1.I first had the pleasure of interviewing you in 2006, and to begin
with, I just wondered what some of your favourite memories have been
since that time, and if you may have learnt anything about yourself?
I guess my greatest memory since then, has been becoming familiar
with the English landscape and touring so much. Because over that time,
weve acquired lots of favourite venues, great friendships and
favourite bands that weve played with. Have I learnt anything
about myself (thinking)? Yeah, probably to take things less seriously,
and as you do over the years, you have lots of personal experiences
and different friends come and go etc. etc. So you learn the hierarchy
in life and the value of things! Certain things that were crucial to
me a few years ago, arent so now, its more about enjoying
my life and being healthy and having my friends around (smiling).
2.I know that making and playing music is a labour of love for you
all, so how does it feel to be back on the road performing live again
and to have a new record on the horizon?
Fucking fabulous (laughing)! I mean we havent really started
as such on the road its only been a few festivals
here and there, but the few times that we have played the new songs,
its just been so refreshing! Yeah, really good (smiling)!
3.Has the title, tracklisting and artwork for your sophomore long
player been finalised yet, and has a release date also been set?
At this point, the record will most probably be called Radio Wars.
The tracklisting and artwork were in the process of that war right
now (laughing). Its due out in the first week of February, but
were probably going to have 2 singles out before then theres
one coming out just on 7 and Download called Into The Chaos, and
thatll be soon.
4.Second albums are renowned for being difficult
but do you have any favourite follow-up LPs?
Um (thinking), yeah, Radiohead - The Bends, I think that was a
pretty stunning second record. Portisheads second record and Nirvana
I mean hello, it can be done (laughing)!
5.Can you tell us about writing and recording your new songs
did you know in your minds what you wanted to achieve, and was this
process different to the way you approached the making of your debut
Yeah, very different! The first record was more me in my bedroom
kind of wallowing over lost love and falling in love it was a
very, very romantic and brooding process. But with this one, its
pretty much been a unanimous process, like every member of the band
has added their flavour and Id say that 2 or 3 of the standout
tracks, were written by Joel alone everything, including the
lyrics! And Ive had the pleasure of singing them! Theres
one song in particular called How Long? which is just heart-wrenching.
Its kind of like a 50s ballad, but its so beautiful.
6.You worked with the producer Dan Grech-Marguerat this time around
what do you feel he brought to Howling Bells signature
sound and did your original demos / ideas change a lot, or are the finished
studio tracks faithful to those early versions?
I think from afar, Dans more into the electronic side of
things and hes a lot more pop. So, he brought out those elements
and I think if we had made it with anybody else, it wouldnt have
the same appeal to it. In terms of the new songs, they have a very,
very different energy hugely different and some of the
demos changed a lot, some of them not at all. But Dans really,
really intuitive and because of his involvement, the musics a
little shinier (smiling)!
7.Whats the ratio between older / newer songs which made the
There are probably about 5 demos that didnt make it and
of the ones that did, some of them (pausing), I mean, there was one
in particular which we had huge expectations with and as it turned out,
the demo just captured something really magical. So we ended up not
putting it on the record. But that happens sometimes you capture
something that isnt tangible and you cant replace that.
8.Are there any songs in particular, that have surpassed the bands
Theres one called Spider and the one I was telling you about
that Joel wrote, called How Long? Both of them just exceeded everyones
9.What were you all listening to during this time are there
any artists / groups who informed the sound of your new record?
Um, Im trying to think. We were in LA at the time, and I
find that whatever city Im in, it does have an impact on what
I listen to and what I feel like listening to! But it was probably a
lot more electronic music. I mean the whole band have always been huge
fans of everything from Boards Of Canada to like Uffie which
is way, way more pop stuff. So yeah, I feel like we took bits and pieces
from everything! There is one song called To LA, which is the strangest
thing, because we demoed it in Australia and when we demoed it, it was
in a huge lounge room of someones house and it was in the middle
of the country, so it was pitch black. And as I was singing into this
microphone, I looked out through the draped curtains and it turned out
that there was an eclipse (smiling)! And then a year later or so, when
we recorded it in LA, before I went to record the vocals, Joel ran in
and said, You wont fucking believe it, but theres
an eclipse right now! That was like the second eclipse for this
song (laughing), it was really weird! I just thought Id mention
10.As a band, have you ever heard a song and thought, We couldve
they got there just before us?
Oh God yeah all the time! There are so many though, that
Ill have to think about a specific one and get back to you (laughing).
11.Can you reveal any of the lyrical themes in your new songs, and of
all your lyrics to date, which line or song are you most proud of writing?
In general, the lyrics are a lot more immediate, whereas the last
record was a lot more nostalgic. This album is a lot more modern in
a way and instant. You know, its talking less about innate feelings
and more about the impact between myself or ourselves, and the world
around us. The song I'm probably most proud of lyrically to date, is
Treasure Hunt, which Joel and I worked on together. It taps into a much
greater consciousness, which I believe is crucial considering the world
we've created around us. It's taking a responsibility without being
dogmatic or condescending in any way, which I feel a lot of politically
aware lyrics tend to do.
12.Is it correct that Howling Bells now have new management and are
signed to Independiente Records?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! We were only with the first label (Bella Union)
for one record, so that ran its course, and were a band who are
very, very fond of changes and taking chances we dont like
going with the same thing all the time. So, we kind of thought, new
producer, new record, new studio, new management, new label new
everything (laughing)! Why not?
13.If you were granted one wish, what would you use it for?
Can I do the whole, Can I have a hundred more wishes?
thing (laughing). No (thinking), Id say eternal happiness!
14.And if you could be anybody for a day, dead or alive, who would
it be and why?
Ooh la la (long pause + thinking). I probably wouldnt mind
checking out the perspective of the Dalai Lama like some great
world, political figure, just to see what the impact could be. Yeah
15.NME has just released a 3CD compilation entitled NME Classics
which features a timeline of legendary songs from The 70s,
80s and 90s. But if you had to pick 1 defining song for
each Decade, what would they be?
Right, The 70s, although Im really not the biggest
Stones fan, Id say Gimme Shelter it just gives me goose-bumps
everytime (smiling)! I feel like everytime I hear it, it just defines
The 70s for me I can see a flash of the Decade go before
me. The 80s, whats a great 80s track (thinking)? You
see, The 80s was so great and it was so shit (laughing), so I
think Cars by Gary Numan probably sums both sides up (laughing)! And
The 90s (thinking), Scentless Apprentice by Nirvana. Yeah!
16.On a similar note, a couple of years ago, Radio 1s Zane Lowe
ran a massive album give-away competition, whereby listeners had to
donate one of their most cherished LPs (thus automatically entering
themselves into the contest), with one person eventually winning everything!
But, which record would you have contributed?
Um (long pause + thinking), maybe Debut by Björk, because
that impacted me the most profoundly. I feel that says a lot about who
17.Are there any artists or bands, who you would like to see cover
/ reinterpret one of your songs for Jo Whileys Live Lounge?
Ha ha, I would like to see the New York Dolls do A Ballad For
The Bleeding Hearts of our first record (laughing), I think that would
be really interesting (giggling)!
18.If you could have been at any gig in the history of music, which
one would you have most liked to have attended?
Probably when Dylan went electric for the first time (The Newport
Folk Festival, USA, July 1965) yeah!
19.Would Howling Bells ever consider performing a special one-off
show with a Symphony Orchestra, similar to Metallicas S&M
Fuck yeah (excitedly)! We had a little string section for this
record, so I think thats definitely something that we would LOVE
to do! So, watch this space (laughing).
20.When reflecting on his music, Nick Cave once said, A good
song has the ability to continue to reveal itself to you, long after
youve actually written it. Does this often happen to you?
Yeah, because youre not always necessarily aware of your
own lyrical content, and sometimes, you find that your subconscious
works beyond your means, so youre a lot cleverer than you actually
think you are. Sometimes, I write a song and they feel like the right
words, and then perhaps a few years later, theyll reveal themselves,
because I can put it into perspective you know? Like the time that I
wrote it in, it makes perfect sense. But, you cant always see
it at the time.
21.Some songwriters also believe that songs are already there
and its their job to find them. Would you agree with this?
Um, possibly. I had a creepy boyfriend once and he used to tell
me that my voice didnt belong to me, that it was channelled by
spirits, so I shouldnt be too proud of it because its not
mine. So that kind of association, Im not so fond of (nervous
laugh). But otherwise, yeah, I can see how some people would believe
22.Is there anybody that you would like to write a song for?
Oh yeah (excitedly)! I would love to write pop songs for like,
young tarty girls yeah (giggling)! I would love to (smiling),
but I would give it an edge, so it would be like dark bubblegum pop!
23.A new book entitled, The Empty Page: Fiction inspired by
Sonic Youth, was recently published and features short stories
by authors whose initial sparks came from Sonic Youth song titles.
Would you ever like to see a selection of your song titles treated in
the same manner, and if so, are there any specific writers who you would
like to see take up the challenge?
Yeah, that would be AMAZING (excitedly)! I guess off the new record,
Id love to see someone really, really adventurous (pausing), Joels
pretty into Neil Gaiman, so it would be great to have someone like that
twist it and write something. Maybe give him (pausing), which title
(thinking)? Maybe Radio Wars and see what hed do with that!
24.Do you have any prized-possessions or favourite gifts from fans?
A portrait, which somebody drew of me once it was really
flattering (smiling). And a piece of jewellery that a girl made for
25.What's the nicest thing that someone has ever done for Howling
Um (thinking), sustained vision and encouragement from the people
who have worked for us. I mean its not easy to keep supporting
a band financially and emotionally. But, were always being surrounded
by people who seem to have a perpetual faith in the band, which at your
low-points, can really encourage you!
26.In terms of mainstream acceptance and success, its long
been acknowledged that alternative / underground artists create the
most interesting art, with a lot of musicians talking about which is
more important with regard to success, The Chase or The Catch.
What are your feelings on this, and do you ever see a time where theyll
be a seismic shift in peoples listening habits, when more leftfield
acts could break through to the mainstream?
Well, I think thats now! Yeah, I do! I think the general
consciousness has shifted immensely and I think only in a Decade or
so, will we look back and realise it. But, between bands like Justice,
Simian Mobile Disco and Midnight Juggernauts even (pausing), I mean
there are crazy punk bands that are selling out the biggest venues in
London, and incredibly left-of-centre electro artists selling out venues
all over Europe. I think its huge and I think that as lame as
she is I cant even believe Im mentioning her name
in an interview (laughing) but the whole Katy Perry thing. Its
minor, but you know, maybe 10 years ago, those songs and song titles
wouldnt have been accepted by the mainstream. So I think its
27.Which song should every young guitarist learn to play, and of groups
past and present, who do you think will continually inspire bands to
Um (thinking), I think every young guitarist should learn to play
All Along The Watchtower. And who do I think will continually inspire
bands to form? I think Im biased, but always Nirvana
28.Lastly, would the Howling Bells from the bands early days,
be pleased with where Howling Bells are at in 2008?
Yeah (without any hesitation)! Id fucking love my record
now Id try and rip it off the Internet (laughing)! Yeah,
I would, definitely (smiling)! Im also proud of everything else
that weve achieved so far, because weve taken chances and
we continue to take chances and as clichéd as it is, I dont
believe in regrets at all. And were all happy within ourselves
right now, so you cant ask for much more (smiling)!
*After our interview has finished, I thank Juanita for her time*
Nice doing business (laughing)!
A very special thanks to Juanita, Joel, Brendan and
Glenn for all of their time and help.
Well rise and fall just like the setting sun