March 14, 2011
Hell Beach is not one of those bands. Hell Beach rocks in that old-school way that makes you want to bang your head and wear black t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. They released an album for free online a while ago, but it’s only now that their album is coming out on vinyl, courtesy of Infinity Cat Records. We recently sat down with guitarist/songwriter Brad Holland and drummer Jolene Boyce to ask them about grunge, the writing process, and being big in Germany.
How did you guys meet?
Brad Holland: I’m from Michigan, Jolene’s from New Zealand. We met seven years ago—
Jolene Boyce: We actually met when I interviewed him for a magazine in New Zealand. His band was on tour there and I interviewed him for this magazine I was working on at the time. Then, after I finished college I moved to Michigan for a while, then we moved to Chicago and from there to New York.
When did Susan, your vocalist, enter the picture?
Brad: She was kind of a friend of a friend. I was doing a short film and she was the main actress in it. We were writing all the music for Hell Beach without a singer–she was never a singer in a band but I thought she could do it. We were at this party that she was at and we were like, “Do you want to try singing?”
Jolene: And we were really nervous to ask her.
Brad: Especially because a lot of the music was already formed and done and together, to have someone come in that late…
Did you have lyrics at that point?
Brad: No, not really. The songs were pretty structured though. The lyrics were all last-minute for me. I find that difficult, to write lyrics. The music is formed and everything, and all of a sudden there has to be lyrics. I love that there’s lyrics, but it’s hard. I pick a subject and I try to write about it, or write a story about it. It’s not poetry; I’m not a poet.
Listening to your stuff, it sounds like you’re influenced by a lot of 70s hard rock…
Brad: Writing these songs, I was actually going back and listening to more grunge stuff, from my youth. That was the first music I really got obsessed with, and I was sort of rediscovering it again at the same time all these songs got written. I feel like all of it was birthed out of my reliving of my grunge era. The songs, the way they came out, the structure, the fuzz and the noise was kind of centered around that type of music as opposed to older types of music.
Brad, I know you’ve played in other bands before–is this new album the first time you’ve had complete control of the process?
Brad: Oh, absolutely. Part of the reason for doing this was I wanted to write and produce an album. I record a lot and I’ve been in bands a lot and this was a challenge, it was something I always wanted to do. Thinking about it, I don’t think any of us thought it would be officially put out. I put it up for free on our website, it was up for a year, but I never expected—Jake, the guy who’s putting it out on his record label, randomly gave me a call and was like, “I want to put this out.” I was really, really excited about that, because he’s kind of a connoisseur of music, he’s got a great record collection. I was really flattered that he wanted to put it out on vinyl.
What have you been doing in the time since you finished the album? Writing new songs?
Brad: Well this whole thing kind of resparked everything. It kind of sat for a while, but we’re going to do a record release concert on April 2. We’re going to fly Susan out here and rehearse. And I’ve started writing a new album. It’s totally reamped. Because Hell Beach was dead, it was done. I did a video for the song “Garments,” and that was the last thing—I thought—that we’d do.
Are you planning on touring after the record release show?
Jolene: Maybe in the summer, a short tour.
Brad: Maybe. I’d like to do unique shows. I’ve played and toured a lot in bands for a long time, so I’m a little bit tired of it, but house parties are always fun. It would be good to play a lot of weird, small venues, weird events. Anything can happen, it’s such an unregulated thing. Especially with this kind of band—I mean, it’s pretty noisy. Live I think it’s a lot noisier than the album.
Jolene: We’re actually really popular in Germany.
How do you know you’re popular in Germany?
Brad: They wanted the “Garments” video for TV there. They requested a high-resolution version. But Jolene deals with all of that.
So you’re dealing with like, German TV producers?
Jolene: Yeah, they’re like, “You guys are really popular over here, we want the video.”
Any plans for a tour over there, then?
Jolene: I’d like to go to Germany, so maybe!
Photos by David Swanson