Review: Zander Hawley Captures the Pain, Intimacy & Beauty of Heartbreak

Until We Both Get Bored - Zander Hawley
Recommended If You Like: The Goo Goo Dolls, The Staves, Vance Joy

There is something absolutely enchanting about singer/songwriter Zander Hawley’s song, “Until We Both Get Bored.” The 19-year-old Los Angeles native waxes poetic in a deeply intimate moment, surrendering himself to love and to loss.

Oh my god I’ve fallen apart
I’ve lost control of my hair and my soul
jumping cracks in the pavement,
I’ve waited and waited
for nothing that comes
am i already done
“Until We Both Get Bored” – Zander Hawley

Now based in Nashville, Zander Hawley is on the brink of a major milestone: His debut solo album, When I Get Blue, is out independently tomorrow, May 12. “Until We Both Get Bored,” which features fellow indie folk artist Phoebe Bridgers, is the album’s standout single, a heartbreakingly raw, poignant attempt to capture the beauty and intensity of a love before the flame withers and fades.

Brittle heart, cold as ice
Left me lonesome once or twice
But thats alright, I’ll keep waiting on and on
I miss the cherries, miss the trees
Miss the winter Austin leaves
And the way you used to hold me in your heart
When I Get Blue - Zander Hawley

When I Get Blue – Zander Hawley

A slow, warm and evocative acoustic guitar provides all the melodic backbone Hawley needs: His voice is tender and fragile, engulfed in vulnerable emotions that threaten to overwhelm the artist at any moment. “In this song, I go from being with this person to realizing that the end of the song is also the end of our relationship,” Hawley relates. The weight of a new world collapses over him as doors suddenly close: An imagined future becomes fantasy, vanishing into thin air as he finds himself without, on his own again.

“I had felt more hopeful and more secure in what I was involved in at the time than I’d ever felt before, until a pretty sudden change occurred,” Hawley recalls. “That’s sort of what the song is about, my realization that there was nothing I could do if she wasn’t excited by me anymore.” At the end of the first verse, Hawley sings, “lately I’ve been caught between not seeming needy, and needing to feel like she needs me,” a powerfully personal statement that resonates with the build-up of emotions he is already feeling.

at a crossroads every day
I do my best to guess the way
and take comfort from the wars i’ve won so far
but still somehow I cast about
paralyzed by love and doubt
and a pinch of paranoia that I taste in my mouth
love’s like a call to war
I’ll fight until we both get bored
and nothing lights our fire anymore
Until We Both Get Bored - Zander Hawley

Until We Both Get Bored – Zander Hawley

“Until We Both Get Bored” excels at providing an insightful, honest and potent expression of what can only be described as heartbreak. Everything bottles up inside Zander Hawley, only to come pouring out like an avalanche of feeling. He picks his words carefully, going into his own story just enough to provide context and background, but not too much so as to break his focus.

When you know an end is in sight and the world comes crashing down, it’s all you can do to get it all out as fast as possible. In putting heart to ink to music, Zander Hawley has forever enshrined that special, deeply human point in his life. His words are a constant reminder of that which once was, which no longer is. “Some nights she sends me home, and I’m not mad, I’m just alone, relearning how to sleep on my own,” he sings somberly at the song’s end. The world continues to turn, and he will go on with his existence, and she with hers.

But there is no more they, and the gravity of that truth hangs heavily in the air and on his lips. “Until We Both Get Bored” is the quintessential heartbreak song, an incredibly intimate coming-to-terms with tragedy and loss that is sure to warm even the coldest of hearts. Zander Hawley shared more about “Until We Both Get Bored” as well as his upcoming album below; watch out for this rising singer/songwriter, and be sure to give a listen to When I Get Blue, out everywhere tomorrow!

Zander Hawley © Tyler Squires

Zander Hawley © Tyler Squires

MEET ZANDER HAWLEY

Atwood Magazine: If you had to sum up the album When I Get Blue in as few words as possible, how would you describe it?

Zander Hawley: It’s a time capsule. All of these songs, with the exception of track 5, were written in a five month span, so it’s truly a version of me, frozen forever.

What purpose or place does “Until We Both Get Bored” play on the album?

ZH: It’s a significant turning point in the story that the album tells. Tracks 2 and 3 sort of describe the start and the during, but in this song, I go from being with this person to realizing that the end of the song is also the end of our relationship.

What do you like about this song?

ZH: I love this song, because writing it was a victory (or at least, a step in the right direction) over the self-doubt I had as a writer and a person at the time.

You use a lot of storytelling and metaphor on “Until We Both Get Bored.” Did a specific moment inspire these lines?

ZH: I had written the first verses of the song (“brittle heart” and “miss the cherries“) in Austin about 3 years earlier, but never found a place to go with that song. Fast forward to September 2015, walking home one night to what was still an unfamiliar place (I had just moved to Nashville), that line “caught between not seeming needy and needing to feel like she needs me” just kept running through my head, and once I married that to those verses, the whole song really just sprang out. I wrote the whole thing that night.

There's a sort of ominous quality to the title and chorus, as if it's love until it's not... Where did that come from? Why write it that way?

ZH: Because that was how it happened. I had felt more hopeful and more secure in what I was involved in at the time than I’d ever felt before, until a pretty sudden change occurred. And I’m really not trying to throw this person under the bus; that’s sort of what the song is about, my realization that there was nothing I could do if she wasn’t excited by me anymore.

Tell me about the piano part at the end. I love that minor sequence; what inspired that?

ZH: It was just something I heard in my head every time I listened to it. I actually sang that melody into a FaceTime with my producer Marshall Vore, the engineer David Labrel, and the fella who played keys/piano on that song, John Gilbertson. I was in Nashville and they were in LA. Guess that means you could call this a cross-country record.

Why is this song special for you?

ZH: Besides being an important personal victory, it was sort of when I knew I might have a collection of songs worth making a record out of. I went home at the end of 2015 and played a show to support my EP, which had just come out, and I played “Until We Both Get Bored” to close the show. No one had heard it yet, and Phoebe (Bridgers) and Marshall came up to me afterwards, and were both kind enough to tell me that the song kinda blew them away.

This recording is special for me because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to do it — we did all major tracking for the album in 2 days at Sound Emporium, and this song was certainly the hardest vocally, especially since we recorded almost all of the songs with my vocals and guitar at the same time, which means no overdubs. After doing 8 songs the first day, we spent the second day doing mostly instrument overdubs, and then around 10pm, I went in and played the song three times… [I] think we kept the second take.

What are some other favorite moments for you on this album?

ZH: Oh man, too many to count. Off the top of my head, I love everything about the instrumentation on Ever Yours, I love the choir on Don’t Call Me Back, I love Sadler Vaden’s playing on Every Woman in the World. There really isn’t a thing I would change about this record if I could, and for that I owe eternal love and gratitude to Marshall and to everyone who played/contributed to it.

Your solo debut album When I Get Blue is coming out this Friday! How do you quantify this milestone, and what's next for Zander Hawley?

ZH: It’s so exciting. I’m so happy to finally have these out. The milestone ultimately means I can move on from the experience that inspired them and sort of fully let go and move forward with a blank slate. In terms of what’s next, I’m gonna play these songs as many times in as many places as will have me, and then I’ll get going on the next record.

:: When I Get Blue will be available here ::

— — — —

When I Get Blue - Zander Hawley

Connect to Zander Hawley on
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Discover new music on Atwood Magazine
cover © Joey Brodnax

:: Listen to More Zander Hawley ::

When I Get Blue - Zander Hawley

When I Get Blue – Zander Hawley

Mitch is the Editor-in-Chief of Atwood Magazine and a 2014 graduate from Tufts University, where he pursued his passions of music and psychology. He currently works at Universal Music Group in New York City. In his off hours, Mitch may be found songwriting, wandering about one of New York's many neighborhoods, or writing an article on your next favorite artist for Atwood. Mitch's words of wisdom to fellow musicians and music lovers are thus: Keep your eyes open and never stop exploring. No matter where you go, what you do or who you are with, you can always learn something new and inspire something amazing. Say hi here: mitch[at]atwoodmagazine[dot]com