Watch Out - It's Bellray Season!
Author: Carlisle Rogers
Monday, 10 March 2008
The Bellrays do not fuck around. They simply make some of the best damn soul-infused rock and roll since Merry Clayton and the Stones got together. They are able to capture the sheer slippery energy of a live band on some really good drugs on all seven of their studio albums.
Last year, they stunned Australians at the Laneway Festival and Golden Plains, and this year they’re bringing a new album with them, Hard, Sweet & Sticky. Vocalist Lisa Kekaula is worth the ticket price alone, with her grinding, gutter-evangelistic churning vocals lifting the music up somewhere higher than the venue.
Bassist Bob Vennum says the new album is aptly titled, being recorded in a little North Hollywood studio called Regime. “When we do our records, it is pretty much everyone live in the room. Our practice room has been set up to record for about eight or nine years now, so we just come in, maybe we’ll record something, maybe we won’t, and then we’d go back and look over and find the best takes and mix those or add whatever we wanted to it. The last record we did, the Have A Little Faith record, was kind of done the same way, but there was a little bit more involved. We took a little more time with the actual recording and sat down to record those songs.
“With this record, we definitely made an effort to give it a live sound. When you’re recording in the same room and the guitar is in the other room, it just doesn’t feel the same. You can be doing all the stuff you want to do, but it just doesn’t really feel the same, so I had to go back and put the guitar in the room, put it next to my head and just start wailing on it to get a lot of the sound and feel I wanted out of it. Lisa had to do the same thing singing.”
Just as Hard, Sweet & Sticky was about to be recorded, the erstwhile chief songwriter and guitarist, Tony Fate, split from the band. But Bob says that this time around, he and Lisa had written most of the songs anyway. “We gave the guys who produced our record, Dan Burns and Billy Mohler, 35 songs to pick from and they came back with eight songs written by me and Lisa and one that Tony wrote and another song that my friend Chris Leroy wrote as well. We gave them acoustic versions of all the tunes and they put together a bunch of songs they thought would work for the record.
“It was weird having that part of the process out of our hands, but it opened up what we were able to do with a lot of stuff. We gave them a bunch of old songs that had never been on a Bellrays record and a bunch of new ones as well, and they picked a lot of the old ones that had never been on anything. They picked a few of the newer ones, but it was cool because they weren’t songs that I would have picked. In terms of a starting point and a shake up for fresh ideas, it was a great way to start the record.”
WHO: The Bellrays
WHAT: Play the Metro
WHEN: Friday 14 March