A Q&A With Hellaphant
Gary Beggar talks about his anger-fuelled power pop band Hellaphant…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
The new album is called Crumble and Rise. For us it’s about getting knocked down and getting back up again. Whether it is as a band or in life, we keep getting back up.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
For me it was a tough one to write. Mainly because it deals with a lot of personal subject matter so I had to dig inside and re open up some things that I had buried in life. The rest has been just normal band stuff. Old label bailed on us, guitarist quit, Covid… all that good stuff. But …new label (Faster and Louder Records), new guitarist (Jason Holmes), gigging again. So it’s all on the up and up.
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it?
We recorded with Simon Larochette (The Sugar Shack) in London. We had recorded a single with him and had a good experience. The studio is very laid back and has a great energy to it. Simon and I have a similar outlook on the recording process. We both like experimenting with sound so it helps that he’s not afraid to try stuff. Plus he has a good sense of musicality so his suggestions are usually in tune with what we are thinking. Normally I end up controlling stuff but I’m able to chill and let Simon create the art.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
That it is real. Not writing songs for the trend, chasing a sound that everyone is doing. What you hear is based in reality. Most importantly, if the songs connect with them that they know they are not alone.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
It’s a scrambled approach for sure. I start with a melody for a chorus or hook in a song. Usually when I am nowhere near a guitar, so I record it on my phone. Then I work a basic chord progression around it. Then hash out a skeleton of parts. At this point I take it to the band. We learn the parts and jigsaw them together. Once we have the rough of the song arranged each guy brings out their parts. Scott (drums) will start adding breathing room, accents and fills. Once drums lock in Chris then starts to create a bigger bass line. Once that is hammered down and the rhythm section is down Jay and I start talking about guitar lines. What fits and doesn’t. Lots of players fight the song with guitar parts, pulling the vocal out of key etc. so we spend a bit of time coming up with parts. Some simple and some pretty colourful. After that it’s just backing vocals to be honest. I write the overall song quickly. It’s the fine tuning that takes the longest.
What band/artists have influenced you the most since you started this project, and why?
Currently, we’re really big fans of A Wilhelm Scream. We got to play a show with them (we were the opener of a 4 band night) and they were amazing people. Super nice, courteous as people. As a band? Damn. Strap in. They are amazing. After seeing them the first time we saw the level of professionalism we needed to bring to the band and the stage. Jay and I have seen them a few times now and to be honest mad at ourselves for sleeping on this band until now.
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
We want to tour Europe! A lot. The Underground in The UK in Camden is on my list. Japan as well.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
Currently I like ‘Got the Mime’ it’s a good energetic track. If’s about trying to control your dark thoughts. When you’re having a good day or good time and them dark, negative thoughts derail you. I’m really good at destroying a good day for myself so the song is written for those like me.
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
To be honest, it’s hard to say. Years ago it would be a different answer but the industry has changed so much. I’d like to see the band touring more. And yes overseas. Playing bigger shows and putting out more, good, records.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
YBLO “you barely live once” so do it while you can. Help people when they’re down, support live music and your friends bands!