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Nontraditional Christian band Hawk Nelson about more than faith

Courtesy of Overture Media

Christian bands are more than just gospel music.

Christian pop-punk band Hawk Nelson will prove just that when it plays with Christian rockers Family Force 5 and rapper Manafest at Newport Music Hall at 8 p.m. Thursday.

The members of Hawk Nelson win over most audiences with their mellow pop rock sounds, but it doesn’t win them all. The band has played a few shows where the audience booed them off the stage.

Bassist Daniel Biro said the audience doesn’t boo the band based on its faith.

“It’s never been attacking us just because of our faith,” he said. “People have definitely not liked Hawk Nelson because they just don’t like the kind of music we play. They might think we’re cheesy or … religious, but we’re just trying to be real.”

The band looks past the hate from people unfamiliar with its music and just plays the music it feels like playing.

“If you’re bold about what you believe, you don’t back down, I think people will respect you for that because it seems more … a part of your life and you’re not just fronting something,” Biro said.

Biro said his faith really affected him more than 10 years ago when he was at his worst.

At 19 years old, Biro was living on the street, having moved away from his divorced parents, and was addicted to drugs and alcohol, he said.

“It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found myself in a place of need and question,” he said. “That’s when I really called out to God. He definitely showed himself to me.”

Biro has taken that relationship and translated it into the music Hawk Nelson plays today, but the band is careful not to push religion too hard.

“We never set out to do that, (but) I think we feel a little bit of pressure sometimes to be a little more spiritual than we maybe are,” he said. “I guess we really learned that lyrics can impact other people’s lives.”

That lyrical content is sometimes what prompts other non-Christian artists to keep their distance from Hawk Nelson and its music by refusing to cover it.

“It wasn’t that they were against us or what we believe, it’s just they were trying to cover themselves from a legal standpoint or they don’t want to get controversial with religion and politics,” Biro said.

Emily Ernst, a first-year in animal sciences, said she has been a Hawk Nelson fan for more than five years and thinks that fans and artists alike should put religion aside and pay attention to the talent of the band.

“I think people need to hear it first in order to enjoy it,” she said. “People should ignore that they’re Christian and just listen to it for music’s sake because it’s good.”

Nathan Hufford, a third-year in art, has been a fan since seeing the band’s appearance in the movie, “Yours, Mine and Ours.”

Hufford thinks mostly Christians would like Hawk Nelson’s music because it caters to them.

The band’s faith would “definitely deter them (non-Christian fans) away” from listening to its music voluntarily, he said.

But Biro said any pressure that comes from fans not liking the band doesn’t match up to the pressure within the Christian music industry to be Christian.

“I think sometimes, even though I will label myself as a Christian, Christians have the hardest time … accepting honesty and real lyrics,” Biro said. “It’s a challenge trying to be yourself, but also trying not to offend our core audience and you’re still trying to create good music and good art.”

Biro and the band keep up with their religion on the road, not regularly attending church in-person, but studying the Bible or watching online.

The lessons Biro learns from the Bible help him not only to connect with the audience on a deeper level, but help to connect with his bandmates as well, he said.

“With the guys, it’s kind of like being with a bunch of brothers … you love each other, but sometimes you hate each other, too,” Biro said. “That’s where it really comes into practical application, learning to love each other through the good and the bad times.”

The band has been around for a decade, and said it has one person in particular to thank.

“If I could look back over the last 10 years of this band, I could almost see God had His hand in everything, and that’s a big deal, and I find myself hugely blessed,” Biro said.

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