1.The Rolling Stones famously sang, I know its only
rock n roll, but I like it. But do you think music
is, or can be more, than just rock n roll?
I suppose it depends on what youre striving for you know?
What is it that you want, and what is it that you really want to say
to people? But my religion isnt rock n roll
Im into a lot more than that! Im into the mystique and the
atmosphere and the strangeness of music, and there is a lot of that
in rock n roll, but (pausing), I like everything (laughing),
not just rock n roll I LOVE EVERYTHING! I grew up
in a house full of music, so Id feel like I would be favouring
just one kind, when theres a whole Universe full of love and energy,
and different kinds of music. But for some people (laughing)
2.Youve recently commented on how passionate youve found
British music fans?
Yeah! I mean were passionate about music at home in Australia,
but, the idea of being in a band, isnt taken that seriously. I
remember the first interview that I did in Britain I was blown
away by how seriously the interviewer took the idea of being in a band,
and music in general. I was like, Wow, we havent even put
out a single yet (laughing)! But, he was talking to me, as though
I was as important as any other band you know, and I was really taken
with that idea. Because its quite jokey at home Oh,
youre in a band? When are you going to get a real job? Blah, blah,
*I tell Juanita that you can buy a T-shirt which says, NO JOB,
NO MONEY, NO CAR. BUT I'M IN A BAND*
Ive seen that T-shirt, yeah (laughing). And its kind
of like in LA, where all of the girls with big breasts walk around with
T-shirts saying, I'M AN ACTRESS (laughing). But yeah, its
incredible, and the amount of passion and energy that the fans give
to you, is very new to us. I suppose Europe as well, we toured there
once and its different, but theres this level of (pausing),
theyre very serious about music. As a musician, you give out a
certain amount of passion and energy, and you want that back, and we
get that here and thats what I respond to (smiling)!
3.To give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes,
which songs / artists would you play, if you were to DJ at a special
Howling Bells Club Night?
Oh, it would be a strange night (laughing)! Actually, we did a
DJing thing yesterday me, Joel and Glenn did it. We played everything
from like, Beat It by Michael Jackson (giggling), to Judy Garlands
Somewhere Over The Rainbow, to some (pausing), were really into
kind of offbeat electronic bands, from Colder to Wagon Christ, to Sereena
Maneesh who are a great shoegazer band from Sweden to
Ulrich Schnauss. I mean theres some beautiful, wonderful music
out there, and lots of bands who arent afraid to explore different
territories. Like I said, not just play rock n roll you
know? So thats kind of what wed play if we were to DJ. In
terms of influences, like I said, I grew up with loads and loads of
music, because our Dads a musician so everything that he
used to listen to, which was like, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, The Beatles,
all the good old stuff! And then, I adore soundtrack
music! I adore old French films, and that really romantic notion of
music aching and breaking hearts all over a film. I love Wild West soundtracks
too! So yeah, Im really into the romance of music, and every time
I hear a beautiful song, I know its affected me, if I close my
eyes, and I instantly imagine myself in the scene of a film. Its
really fantastical for me!
*As this is R*E*P*E*A*T, I ask Juanita if she likes the Manic Street
I only know some of their songs, like A Design For Life, but I
would definitely like to listen to more of their music!
*I then tell Juanita all about the band, about Richey and his tragic
disappearance in 1995, and how much of an Icon he is to true Manics
fans but she cant believe that he could never really play
the guitar properly. She also asks me if I think Richeys still
alive, and I say that I think he is, and I just hope that wherever he
is now, that hes happy*
4.When I first heard your debut single, Wishing Stone, it instantly
stopped me in my tracks. What was the last song that had that effect
Ahh, cool! The last song that did that to me (pausing), Im
trying to think of the last time that I was at a club or something and
that happened? Actually, it was the theme song to an old French film
called, A Man and A Woman. I didnt realise how much it had affected
me, until I started playing it on the guitar religiously, for like months.
I was just playing this theme song, and I didnt realise where
it came from it was so haunting and so beautiful. It was only
when I sat down and I (pausing), because my Mum loves French films too,
and I asked her, Do you know where this is from? So she
sparked the memory, and then I went back and watched it. But the song
has the most amazing melody!
5.As a group, do you feel any kind of music telepathy between you
Absolutely, yeah! I mean obviously Joels my brother, so
theres something quite innate and intuitive there, and weve
been playing together for so long now, its like 6 years or something
just mucking around and playing different songs and stuff, and
also with Glenn, Ive been playing for that long. Brendans
been with us for a few years now, so in that time, you develop a kind
of musical intuition, and for this album especially, for most of the
songs, we kind of locked ourselves in the house for a month or so. I
wrote a lot of the songs in my bedroom, and so they had no input from
anyone, and then Id take them into this room and play them to
the guys, and it was usually a matter of an hour, or not even that,
before a whole energy just started rolling out. I cant read or
write music (smiling) but neither can Bob Dylan, and Elvis couldnt,
so that makes me feel good (laughing)! Its encouraging! But yeah,
like I said, Im very, very visual with the music, so Ill
say to them, OK, this verse needs to sound like a giant eagle
flapping its wings, or this needs to sound like (pausing), I dont
know? Falling down an avalanche or something. And they know exactly
what Im talking about!
6.Youve now been based in the UK since 2004, as you see this country
as the most important place to be, in trying to make a career
out of your music. What do you most enjoy about living here, and
what do you most miss about Australia?
Thats true, but we had a tough time living here, for a long
time. I mean its vastly, vastly different from home, and to be
fair, thats exactly why we moved here, because Sydney is really
easy. The people are so friendly and the lifestyles so easy going
we grew up near the ocean, and so theres a real sense of,
Everythings going to be OK you know? If you fall over,
people will pick you up, and if you crash your car there, everyone will
stop for you. The foods amazing and the coffees amazing
I mean everythings just great! But, understandably, we
were like, Well, if were going to make the record that we
want to make, then weve got to get the hell out of here, and really
challenge ourselves. So when we first moved over here, for at
least 3 months, we were just blown away with the City. I mean its
just so hard. Man its hard. Its tough! We were living in
the shittest part of London, which was Acton, and we were sharing 1
room between the 4 of us, with Glenns sister, so that was 5 of
us! But there was just no end to the misery and the hardship, and we
all had to get shitty jobs. So for me, everyday riding a bus through
this part of town and looking around, and seeing these poor migrant
women, just dragging their babies down the road (pausing), Im
not doing any favours for it am I (laughing). But Im just trying
to make it obvious, how big a contrast it was. Its really miserable
you know? Its really hard for people to live there, and I think
in a way, that perhaps subconsciously, it contributed to the sadness
at times, or the edginess on the album that we made. It just built up
in us for a long time, and a lot of artists and musicians are intensely
sensitive, and I just found myself crying sometimes in the middle of
the day. Its just sad you know? Its really tough, and we
vented a lot through the music. So there you go (laughing)! Having said
that though, I do like the history of this country but some places
are heavier with history than others.
7.Whats the best advice youve ever received?
Id love to be able to put it down to one phrase, one witty
phrase, but essentially, its (pausing). Just watching my Dad
hes been a struggling musician for like 40 years now or something,
and he left home when he was 14 with a guitar on his back, and hes
never, ever, ever, ever given up! Hes never stopped you know,
and the last song on our album, is his song, we covered that
Im Not Afraid. So essentially, thats it Dont
Be Afraid! That whole song (pausing), thats the song that summarises
how hes brought us up, to not be afraid, to be fearless and to
have conviction. He would many, many times just look at us, and no matter
how hard it would be, just tell us, If you feel this innately,
then why are you even talking to me you know? Like, What
are you doing here? Get the fuck out of here GO! So thats
*I say to Juanita, that her Dad must be very proud of her, Joel and
Oh yeah, he is (smiling)! I mean as I said, it was hard for us
for a long time here, and hed hear that in our voices which was
hard. But you know, were sending him home reviews and lots of
people love the songs we wrote, which makes us really happy in return!
8.Musically, Howling Bells evolved out of your previous band, Waikiki,
as you longed to create songs that had atmospheric and filmic
Yeah (pausing), I mean Joel doesnt like to talk about it
Waikiki at all. He likes to think that Howling Bells is
a new thing, that its not necessary. But you know, you cant
pretend that you didnt exist before with certain lives. But it
was just a natural evolution, it was like (pausing), you get older you
know? You go from being a girl into a woman, and thats exactly
what happened. I was 16 or 17 when I wrote some of the songs in that
other band, so essentially, they were very poppy
*I tell Juanita that Ive just ordered a copy of Waikikis
debut album, Im Already Home, as well as 2 EPs, from an eBay seller
Oh really (surprised)? Oh wow! Its really different (giggling),
its a lot poppier! I mean you might hear some kind of reference
to maybe where it was going to go, do you know what I mean? But yeah,
it was just natural. The catalyst if you will, was when me and Joel
went to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club back in Australia, 3 maybe 4
years ago? Wed spent so long talking about it, and I remember
watching them from the side of the stage, and they were just shrouded
in red lights. It was so dark and beautiful, and that definitely pushed
the scales that far, and I just looked at Joel and I was like, OK.
ENOUGH this has got to change (laughing)!
*Glenn knocks on the door to ask if he can get the keys, for the guys
to start loading their equipment into the back of the Tour Bus*
9.Do you believe in destiny, or do you think you make your own path
I absolutely believe in destiny, yeah! However (pausing), I think
it was Björk who once said they asked her the same question
and her answer was, I dont believe in destiny, I believe
in beautiful chaos, and I like that idea too! I like that we came
from (pausing), I mean we made this ourselves you know, and we faced
many, many obstacles and challenges, and had to go through a lot to
get here. So theres a part of me that wants to take credit and
go, No, we did this all ourselves the World is chaotic
and fucked up, but weve paved our own path. But, Im
quite spiritual and religious, so I cant take the credit, because
I believe in a God and I believe that theres a reason for everything.
I dont always have the answers, but thats how I feel.
10.Whats the story behind your name Howling Bells?
Me and Joel were watching a TV programme one time, and there was
something that came up on the screen that said, Howling at the
Moon and we were in the middle of discussing what we should
call the band. The minute we saw it, it just struck a chord with us,
and we kind of worked on it and I guess developed it from there. Howling,
is essentially the haunting element of the music that we were writing
at the time, and I love the idea of Bells I just love that their
chime is so lonely. Theyre always at the top of these churches
or chapels in the middle of these Ghost Towns, and theyre just
ringing. So yeah, Howling Bells = Melodic and Haunting, and all that
11.You said that in the past, the words you wrote were coded
and disguised, but that with this album, its heart
all out on the table?
Yeah, it is, totally! And its all part of developing as
a person. I was a very, very secretive teenager, and I think a lot of
teenagers are (pausing), some are obviously more extroverted than others,
but I didnt play anyone a song I wrote for years. I mean I just
had my door locked, and I (adopting a whisper) played so softly, so
that nobody would hear me (smiling), which is why it took me so long
to raise my voice on stage. The first few years we played in the band,
we had so many problems with the sound levels, because I couldnt
sing very loudly, as I was so used to being behind closed doors. So
essentially, I spent years (pausing), I was too shy to tell people what
I really thought. I went to an extremely religious school, and I totally
rebelled against that for a long time, but I think that that played
a really big part in how secretive I was. Because you know, most religions
are (pausing), youre taught to kind of disguise your feelings
your sexuality, your happiness and your sadness. It was very
repressed and I felt like that for years I wasnt allowed
to say what I really thought. And then, the older I got and the more
I rebelled against it, and the more times I had my heart broken, eventually
you sit down one day and you write a song, and its all fucking
out there! Its just like, Argh, this is how I feel!
And that to me, is what Howling Bells is all about!
12.Are there any particular lyrics that youve heard, or any
lines of poetry that youve read over the years, that have always
stayed with you?
Yeah, God (thinking). I mean growing up to Dylan, there was just
like mountains and mountains of stuff, and it just dribbles out of his
mouth. I remember hearing lyrics as young as like 8 or 9 years old,
and not having any clue as to what they actually meant. But its
wonderful growing up and slowly decoding all of the lyrics, and figuring
out what they do mean! Oh God, Im trying to think (pausing), its
a great question and when you want to remember these things, you cant
(laughing). But, I guarantee you that Ill be riding on the Tour
Bus tomorrow, and Ill be like, Damn (clicking fingers),
I should have said that (smiling). Um (thinking), well poetry,
I dont read a lot of poetry Ill get there, but its
something I think youve got to find, and theres enough poetry
in music to last a lifetime.
*I recommend Sylvia Plaths poems to Juanita*
Ive been told to start there, yeah! I mean I did literature
at University thats what I studied, and so I should know
this (smiling), I mean I should be able to roll them off my tongue (laughing).
But, I was a pretty shit student, I didnt read all of the books.
The last lyric that I heard, that I really connected with was (pausing),
its a PJ Harvey song, and I love how stark and raw her lyrics
are. She has this one song on her album, Stories From The City, Stories
From The Sea, called Big Exit, which goes:
I walk on concrete
I walk on sand
But I cant find
A safe place to stand
I love that idea! And you know what else (excitedly)? I just thought
(laughing), theres another song that Ive been listening
to so much lately, its a Dolly Parton song, and its called
False Eyelashes. The whole song, I just listen to it all the time on
the road, and the words in the chorus are (pausing), I mean its
not particularly profound, but it makes sense to me. The chorus is:
A pair of false eyelashes and a tube of cheap lipstick
A pair of worn-out high heeled shoes and a dress that doesnt fit
These are all of my possessions, all I have to my name
And a record played in my hometown, is my only claim to fame
I love that! She sings it with (pausing), shes so young and its
so like, Im trying really hard to make this work you
know? Shes adorable!
*I mention that I saw Dolly Parton being interviewed on TV once, where
she spoke about her own theme park in Tennessee, Dollywood, and then,
in reference to her appearance, famously joked, It takes a lot
of money to look this cheap!
Exactly (laughing)! And its so weird that youve said
that, because I sent my friend a Birthday Card, 2 weeks ago, with her
on the front, and that quote was underneath the photograph (smiling)
It takes a lot of money to look this cheap! Yeah
(laughing)! Does Dollywood really exist (surprised)? Wow, I never knew
13.What are your Tour Bus Essentials?
Our Tour Bus Essentials (giggling)? Space (laughing)! Oh you know,
photos of friends and family were actually going back to
Australia in June for a month, which were all really looking forward
to, and Ill get to see my dog as well, who I really miss, its
a Shar-Pei. Our other Tour Bus Essentials are, the iPod, and I dont
know how wed survive without this thing (pointing to the TV),
I mean it just keeps us alive we just watch movies all day, thats
*I ask Juanita which films the band like*
Well, I just got Rosemarys Baby, so Im really looking
forward to watching that again! Close Encounters we watch a lot
of old Speilberg movies, like Poltergeist and E.T., stuff like that.
Jean-Luc Godard movies, Luc Besson movies, David Lynch movies. Amelie
films just keep us going!
14.When you do have some free time to yourself, how do you like to spend
Um (thinking), films (laughing)! Its the closest thing to
music that I feel homely with, and Im also really interested in
DVD extras. So films and shopping if theres good shops,
and I love markets! So just, you know, hanging around.
15.Is it true, that you chose to sign to Simon Raymondes Bella
Union label, as theyre more concerned with how genuine the
music is, as opposed to how commercially viable it might be?
Absolutely, yeah! Theyre a wonderful bunch of people! I
mean you can tell just from looking at the roster of bands that they
have. Theyre not necessarily bands who sell millions of albums
you know? I hope they do, but its like looking at someones
record collection you can tell if theyre genuine about
music or not, and Bella Union are definitely genuine about what they
do, and which bands they want to have a relationship with. That was
a very big factor for us, in deciding who to sign for.
16.You seem to have a very strong sense of self, and have clearly
taken great care and consideration over the bands style and artwork.
Is this important to you?
Yeah, it is. Its as important to me as film clips, because
its all of the accessories that go with the songs. From the way
the band looks, to the artwork, to the expression to everything!
You want the artwork to be a really clever and inspiring representation
of who the band are. Mikko Rantanen (www.mikkorantanen.com), who did
all of the artwork for our album (pausing), I was flicking through a
magazine in London when we first got here, and I saw (pausing), there
was one particular image it was like a river and it was very
old, it was almost like Middle Century. But there was this couple who
were rowing a boat in the middle of the night, with a full moon, and
they were ghosts you could see through them. And I looked at
it, and I just thought, That is our music thats what
our music sounds like so to me, thats what it would look
like! So we got in touch with him, and within in a week he decided
to do it, and he created all of the artwork specifically for the album!
*I say that the artwork, reminds me a little bit of The Smashing Pumpkins
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness album + the Tonight, Tonight
Yeah, yeah, I hadnt thought of that, but now that youve
just said that, yeah, youre right! Its romantic (smiling)!
Im not sure if well be working with Mikko in the future,
but Brendans also an artist he created the sleeve for Wishing
Stone so if we use him, it will be cheaper for us as well (laughing)!
17.One of the most outstanding aspects of Howling Bells music,
is your extraordinary voice but which vocalists do you find inspiring?
Ahh, thank you. My favourite vocalists are the ones that bleed
you know? God, that put it out on the table! The first vocalist that
just really, really killed me, was Björk. Like listening to the
Sugarcubes, and then when she came out with Human Behaviour, I was just
like, What is this (smiling)? It was just the concoction
of the image and the music and the vocals! So her, and I adore Dusty
Springfield so smoky man! Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays has
a gorgeous voice. Juliana Hatfield. Kate Bush. Hope Sandoval has the
most beautiful voice. But then theres (pausing), I adore Blues
Music, so theres like old Gospel singers and Blues singers. Its
just generally voices that dont have any gates around them you
know? Theyre not afraid, and they develop their own magical style
*I ask Juanita if she would like to meet any of the artists that she
No, not really, because my Dad met Bob Dylan once, and he wasnt
very nice to him which he found devastating. So Id rather
not meet people that I admire, just incase they arent very nice,
because if they werent, I know that I wouldnt want to play
their records again.
18.Do you have any special memories of places youve visited,
bands youve met, or standout gigs / festivals so far?
Well, recording the album is my first beautiful memory of this
band. In terms of other bands, the first band that we toured with was
the Editors we supported them on their European Tour, and that
was the first lot of gigs that we ever did, and the first tour we ever
did! We got on with them so well, and they were just so cool to us,
and we really grew to love each other as bands you know? So I love them!
Weve met some bands recently, like The Cinematics, and we just
did the NME Tour, and all of the bands on that were lovely. We only
did 3 of those shows, but on the last night, in Wolverhampton of all
places, we ended up at this strip club and we had a wild night! It was
just so random, we didnt even know (laughing). So that was very,
very memorable in a good way! It was a lot of fun (laughing)!
19.Being on stage is what you love more than anything.
But what type of experience do you hope that you give to your audience?
I think about the bands that Ive connected with live, and
what theyve given to me, and I hope that I do the same thing for
our audience. Sometimes, Ive gone to see bands and it doesnt
happen very often but when you see a band or a solo artist, and
you just want to get lost you know? I want to get lost in the music
and I want to cry sometimes, and I just want to lose myself. I hope
that there are parts of our set, where people feel like that and get
taken away to another place, because thats how I feel on stage.
If the gigs good, and youre not breaking strings like tonight
(laughing), essentially its all about (pausing), sometimes I forget
that theres an audience there you know? So its about being
as raw and unleashed, and as uninhibited in your own way, as much as
you possibly can. So that doesnt mean Courtney Love style, tits
all over the place (laughing). It means however YOU unleash yourself
onto an audience. Its how YOU do it, and if they feel it
then its working!
20.You recorded your debut album with Ken Nelson, which you described
as a lengthy and emotional process. Looking back on this
experience now, how significant do you think this collaboration was
to the bands development?
He to me, stands out as one person who was very instrumental in
the development of the band. We made a wish list we were told
to make this wish list and there were like attainable producers
and unattainable producers, and Ken was on the unattainable list. We
were like, Theres no way, but well put him down anyway.
We sent him a bunch of demos, we had like 20 songs or something, and
his manager got back to us straight away and said, Hes really
interested and hed love to do it. We were like, Wow,
thats amazing! So it kind of went from there. But I mean
we wrote to him, because Coldplays A Rush of Blood to the Head,
had just come out, and I thought that it was such a beautiful and well-produced
album. It was just so warm, and there seemed to be such an emphasis
on melody, and it was very organic. As a band, we have a tendency to
get really carried away with ourselves we layer hundreds of harmonies,
and so it gets very chaotic. So we wanted someone specifically to make
it organic, because we knew that between our fantasy, and say his reality,
wed combine ideas and make something really beautiful (smiling)!
21.What are your biggest hopes for this record, and for Howling
Well, you know, I guess every artist wants their record to be
successful. And I want as many people to hear it as possible, and to
respond to it in a passionate way, and for it to inspire other people
the way that others have inspired me. Thats the dream for us I
guess. We grew up listening to bands like (pausing), having our lives
changed by music you know? So new bands like Radiohead, or for me, Björk,
stuff like that. So in the long-run, thats what Id love
Id love kids to go, Yeah, Id love to make an
album like Howling Bells, or something like that, and thats
what you want I think (smiling)!
22.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
Can I choose fruit cake? Because I really dont like chips,
which is a bad thing living in England (laughing), because thats
what everybody eats and I hate cream. So Ill opt for my
favourite kind of treat, which is any cake or dessert with fruit in
it like strawberry tarts, or something like that (laughing)!
A very special thanks to Juanita, Joel, Brendan and
Glenn, to Howling Bells Tour Manager Scooby, and to Duncan and
Paul @ Bella Union, for all of their time and help.
I've been where the sun don't shine
I've been where the trees have all died
I've been where there's no pathway or door
And I'm not afraid anymore