Even when an indie band is as relentlessly busy, creatively bustling and hard driving as The Warhawks, sometimes good timing is everything. In the lost pandemic year of 2020, when most bands were in total lockdown despair and disarray, the blue collared punk-fired alt rock foursome from Gloucester City, NJ (just across the Delaware from Philly) were one of the few bands to tour.

The band – brothers John (guitar/vocals) and Pat (drums/vocals) Bilodeau, cousin Matt Orlando (guitar/vocals) and close family friend Tom Lipski (bass/vocals) - had the good fortune to release Stardust Disco – the critically praised follow-up EP to their 2019 breakthrough album Never Felt So Good – on February 1, after which they spent February and the first part of March in heavy travel mode, with shows throughout the Northeast and as far west as Cleveland and Cincinnati.

Typical of their trademark work ethic, The Warhawks spent the early days of Covid in heavy writing mode and continued to engage their loyal, growing fan base by releasing Live From Lockdown, a live in the studio collection (released later in the year) featuring fresh, raw, high energy versions of top tunes from Never Felt So Good and Stardust Disco, recorded at the same studio – Gradwell House Recording in Haddon Heights, NJ – where they tracked the originals. In true Warhawks fashion, they painted the studio in exchange for time for those earlier sessions.

Fueled by their natural camaraderie and musical chemistry, their painting and songwriting skills paid off big time, as Never Felt So Good – featuring nine fiery anthems exploring themes of love, hope and desperation - earned them several exciting accolades, including steady rotation of their barnburner “Miracle” on top Philly indie Triple A station 88.5 WXPN and live appearances on alt rock outlet 104.5 WRFF.

While The Warhawks primary fan base is in and around the Philly metro area and throughout the Northeast, they’ve also scored prominent opening slots for numerous alt/indie rock and punk bands, including White Reaper, Sticky Fingers, July Talk, The Menzingers, Off with Their Heads and Curls.

The Warhawks have come a long way from their early days playing Kyhber Pass Pub in Philly and having a local driver import rowdy crowds of fans across the river on a literally rockin’ school bus to support them. They’ve toured heavily the past four years, bringing their blistering onstage magic everywhere from Rochester and Atlanta to spots in Texas – and most recently, after releasing their infectious latest single “Fade Away,” dates in Bowling Green and Louisville, KY and Nashville. In 2022, they took a deeper plunge, mustering all their social media and musical friend-making talents to play 10 dates over in England – including a sold- out show in Southampton and gigs in Sheffield and Manchester.

The uniqueness they bring to the stage includes the fact that each member contributes lead vocals, usually related to the member who brought the basics of a song to a session before the band developed it into a Warhawks collaboration. They will be doing their next recordings for indie label Blue Collar Records under a recently inked deal.

“We’ve been playing together since we were high school kids known as The Hawks, trying to figure out how to create a fan base in Philly while sneaking out to play underage bars and house parties,” says Orlando. “Considering the challenges even the most talented indie bands always face, it’s always tempting to just go out and play cover songs at weddings for a lot of money. There’s no shame in doing that, but we’ve always felt it would be a trap that would inhibit our true selves and growth as artists and musicians. We recently drove out 15 miles to Nashville and netted no money, but we made new fans and that’s what it’s all about for us.

“If The Warhawks were in it for the money, we might have given up a long time ago,” he adds. “For us, though, it’s all about our drive to succeed and impact people through our recordings and live shows. Success can be defined in many ways. Some musicians get knocked down and say they’ve had enough, but we want to see things through. It’s like we were born this way, it’s in our wiring to just not let anything get in our way.”

John Bilodeau, aka “JB,” adds, “Because we’ve matured over the years, our vision and perspective has changed. Like every band, when we started, we wanted to be better than The Beatles, but now we just want to make a living and gain a larger following. Our focus is always, just one fan at a time.

If we can get one person in the crowd who’s never seen us before singing a Warhawks song, that’s a success.”
Probably the biggest reason the members of The Warhawks are so in sync as friends and musicians is that that they’ve all known each other since early childhood, with the Bilodeau brothers and Orlando literally growing up in the same family and Lipski being a pal since grade school. As young kids and up through middle school, they acted in and directed in their own movies and joined the local swim club together.

They started playing music in their pre-teens and got more serious in high school. When they put out their first of many EPs – pressing and/or burning up to 100 copies for fans of their early gigs – Pat Bilodeau was 15 and the others were just a bit older. Now in their early to mid-30s, they have a ton of other responsibilities, but their passion and dedication, plus a work ethic steeped in that of a working-class town of dockworkers, carpenters and house painters, remains as strong as ever.

While bands that form as adults often bring a myriad of styles and influences into the fold, The Warhawks have the unique advantage of growing up loving a lot of the same music. Orlando knew that being in a band was what he wanted to do the rest of his life after playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with his brother and another cousin at a middle school talent show. Likewise, JB and some friends played The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” at his Catholic school talent show – ironically in front of future Warhawks bassist Lipski.

Though Orlando was initially enamored of heavier stuff like Metallica and Deftones, he bonded with JB over bands like The Strokes, Weezer, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys, the latter of which the two went to see together live. JB says, “The Monkeys just played a five-song opening set. When I saw them crank out their songs and leave it all onstage, I knew I wanted to do that with my life.”

“The neat thing about growing up together is that we have a complete set of shared life experiences and though we each have some separate influences, we mostly agree on things musically and otherwise,” Orlando adds. “Vocally, because three of us are from the same family, even the physicality of our voices is similar. Being a family, as both good and bad things happen, we experience a lot of life together and each write about similar or parallel subjects. Even if we get into the occasional huge band argument, at the end of the day, we’re going to see everyone at Christmas dinner so we put our stupid fights aside and let those disagreements fuel our songwriting and playing. We all have extreme confidence in our ability to write songs that truly move people and deliver an amazing live show.”