When Jonny Hawkins was cut from his San Antonio elementary school chorus, he adopted the belief that he couldn’t sing. But he loved music, and he isn’t a quitter, so he turned to drums. By the time he was in middle school, he had joined with Daniel Oliver and Mark Vollelunga to form the band Nothing More. As the group developed and began to seriously consider a career as a rock band, Hawkins began to question the life-long belief that he couldn’t sing. Questioning that belief allowed Hawkins to uncover a surprising and strong talent. Today he is lead singer of Nothing More, and the band is working its way to the top of the charts.
The idea of questioning beliefs is the theme of Nothing More’s 2014 self-titled album. The band performed to a small but enthusiastic crowd at Upstate Concert Hall on Aug. 15, 2014. Using their own experiences as inspiration, songs like “This is the Time (Ballast)” encourages listeners to open their eyes and not be blind to reality. “Mr. MTV” is about greed and gluttony, pointing out a very real problem in America today, which is an insatiable need (want) for material things that don’t truly satisfy.
Nothing More’s music and message were received well by fans. Almost everyone crowded towards the stage once the band came out, leaving many open bar stools (which is extremely rare at this venue). The band brought on Paul O’Brien for drums, allowing Hawkins to move to the front of the stage as lead vocalist. It’s great fun to watch him bang on his small auxiliary drum-set, but even when he isn’t drumming, he clearly wants to bang on something.
Hawkins wasn’t the only one with energy though. All the guys were into the performance. Of note was the inclusion of an interesting prop used to mount the bass guitar and allowed Hawkins, Oliver and Vollelunga to play the instrument together. The choreographed performance of “Salem” was also high energy, giving all four musicians the chance to drum together.
The opening acts, too, had a lot of energy. Into Shadow, an Oneonta-based band, opened the night with a distinctly ’90s sound. Sleepwave, a new group led by Spencer Chamberlain, former lead singer of the immensely popular Christian metal band, Underoath, is a very interesting blend of influences and styles. They mix ’80s headbanging with sounds reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails, Green Day, and Jane’s Addiction. Chamberlain’s dramatic performance makes it appear as if he was in severe emotional pain, but that passion does keep eyes on the stage.
All three bands have upcoming tour dates; Nothing More is continuing on a very ambitious schedule well into October.