different experience. It’s rewarding in such a different way. I am so inspired by the talent of my band mates and we have shared a lot of the same obstacles and experiences as musicians. Also, the music of this band (Amber Asylum) has a delicate nature. It’s just a different feeling.
What do you have on deck as far as your musical/personal endeavors?
With laudanum, we are currently completing the writing of our next full-length and hope to do some touring in the fall. With Amber Asylum, we have been in the studio and will go back in next month to complete the recording for the next two albums. No shows booked right now but I’m sure we’ll play some this year.
Any advise/closing words you would like to include?
In my experience, I have always learned the most playing with other people. So for anyone who wants to start playing music, join a band!
By Ashley Spungin for Tom Tom Magazine
Illustration for Tom Tom Magazine by Joshua Kermiet