Travis Hawley is hoping to rock your vote.
But he’s not running for public office; he’s running for the cover of Rolling Stone.
“We need our community to stand up and help us get there,” he campaigned. “Everybody can vote. It’s really easy.”
The Templeton resident fronts the indie rock band PK, which is one of just 16 bands in Rolling Stone magazine’s new unsigned bands contest. After four rounds of voting — by the public and Rolling Stone editors — the winning band will be rewarded with an Atlantic Records recording contract and a photo on the magazine’s cover.
Making the cover of Rolling Stone — as the song by Dr. Hook once suggested — is a coveted rock ‘n’ roll milestone. Even as print publications struggle to keep up with the Internet, the cover of Rolling Stone still helps shape what is hot in pop culture. In recent years, it has featured notable celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Jay-Z, Johnny Depp and Arroyo Grande native Zac Efron.
“Rolling Stone is an iconic magazine,” Hawley said. “And if you get on the cover — that’s your chance.”
The members of PK, which also include Matt DePauw, Nick Fotinakes, Rico Rodriguez and Mikel Van Kranenburg, began playing together while attending Templeton High School. Led by Hawley’s vocals, which sound remarkably like Robert Smith’s from The Cure, the band often plays at schools during lunch hour just to get the music out there. Last summer, PK got its first big break when the band won a contest to open for Aerosmith at the Mid-State Fair.
Using the momentum from that, they played a gig near Los Angeles, where a woman with connections to Atlantic Records approached them and applauded their music, Hawley said.
“She said, ‘There’s not much I can do for you now,’ ” he remembered. “And she kind if disappeared for a while. And then just a month ago, out of the blue, she sends us an e-mail. One sentence: ‘What are you guys up to? I’ve got big news.’ ”
The woman had dropped PK’s CD off at Rolling Stone. And the editors selected the band as one of its top 16 unsigned acts.
“The cool thing is that it wasn’t us going out and pursuing this,” Hawley said. “They actually came to us and said, ‘You guys have potential to go somewhere. Would you be willing to do this?’ ”
You can vote for PK at the band’s website, www.pkband.com, or at Rolling Stone’s site, http://www.rollingstone.com/choosethecover. The first round of voting ends March 2. Voting continues through the summer, when the two finalists will perform at the Bonnaroo music festival in Tennessee. A final vote will be July 1.
Even if the band doesn’t make it that far, Hawley said the experience has been a boost. “Everybody keeps saying, ‘You guys have already won in a way,’ ” he said. “Just the fact that we’re here. We would never have imagined that we’d be given this opportunity.”