Regular readers already know that Team GDW are huge fans of Toronto, ON folk-punk rocker Ron Hawkins; and whether we happen to catch him in an intimate solo setting, or at an all-out Lowest of the Low rock show, we’re always keen to feature Ron’s music here on our pages. We’ve made many references over the years about a Blue Rodeo concert being the inspiration behind this blog, but also acknowledge that Ron Hawkins & The Do Good Assassins (DGA) shared the bill on that particular night, and were partly instrumental in that decision too. Hawkins impressed us immensely on a September evening in Brantford, ON, and we very quickly set to work discovering his vast back catalog – a huge catalog when you consider his solo works, and The Low, The Rusty Nails, and The DGA.
Having focused heavily on the re-emergence of The Low (complete with the highly acclaimed 2017 “Do The Right Now” and 2019 “Agitpop” album releases) these last few years, Hawkins is eager to turn his attention back to his solo material. Never one to remain silent about social, economic and political issues impacting our lives across the continent, Hawkins recently returned to the studio with The DGA intent on laying down some new tracks. And about time too, I hear you cry! Indeed! Ron Hawkins hasn’t put out a solo album since “Spit Sputter and Sparkle” in 2016, and you have to go back to the 2012 “Rome” album if you are talking about The DGA (although many, myself included, would consider his solo 2015 “Garden Songs” to be a true DGA album too). Having announced the upcoming release of “246,” the latest DGA album scheduled for August 28th, the band very recently shared the lead-off album track, “Teenage Insurrection” as the first teaser of their new material.
“Teenage Insurrection is a call to every human to tap into that insurrectionary energy we had access to as 16 year olds; to put a shoulder to the wheel and do positive things in our lives,” Ron shares. “I feel like the excitement, earnestness and drama of our early teenage years is packed with the kind of inspirational energy that we sought to capture with the organic buzz of this song.” Clocking in with a run time at just under two and a half minutes, this single may very well aim to tease, but certainly provides a great summer anthem loaded with pleasant rock & roll guitar riffs, rolling piano keys, and energetic bursts of vintage organ. Hawkins loves to entice with his punk-roots persona (shameless plug for the Mohawk cut, Ron), but with those lively piano keys, the vibe here errs more towards vintage Bachman Turner Overdrive than it does The Clash; giving “Teenage Insurrection” plenty of crossover potential for the airwaves.
“I guess your default disposition is ‘don’t wanna know’ / An act of surgical precision just to make it so / Cause there’s a natural selection we’re chained to the world / Just like a teenage insurrection it’s inevitable / So put your back into it!” Hawkins recites during the opening verse, yielding momentarily for the increased intensity of the guitar riffs to lead into the chorus; a pause that provides ample time for raising a solidarity fist into the air. “Every idle minute is a murdered one / Cause when hesitation’s the bullet, procrastination’s the gun / 4-3-2-1.” “How do we spend our time on this earth as productively and excitingly as we can, to become the most actualized versions of ourselves?” Hawkins asks of us, in reference to the hard hitting nature of the chorus. “Every idle minute is a murdered one.”
Not only does the instrumentation provide the vintage sounds referenced earlier, but the recording process was also subject to an experimental (and welcome) trip down memory lane. “Recording on [a] 4 track brought memories rushing back to me; the same excited urgency I felt when I first recorded on the exact same Tascam 4 track back in 1985 writing my first awkward songs,’ Ron recalls. “The smell of head cleaner and that magical ozone smell from the capstan and the mechanical parts transported me to a time when I first fell in love with music and it’s endless possibilities.” A welcome return to the spotlight for The DGA, and a great teaser for the new “246” album that drops on August 28th.
Photo Credit: Robert Ciolfi