Howling Bells change
‘IF AT first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’
If ever there was an apt motto for a rock outfit, then this would be it, especially for former Sydney indie kids Howling Bells.
Brother and sister, Joel and Juanita Stein, and Glenn Moule – along with new recruit Brendan Picchio – formed a new quartet from the ashes of moderately successful alternate poppers Waikiki.
Then the band decided that a change of name wasn’t enough. They would also need to change continents and base themselves in London for the past four years.
It was a dramatic move, and one that would change them and their music forever.
"It certainly had a big impact on us, stylistically and musically," drummer Glenn Moule told Pulse.
"I’d be concerned if living in London had made no impact on us whatsoever. It changed the way we responded to life in every respect."
The move has been pivotal as it seems to have signalled a marked change in the overall direction of the four-piece, their poppier sound giving way to a more transcendental and spiritual experience.
Their latest (sophomore) album Radio Wars has been released with rave critical reviews across the UK, Europe, and North America.
This latest effort is darker, more melancholy tinged rock, and less pop. It’s ‘more jagged’ according to Moule, with echoes of PJ Harvey and Echo and the Bunnymen.
It delivers atmospheric guitars accented with smooth dance beats, and forsakes fashion in favour of taut songwriting and heartfelt lyricism, while rocking incredibly hard.
"We’re inspired by many things," Moule said, "not just bands but films and art ... gangster films, light, air, dust, dusk and love. That’s how I would define our sound also – a mixture of those mediums."
Indeed, their sound has been described as ‘cinematic’ while also having a certain eerie quality – as though it lives in the place where dreams and reality cross over.
Specifically, the inspiration for Radio Wars came from ‘progress, insight and having toured the first record for three years’, Moule said.
"There was a lot more electricity involved this time around ... a bigger leap across a wider pond."
This new sound – a deeper, dreamier experience – has seen Howling Bells picked up by a major US recording label and scoring support spots on tour with Coldplay and The Killers.
So, does touring with big names and accolades mean Howling Bells can take a breather when they finish up their headline Australian tour?
"Certainly not," laughed Moule.
"We’re constantly striving to better ourselves. Our next project will be our third record, baby!"