It's True!
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""...songs swell from sweet introspection to a full-on aural assault""

Karl Houfek remembers the first time he heard Adam Hawkins play. It was sometime in late 2006 at O'Leaver's Pub in Omaha. Hawkins, new to town, was performing solo with his guitar.

"He did a lot of quirky things with his voice," Houfek said. "He used actual different voices of the characters he was singing through, just in tiny little parts. I think initially I was like, ‘That's really weird when he does that,' and then the next thing you know you love it."

Right away, Houfek, who has been in a laundry list of Omaha bands including Coyotes Bones and Boy Noises, knew he wanted to play with Hawkins. The music was quality, the lyrics were "amazing," and he had a feeling this guy was onto something good.

"The talent was undeniable," he said. "A couple of us, myself being one, planted the seed with him, that, ‘Hey, if you ever get around to forming a band, we'd be really interested."

Hawkins was interested, but it took him a couple of years before It's True coalesced with Hawkins on guitar and vocals, Houfek on keys, Andrew Bailie on guitar, Kyle Harvey on bass and Matt Arbeiter on drums.

After finally getting together roughly a year ago, they're in full band mode. The guys increasingly have been writing songs together, but they draw heavily from Hawkins' well of solo work.

It's a restorative musical process. From the bare bones of Hawkins' pretty croon, they add swirling guitars and a backbeat that can make the songs swell from sweet introspection to a full-on aural assault.

The setup is a departure for Hawkins, whose dreamy melodies and honest voice is well-framed by both a single guitar and a full backing band.

"It's just a lot different being on the stage alone. You just feel more naked and exposed," he said. "It's always going to come across more personal, but it's kind of a give-and-take thing because when you're performing with a band, you're gaining accessibility to the common person. It's a little more captivating."

They've had no trouble captivating audiences. In its young life, It's True has garnered hype from both music critics and concertgoers, and the guys have suddenly found themselves in the role of Omaha's new, unofficial "it" band. But like most bands who find themselves surrounded by a cloud of praise, the guys in It's True say the hype is really a product of the music.

"What I've felt as we progressed is kind of a simmering inside the band of us getting excited about playing with arrangements and moving things around as we develop and feel comfortable playing with each other," Hawkins said. "I think we feel that excitement, and I think that might rub off on the people who watch." - Lincoln Journal-Star


""...this band is simply amazing.""

Jan 9th, 2010

They've been called Omaha's best kept secret. With an album on the way, as well as a 7" vinyl coming out in February, this secret will soon be spoiled....


Two Pandas: Give us a brief history lesson on It’s True!

It’s True!: (Karl) The long and short of it is that Adam wrote some really great songs that he had been playing solo, and the rest of us just kind of naturally gravitated towards those songs and convinced him to form a band. From there, we’ve pretty much just spent the last year trying to do justice to the songs as a band…sometimes succeeding, sometimes not.

TP: We find ourselves asking almost every band this: What is the story behind the name?

IT: (Adam) When the name came to me, I was in a period of deep questioning…a state I’ve been in most of my life. I realized that no amount of intellect could deliver an answer to the “Great Question.” Logic certainly has its place at the table, but I believed, and still do, that a person must ultimately choose what he or she believes. And I believe it’s true.

TP: It is our understanding that you have just finished your first full length album. What are the plans for releasing the album? (Release date? Will it be released digitally? Etc.)

IT: (Adam) You understand correctly…or at least mostly. There are a lot of things up in the air right now. We’re still having discussions about track order and whether or not we’re ready to call some of the tracks “finished”. We’ve also been entertaining the idea of adding a song or two to the album. I think the hardest thing about any piece of work is actually knowing when it’s done…especially with art. The one thing we know for sure is that we don’t want to sit on what we have for much longer…at some point in time you have to just let it go. In summary, we have some decisions to make and we plan on making them very soon.

TP: Where was the recording for the album done?

IT: (Karl) We split our recording time between Conor Oberst’s ARC Studios and The Faint’s Enamel Studios….which, collectively, we like to refer to as “Name-drop Studios”.

TP: You are releasing a split 7” vinyl with Lawrence trio Cowboy Indian Bear, which should be an amazing release. Was this an idea Cowboy Indian Bear brought to you guys?

IT: (Adam) We had been entertaining the idea of doing a 7” of some sort as a precursor to the album. Some different ideas had been thrown around, but I’m not sure any of the ideas were worth pulling the trigger on until Cowboy Indian Bear mentioned that they were thinking of doing something similar. They had an actual plan in regards to how to go about putting it out and pretty much spearheaded the whole thing, so it all fell into place pretty easily for us. We love those guys and what they are doing and are really excited about sharing a piece of vinyl with them.

TP: What are the release plans for the split 7”?

IT: (Adam) The plan is for a string of release shows with both bands playing…Feb 5 and 6 in Lincoln/Omaha (Eagle Seagull is joining us on these dates. Awesome!), and the Feb 18-20th in KC/Columbia/Lawrence (Capybara is joining us on these dates. Also awesome!)

TP: As we ask every band, what is in store for It’s True! in the coming months?

IT: (Adam) Decisions, decisions, decisions…. We have a few things simmering right now, and a number of details to sort out. Then we’re going to put in some serious effort to schedule as much touring as possible. As a band, we’re also very serious about opening up a flower shop to supplement our incomes. We have an almost nauseating passion for horticulture. We hope that soon you will all be able to listen to our newly released music and perhaps look at our floral arrangements, if you so choose.
Posted by Two Pandas at 10:35 AM 0 comments - Two Pandas


""...some label (if they still exist) would be wise to snatch this band up.""

Monday, November 16, 2009
It's True Carries On Omaha's Strong Indie Music Tradition

Earlier in the decade Omaha was on the cutting edge of independent music and the city produced some internationally recognized artists like Bright Eyes, Cursive, and The Faint. While those artists are still going strong, many outside of the Omaha scene have been wondering if the city would be delivering any other artists of that quality, and with that possibility for commercial success. So far, there have been some top quality artists, but none have had the national or international impact that the original three have had.

Currently there are a number of great bands making a name for themselves in Omaha. One band in particular is beginning to make waves with the local music establishment and its taste makers. That band is called It's True. I have now seen the band twice (including last Saturday night at Waiting Room) and can report that, in this case, you should believe the hype.
I am almost completely at a loss as to how to describe the band's sound or who I would compare them to. It's True mixes the best elements of noisy shoegaze rock with more quiet singer/songwriter type material. Guitarist/vocalist Adam Hawkins has a high, sweet voice which contrasts nicely with the louder parts of their songs; yet it can also stand virtually alone when the band quiets down to near silence and Hawkins sings almost a capella. The rest of the band members are all excellent musicians especially lead guitarist, Andrew Bailie.

Though I probably wasn't supposed to hear it yet, I was able to hear a couple of tunes from the band's forthcoming full length album. What I heard was very impressive -- much better than almost any comparable new band. The performance and production were first rate, and some label (if they still exist) would be wise to snatch this band up.

Right now, for me, the local scene is best represented by Little Brazil and It's True. I wish there was some way to share some of that great studio music I heard, but there isn't. For now, you'll have to make due with some older recordings and some live ones on It's True's Myspace page. Check it out, and if you can think of who they sound like, please drop me a line or leave a comment. It has been driving me crazy for weeks! - thedarkstuff.com


""...knocked the socks off of yours truly.""

Backbeat:

Last week’s It’s True! performance at the Waiting Room knocked the socks off of yours truly. A fan of frontman Adam Hawkins’ work, I could have told you that it would — and from the many people whom I did tell beforehand, I got one resounding reaction: “Wow, you were right.” I like to be right almost as much as I like to rock out, and Hawkins and Co. came through on both counts. - The Reader


""a huge-sounding ensemble that's pushed its way to the top of the list of Omaha's unsigned bands""

Which brings me back to last Saturday night and It's True. I wasn't expecting much of a crowd. It being the Fourth of July and all, I figured most people would be home minding their bandages and burnt fingers and early-evening hangovers. Instead there was a sizable crowd at The Waiting Room -- my guesstimate, around 150 -- there to see Little Brazil but also there for It's True, who rarely plays shows these days (whereas LB seems to play somewhere every other week).

There's been a buzz about Adam Hawkins for the past year that's been simmering just below the surface. He's been the "It band" for singers, songwriters and musicians "in the know" since last summer. Now interest in Hawkins and his music is starting to eke out to the rest of the Omaha music scene. The timing couldn't be better. I've seen a few incarnations of It's True, but the one on stage last Saturday night was the apex -- a solid, huge-sounding ensemble that's pushed its way to the top of the list of Omaha's unsigned bands (and it's quite a list).

The set list included material from It's True's debut that came out on Slo-Fi earlier this year. That album was essentially a Hawkins solo record. Last Saturday's set fleshed out those songs to epic proportions, where they deserve to be. Hawkins had talked about holding off on that first album until he could "do the songs right." He did the right thing by releasing it when he did, but now he needs to rerecord it with this band, and let the games begin. If there's a local band that belongs on Saddle Creek, it's these guys. They fill a niche that resides between the songwriting angst of Tim Kasher and the pastoral elegance of Bright Eyes (who we haven't seen the last of, yet). Kasher has a history of taking local bands out on the road with him. The most recent example is cave pop superstars Box Elders, who are currently tethered to a rocket pointed straight to the upper stratospheres of garage rock stardom, fueled by a tour that lasts through August and ends at Goner Fest in Memphis Sept. 26. As good as Box Elders are, It's True would be an even better opening band for Cursive since its style of music compliments Cursive's more recent outings, which are heavier on songwriting than teeth-gnashing noise.

In honor of the holiday, It's True ended its set with a rendition of the national anthem, an American flag draped over Hawkins' back. It was a lead-in to a cover of Springsteen's "Born in the USA" that was sloppy and diabolical. By mid-song, the flag fell from Hawkins' slumped shoulders where it was kicked around on stage (intentionally or not). Afterward, someone asked me what I thought. "Looks like there's a new sheriff in town," I said. - lazy-i.com


""...music so substantial that you can almost hold it in your hand to admire it.""

There are few things that can diminish my enjoyment of live music. The overall experience of just being there and feeling the energy of the crowd is enough to keep me happy. But if the band obviously isn’t feeling enthusiastic about what they’re doing, it tends to leave me unsatisfied.

Seeing local acts can be a mixed bag; you might see the overly enthusiastic high school band with little skill but lots of energy. Sometimes you’ll see a group of fantastic musicians who look positively bored on stage. And sometimes, when the stars align just right, you get to see an amazingly talented group who looks thrilled to be doing what they love to do.

Somehow, I was lucky enough to see three such bands on one night. On January 23rd, the long-awaited return of Omaha’s prodigal sons Cursive took place at the Slowdown. The club, named for an earlier incarnation of Cursive, was the perfect place for the local-turned-national-act to spend a frigid evening with their hometown fans.

First up was It’s True!, a five-piece group of some of Omaha’s finest. I’d heard their name thrown around and even briefly met the bassist some months earlier, but I had no idea what to expect as they stepped into the lights. It was easy to expect them to sound like a mid-’90s garage band with their relaxed personal styles. But when I spied the omnichord, I knew we were in for something amazing. Frontman Adam Hawkins’ powerful but sweet voice drifted up to me in the upper seating area, lulling me into a kind of incredulous silence.

The meaty sounds from each of the five guys could easily have stood on their own, but together they created this incredibly intricate and mesmerizing picture. It’s the type of music that is so substantial you can almost hold it in your hand to admire it. When the group launched into “Honestly,” it felt a little like love: full of pleasure and heartbreak all at once. “I’m not asking you for a miracle/ I’m not asking to part the sea/ I’m not asking you to move the sun or the stars/ They can all stay as they are/ But ooh, take it easy on me,” sung in Adam’s innocently pensive voice, is honestly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in years.

One of the most notable qualities of It’s True! (and there are many) is their enthusiasm. They throw themselves bodily into their music. When Adam’s glasses fell off during a particularly energetic bit of guitaring, he kicked them to the side and went on without them. And when he broke a string and put his guitar out of commission, he simply finished the song a’ cappella. As the set finished, it felt like every last person in the audience had to catch their breath.

Next up was Son Ambulance, another local act full of Omaha music royalty. With singer-songwriter Joseph Knapp heading up the outfit and the incomparable Dereck Higgins on guitar, this laid-back seven-piece may have seemed like an odd choice given the other two bands playing that night. But after the infectious energy of It’s True! and before the plaintive growling and screaming to come with Cursive, Son Ambulance was the perfect way chill-out opportunity.

Not that they didn’t bring their own brand of ass-kicking, of course; their calm is only on the surface. With the mastery that comes from countless hours of simply living inside their music, this group wowed everyone there. With a sax and synthesizer to add depth to their sound, Son Ambulance bounced from folky melodies to ’70s-influenced pop, with a few stops in between. There’s a definite sense of masterful storytelling to every one of their songs. They have that sort of indefinable style transcendence, making them challenging to define but easy to love.

Regardless of the calming influence of Son Ambulance, the crowd came screaming to their feet when Cursive walked out. The local sweethearts are now indie icons and have a massive following in their hometown. They’ve been called “emo for grownups,” which seems to fit them well. So many of us grew up knowing these guys, having mutual friends, or at least seeing them play in dark, smoky bars years ago. Watching them take up their respective instruments obviously stirred a great deal of pride in the Slowdown that night.

Tim Kasher’s small frame and youthful face belie his powerful voice, which he takes from mewling to roaring in an instant. While playing the guitar and singing, he manages to punctuate his words with gestures, stabbing at the air or shaking his fist. Cursive’s sound occasionally dips into chaos, with so much going on at once that it’s difficult to process it all. But that chaos is tempered with an oddly sweet introspection. Each and every song feels autobiographical in a sense, but with the sort of perspective that comes from looking in from the outside. It’s rock with a heart. It’s punkish, but in a slightly gentler way. It’s emo without the self-harm or annoying haircuts. In short, Cursive has taken everything that’s right about indie music and shaped it into a completely unique experience.

Regardless of Kasher’s reported sore throat, his vocals were spot-on. After playing upwards of a dozen songs (and comparing his clothing style to that of Rainbow Brite), Kasher apologetically grabbed his mug of tea and rushed off of the stage. It seemed doubtful that their fans would get the encore they were begging for. Just when standing there got awkward and I began to wonder if I should leave, Cursive indulged us with a few more songs. As with the entire show, they played a mix of old and new – something to please everyone, Kasher promised.

And we were, indeed, pleased. There wasn’t one person in the place who hadn’t been moved to dance – even just a little – at some point during the evening. All three acts were so much better than I could have expected. I’d like to think that everyone else left the show with as big a smile as I did that night. - StereoSubversion.com


""...charming.""

Hello Kavita: Album Release Party at the Hi-Dive

by Tim Weilert on Oct.24, 2009, under Concert Reviews

The Hi-Dive was abuzz with well-wishers and friendly faces on Friday night as Hello Kavita took the stage to celebrate an album 9-months in the making. The night played through with a variety of “feel-good” tunes and stellar performances.

Up first was It’s True!, an Omaha-based group with a strong grasp of dynamics. At certain points there was nothing except soft, beautiful melodies, however, within the same song grand crescendos swept over the stage and out into the crowd. Unlike most bands who shift quickly from quiet to loud, It’s True! managed to do so with a certain grace that was charming.

Hometown heroes Houses took the stage to further warm up the cozy room. Ripping through nearly every one of my favorite songs from their Spring and Summer EPs, they managed to pull off a solid set without a proper sound-check. Perhaps my favorite tune was a new song called “Scone.” As the set closer, this song started out very much like any other Houses tune, then dropped down and built up into an amazing climactic ending.

If you haven’t read my review of To A Loved One, go do that before reading this. As Hello Kavita started played through their set, each of the songs from that record came to life in a new and transcendent way. While the recorded version of To A Loved One maintains a certain warmth, its live counterpart embodied a heartfelt and moving form that cannot be recorded (even on analog tape).

As the set closed out, singer Cory Teruya invited Houses up to the stage for a lively rendition of Neil Young’s “Alabama.” It was probably one of the best things I’ve seen (and heard) in quite some time. Something Like Sound will be giving away one copy of To A Loved One at some point in the near future (once I can think up a non-lame contest)… - minesblog.com


Discography

Double EP entitled, "there,there, now...I think it's best if I leave" was released (in physical format only) on bedroom label Slo-Fi records in February of 2009. Now on it's 4th pressing, these 4-track basement recordings helped lay the groundwork for It's True!'s self-titled full-length, which was recorded in Omaha, Nebraska at studios owned by Conor Oberst and The Faint. The record was enineered by AJ Mogis, who has worked/recorded with bands such as The Faint, Bright Eyes, Cursive and pretty much every good project to come out of Omaha. The full-length will be released on April 27th, 2010.

Photos

Bio

In short:
Toma-Hawkins records 4-track demos. People go bat-shit crazy. Band forms. People go bat-shit crazy. Band goes bat-shit crazy.

In long:
Adam Hawkins moved to Omaha, NE in 2006 and spent the next couple years playing solo around town. His lyrics, voice, and overall persona were something fellow Omaha musicians quickly took note of. A band formed in winter of 2008 and quickly gained a local following. Things progressed naturally and quickly...the band's first year saw the band opening for large national acts as well as headlining "at-capacity" shows in Omaha. They bought a van, began playing regionally and gained followings in Denver, Kansas City, Des Moines, and Lawrence.

The band received recognition as "Best New Artist" and "Best Indie/Alternative" a the 2009 Omaha Entertainment Awards...high praise for a band without a label or record.

It's True was an official showcase selection at SXSW 2010 in Austin, TX and was selected from over 1400 official showcase bands for NPR's top 100 SXSW band mixtape.

It's True is set to release their first full-length, self-titled, in April of 2010.