Demons, boogies, and punk ‘n’ roll: entering the realm of The Hellfreaks

Having been hooked on The Hellfreaks and their horror punk/psychobilly bred sound way there was certain sadness when the band split up four years ago. Thankfully it was a short lived demise but their return brought an evolution in sound and new excitement and intrigue towards the quartet. We had the pleasure of catching up with the band recently so they can tell us more about times past and present, and all things Hellfreaks.

Hi all and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Hell there, thank you for having us!

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and how you all came together?

We are The Hellfreaks, a 4-piece punk-rock band from Hungary, Budapest, which is quite in the middle of nowhere in the international rock world. But somehow, with a bit of luck and hell lot of work we managed to play way more shows over the border, than in Hungary. Since the foundation in 2009 we have played over 200 gigs across Europe and also made it over the big pond and toured in the US.

In 2014 the original band split up for a while. But it looked like Sue’s (our singer) destiny did not agree with that decision, as one of her biggest dreams just arrived via email right when she started to accept the situation: an invitation to play in the USA. At that time she decided to stitch up the wounds from the past and to restart the band with a new direction and new band members. This is how the new generation Hellfreaks, the one you have right here, were born.  Our bass player, Gabi, and our guitar player, Tomi, had known each other before they joined the band, but in the end it was the band itself which brought all of us together.

Have you been involved in other bands before? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now?

All of us played in different bands before, and all of these bands have been very different – but also, all of them have been rock bands. So we’re all true to our roots and just do what we love at the same time. However, none of us had ever had a band like The Hellfreaks, as this 4-piece-group never played together before. It’s a combination you couldn’t duplicate.

What inspired the band name?

To be honest, the birth of the band name did not happen yesterday. Sue was more or less a kid when she formed the band. The only thing she can clearly remember is that she came up with the idea when she was working at one of her very first working places, at a rockabilly bar, where she didn’t even earn 2$ / hour, so far from home that it was almost impossible to get back late at night. So the birthplace of the band was quite a hopeless place and compared to that we’re very happy about how far it went!

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Our founding band member, Sue, literally grew up with this band. She never expected to tour regularly across Europe, to have a video clip with over 4 million views or to have this as her main life-project for the last 10 years. It all started in an old, dirty, wet cellar as a rehearsal room without even having a window – so we guess a band couldn’t get started more underground. There wasn’t even a goal, we didn’t even have proper equipment; it started just as a hobby thing without any plan.

That might be the reason why this band has changed so much from the start in absolutely every aspect. Our musical style has changed a lot – from a horror-punk billy influenced band, we turned into a punk-rock band, our sound developed a lot, we even changed the upright bass to a normal bass, had many line-up changes …so it has become something more, from starting without a plan to having plans and a goal.

But anyway we think that “change” in general is a good thing, nothing to be afraid of, because only change can bring development:  and we’re just not the kind of people who can stand still, we love to work hard on our skills, we love to see how we’re able to make one step after the other, even when it comes by way more effort than most of you could imagine.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

We grew up, we have changed and our goals have changed with us. Especially as we collected our little “rewards” step by step over the years: touring first abroad, touring regularly, playing with some bigger bands, touring over the big pond, recording album, getting signed by labels  etc. So it’s a natural process, that our goals have changed, otherwise nothing would push us forward.

But it’s important, that the main point – the fun and exciting process of writing songs, the feeling of getting on stage and playing for those who came there only to see you… that is the best thing ever! All that never changed, and all that make it worthy. Fun and happiness is the core of passion, and nothing could ever change that.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

We would compare our sound at the beginning to a stinky, forever-alone, home sitting, but totally lovely daydreaming teenager who with the years turned into a no-risk-no-fun adventurous world traveller who is a bit better-dressed. Our sound has changed so much! In the early years we were so much focused on playing billy influenced music, belonging to that genre and that subculture, which we loved by the way. But after a while it was not satisfying anymore. The limits of the genre totally killed our creativity, it was more or less impossible to do something new, because that genre was more about being stuck with those musical roots and in the past. Which has its own magic as well – but as an artist, it wasn’t “giving” anymore, it was more a ‘taking” thing.

So in 2014, after a short break and reorganisation of the line-up we just decided to do whatever we want, which turned out to be more punk rock than expected, but it was like taking a huge breath after being way too long under the water. Luckily it turned out that our fan base was still with us, and became even bigger after we decided to walk our own path. And as we are already working on our new album, we can promise, that this road we started to walk has still not come to an end.

How much of that step towards more punk nurtured adventure was just organic and how much the band deliberately trying new things?

It comes with a lot of work, but it is also a natural process, that we hate to repeat ourselves. We like change, we like to work hard to get better, we like to see things developing, and we definitely don’t like to run the same rounds again and again. It’s a good thing when you know that you are able to push your limits, it makes you feel alive and strong.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

There are no influences on purpose, so of course we all had and still have influences but we try to use them as inspiration and try to find the sweet spot of our common musical taste. If we had to list what kind of music we listened to during the writing and recording process of our last album, you would get a list from A to Z. We think that is one of the key features that makes us able to create something unique in the end. We don’t want to walk along a well-trodden path, we don’t like being someone else – which is only possible if your creating process is not lead by someone else.

Is there a particular process to the band’s songwriting?

All of our albums had a totally different writing process. Just to have a few words about our last release Astoria: Absolutely everything was different and new. New people, looking for a new sound. So there is nothing we could compare to the past. Besides that, these songs were more like written outside the rehearsal room: we made many many demos at home and some of the lyrics were not even written in the same country as in which we wrote the music! At that time, Sue was moving back from Berlin to Budapest, but she had to go back to Berlin for some weeks in the middle of the writing process. For example, the lyrics of our song Why Do You Talk was written while she was working.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Sue writes all the lyrics of the songs, and it’s hard to summarize what they are about. At the very beginning, the lyrics were more tale-like, not selling her sorrows, more like kind of entertaining ones. But as time passed, Sue grew up and realized that she was heard by way more people than she had expected, so she decided it was better to be brave than to be nothing: so right now she is really going naked in her lyrics – you find and read a lot about her thoughts and feelings in and between the lines.

 Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

We don’t want to kill the magic of music for the outsider, but the truth is, that recording an album is an extremely expensive process. It always takes us a longer time till we have the necessary financial background to start recording, and we have to spend every cent of it wisely, to make sure to bring out the best of it.

It would be a dream for us to have the possibility to work in a professional studio from ground zero. But right now recording-wise we need to have a 100% finished plan and concept before we even step into a studio.

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?

We are a very honest, loud power package on stage … this kind of music is just made to be spread by huge boxes, so it’s just where it naturally belongs.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and beyond. How have you found and achieved it?

And again we might destroy some illusions, but the only thing we truly believe in is hard work. And that’s all that any new band can do to get wherever they want – to work your a** off and – it’s the worst cliché ever, but it’s just so right – not to give up. There is an endless number of people out there who are telling you to do it, but just don’t listen to them, go on and stay on your ground.

There are sooo many great musicians and singers out there – the only way to be better than the rest is to work more and to believe that one day it will be worth it.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

We have seen both. Personally we have grown out of the MySpace times. Our first concert invitation from abroad came via a MySpace message: so we were there when MySpace was the-place-to-be for a band, we were there when Facebook became the big thing, and we will be there and prepare for the next step as well.

For us personally, it’s a wave that we like to ride, but only because our singer is working as an online marketer as well, and she is really much into all these devices. So we accepted and also learned a lot about the platforms we can have as a band. But we see many many other bands who are struggling, because they are not into social media, they have no sense of marketing, and if they don’t find help from the outside, they are getting lost pretty quick.

But it definitely has its problematic side – if you want to be a musician, it’s not enough anymore to be a musician. In one person, you have to be your own CEO, your own sales department, your marketing department, your web designer, your graphic department, and of course, while you are all of that in one person, you still have the struggle not to lose your artist in yourself – and the artist is exactly the opposite of all of that I have listed before and that makes it quite hard.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you so much, hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows!

Upcoming Live Dates:

31.03 – Austria, Vienna at Local Bar

05.05 – Hungary, Székesfehér at Nyolcas Műhely

01.06 – Romania, Timisoara at Revolution Fest

13.07 – Serbia, Exit Festival

03.10 – München, Glockenbachwerkstatt

04.10 – Germany, Ludwigsburg at Rocknrollbar

05.10 – Switzerland, Meyrin at Undertown

06.10 – Italy, Treviso at Nasty Boys

01.11 – Germany, Hannover at SubKultur

02.11 – Germany, Erfurt at Ilvers Musikbar

03.11 – Germany, Berlin at Wild At Heart

16.11 – Hungary, Budapest at Robot

Check out The Hellfreaks further @ https://www.thehellfreaks.com/   https://twitter.com/thehellfreaks   https://www.facebook.com/thehellfreaks/

Pete RingMaster 19/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

A fanfare of enterprise and adventure: talking with Krista D

Singer, songwriter, artist; Krista D is an emerging talent beginning to lure keen attention especially with her multi-flavoured rock bred sounds. For our introduction to the Canadian’s music we had the pleasure of talking with Krista about her sounds, songwriting, other projects and much more…

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Thank you for this opportunity!

Can you first introduce yourself and tell us how you began making music?

My name is Krista Acheson and I’m a singer-songwriter, with no official live line-up right now. I record with the help of session musicians and I’m mainly a studio project. I started writing quite young, around 14, and completed my first full length album at around 16. I was moderately active up until 2008 then I took a 7 year break. It’s been awhile since I’ve officially released anything.

Have you been involved in bands or projects outside of your solo work and if so how has those experiences affected your own creativity?

One other band I sang with a long time ago was called A Beautiful Disaster from Moncton, NB. They were a wonderful, talented group of guys. We weren’t really similar in style preference, but what I did learn from that experience is that music can be fun. Not that I never have fun with my own music, but when I write something it begets the process of tracking down session players and doling out money. It was just nice to play for the joy of it and get paid opposed to always being the one who is paying.

For the sake of style variety and a different direction, I actually have two other projects I’m doing right now, but they are also governed by me. Hooha and the Peter Guns is a project I will be releasing experimental rock music under and I have a soft rock project called Molly Grue. I intend to release EPs for each of those this year.

Any particular story behind the name Krista D?

I was young when I started in music so I just based it on my name, Krista Doucet. I was also recording in the Christian music genre at that time but as I got older I disconnected from that lifestyle. I decided to keep the name but ,in order to indicate the life shift, I visually branded myself to allude to the character Sandra Dee from the 70’s movie Grease; who also underwent a bit of a life transition in the film. The band logo, the name of the EP, the pitiful accordion bit I play at the very end of You & Me, are all references to the movie/musical. There’s also a snippet of the movies’ audio hidden somewhere on the EP.

Was there any specific idea behind your music and songwriting when starting out in what you wanted it to offer?

Forming my project was mostly initiated by the discovery that I had a knack for singing and songwriting in my early teens and I have carried on with it because it’s another branch of creative expression; aside from the visual art I create.

Intent-wise, I like there to be levels of meaning. For example: I would want people to listen to a track like Run Jane Run and catch that the title, and writing format, is alluding to the old Dick and Jane phonics’ books. There’s also no chorus in the song; and that kind of forces people to have to listen to the lyrics. It’s a simplified story about a mother who experienced trauma and refused to deal with her subsequent coping behaviors which then resulted in the same behavior pattern being replicated by her daughter. So it’s a song written in a basic teaching format about a topic I feel is very important.

Sonically, I choose genre to direct mood. I pick elements from various genres that I feel make a song sound happy and then contrast it with some punk rock elements because then the tone goes from happy to snarky. I also think applying perkier genre elements make lyrical content dealing with rape or domestic abuse more emotionally palatable.

How has your writing and music evolved over time?

I have to say that I didn’t evolve on this project, at all, especially as a few tracks are re-mastered re-releases from a previous album. I chose to give a few tracks a second chance because I’m very eclectic and I tend to bounce between different genres a lot. The last album was a bit of a marketing nightmare as a result of being so mixed and it didn’t do any of the tracks any favors. That’s why I’ve decided to divide my songwriting efforts into 3 projects. This project is the one I’ll release any tracks that are a hybridization of punk rock, ska, 50’s style, 3 part harmony and doo-wop. Once I complete the other two EPs and I step back and look at all of the material as a whole, it might be clearer if I’ve evolved as a writer.

It evolves a little depending on what musicians are brought in to play the project; mostly because their taste and style is automatically imprinted onto the song by the way they approach it. Where I don’t have a consistent band line-up the only thing that is left to truly evolve is me and I don’t feel I ever change very much. Overall, I feel I have a distinct pattern or rut, depending on how you view it.

So anything you try or new hues you bring in to your music is organic or more deliberate?

When I try something new it’s usually through introducing a different instrument and it’s stemming from the desire to enhance a mood; at least in my mind. I’m not sure it translates to anyone else. Like for Simple Social Tragedy, I decided to write a tuba part because I wanted to communicate a lumbering drunk feeling… like the soundtrack in an old cartoon. I’m probably a nightmare for the session musicians because my main directions are mostly “can you make your instrument sound drunk? Or can you make your trumpet sound slutty? I have a new track I’m working on that I want to hire a harmonica player for. Getting to incorporate a new instrument is always super exciting!

Are there any particular inspirations which have impacted on your music and how you approach and think about creating and playing?

When I was young, I was not really allowed to listen to music that wasn’t religious but I was sometimes able to listen to an oldies radio program called Finkleman’s 45s. I loved it. I attribute a lot of the genre elements I mix into this project to listening to that program.

Tell us about your songwriting, the processes you go through etc.

I think it’s one of those things that processes on a subconscious level and then, once it knits itself into a song, it floats to the surface and I hear it in my mind, sometimes completely formed as if it’s a song that already exists. The emergence is either triggered by a chord progression or sometimes nothing at all. Recently I had a melody repeating in my head but I was going to bed and too lazy to write it out, but when I woke up in the morning, it was still there… like it insisted on wanting to exist. So I’ve written it out and now it’s in queue to be recorded. A frustrating element to my songwriting is that I don’t even play the instruments I hear parts for. I’m sure other songwriters experience it too, but most writers I assume are at least good at one instrument. I think that’ll be my next focus; learning to play at least one instrument well, opposed to being able to clumsily half-ass several.

Where do you draw inspirations to the lyrical side from?

From the people I meet and the things that I’ve experienced. For example: Penny for your Thoughts is about the life of a woman I used to work with named Penny and likewise Black Eyed Susan is about a woman I knew named Susan. Sometimes the songs are about my own experiences; Land Mine is about the emotional process of trying to deal with a bad relationship by starting a new one that promised to be just as tumultuous. My life was a big mess when I wrote Land Mine, so the concept of dancing through volatile, unseen explosives was an apt allusion.

Could you give us some background to your latest release?

This is my first release after dividing my music efforts into three. I’ve already divided my visual art, and now I’m re-launching my music career as a trimorphic singer-songwriter. The Krista D project is the one with the most experience behind it, so I’ve started with this one.

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind its songs.

The general theme is it all stems from life events. When songs are borne out of an actual experience, or emotion, I think it’s easier for listeners to automatically relate to.

For example: Simple Social Tragedy is about a guy who relentlessly harassed me in a bar; with such a bizarre intensity it had to have been a bet. I’m sure the track is relatable for any person who has encountered the feeling of being reduced to a sexual conquest. That feeling where the person approaching you seems to have zero awareness that you have any thoughts or feelings; you are merely a thing they want to use for their own pleasure.

Do you enter the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

I’ve been told I do things oddly, but this is my general process for anyone that is curious. First, I make a painfully rough demo. If I have no guitar player to help me do that, I’ll just record myself singing the melody and lyrics in the structure I want. The demo goes to a session musician who plays guitar and bass to a click or programmed drums. I then do scratch vocals. Then I hire a drummer. I listen to the track and decide if I like how things are feeling and if not I’ll bring in an additional guitar player whose musical background is a different genre to try to manipulate the track to the feel I’m looking for. If I decide I want to add an instrument, such as a trumpet, I work something out on a keyboard. I take the part to an engineer to help me patch the midi to its desired instruments sample so I can hear the part in context to the song. If the part I wrote works, then I hire someone to write it as sheet music- which I then give to a session player. Then after I have all the additional instruments parts in, I clean up my main vocals and do background vocals and harmonies. That’s basically the convoluted process of how a song comes about.

Is there a live side to Krista D?

You know…I’d have to say playing live is currently my least favorite thing about music, but that’s because I’m fairly reclusive personality-wise and it’s expensive to hire live session musicians. If I ever find a nice group of people to play with regularly, I’m sure it would be a lot more fun.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it? Are there still the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there?

You know…I’m not quite sure yet. Locally I’ve had a difficult time connecting with live musicians so it’s been a challenge for me to get out and play. I’ve been told it’s a great community though. Other musicians I meet seem to be very embraced by it. I, however, will be playing my first show in this city next month, karaoke style, with mannequins as my band. I do have a band to back me if I play in the Maritimes or in Calgary, if I travel west.  So, as soon as I finish up some visual art projects for local gallery shows, I may just plan to tour outside my city.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

I actually have very little social media presence right now, and that’s a combination of my being terrible at it and the fact that my online social media efforts are divided into 6 projects. But the internet, in regards to connecting me to places I can’t physically travel to, and making my music accessible worldwide, is an extremely positive and vital thing.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you for the interview! And thank you to anyone who read the interview and listened to the EP. If anyone is interested in following my 3 music projects and/or my 3 visual art aliases, feel free to add me on Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/krista.acheson https://www.facebook.com/theoriginalkristad/  https://www.facebook.com/KristaAchesonArt/ or everything is accessible individually through here: http://www.trimorfik.com

Pete RingMaster 19/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright