Music interview: Howling Bells

Howling Bells.
Howling Bells.
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Howling Bells are a four-piece band originally from Australia who are now living in London.

It’s been a few years since their last album but number four, Heartstrings, is finally due for release on June 2.

The band members all went their separate ways after the last album and had a break. Singer and guitarist Juanita Stein had a baby, and, as she admitted, lived a very normal life, despite that not being the usual state of affairs for members of a band.

“Having kids and getting married when you’re in a band is not something you do. You feel protected under this great umbrella of touring and making music and you don’t think about those things. It’s not really a very practical existence, so it’s healthy and nice to step outside of that and get a reality check,” she said.

“It’s been a few years since our last album, so there are a few nerves. This album does feel like a natural thing, it’s not been strenuous or awkward at any stage.”

The album took just 11 days to record: “When we finished writing we discussed that we might not do it so quickly, but then we decided that we wanted the pressure that comes with a tight time constraint”, added Juanita.

“You can go for a really lengthy process, but the idea of a compressed session we could really throw ourselves into for a short burst was very exciting. Our second and third albums were really lengthy and thoughtful and they worked for various reasons, but I did think we compromised the urgency that was captured on our first record. I thought if we did that again for the fourth album we might get back to the spirit of our debut. And I think we have done.

A 13 date tour kicks off on May 29 and lands in Leeds on June 7, playing at the Brudenell Social Club. The plan is then to make a bid for a share of the American market. “It’s really never happened for us over there, which is a source of sadness”, said Juanita. “But we’ve just got an amazing new team over there and there are tentative plans to tour later this year. Hopefully that’ll get confirmed soon and we’ll give it a shot. I think our music would connect over there, so fingers crossed.”

Juanita is in another band with ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson called Albert Albert: “It’s a lot of fun, and a real departure. I joined when there wasn’t anything happening with Howling Bells, and I just play guitar in Albert Albert and do a few harmonies. Nick’s wife sings in that band, so I just get to sit back a bit. We’re recording an album and it’s three-quarters done, so it’s all very exciting. And liberating too.

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