JT Woodruff, lead singer of Hawthorne Heights, loves Bruce Springsteen’s work. And not just the anthem-laden albums, which would make sense, as Hawthorne Heights have been playing their own soaring, pounding rock songs for 10 years.
Nope, he’s a fan of The Boss’ “The Promise,” a 2010 collection of B-sides from the “Darkness at the Edge of Town” sessions, and 1982’s “Nebraska,” a stark, intimate, acoustic record.
Woodruff and company are working to make songs from their four albums sound more like “Nebraska,” as they embark on their first-ever acoustic tour. Furious rockers and acoustic ballads alike will get the stripped-down treatment, as the act strives to “create new opportunities.”
“We could do another tour like we’ve always done, or we could do something we’ve never done and that our fans will appreciate,” Woodruff said. “Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t.”
Although last year’s “Skeletons” had several songs that feature acoustic guitars heavily, those tunes weren’t the impetus for the new tour. Hawthorne Heights just wanted to do it in general.
“A lot of times, you can’t play those songs. They drag a mood down,” Woodruff said. “There will be no loud, blaring guitars and drums to hide behind. It’ll be intimate. I hope you’ll hear all the fans singing along.”
With the smaller venues that Hawthorne Heights will hit on this tour, that intimacy will be possible. The group knows that experience won’t extend to all its fans, however.
“Some people will be turned off immediately because it’s not a rock show,” Woodruff said, noting the release of “Nebraska,” a departure from Springsteen’s signature sound. “If we did that, it wouldn’t be like that. People would say, ‘Why is this acoustic?’” For those who wouldn’t wonder such things, Hawthorne Heights will show them Monday at The Conservatory.
“It’s a lot cooler to play a small club with a couple of chairs and a couple of mics, to see everything going on. I love the small venues, because it’s so personal. You get to see your favorite bands and meet your favorite bands. There’s no hiding behind anything; you discover a different side of everybody,” Woodruff said.
That different side, he promised, will be on full display.
“We’ll play a good amount off ‘Skeletons,’ a good, long, extended set,” he said. “It puts us out of our comfort zone. And it will be hard, but we’re musicians, and this is what we do for a living. You gotta push your boundaries a bit.”
Although many of the songs will sound very different than their electric counterparts, Woodruff isn’t concerned with labels placed on the tracks.
“Good songs have no genre,” he said. “A good song is exactly that.” —Stephen Carradini