By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Rock out with your hawk out.
A united fatherly trio faithfully raised on heavy metal and armed with no hair (or fucks given), New England music veterans and New Hampshire garage rockers Robotic Hawks have done well for themselves in 2021, fully accustomed to the “digital singles era,” ready to put out a steady flow of music that’ll consist of both original songs and covers.
Recently, the band – composed of vocalist/bassist Tyler Pollard, drummer Brian Sturk and guitarist/backing vocalist Shawn Doherty – dropped a music video for their single “Ansonia,” which features Pollard gleefully getting his groove on – was filmed at their practice space and directed by Damien Pratt.
Just short of four minutes, the energetic Gin Blossoms-meets-Fastball number features wire-tight poppy harmonies and guitar wails that take you on a journey – almost akin to trying to become “the one” after a long stint in the friend zone, like the song aptly discusses.
The Music Bugle had the chance to speak with Pollard about what they’ve been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name?
Tyler Pollard – The drummer and I are both from Hudson, New Hampshire and I have an inexcusable soft spot for the Bruce Willis film ‘Hudson Hawk.’ Therefore, I was pushing pretty hard to be called “The Hudson Hawks,” but sadly, it was already taken. When that name fell through, we all agreed that we liked the “Hawks” part and we eventually found our way to “Robotic.” Admittedly, the Judas Priest image from ‘Screaming For Vengeance’ played a role.
Music Bugle – Are you proud of the way your cover of Otis Redding’s “Security” came out?
Tyler Pollard – Full confession – I honestly didn’t know that “Security” was originally written by Otis Redding. I have been obsessed with the covered version by Thane Russal and Three from 1966. I really liked the personality of their take, but honestly felt like the recording techniques of the day and the garage rock approach of the band managed to squash the natural power of the song brewing just underneath the surface. I wanted the song to have big, big punctuations and to sound less like a band playing in a booming environment. I think we managed to upgrade the song in the ways that I was hoping for. Plus, it is just a straight-up crowd pleaser.
Music Bugle – How would you describe New Hampshire to someone who has never been there before?
Tyler Pollard – New Hampshire – for me – has turned out to be the small town balance that I had been longing for during all my years in Jamaica Plain, Boston and Lowell. The people here are just as cool, but… they’re “sincerely” friendly. You know that creepy feeling you get in Boston when someone is acting way too nice? Well, that doesn’t happen up here. They are that nice! Oh sure, they may like guns and general “country stuff,” but they don’t judge you if you don’t.
Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?
Tyler Pollard – Robotic Hawks were specifically designed to operate as an equal partnership. We write all of our music while we’re in the same room together. We all need to be into an idea for it to progress further. If a song isn’t equally us, how can we be equally invested? Our songs are intended for a live setting. Sure, we like recording, but our priority is to write songs that have person-to-person impact.
Music Bugle – What would you say is the biggest challenge in being a musical trio?
Tyler Pollard – The biggest challenge of being in a musical trio can be observed in the shortcomings of the lead singer and bassist. I need to be able to write interesting basslines that aren’t too taxing for me to be able to sing over! Everything else is cake.
Music Bugle – What do you feel is missing in your local “scene”?
Tyler Pollard – I wish there were more bar bands around here. We’ve actually met a bunch of great bands through the Nashua, New Hampshire scene. We are indeed sort of an oddity. Many of the bands we meet are either metal or experimental stoner music. However, playing accessible rock music with pop elements has worked out quite well for us, we’ve been welcomed by all kinds of different bands and audiences.
Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?
Tyler Pollard – Social media is tricky when you’re pushing 50. A band needs visibility, but we do try to keep a low profile. I still have PTSD from my years in Boston with hanging and passing out fliers. People get sick of your schtick real quick. You have to be present and “econo” with your outreach. Social media for a band can backfire.
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Tyler Pollard – Robotic Hawks hadn’t been in the same room for over a year. We were all vaccinated and scheduled our first rehearsal this past May! We couldn’t wait to be loud again!
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Tyler Pollard – The practice space… or, I will go out and mow the lawn. I like to mow the lawn.
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Tyler Pollard – R.E.M. once described themselves as a type of dance band. The quote was loosely, “Make the girls dance and it will all work out.” I have always tried to keep this idea as my modus operandi for any band I’ve been in.