Hawthorne HeightsIn case you haven’t been following the career of Dayton, Ohio’s post-screamo heroes Hawthorne Heights, you’ve missed a series of events that would have destroyed most bands. From suing their label Victory Records (the two have since reconciled) to the tragic death of founding member and guitarist Casey Calvert, who passed away in his sleep on tour last November at the age of 26, the band has endured a lot this last year. Luckily, frontman JT Woodruff is quick to point out that Hawthorne Heights—which includes guitarist Micah Carli, bassist Matt Ridenour, and drummer Eron Bucciarelli—are more of a family than a group of musicians, especially after persevering through hard times to make their third album Fragile Future, out this week.

“We picked the title Fragile Future because it celebrates where we have been and the fact that we have no idea where we’ll be in the future,” Woodruff explains from a stop on the Projekt Revolution Tour where the band plays every day alongside acts like Chris Cornell and Linkin Park. “We also wanted to pick something that wasn’t just-one dimensional toward our band. The music industry has flipped upside down, and people are stealing music instead of buying music—but also the economy is absolutely ridiculous. So how are we going to get out of this? How are we not going to pay five dollars for gas? We wanted something about more than just what our band is going through because we’re four guys in an entire world.”

Before he died, Calvert, who is credited on Fragile Future and the band’s MySpace page, helped write two of the songs considered for the album.

“Casey helped write ‘321’ and ‘Scrantonicity,’ a little homage to the office,” Woodruff says (the latter of the two songs didn’t make the final album). “After he passed we decided we definitely did not want to get another guitar player, so I had to pick up the slack and Micha had to rearrange some things as well. I started playing more octaves instead of just power chords, and on the newer songs we didn’t want to rely on having three guitars going on at once.”

In addition to picking up extra guitar duties, the band also had to rearrange its older material, which put additional stress on Woodruff.

“We had to rehearse a bunch before the tour, reworking those old songs, which is kind of like bringing up the past but in a good way, not a bad way,” Woodruff says. “I get no breaks on guitar [now]; I’m just constantly playing. If Casey used to have my back when there was a bridge or something, now either I have to play that guitar part or Micha has to play it and that’s the way it is; we just don’t have another person to give me a little more breathing room.”

Woodruff revealed that in order to fill out their sound, Hawthorne Heights also had to get a little creative. “Matt has also been using a pretty raunchy distortion pedal on the bass and that’s been able to fill out the heavier, breakdown parts which has been cool. It’s awesome to kind of hear that weird crazy, thrashy-sounding bass.”

Another big departure on Fragile Future is the absence of Calvert’s signature screams, something that Woodruff says won’t be replicated.

“We did have some [screaming] planned [for this album] but that’s something we didn’t want to put on there because we didn’t want to do Casey wrong. He was that part of the band, and he’s not with us anymore so we didn’t want to replace him even on the recording,” Woodruff explains, adding that the band has been moving in a more melodic direction since its 2004 debut The Silence in Black And White anyway.

“I think this is the best record we’ve released to date for sure,” Woodruff says. “It’s definitely a lot more guitar-oriented and rhythmically oriented and it’s also a lot more thought-out as far what we want to do on each song. All the songs are totally different, but it still sounds like a Hawthorne Heights record.”