With the imminent release of the brilliant new Hellions record, ‘Opera Oblivia’, it seemed as good a time as any to have a chat with the boys. I got a hold of Matt Gravolin and this is what went down!
Hey Matt, how are you?
I’m good thanks, man!
I’ve listened through ‘Opera Oblivia’ a few times already and I’m loving it so far!
Awesome, thank you so much for saying so. People are taking to it so far from what I can gather which is awesome.
It’s definitely a step in a very new direction for Hellions. What prompted you guys to do that?
It’s something we always wanted to do and it’s something we aimed to do with the previous record, I guess to try and get grander and more operatic. We tried to do that on ‘Nottingham’ and ‘Polyphasic Sleep’ on ‘Indian Summer’. This is our vision we’ve had for a long time and we just didn’t have the means to make it come to life
I think the change is immediately apparent when you get to the end of ‘24’ and there’s that chanting, sing along part. I see that going over really well live!
Me too! I can’t wait to play that one.
Another real standout track for me is ‘He Without Sin ii) Halation’. It’s got some pretty strong and direct lyrical content, would you like to elaborate on it?
That one is a song about empathy above all else. The issue is not something that the boys or myself can relate to personally. We’ve never been directly affected by what we’re speaking about, like with the catholic church and men of the Christian faith. I was raised Catholic and I’ve always respected the church and I still do. I have a respect for the people of the faith that are obedient to it. People come to the church because they’re wayward souls, and unless you’re raised in the faith, the reason you go is because you’re lost. For these people to seek refuge and sanctuary, only to have children have their futures taken away from them is reprehensible. I was worried about my place for a while, and if it was okay for me to write about that because I hadn’t been personally affected by what has happened to some of these people. If that was doing justice for these people, I couldn’t help myself and we were sure to place our words very careful so we wouldn’t offend anyone. There’s no cussing, it’s very mature and as well pointed as we could make it.
The music video for ‘Quality Of Life’ has really been doing the rounds on my newsfeed. What was the message you wanted to convey with that song and video?
Reconnecting with your youth and what makes you happy. The meaning behind the song is just to follow your dreams and do the things you want to do. It’s frowned upon what we do, travelling the world and not making any money. Everyone is sort of encouraged to follow that path of finishing school, getting a job and saving for a house, and the song is about not doing that if you don’t really want to, and we have that very specific example of the young woman in the video having the visions of her younger self. The little girl was actually played by Anthony’s younger sister.
She’s definitely very cute! So, it’s the third release from Hellions since 2013, but, of course, you formed from the ashes of The Bride. Does working with the same core group of people for so long make things easier in terms of writing and touring?
Yeah absolutely! It can go both ways, once you get to know a person better and what the goods things are about them, you also know how to push their buttons. That’s seldom a problem, though. It’s a blessing, especially when it comes to writing and the creative side of things because having been through everything together we’re all on the same page and the progression is as a unit rather than one or two people.
I personally feel that the production on ‘Opera Oblivia; is the best you guys have had so far.
Thanks, man! I tend to agree.
Who did you choose to produce it with?
His name is Shane Edwards, he’s done a lot of work with Australian bands. My favourite client of his is Hans Zimmer actually! Anthony and I have been working with him for ten years so he knows us inside and out musically, so he’s able to see our vision clearly because of that. Having someone like that on board is something you can’t put a price on. He’s done all of our records in the past and we couldn’t do it without him, and thank God we did it with him this time because the way the record sounds is mostly due to his support and encouragement.
So the album release shows are coming up very soon, and the lineups that have been announced are solid. There’s a lot of great local talent being showcased, like Void Of Vision, Dregg and Harbours. What other Australian bands do you like playing with?
Void Of Vision, we’ve played with extensively and love those guys, they’re like our little brothers! Harbours we have played with before and we get along famously with them. We haven’t played with Dregg before but we know Henley from Ocean Grove really well so we figured we’d really love to see that.
Dregg are a great live band, man!
Dude I cannot wait, anything Henley is involved with, I’m on board!
I agree man, the ‘Black Label’ EP from last year was amazing
That band never ceases to amaze me, what an original and unique sound! It draws people in like crazy and I think they’ll be one of the biggest things for this year and next for sure.
Are there any other tour plans on the horizon once the release shows are done?
We have stuff in the pipeline but nothing confirmed, we’re waiting for that. Nothing I can discuss but there’s plenty you’ll be hearing about soon for sure!
Finally, in your opinion, what have been the best new local releases of 2016?
I really loved Ocean Grove’s ‘Lights On Kind Of Lover’. There’s an upcoming Void Of Vision song that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing early that’s fucking fantastic, everyone will lap that up. It’s so far beyond what they’ve done before. Bare Bones put out a track recently that was sick. What about you man? Maybe you can help feed my brain here!
Well, I loved the new Polaris EP personally!
Dude, people are really on board with that. I haven’t given one enough attention as I should, I heard it once and liked it but I’m not super familiar with all of it. I’m definitely going to have to check it out again.
Man, you definitely should, it’s insane. Either way, thank you so much for your time and I’ll hopefully see you at one of the upcoming shows!
I’d love to, you too man!