Spend some time getting acquainted with Budapest, Hungary's punk rock outfit The Hellfreaks. The collective have been crafting their aggressive rhythms for quite some time now, and aim to get their sound over to American audiences whom may not be too familiar with them. We talk about how the group got started, their musical influences, how the recording process usually works for them, and their hopes for the future. Here is the transcript from our chat:
Give us your names and roles in the band? Shakey Sue – Vocals
Tomi Bánhegyi – Guitars
Gabi Domján – Bass
Béla Budai - Drums
Take us behind the formation of the group and how you all met? We’ve had many-many changes in the line-up since the foundation of the band in 2009. By now, Sue is the only founding member and the current line-up formed 3 years ago. In 2014 the original band split up for a while. But it looked like Sue’s destiny did not agree with that decision, as one of her biggest dreams just arrived via email right when she started to accept the situation: an invitation to play in the USA. At that time she decided to stitch up the wounds from the past and to restart the band with a new direction and new band members. Our bass player, Gabi, and our guitar player, Tomi, had known each other before they joined the band, but in the end it was the band itself which brought all of us together. Describe your musical influences that really made you want to get into music? We all have other stories, we all have other backgrounds and maybe we all have different reasons, why we think that all the hard work is worth it.
Our singer Sue is really much into other female fronted bands like Fit For Rivals, The Distillers, Jinjer etc. - as a singer, she is more into artists, who have something special in their voice. This attitude is pretty much reflected in her way of singing. But on the other side, our bass player Gabi started to play the bass as a kid, just because he wanted to be like Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. And that’s the way this list would go on - you would read many rock and punk names from different corners of our beloved rock genre. But we truly believe, that this is the key, to create something new. If we were too similar, we couldn’t get something new out of it.
What were some influential British groups that really helped shape or hone your sound? We’re not sure how to answer this one, because if you want to be like someone else, sound like someone else, be similar to someone else - then this equals giving a headshot to your own creativity. We never wanted to be like anyone else, we always wanted to find an own sound, an own thing and never wanted to copy any artist. Where would the sense to create something new be, if you wanted to be a B version of someone else? You can never be as good as someone else, but you can be the best version of yourself! But of course there are many artists, also from the UK that we like and love. For example we just travelled from Budapest to Berlin to see the Marmozets live, who are a blast! Extreme inspiration as a bomb!
What is the creative process like for you guys, does it remain constant or does it change and evolve each time? You may have heard of artists who say, that they are constantly writing and that it’s more like a spontaneous thing, that everything comes naturally in a second … well, we are exactly the opposite.
We need to have a “start and stop” sign for writing, we need extra time for that. We rewrite our songs 100 times, and we work on the lyrics for weeks till they’re finished. We’re almost done with half of our upcoming album, but we’re already working on the 50th project.
We like to work on our parts separately, and put them together when the time has come. So it is a very conscious process, with many ups and downs till we’re able to finalize a song with which we are satisfied.
Let's go behind the recording of your last album "Astoria" and what the whole process was like for the each of you? It was like searching for a new sound, an own voice. The band has changed a lot over the past and this was the first record with the new lineup, so there was no real concept behind it or any good old recipes, but we think it turned out really well.
Sue, our singer was/is the only former member of the band. Apart from her, we were a bunch of new people, we had only one US tour together and we were just faced with a big mountain we had to climb somehow. On one hand, it was very exciting, because we’d all been making music for many many years, but never had a situation like that, to start an old band in a new way, to find a new way that we’re all able to call our own. But on the other hand, there was quite a big pressure: The old version of the band had split up before - and we brought it back, but we didn’t want to do it the same way. We wanted to do it our way, as neither Sue enjoyed the old path anymore. But we had to react quickly: we knew that we had to bring out a new longplayer as soon as possible to stay in the flow. There definitely were some hard moments, as they are normal in any case, when a new bunch of new people who don’t know each other so well start working together on something - so we learned a lot during the process.
What are some of your favorite places to play in the UK area? We haven’t had so many gigs in UK till this point, just around 10 in the past, but we all love them! All in an other way. But what was really special for us Eastern Europeans was that the people are all so nice and so kind. We felt very welcome at every place.
Any new bands or new songs you've been listening to lately that you've been really digging?
Just to stay in the UK area for this question as well: Mayor System Error from the Marmozets is a real earworm!
What's next on the agenda for you guys, and could we expect any U.S. shows in the not too distant future? We’re working on our new album right now and are just in the middle of the writing process. We have some very very interesting cooperations, also in the direction to the U.S. but this is not the right time to talk about it yet. But of course we’ll also have some shows across Europe and hope to see many of you!
13.07 - Serbia, Exit Festival
04.10 - Germany, Ludwigsburg at Rocknrollbar
05.10 - Switzerland, Meyrin at Undertown
06.10 - Italy, Treviso at Nasty Boys
02.11 - Germany, Erfurt at Ilvers Musikbar
03.11 - Germany, Berlin at Wild At Heart
16.11 - Hungary, Budapest at Robot
Lastly, what would you like fans to know about you? We all agree that Die Hard is a Christmas film.