Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.
Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?
We are Hearts & Hand Grenades, and we formed in early 2019. We are lead vocalist/bass player Stephanie Wlosinski, lead guitar player Kenny Blesy, rhythm guitar player/keyboard player Mike Bress, and drummer Tom Lafferty. We all come from the Buffalo NY area and have played in multiple cover bands. We all met through that scene but had a different vision in mind for creating our own sound. So, Hearts & Hand Grenades was born out of a love for hard rock music.
Have you been/are involved in other bands before? If so, has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?
Yes, the cover bands that we’ve all played in have impacted us greatly. It’s always fun to play the songs of those artists that we looked up to and enjoyed emulating, but that can only allow so much room for creativity. Covering someone else’s song doesn’t leave much room for improvising before it no longer sounds like the cover song people love to hear. So that is really what has driven us to leave that scene and adventure out into writing our own material.
What inspired the band name?
We were looking for something that could be edgy but still represent what we are: A female fronted hard rock band that can offer a sweet side but will also kick your ass. Definitely not sugar and spice, but more like sweet and sour. So, we tossed around a lot of ideas and landed on Hearts & Hand Grenades.
Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?
Mike Bress and I decided we needed to put together the right people for the job so we landed Kenny and Tom to complete the group. Kenny brings a very clean guitar sound that mixes well with Mike’s heavy guitar distortion and I think it’s a great contrast. We all come from growing up listening to rock music and it just feels like lately there has been a void in that genre but we don’t let that determine what our sound ‘should’ be, we write what we enjoy and that’s what we are all about.
Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?
I think having only been together on this project for a year, we are still pretty fresh. But yes, the same love of rock music, heavy riffs, dynamic lyrics, and just heart pumping tempos keep us moving. We are looking to ramp up a touring schedule soon so who knows, maybe in another year we will have some new stories to tell and new influences to drive our sound.
Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?
We basically began with Mike playing around with some guitar riffs that we thought would make for a killer rock song. I jumped in with some bass parts and started writing out some lyrics to go along. After a few sessions of that we knew we were on to something and had to put together this group so we could share these songs with the world. In our first EP, ‘Wait’, we had a couple of mellower songs on there, but we definitely evolved our heavier sound as we progressed. With our second EP, ‘Nothing Left’, I think we found our footing with what we really wanted to accomplish with the band, and with our current EP, ‘Adrenaline’, which is set to release on May 1st, our desired sound has really shined.
Are you finding it is more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?
The band has definitely experimented with some cross-over genres over the course of our EP’s but they all have really stuck to one rock genre or another. We have some songs with a more metal sound, and then we have ‘The In Crowd’ with swanky verse sections but a punk rock chorus. So ultimately, with us everything is on the table as far as mixing rock into other genres. We have a lot of ideas for new music and will be getting to work on those very soon.
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?
I think our influences are probably all a little different for each of us, but collectively we look to AC/DC, Metallica, and those that really paved the way for Rock and Metal but we have influences from Halestorm, Avatar, System of a Down, Flyleaf and more. For me personally, I have a deep respect for MUSE as musicians. They have a great style both musically and lyrically and just crush it every time.
Is there a process to the song writing which generally guides the writing of songs?
I have found that I come up with my best lyrics when I am driving or doing something completely unrelated to music. I usually hurry up and get the ideas written down before I forget them, but then the real process of putting the song together has started with Mike coming up with some guitar parts, and then I’ll add some bass in after that. After I hear something that I can get into I go back to my stash of lines that I’ve compiled and start to rearrange them and really bring them together to fit the sound of what we are working on.
Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?
I have drawn inspiration from my own life, from my perceptions of others, and even from just something out there, like ‘The In Crowd’. I guess there is nothing off limits for the lyrical content, but I mainly find myself writing based on emotion, whether that be frustration and anger, or sadness and hope. I usually will have some lyrics worked out before I have a melody to put them do, to it almost starts writing a poem and then comes to life with a soundtrack behind it.
Give us some background to your latest release.
Our latest release is set for May 1st and is titled ‘Adrenaline’. It is our third EP in a series of 4-song compilations that we’ve put out starting back in the Summer of 2019. This one is definitely a high energy, in your face EP and we have really pulled in a lot of our favourite riffs into this one. It is by far the heaviest of the three, and we intend to keep writing after this one as well. We have recorded all three EP’s so far at GCR Audio in Buffalo NY, and those guys have done an excellent job for us thus far. I highly recommend them if any artists find themselves in the Buffalo area.
Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.
The theme of this EP is high energy, fast paced and just pure rock. Each song tells a different story, starting with the title track ‘Adrenaline’. This song is all about needing the energy, needing the ‘fix’ that keeps us all going. It’s a true testament to the band for our need to create this high-octane music. It’s our adrenaline; it’s our drug that keeps us going if you will. ‘For the Weakened’ is a good old anthem for the underdog. It’s all about rising up against those that want to knock you down, and that we are with you! ‘Daggers’ is based on the trials and tribulations of a friend of ours going through a touch relationship. That basically came to life after a night out listening to him tell us about his current situation and I just put words to life for him. ‘Turning to Ashes’ is my favourite song so far. It has a great driving sound to it, and it’s all about feeling stuck and feeling frustrated with where you are, and I know this is a feeling that everyone experiences at one point or another. It’s about the realization that if you wait on others or you keep waiting for something to happen that things won’t change. So, for me, this is about making that realization and the next step is doing something about it.
Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably the favourite aspect of the band?
Our live performances are about keeping the energy level up. We engage the crowd and really play to them, not just to a “room”. If everyone in that crowd can connect in some way with what we are doing, then we have done our jobs. If we stood around staring at our hands as we play, then there would be no reason to come see us. So, we will do whatever we need to do to grab the audience and keep them with us for the ride, the music is about everyone, so we want them to enjoy it as much as we do.
It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?
We are trying our best to just get our music out there. We have been lucky enough to have received some radio play in the UK as well as included in magazine articles. I won’t sugar coat; it is hard to make it in the music business and we are trying our best to utilize every opportunity available to us to get ourselves heard. As much as Buffalo is a major city in the state of NY, it is a small scene for where we want to be. We hope to get on tour this summer and are doing are best to facilitate that.
How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?
So far social media has been a great platform for us to share our music, any gig dates, promotional photos, etc. It allows us to connect with people in other parts of the world that we would otherwise not be able to reach on our own. We have been lucky enough to receive positive feedback from fans and a lot of support from our loyal Grenaders! It is always a challenge to maintain daily touches for each platform because there are just so many out there now and its very time consuming to keep on top of it. Ultimately, I think engaging with our fans is important and is well worth the time spent doing so.
Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?
Thank you for including us, we all really appreciate it. You can check us out on all digital streaming platforms, and visit us at www.heartsandhandgrenades.com to see where we will be playing next. Hope to see you all on a summer tour!
RingMaster Review 16/06/2020