The Howling Bells
Formerly known as Waikiki and currently residing in the UK, The Howling Bells are about to unleash one of the most atmospheric and melancholy albums of the year. Already available in Europe, the album has been critically-acclaimed after singles Wishing Stone and Blessed Night swiftly made their way into listeners' hearts and souls. As a result, the album has also officially been declared as the fastest-selling release on the band's label, selling 8,000 copies since its very recent European release last May. But, as vocalist Juanita Stein explains, it hasn't been all smooth sailing for The Howling Bells.
"It was a bit hard for us at first when we moved to the UK. It's just such a totally different atmosphere as opposed to being home in Australia. I mean, on the one hand, we definitely wanted to get out of here to make this record because we wanted to challenge ourselves, try something totally different. But then we were just really taken aback by London, and the fact that there was five of us sharing one place didn't exactly help!" Stein laughs.
Stein is careful to point out that those who expect the record to sound like the previous, more poppy tunes of Waikiki, are in for a bit of a surprise.
"There's always going to be comparisons, of course. But this is a whole different band, not just a different name. It's been all about changes for us, I mean, it's been a natural progression - just like the way you grow up and you grow out of things I suppose. Some of the songs on our previous records are so old that I was still so young when I wrote them - I'm not in that frame of mind anymore."
Which is something that stands out like a sore thumb on the debut. Working with ex-Coldplay producer Ken Nelson, The Howling Bells have embraced their dark side a little more and focused on the emotional aspects of music.
"We didn't think that he would say yes to us, I was such a huge fan of Coldplay's 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head' which he had worked on, but then his manager got back to us and said he was interested! I felt that album was really focused on melody and this kind of really organic sound, which was exactly what we were looking for for our own album. And overall I think that beauty and warmth comes through in the record."
Although as we speak The Howling Bells are back in Australia - "We're in Sydney at the moment" - they are not planning on playing many gigs. Much of their energy is being saved right now for the numerous summer festivals back in the UK.
"There's going to be the Leeds Festival and the Reading Festival, as well as some others and we are just so excited to be doing that. We've played a big festival over here before which was so amazing. I guess the most amazing thing is that people are starting to catch on over there. And also it's the company you're in; when we did the NME Tour we met some really cool people like The Cinematics and The Editors, which was actually the first band we toured with. There are some wild nights sometimes, it's still a tour you know, but it's just really great to see that people are beginning to accept your music."
For now, however, The Howling Bells are mostly excited about giving the Australian audiences back home a taste of their brand new sound.
"Like I said, it's going to be different and I think people are definitely in for a surprise if they're expecting something along the lines of Waikiki. But that's not to say that our previous fans wouldn't like it, it's just about changes that's all."
'The Howling Bells' is out now through Liberation.