15 years ago a band by the name of Hawk Nelson released their debut album, Letters to the President. With songs such as “California” and the title track “Letters to the President” they quickly gained notoriety on the airwaves. This album was one of, if not their most popular release, it may not have gotten the sales number, but this was and still is one of their highest ever album ratings. It has stood the test of time and is still relevant even to this day. This is in part due to lead singer Jason Dunn’s talent as a songwriter to connect with fans and be able to keep that longevity relevancy.
For those that may not know what’s the story behind Aid & Effect? How did it come about and when did you have this sort of idea to not only do a reunion of sorts but to flat out start a new project with your old band mates?
I was living in New York City at the time I got a Skype call from Matt & Dave. They called to remind me that it was 10 years to the day of our first release under Tooth & Nail Records “Letters To The President”. I had completely forgotten and was immediately taken back to the early years.Matt & Dave then brought up the idea of playing a few shows for the people who supported us in the early years, just to take them on a trip down memory lane. At that time, I wasn’t ready for such a task. I was in the middle of the Lights Go Down EP. 4 years have come and gone since that Skype conversation. As soon as I was back in Canada, I hit all the original boys in HN up (even Dan). I was curious to see if they were still up for making some music together. Matt & Dave were a yes. Dan was a no. We were very excited. The possibilities were endless. We added our friend Jake to the mix and started jamming. When you get excited about something, inspiration tends to flow a lot easier. Immediately songs started pouring out from the bowels of my soul, thus starting the evolution of Aid & Effect.
Fast forward a couple years and a shocking announcement, Jason Dunn has left Hawk Nelson. Due to the contract being up and citing creative differences, he felt like it was time to depart the band he had been apart of the better part of 10+ years. During this time he launched a couple of projects to make music that he wanted to make that wasn’t part of a label pushing him one to make music one way or another. He tried launching a band by the name of Lights Go Down, which was inspired by the song “36 Days” from the Hawk Nelson album, Letters to the President. It was during this time that his former band members, Dave and Matt called him on Skype to see if he would be interested in doing an anniversary show of sorts, unfortunately, he was in the middle of recording the EP West Coast Calling from his band Lights Go Down and politely declined. This idea still in his mind and 4 years later he called up all of the original members if they wanted to do a reunion tour of sorts with only one member declining due to still being in Hawk Nelson and their album/tour cycle going on. With 3 out of 4 members saying yes, the decision was made, a reunion was going to take place!
Going back to your Letters to the President days, what were your initial thoughts going into the album process? Was there a hey let’s make a fun pop-punk record or was there a feeling that hey we belong on the stage with artists like All Time Low and Good Charlotte?
Ha. We’ve never thought like that. Pop punk music is what we grew up on. It was our life. As soon as we started sending ideas back & forth, we knew exactly what these songs were going to sound like before they were even written. It’s a beautiful thing when things like music flow naturally.
As time went on, the creative juices started to come out and instead of just doing a reunion show it turned out to be a full-on new band. With their friend Jake Goodman taking the bass position it was on to make a record! The name Aid & Effect was chosen. The meaning behind the name was described by Matt as a way of music affecting the way people live and how their music can aid in that way. With all the band announcement stuff out of the way, it was time to get to work on recording some new songs. A video update appeared on the band’s Facebook page with an announcement of a new song that was ready to be streamed and downloaded. The band had decided to make the song a free download for anyone that wanted it. The reasoning behind making their music free is Jason had worked in a soup kitchen that helped feed those in need for free, so he thought why is the music they make any difference if their mission is to aid and affect those in need. This, however, meant they needed money to help produce more songs and an album, so he said those that wanted to could donate to the band directly if they so chose to. Thus the creation of Aid & Effect and the beginning of a new chapter for the original Hawk Nelson members.