Hellions: The Little Rascals
In the last 12 months Hellions went to the etymological route of their name and back. Frontman Dre Faivre tells BLUNT about Indian Summer – the album they brought home as a souvenir.
For all 2014 offered Hellions – the Sydney band formed rapidly from the ashes of The Bride the year prior – nothing came particularly easy. A national headline tour in April was cancelled, scuppered by issues of mental health within the band that required intervention. They regrouped, regathered and more than made up the miles touring with the likes of The Ghost Inside, I Killed The Prom Queen, Hand Of Mercy and Void Of Vision.
Then they packed their bags and left for Thailand where, with Shane Edwards at Karma Sound Studios, they could get to work on album number two – not knowing that, by the time of its release, nearly half the members would have left the band’s ranks. At that time it was just about getting the album done, and working once more with Edwards – a no-brainer, says Faivre – who has been an integral part of their process since the days of
“Shane knows the ins and outs of this band and the ins and outs of us personally; he just brings the best out of us each time we’ve gone over there. He just knows how to dig deep and pull it out of us. This time around we were definitely a lot more organised with the pre-pro, more than half the album was fully pre-pro’d before we went, but a lot of stuff changed with Shane’s input. He’s a great producer as well; he’s incredible.
“The record was the only goal then and there, when you’re in that place you can’t even…” Faivre struggles to articulate the single-mindedness of their time recording Indian Summer. “You wouldn’t even, you can’t even, and you don’t even want to think of anything else. Lewis [Usher] and Dylan [Stark] leaving wasn’t on anyone’s minds while we were there. The main goal there was to be 100 percent into the album, 100 percent there. And it’s Thailand! It’s such a crazy place, there’s so much to do it’s ridiculous.”
The myopic mentality shows; Indian Summer is extravagant, flourished, and its scale suggests the exploration and experimentation a month in the studio and a collaborative construction of songs allows – “ii) Technicolour Yawn” sounding as though it is phoned in from some Cuban/Indian café, the title track a similar outlier that juxtaposes the thick stroke of a cello with Travis Barker-channeling drumming. While they had recorded their debut, 2013’s Die Young, at the same studio, once again with Edwards producing, the bigger vision for Indian Summer begged for one crucial change – more time. And they got it.
“We had a cool 30 days there, so last time it was only 18 days, but the full month meant we had a lot more time to have fun with it and try different things. There’s definitely a lot of space on the record because of that. I guess it’s a cliché to say that we were thinking outside the box and we didn’t really want to pigeonhole ourselves into a certain area, but with this album we just wanted to go as all out as possible. We had a lot more time over there this time around, and the album was so much better for that. We just didn’t want to really have an idea overlooked at all; if we had an idea for a grand part we wanted to try that – if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t – but we wanted to try.
“We’ve always found it harder to write individually – if we’re all together it’s not as hard; it’s easier to think outside the box and have more options when we use everyone’s ideas. We’ve never been the kind of band to write as individuals, and I guess that’s why it’s come out big like this. We’ve always accepted all of us writing any sort of idea, whatever’s possible, we like to experiment and, not that there’s anything wrong with sticking to one genre, but we don’t want that pigeonholed approach.”
Since their return from Thailand guitarist Lewis Usher and bassist Dylan Stark (formerly of House VS Hurricane) have left the band, but despite the occasionally rocky road to the release of Indian Summer, Faivre says that the entire band are proud of what they achieved and that the remaining core – of he, guitarist Matthew Gravolin and drummer Anthony Caruso – are keen to give the songs life on stage.
After previewing a handful during their set at the inaugural UNIFY Gathering, a national tour in March with Void Of Vision will give them ample opportunity to do just that. For his part, Faivre mentions an impatience to be playing new tracks like “Mea Culpa” and the Coheed-channeling “Polyphasic Sleep i) Aurora” live: “To be honest I can’t wait, just because of how much is behind those songs, to me they’re exciting songs to play; everything is happening.”
The Hellions story doesn’t end with Indian Summer though, not on Faivre’s watch, and if all that was thrown at them throughout 2014 didn’t close the book, why should it stop now?
“We feel awesome, we’re looking awesome. It always sucks losing members, and those things in life that do stop you from excelling, but the three of us – Anthony, Gravolin and myself – we always know what we want to do, and we’ve always known what direction we’ve wanted to go, what we’ve wanted to do, you know what I mean? In our own sense, losing two members never put the thought in our mind that we should stop or anything like that. We’ve always wanted to do this. It’s going to be a big year, it’s going to be a mad year, it’s going to be a vibe, we’re going to have some fun with it – it’s going to be awesome.”