Sydney four-piece Hellions have had a mammoth year after releasing Rue, the highly anticipated follow-up to their massively successful and career-changing album, Opera Oblivia.
Hellions will finally bring the album to Adelaide on Friday 3 May at The Gov with a massive lineup featuring Sleep Talk, The Beautiful Monument, Yours Truly and Dregg.
We talked to drummer Anthony Caruso ahead of the tour to discuss the different forms that Rue took while recording, how the album was inspired by Elvis Presley and Queen, the difficulties of choosing a live setlist and their reasons behind their support for the tour, including Adelaide’s own, Sleep Talk.
Upside: Comparing Rue and Opera Oblivia it seems that Hellions followed the direction of ‘Thresher’s’ melodic, theatrical and opera sound in comparison to your earlier and heavier songs, was there a moment of change when the band decided to follow this sound?
Anthony: I think that happened naturally. Our first two records felt like a bit of a demo to us. Indian Summer we were heading in the direction we wanted to but hadn’t quite found it. Opera Oblivia felt like that’s where we found the band that we wanted to be. I guess the themes and stuff that we love most about Opera Oblivia were taken into consideration when we were writing. We never tried to force it out but it kept happening and it felt like we were on a roll.
It wasn’t a smooth process as far as recording goes. We were working on that one for the better part of two years, pretty much since Opera Oblivia was released we were heads down writing in the studio. Rue took different forms. The form that is out there in the world now is not the original form that the record was. It took us a little bit to sit back on and listen back through it and release this wasn’t 100% what we wanted the record to be, so we went back in and changed it. It was a massive journey, but one that we have taken in our stride.
I guess this will your big national tour with Rue, how does a current headline set for Hellions look now that you have this album to play as well? Have you had time to play with it and see what works best live?
We’ve been working pretty hard to put together a setlist for this tour. We’re playing songs from Die Young that we haven’t played in a long time, we’re playing songs from Rue that we’ve never played before. It was actually quite hard to take songs out of the set, we had a set and it was about two and a half hours and we couldn’t play for that long. The process has been quite fun and there’s been some debate as to why we should play some songs over others and we’ve been doing sneaky little polls on our social media accounts and taking into consideration on what people are asking to hear.
It’s pretty exciting we’re putting a lot of effort into the production and also the performance of these shows. We want to challenge ourselves to be better performers and be as engaging as we possibly can with the audience.
With the tour you have some great support acts, in Adelaide you’ll have UNFD’s newest signing, Sleep Talk, you’ve played with them before haven’t you?
We’ve played a couple of shows with Sleep Talk. ‘Everything In Colour’, that song is amazing. UNFD shared that with Hellions a few months ago and said ‘check this out’. We thought it was awesome and we asked if we could have them on our show. We did our best to make sure all of the lineups were as inclusive and a bit of a mixed bag as well. We tried to break down some of those nonexistent barriers that seem to be there. There seems to be a bit of a barrier in the world of pop-punk music and the world of heavy music. So we tried to blend that in and make everyone realise we are all one big community and we are all in it together.
With Rue were there any influences that were out of the ordinary compared to previous efforts?
I don’t know how much you can hear it, but Elvis Presley was a huge influence on us for this record. In particular, he did an NBC special. That was such a huge inspiration for us. The way it was performed and I can’t hone in on how important it was for us. Every morning we would get into the studio and the first thing that got done was that we sat down and had breakfast and listened to that record.
There are bands like My Chemical Romance and Queen where they never seemed to be scared to take risks and be who they wanted to be. That’s something that we have taken a lot from, that fearlessness that those artists all had. It has a profound impact on us to this day still.
After this interview was conducted, founding member, guitarist and vocalist Matt Gravolin has announced his departure from Hellions, however, the band have confirmed they will continue. Their national tour begins in Adelaide on Friday 3 May and it will be the last time fans get to see Matt perform live. Don’t miss it.