The opening 45 seconds of Hellions’ fourth album ‘Rue’ goes from bubblegum fairground rides and cabaret welcomes to Rage Against The Machine tension and the glam grandiose of Queen without blinking.
‘X (Mwah)’ is the perfect middle ground between arena rock and boy band excitement, complete with dance routines and beaming chorus, it’s impossibly fun while ‘Smile’ finds comfort on the run, letting unpredictable danger in, while promising open window escape at a moments notice.
The rest of the album is equally scattergun, swinging between ideas, influence, genre and intention without a care in the world or trying too hard to be aloof in the face of anything goes. The band obviously have different tastes, but under the umbrella of Hellions, they’ve created something viciously unique and utterly theirs.
It doesn’t matter how far they stray from their hardcore punk roots; the band take ownership of every bold colour and comic book adventure. Art as a weapon, they’re the sort of band My Chemical Romance probably wanted to inspire.
“We’ve always had that aspect where we want to surprise ourselves,” starts Dre Faivre. “Hellions has always been a no barriers band. It’s exciting for us, and as long as you’re exciting yourself, then it’s always going to feel fresh.”
Despite heading back into the studio a couple of times to change parts of the album, it “didn’t get any more pop or any harder,” he says. “We went in with those songs and just changed a little perspective. We respect each other a lot and each person had to physically put their forward and go, let’s do it, man. Let’s get everybody’s full influences. Let’s get what we’re listening to, and what we’re hearing and represent it.
“There was a lot of self-empowerment. It was a very self-aware record where we really found each other and found being cool in our own skin. We just great at being ourselves and I love that people can’t pigeonhole us.”
2015’s ‘Indian Summer’ was a furious record, shouting out at a world that refused to listen while 2016’s ‘Opera Oblivia’ took that betrayal hard, turning inwards and falling into the shadows.
“We were shouting at ourselves, not the world,” starts Dre. ‘Rue’ toys with regret, “whether that’s regretting choices we’ve made or with each other, it also has that aspect of knowing it’s okay to regret things,” as long as you use it to move forward.
“All our records have been very personal, but this one is deeper. We’re not judging ourselves, but we’re looking at how we carry each other and stuff like this. It still has that dark element, and it’s bittersweet and melancholy. It’s unfortunate but the pain is relatable. Everyone goes through pain differently, but it’s still the same in certain ways. This record is about our own experiences. We’re very hearts on sleeves people.”
“There are some moments where we’re just saying, ‘this is us now’. That comes with being older, growing into your own skin, not following trends and not bowing down to other opinions. There’s a lot of self-crisis within the record too. Songs like ‘X(Mwah)’ welcome the fact that during those moments of uncertainty, there are people going ‘We’re here to pick you up’. For me, that’s Anthony, Matt and Josh.”
Hellions faced that head-on. After being “a powerhouse in pumping out albums” (three in as many years), the band wanted to take their time with ‘Rue’. While it allowed them time to sit with songs and tweak the things that didn’t sparkle, it also took away touring, which was their means of escape.
“Being home wasn’t a reality check, but it was a reminder that we want to do this. If you’re doing something for so long, that flame can get blown out. You see bands that grind and grind and then just end up quitting ‘cos they end up jaded. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we pick each other up a lot.”
‘Rue’ was created out of “togetherness and having that empathy with each other,” Dre explains. “In our camp that’s a massive thing. We freak out sometimes because we see other bands fight and that’s insane to us. We’re so close to each other; we’re like brothers. It’s having that aspect of respecting that togetherness.
“This time, we let our guard down to properly understand each other. It was important to have the comfort to question what we’re putting on the album. So much is sonically out there that you can understand us as people by listening to one song. We’re very proud of that. As much as the world is on fire, all we have is each other.
“The underlying message of the record is that there’s no problem with being yourself. I want people to walk away thinking ‘I’m cool as shit’. I want people to dance, and I want them to be very comfortable in their skin. I’m big on that idea. If you’re comfortable in your skin, people will love you regardless.”
There’s also a powerful sense of togetherness. ‘Rue’ gives you a swagger. “Turning on the record, walking out of the house and believing I’m ready for the day and the day’s not ready for me. Not having to worry about what other people think, that’s important. If you’ve got that confidence, people are going to love you for who you are.”
Taken from the November edition of Upset. Order a copy below. Hellions’ album ‘Rue’ is out now.
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