I’m growing older too…
October 26, 2018

‘Here with the kids too?’

An woman had started talking to me at the bar whilst I waited for my drink to be mixed. I asked her what she meant.

‘I brought my daughter and her friend,’ she told me. ‘You know, this band aren’t so bad! Sort of like that other band, with the boys in it? Are you here with your children?’

I told her I wasn’t, and thanked the bartender, and the Heavens, for my drink being ready. I refuse to believe I’m too old to attend a Hellions show of my own volition, despite it being suggested at each one I’ve been to.

Hellions,
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, October 24, 2018…

A touring selection of DJs playing Goo Anthems was an odd substitute for support act, and made the night seem to open slowly, despite the venue filling early. It was a shame, but may have helped keep the ticket prices fairly low, and gave a chance to check out the merchandise stand where, thankfully, the album being launched was available on CD (as opposed to Hellion’s previous album launch where I found it only on tape.)

Hellions at the Northcote Social Club, October 24, 2018

Luckily, the lack of support bands didn’t mean an audience that needed time to warm up. As soon as the band emerged on stage, the crowd erupted, even as the band started with a string of new material that only those who had pre-ordered the album would be likely to be familiar with. It was suitable to open with new songs – typical chorus-verse-chorus structure made their own with rips of duelling guitar and building harmonies – and satisfying to see the early enthusiastic reaction, which only built further as the radio-favourite X (Muah) from nine months earlier was brought alive. Later, another new song, Get Up! would hit with a surprise burst of funk-rock bass slaps reminiscent of nothing so much as a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

Whilst the launch of songs from Rue saw Hellions exhibit a carefully rehearsed craft, the older songs played tonight took on a new life. Songs from Opera Oblivia, in particular, were played with a casual ease, allowing them to be heard in a new light, free of the heavy production of their previous touring incarnations. Oddly, though, weird gimmicks were employed, namely a confetti cannon to accompany the closing Thresher, which would have been as crowd-pleasing had it been played in the same raw style as other songs of the era, without any theatrics.

Nevertheless, the show had an energy and variety one doesn’t normally find at heavy rock nights, and, though launching the new record, it was nice to be taken back to early records, and to be a part of a heavy music audience who know how to dance without being brutal to the point of causing distress.

Hellions – Rue

Hellions Rue Album CoverDaniel Johns remarked at Silverchair’s career being spent in darkness until the release of Diorama, when he said the band relished the chance to finally paint in colours. Similarly, Rue feels like Hellions experiencing some relief and enjoying the simple pleasures life has to offer after the outrage that ran beneath the surface of Opera Oblivia.

Immediately lighter and more melodic than anything we have heard from Hellions in the past, Rue opens impressively with Panic! At The Disco vibes during Odyssey, setting a playful tone that will follow through the album. Even the initial mediocre leading single X (Muah) somehow finds new life when played within the context of the album, and the more impressive follow-up single Smile fits equally as well.

Lyrical leitmotifs, including referencing influences, have been continued from previous albums (to the point of reworking the last album’s Lotus Eater‘s chorus exactly for The Lotus) suggesting a stream-of-consciousness writing style, or perhaps that a concept album-esque story is running through all of Hellions’ work. References to aging in the album’s highlight Furrow and 26 seem to confirm an Adele-style naming convention to the band’s numbered song titles.

Rue is an album that sees Hellions continue the trademarks we’ve known from them since the days of Die Young like thumping builds to dramatic crescendos and frantic raps breaking into duelling guitar choruses, along with the thoughtful production added during Opera Oblivia. The result is a much different, but distinctly Hellions record that is just as worthy of the praise that was offered to their previous work. And just like previous works, it doesn’t wear out upon repeated listens.

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Kisschasy…
May 5, 2008

Local heroes Kisschasy will soon embark on what they promise to be their biggest national tour to date before taking their brand of energetic pop rock overseas to introduce to American audiences. Guitarist Joel Vanderuit had been making the most of the time before the group takes to the road on the golf course, but was happy to spend some time at the 19th hole talking to Buzz about the upcoming tour dates, plans ahead, and the fact that this may be the last chance Australian fans will have to see the boys for some time.

‘We’re nicking off for a little while,’ Joel explains the band’s plans for after the tour. ‘But people are still buying tickets, which amazes me, because we’ve been touring pretty much for five years non-stop. You struggle to go three months without us coming through your town. So we’re going to give everyone a break here, and go and piss off some Americans, and tour as much as we possibly can over there. I dare say, until a new record is out here, we probably won’t tour again.’

And a new album doesn’t look like it will happen any time soon. When pressed about recording plans, Joel said that the band had ‘nothing in concrete,’ but that the idea had come up. In the meantime, fans can look forward to a possible B-Sides and rarities compilation within the next few months, featuring songs from past EPs and outtakes from the ‘Hymns For The Nonbeliever’ album. ‘We’re going to chuck some of that stuff on there and give some people some new stuff, without actually having to write anything…’ Joel ponders this thought for a moment, before adding with a laugh, ‘It’s just a lazy way out.’

Of course, fans also have the upcoming ‘Bones & Skin’ tour to look forward to, with support from the Getaway Plan and The Donnas. I figured it must feel special to be drawing support from overseas, but Joel took it in his stride.

‘We needed another support, and we wanted the main support to be an international of some description. We didn’t really know who, but we wanted to bring out someone that people might not get to see every other week. So, [The Donnas] were super-keen, now they’re coming out! We’re all fans of theirs’, and they seem like cool chicks from all reports, so it looks like it should be a fun tour. With the Getaway Plan boys too, who are really cool dudes, and a really exciting band, so it should be good.’

Looking over the tour poster as we spoke, I pointed out that as well as good talent, the gigs also boasted some good venues.

‘It’s really cool venues,’ Joel agrees. ‘And that was a conscious decision, to step it up again. Every tour we do, we want to make it a little bigger, the same as every album you write you want that to sell a few extra copies.’

Of particular interest will be the redeveloped Palace Theatre, formerly the Metro in Melbourne, where the band cut its teeth playing in the band room for Goo on a Thursday night on the balcony overlooking the main stage they are now set to take.

‘Yeah, we played when it was Goo,’ Joel reminisced. ‘We played there a couple of times. That was when we made friends with a lot of metal bands, like the Parkway [Drive] guys and the [I Killed The] Prom Queen guys, who we are all still really good friends with. A lot of weird bills went on up there, but it was a really cool kind of show when you were starting out as a band.’

Since supporting Powderfinger and Silverchair in arena shows last year, Kisschasy spent a lot of time perfecting the set list for their own tour to cater to both new and old fans, as well as rehearsing old material for the show. And, in Joel’s case, perfecting his swing. ‘I’m going to go back and play golf now,’ he says, as we finish.

Kisschasy’s ‘Bones & Skin’ tour with The Donnas and The Getaway Plan starts in Melbourne at the Corner Hotel (Under 18 only) on May 28, Palace Theatre (formerly Metro) on May 29, and the Pier Hotel in Frankston on May 30.

From Buzz Magazine, May 2008.