Band Embraces “Opening Act” Status

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Hawk Nelson235 Dan Biro, (left) and his band Hawk NelsonThe Christian pop-rock band Hawk Nelson doesn't mind serving as an opening act for the better-known Tenth Avenue North.

"We actually love supporting other artists," said bass guitarist Dan Biro from his Peterborough, Ont. home. "There's just more strength when you're together."

The tour comes to Community Reformed Church in Zeeland on Oct. 27.

Hawk Nelson (named after a superhero character) had already been around for several years before its 2004 national debut. Beginning with a pop-punk sound, it has transitioned into more conventional pop-rock. Even with fair success in Christian radio, the band has long had a role in multi-artist tours and performed for hundreds of thousands of fans.

That includes 11,000 at a Van Andel Arena concert on the 2009 Winter Jam tour featuring TobyMac. Later that same year, they opened for Skillet in front of a crowd of 4,000 at the DeltaPlex in suburban Walker.

"Maybe one day we'll take a chance and do our own thing," smiled Biro, 35.


Biro, part of a church praise worship team, was in the original crew 14 years ago of what became Hawk Nelson. Lead singer Jason Dunn fueled the band whose mix of high-speed anthems and emotive ballads made a mark on Christian radio as well as on numerous concert tours.

Their limelight included having several of their songs (most notably "Bring 'Em Out") chosen for use in the film "Yours, Mine and Ours," and their cover of The Who's "My Generation" coming with an on-screen appearance in the TV Show "American Dreams."

All the while the band maintained its busy touring schedule, usually as an opening act.
"I can't believe how God used us during those early years," Biro recalled. "We didn't always take ourselves too seriously."

When Dunn left the band in 2012, the remaining players took counsel on their next course of action. "We weren't sure we should even continue, but Jason gave us his blessing," Biro offered. Guitarist Jon Steingard took over lead vocals and the players set out with a new vision.

"We have all those older songs out there and there's a nostalgic factor, but we decided we'll let the past be the past and to move into the future."

Several years ago their song "Words," with guest vocalist Bart Millard of MercyMe, shot up to No. 1 on Christian radio charts. Their most recent album ("Diamonds") features several other hits, including "Drops in the Ocean," which the artist said has become their latest signature song.


Biro said that current tour headliner Tenth Avenue North (with its new album, "Followers,"), is one of his favorite bands. Hawk Nelson's "opener" status will continue next year as they go on tour with Jeremy Camp and then Mercy Me.

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"We love the tour environment," Biro said. "It's consistent and you get the same road crew and road pastor – it's intentional, and it's where we've found we fit in right now."
The band was in Michigan just last August, performing at the Unity Christian Music Festival in Muskegon. (Newsboys was the headliner that night).

Meanwhile, band members are relishing the journey, no matter where the next turn my take them. "God's given us a whole second chance, if you will," Biro said of the band's renewed ministry. "It's been a new era for us, and I think our next album will be a telling one for us because a different musical identity takes a while to find."


Biro recalls a radio tour several years ago promoting a new song. The band was in West Michigan and their next stop was in Green Bay, Wisc. "So we decided to take the Lake Express (ferry) across the lake, which I thought was gonna be epic."

It turned out to be the high speed ferry's final crossing of the fall season. And with stormy conditions, officials were offering cash to passengers who declined the trip.

"We went anyway, and nearly everybody got seasick – or is it 'lakesick?' But it was still pretty cool and we'll never forget it."


Tenth Avenue North with Hawk Nelson and Dan Bremnes
6:45 p.m. Thurs. Oct 27
Community Reformed Church, 10376 Felch St. Zeeland
Tickets: $15 general admission, $40 deluxe (early entry and seating, and Q&A with band).
General admission tickets higher at the door., 800-965-9324.
Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Terry is journalist who writes for newspapers, magazines, newsletters and websites. His most frequented “beat” is arts and entertainment. He is married with two children and lives in Grand Rapids.

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