Born to Rock: Adam and the Metal Hawks
Born to Rock: Adam and the Metal Hawks
Apr 24, 2023
Bringin' back the classic rock vibe
By now, just about everyone on the planet has seen their video creatively (and hilariously) reviving the Guns ‘n Roses classic rock tune “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. If you haven’t, don’t sweat it—you know I’ve got you covered.
BUT, you must also watch this take, because it features new drummer Griffin McCarthy.
This fun-loving group of irresistible talent is known as Adam and the Metal Hawks and right now, you can’t open TikTok without seeing one of their infamously funny and wholly entertaining music videos full of prowess and passion. The band shot to stardom last summer when Jack Black finally publicly acknowledged his musical doppelganger in lead singer Adam Ezegelian after the band recreated Tenacious D’s “Kickapoo”, posted it on TikTok, and called on Black to duet with them. After six attempts to get his attention, and with the help of social media followers embarking on a public pressure campaign calling on the celebrity to respond, Black did just that.
“We tried to incorporate either songs that he had covered or his songs,” Ezegelian said in an interview with Sweety High, “and we worked them into different formats for our TikToks.”
At the time the Hawks posted these videos, their one main goal was to get the actor and musician, who covered the track in the hit movie School of Rock, to post a video reply. So, fans and band members constantly posted on Black’s TikTok videos, urging him to respond, and on May 27, 2022, he did.
This attention, paired with their impeccable three-part harmonies and meme-worthy videos, shot the band into notoriety heaven and the rest, as they say, is history.
“That was an amazing experience,” says lead singer Adam Ezegelian. “We’re all huge fans of [Jack Black] and Tenacious D, his band, and their music, so, in the beginning when we first jumped on TikTok, we kept getting comparisons to him because of my voice and facial expressions. So, we sort of leaned into it and started posting videos … a little challenge to get him to duet us, and eventually it just worked. … It was crazy. We were all in shock.”
While Black has followed the Hawks on social media and liked some of their posts, he hasn’t necessarily responded verbally, but Ezegelian notes he is keeping an eye on them.
“One day, hopefully we’ll do something worthy enough to get his attention and maybe get the invite out or to open for them on tour, which would be amazing. We’d love to play with them. We’re just holding on and keeping his attention and hopefully sending something out he’ll enjoy.”
The guys have even gotten the attention of Styx with their mouth-wide-open version of “Come Sail Away”.
With over three million followers on TikTok and one million on Instagram, it’s safe to say Adam and the Metal Hawks are the most famous band to emerge from social media as quickly as they have, but it’s not just because of their talent. These guys are so down to earth and genuinely hilarious on and off camera, their infectious energies and personalities suck you right in and make you feel like you’re hangin’ out with your best homies, just having a good time and kickin’ it to some bitchin’ rock tunes.
All hailing from Long Island in New York, Adam and the Metal Hawks features, from left to right, original founding Metal Hawks members Johnny Barry on guitar and Ryan Daversa on bass, Adam Ezegelian on lead vocals (and I do mean lead vocals), and Griffin McCarthy on drums. Though none of them grew up together, you’d never know it given how they interact with and support one another. They’re truly a band of brothers enjoying life to the best of their ability, then sharing their experience through music and entertainment.
Prior to Adam, the band was known as Metal Hawks and consisted of Johnny and Ryan, who met at a local talent show in 2014, and the group’s original drummer, Alex Hertler, who left the band in 2022. (He is featured in the first “Sweet Child O’ Mine” video at the beginning of this article.) The three played every bar and club on Long Island and honed their craft before meeting Adam through mutual friends in 2019 and bringing him in to sing.
“I was playing bass and singing at the time, so it was a little bit of a blow to my ego” laughs Daversa, who, in my opinion, bears a bit of a resemblance to 80’s rock band Warrant lead singer Jani Lane but who most commonly gets compared to Eddie Munson of Stranger Things or Michael Beck of the 1979 action-crime thriller The Warriors. “But, you know, the way Adam sings, man, I don’t want to sing anymore. That guy’s just too freakin’ good.”
Once Adam took over singing duties, Ryan—heavily influenced by rock greats Rush, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin—shied away from the role of lead singer and began focusing more on bass.
Guitarist Johnny Barry recalls always having had the vision of being in a rock band. He picked up the guitar when he was eight, and at age 10, he started his first band called Metal Hawks with two other kids, who would later be replaced by current bandmate Ryan Daversa on vocals and later, bass, and former drummer Alex Hertler.
“My parents were very into music but never played any instruments. My dad loves classic rock, and his favorite band is Van Halen, which is also my favorite band,” Barry says.
“Mine, too!” Ryan chimes in with a laugh.
Adds Griffin, “Yeah, we’re all in fortunate situations with our families, who understand how difficult it is to do this for a living and to pursue it—my parents especially, because they’re musicians and know firsthand how difficult it is to get started. Our family circle is very supportive, so we lucked out with that. They’re all very great people.”
“My dad is our number one fan, for sure,” Johnny continues, and the other guys agree. He credits Guitar Hero with helping him find his passion. “For my communion at eight or nine years old, my parents got me my first guitar, and ever since, I kept trying to start a band. I’m also into AC/DC and Greta Van Fleet.”
After Hertler left the band in 2022, drummer Griffin McCarthy was quick to audition and take over the throne. It was his addition that allowed the Hawks to pull out those beautiful three-part harmonies and achieve that awesome sound not many bands can pull off, especially since technology plays such a huge role in today’s music.
“We’re trying to bring the classic rock feel back, especially to these kids on TikTok [who] may have never heard any of this music before or just heard it in a random animated movie. … We’re trying to be that voice of rock that just brings it back,” Ezegelian explains.
And bringing it back they are, but they’re also putting their own spin on the sound, and that’s what makes them so unique. Each member is his own reincarnation of some great classic rock artist and collectively, they have a really hip vibe of effortlessly singing like birds while playing instruments, and that is pretty impressive.
McCarthy said they all took the best of their inspirations of that era and molded it into their own style and brought it together, and it blends well.
“It’s great people see it for what it is because there’s a huge gap in the market for that right now. So, it’s very cool to see this generation want to go see a full band live, [especially in this modern technological age]. It’s good for us because that’s what were here for,” laughs Griffin.
McCarthy cites his biggest influences as Rush, The Who, and Queen and says he’s been drumming since the age of three.
“There was always music in my house. My parents are piano players and always played for me, then I started picking some of it up and playing a little on my own. I always had rhythm from an early age.”
He eventually started showing interest in the drum set, which his mother noticed, and when he was seven, she enrolled him in drum lessons.
“I got my first drum set at eight, and I haven’t stopped playing since. I always foresaw a future there. I fell in love with the drums immediately. And it’s amazing, because I’ve finally found a band who wants it as bad as I do.”
McCarthy has toured with several acts prior to Adam and the Metal Hawks, including Yngwie Malmsteen and Prong, who went on the road with Overkill, and he even toured briefly with a Broadway production of “Rent”.
Lead singer Adam Ezegelian says he’s been fueled by rock energy since he arrived on this planet, and his parents had a lot to do with that by raising him right and exposing him to good music. Growing up, Adam was active in plays and musical theater—even jazz band and an acapella jazz ensemble.
“I just love performing,” he says. “You know, making people laugh and clap along and bob their head … just getting into it.”
Ezegelian’s life changed in 2015 when he auditioned for American Idol and got a ticket to Hollywood. He took his influences of Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, and AC/DC, as well as his love for rock, and filled people with happiness with his resonant, multi-dimensional voice and animated facial expressions. Adam sailed right through to the Top 16 before being sent home, then in 2019, he met the Metal Hawks and, as their website says, “they’ve had stellar rock chemistry ever since.”
And they’re right: Their chemistry is so stellar, it’s palpable. That might have something to do with the fact that they were all raised so right in being constantly exposed to some of the best, most influential music on the planet. Someone needs to give these guys’ parents a giant high-five for being so cool. Way to go, parents; you guys truly do rock.
Recently the guys finished recording their second album as Adam and the Metal Hawks, though their first one, a self-titled album that dropped in 2020 during Covid, features their former drummer. Their hit single from that album released Sept. 2019 and is titled “Turn Around”. It’s a love song encased in a hard rock shell, and that’s easily relatable to all of us. That single set the tone for who they were and, shortly thereafter, they released “Wastin’ Time”, then “Backwards”.
Since, with new drummer Griffin McCarthy (who reportedly plays a mean cowbell), the Hawks have released two other singles with videos, “Hey Hey Mama” and “Love is on My Wishlist (When It’s Christmas)”.
“We’ve been working for over a year [on this new album]. These songs are songs we’ve taken on road and played at shows and gotten crowd feedback and changed things here and there, and we’re just very excited to show you guys what we’ve been working on. It’s gonna be great when we can release it and see what everybody thinks,” says Ezegelian.
“Yeah, all the songs are diverse and unique in their own way,” adds McCarthy. “Not one song sounds like the other. You won’t feel like you’re listening to the same song twice. It’s very original.”
Adam continues, “A lot of our material is coming from our personal experiences, of course, and we want to make sure everybody can take something away from each song ... so, there’s strength in having that wide array of songs. There’s something for everybody there: power ballads, acoustic ballads, heavy songs, fast songs … if you’re a rock band fan, there’s gonna be some songs that you’re gonna love.
As far as concept, a lot of it has to do with our rise from nothing to [being a] viral sensation, so we’ve got some good stuff on there—inspiration from being cooped up from Covid and the culmination of the past couple years going into this album. It’ll be a large weight off our shoulders once it’s released to just spread it throughout the world ... 10 lovely tracks.”
I’d say the fellas are getting used to their newfound fame quite well. They remain graciously humble, without all the ego, but reality did smack ‘em right in the face last year while playing a festival in Switzerland. The guys agreed that seemed to be a pretty huge “Oh SHIT!” moment for them.
“That … moment, for me, was about five minutes before we were going on stage in Switzerland last year. There were 15,000 people there … and it was the biggest crowd we’d played for. That was one of the only shows in my whole career where I was shitting a brick. It was that nerve-racking. But, after the first two songs, the crowd was totally into it, and we got a standing ovation.”
Griffin agrees: “It was mind-blowing to see that many people in one space. It was such a unique experience. And what a beautiful area Switzerland is, too. The band before us didn’t have much crowd engagement, so we were worried the crowd wouldn’t like us but two songs in, they were engaged and going nuts for every song. They were super loud, super high energy. It was nice to see that because majority of those people had no idea who we were. [It] was really amazing to have that reception and make so many new fans at once.”
Ryan chimes back in: “Yeah, that is one of my favorite things about playing these festivals. No one knows who you are but if you’re good enough and blow people away, then everyone knows who you are. That makes fans for life.”
Currently Adam and the Metal Hawks are gearing up for their UK tour happening later this year, and they’re already working on their third album. While there are currently no U.S. dates at this time, the band does expect for that to change.
“We don’t have anything formal to announce just yet but, like I said, [we have this] new album that should be out by summer or end of the year … maybe singles and videos out by summer,” says Adam. “We’re playing a bunch of festivals this summer to push the album release, and we have the UK tour lined up. I’m sure very soon after there will be something announced for the States.”
Rock gods, we hope so.
The guys also hope to return to Canada for another tour after playing there last year, and they say they’d also like to get some South America dates.
“We’re just looking to jump all over the world and just spread the music.”
So, if you can’t tell by now, these guys are a group you’re going to want to follow and keep up with, because they’re on the verge of blowing up worldwide. And, given what they’ve already produced and released, there’s no telling what kind of genius is waiting in the wings. One thing’s for sure, though: Adam and the Metal Hawks are just getting started. Expect great things from these guys, my friends.
In the meantime, I highly recommend visiting their social media pages and diving into their videos. I spent an entire day going down the AMH video rabbit hole and there’s so much yumminess in there, I sat covered in chills, boosting my serotonin, whilst rocking out with them to Toto, Queen, Twisted Sister, Aerosmith, Scorpions, The Romantics, Meat Loaf, Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Elton John, AC/DC (with water!), Leonard Cohen, Metallica, Van Halen, Steppenwolf--do I need to keep going? Because I totally can. They’re downright entertaining, engaging, creative, talented, original, and full of that classic rock goodness we’ve all been longing to return.
"We're just always trying to have fun in our videos," Ezegelian said. "That's why we have such a large following: They want that little piece of fun, that serotonin boost, in their day, and that's where we come in."
One day, guys, people are going to be covering your tunes and paying you tribute in the honorable and exciting ways you are doing now. And so, my friends, I leave you with quite possibly some of the best compilation videos in existence. Enjoy, and don't say I didn't warn you!
For more information on Adam and the Metal Hawks, and their badassery, cruise on over to any of the links below and rock your face off.
Questions or comments? Keeley loves email. Hit her up at email@example.com.