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In October last year, Byron Bay metalcore lads In Hearts Wake kicked off a remarkable project. Releasing their track ‘Skydancer’ as a download, the band then told their fans to pay whatever they wanted for it, a not particularly unique manuevuer in the age of digitally delivered music. What made this campaign different is that the band donated every cent earned to three small charities who are working to aid some of the world’s most disadvantaged people.

“We had donations of anywhere from 5 to $100 from people donating,” explains vocalist Jake Taylor. “And what we did was we pledged that 100%, all the profits, to three non-profit organisations. And we chose really grassroots organisations that wouldn’t be taken money out for their staff or anything like that.”

The groups to benefit from the band’s outstanding philanthropy were Red Dust, who work to promote health programs to Australian Aborigines in remote communities, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples that promotes support of Native American communities and Germany’s Hardcore Help organisation who provide resources and humanitarian aid in Kenya. In Hearts Wake deliberately chose small charities working at the coal face with the communities they are involved with, and raised much more than they thought.

“We raised a little over $3000, which we didn’t expect”, the singer says. “We thought that $1000 would have been awesome, but when you add up $1 and $2 here and there, a lot of people donated so that’s fantastic.”

Given that the option was there to download the track for free, it’s encouraging that so many felt the need to support the band with its mission and chip in.

“It really resurrects the hope we have in the next generation that’s coming through and it’s nice to be a part of that do something to build a bridge between two worlds rather than just taking from it,” Taylor says enthusiastically. “It was really nice.”

Like their good friends Northlane, with whom they regularly toured in their early days, In Hearts Wake present strongly positive messages in their music that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries. The Skydancer project is just another way for the band to spread some good will. The karma is coming back to them too, with the 2012 debut album Divination winning a national Top 40 slot and the recent announcement that In Hearts Wake will be performing nationally on next month’s massive Soundwave Festival. Even for road warriors like In Hearts Wake, the sheer scale of Soundwave presents both new challenges and new opportunities for the band, which Taylor is looking forward to greatly.

“The experience of a big stage and winning over fans that aren’t necessarily there to see us specifically but are checking you out because you’re on the bill and they’ve heard about you,” he says of what the band hopes to take away from the festival. “To play to people, win a few people over and share the voice and the message that we have. It’s going to be fantastic and it’s sort of the next step to take to learn how to appeal to those people and how to fill such a big stage and being thrown into those harsh elements. Some of those shows are going to be so hot, and it’s gonna be chaos but it’s gonna be awesome.”

‘Skydancer’ is the band’s only recording since Divinations was released in the middle of 2012. Touring has impacted on their ability to get more studio work done, but Taylor is hoping that will change this year, although he can’t be drawn on exactly when.

“It’s been eighteen months,” he says. “But once this Soundwave is over, we’re going to look to doing some new material and a new album. Yeah, it’s a timing thing now. We can’t really say what’s to come. We’re just gonna focus for the moment on Soundwave before we get onto that.”

The second album is often a band’s most difficult, and In Hearts Wake have the task of following up a record that cracked the Australian album chart – an impressive achievement for a heavy band in any country. Jake Taylor is very well aware of what will be expected of them, and doesn’t sound the least perturbed.

“It’s really more of a responsibility than a pressure. There’s a responsibility to the people who supported Divinations and we don’t want to let them down. But we don’t think we will, because we’re doing it for the right reasons. It’s going to be an interesting journey. It’s not going to be the same as Divinations. It’s going to be different. Nothing ever is the same, so it’s gonna be cool.”

Catch In Hearts Wake at Soundwave:

22/2: RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
23/2: Olympic Park, Sydney NSW
28/2: Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne VIC
1/3: Boynthon Park, Adelaide SA
3/3: Claremont Showground, Perth WA