Interview: Guitarist Micah Carli of Hawthorne Heights Discusses Stripped Down to the Bone Acoustic Tour and Cardboard Empire Label
Established in 2001 in Dayton, Ohio, post-hardcore veterans Hawthorne Heights are packing their bags for the second-ever Stripped Down to the Bone Tour.
The tour, which will feature older fan favorites plus material from their most recent self-released EP, Hate, will find the guys breaking it down at smaller venues and cities they've either never seen or haven't visited for a while.
Hawthorne Heights guitarist Micah Carli gave Guitar World some insight on the upcoming tour, revisiting their roots and their new label, Cardboard Empire.
GUITAR WORLD: One can say Hawthorne Heights has been through a lot over the past decade. Since founding Cardboard Empire, do you consider it a breath of fresh air? Would you say you approach music differently than in the past because of this new label?
Absolutely. It has kind of shifted our attention back to what it was in the beginning — making music because it was just fun and doing what you want to do without the preconceived notions of “Is this a radio single? Is this what the label wants?” The intention kind of got convoluted along the way. So yes, it is a breath of fresh air.
Did you ever feel you’d exhausted yourselves, musically speaking, throughout the years?
I won’t say we’ve exhausted ourselves, but I think there are times when you just feel tapped out and need to replenish in some way or just change your perspective. We’ve definitely gone through periods of that when it’s just not flowing and you just can’t force it.
Who have been some of your guitar influences over the years?
I am heavily influenced by a lot of the classics. I kept my peace on Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and things like that. I love The Beatles and all that stuff from the '60s and '70s.
Since stepping up to “unclean” vocals in 2009, do you feel that doing so has inspired you to write toward the heavier guitar riffs that we hear on Hate and your earlier records?
Yeah. We didn’t really know how to carry on in that vein, especially after our guitarist passed away. We just kind of ignored it and didn’t really try. Since we’ve been making a little bit more of a conscious effort and I’ve kind of stepped into the duty, I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s opened us back up to that “tone,” and the fans seem to really enjoy it too, so that’s important.
How have longtime fans reacted to these reworked renditions of your songs? Do you ever receive any negative responses to old favorites?
We have yet to get any negative responses to these. I wouldn’t say it’s even widely known, but the people who see it and hear it seem to really enjoy it.
What gear will you be playing out of for the acoustic set, and what do you use on regular tours?
For the acoustic tour, we play Taylor acoustics. I have a 916Ce six-string acoustic, and it’s just awesome. It’s one of my favorites to play at home and on the road. I’ll be bringing out a Framus Mayfield Custom electric guitar. That’s also what I play on every other tour.
On April 1, you guys will head out for your second annual Stripped Down to the Bone Tour, the plan being that you'll have a more intimate set than usual. What can fans expect?
We tried it out for the first time last year, and we had such a good time reworking these songs. It’s not just a matter of playing these songs on acoustic guitars. We really have some different compositions. I think it just kind of makes a new and interesting version of some classic favorites of the fans. People really enjoyed it last year, and I presume they will enjoy it again. It was also a lot of fun for us to do something different from just touring consistently for nearly 10 years now.
To get to play these songs slightly different is very exciting. We’re seriously just rewriting parts and writing new parts as well as bringing out a few instruments that we wouldn’t normally play. On this tour, we’re going to bring out a three-string cigar box guitar for some slide parts. It’s just all very new and exciting for everyone.
Stripped Down to the Bone Acoustic Tour 2012 w/Mark Rose, Sandlot Heroes
April 1 – Hamilton , Oh @ Galaxy Cds
April 2 – Holt , Mi @ Building 12
April 3 – Bowling Green, Oh @ Howard’s
April 4 – Toledo , Oh @ Frankie’s Inner City
April 5 – Barrington , Il @ Pennyroad Pub
April 6 – Holland Mi @ Limoncello Cafe
April 7 – Terra Haute, In @ Thmv
April 8 – Bloomington Il @ Coffee Nation
April 9 – Cape Girardeau , Mo @ Pitter’s
April 10 – Knoxville , Tn @ Longbranch Saloon
April 13 – Washington , Dc @ George Washington University
April 14 – Elizabethtown , Pa @ Folklore Coffee
April 15 – Altoona , Pa @ The Masonic Hall
April 16 – Pittsburgh Pa @ The Hideout
April 17 – Morgantown , Wv @ The Cue
April 18 – Erie , Pa @ Basement Transmissions
April 20 – Evansville , In @ The Hatch
April 21 – Washington Courthouse, Oh @ The Warehouse