Quick facts about Hawk Nelson
PLACE OF ORIGIN
Early Years of Hawk Nelson
The Christian rock band, Hawk Nelson, originally started their career as “SWISH” in 2000 with band members Jason Dunn, Dave ‘Davin’ Clark, and Matt ‘Matty’ Paige. Together, they independently released their first album, ‘Riding Around the Park.’ During that time, fellow musician Daniel Biro was in Barrie, Ontario as the lead vocalist of a group called the “Cheese Money’s from Planet Nine.”
The members of SWISH were joined by Daniel Biro in 2002 and the group decided to call the band “Reason Being” before deciding on the name “Hawk Nelson.” The Christian rock band independently released their next album, ‘Saturday Rock Action’ together in 2003. The band performed and toured around Ontario, before being signed to Tooth & Nail Records at the recommendation of Trevor McNevan, who was the lead singer in another band under the label. In 2004, the group released their debut studio album, ‘Letters to the President.’ Davin also decided to leave the group that year, followed by Matty in 2005.
The group gained more mainstream success and continued to perform at festivals, concerts, and tours such as Winter Jam. Over the course of their career, the band has had several members come and go, including Justin Benner, Jonathan Steingard, Aaron ‘Skwid’ Tosti, and Gideon Courtney. Daniel Biro is the only original member of the band.
A Switch in Styles
In 2012, Hawk Nelson’s lead vocalist, Jason Dunn left the band to pursue a solo project called ‘Lights Go Down.’ The rest of the group considered disbanding after Dunn left; however, fellow musician Bart, from MercyMe, encouraged Jonathan Steingard to take up the role. With Jon as the new lead singer and songwriter, the Christian rock band took a completely new direction with their music.
The group’s music went from a fast-paced rock to a softer, more contemporary, and radio-friendly, pop-rock. The members also decided to focus more on their faith by creating more Christian-oriented songs. The Christian rock band signed to the Fair Trade Services label in 2012 as well, because the contract with their previous label had expired. Under a new label, the band released their sixth studio album ‘Made’ in 2013.
The Departure of Jonathan Steingard. The album featured popular tracks such as “Words,” and was met with huge success despite how different it was from their previous work. ‘Made’ peaked at number 15 on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, and number 192 on Billboard’s Top 200.
we want people to know God believes in you and He is for you. [People] need to know God is on their side
The Departure of Jonathan Steingard
Jon had been a member of Hawk Nelson since 2005 as the lead guitarist and backing vocalist. After Jason Dunn left in 2012, Jonathan stepped up to become the band’s lead vocalist. However, during May of 2020, Jonathan revealed on Instagram that he had lost his faith in God and therefore, could no longer continue being a part of the band. Jon explained that his doubts had been growing for some time and due to the lull in the music industry due to the pandemic, he felt he was able to part ways without burdening his bandmates.
However, he stated that he wouldn’t consider himself an atheist either, as he was still trying to determine his faith, and instead explained that he was agnostic. He felt that it was important, to be honest with his fans, and several of them were comforted to have a public figure be so open about their faith journey. After he left, Jon decided to pursue a career in filmmaking.
He started a project where he filmed conversations of people from a variety of places in life, both religious and non-religious so he could gain a greater understanding of other people. He hopes this experience will help him figure out what his own beliefs are as well. The rest of Hawk Nelson expressed their support for Jon on their official Instagram and wished him the best of luck for his future endeavours.
Awards and Accolades
At this point in their career, the band has achieved many successes within both the Christian and wider music industry. The band’s second studio album, ‘Smile, It’s the End of the World’ received multiple positive reviews from critics, won the Modern Rock/Alternative Album of the Year in 2006 at the GMA Canada Covenant Awards, and was nominated for a GMA Dove Award in 2007. Their fourth and fifth studio albums, ‘Live Life Loud’ and ‘Crazy Love’ respectively, also won a few awards at the GMA Canada Covenant Awards, as well as GMA Dove Award nominations. Finally, the band was nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Recording Package in 2009 with their album ‘Hawk Nelson Is My Friend.’
The Latest from Hawk Nelson
Hawk Nelson’s most recent album was their 2018 release of ‘Miracles,’ featuring 10 new tracks. In an interview, the band explained that the album was one of their most difficult to make, spending almost three years in production. The album is all about sharing the excitement, hope, and joy of God, who He is, and the incredible things people can do with God in their lives.