When it comes to the Australian hardcore scene, it can be a mixed lolly bag. On the one hand you have the dry, stale and expired. Like the candy itself, you know instantly the reception will leave a bad response. On the other side, you have the desirable and anticipated.
While, “great” bands are few and far between, only coming along every so often, it’s the aspiration shown by certain local upstart groups that drive the scene forward. They’re the ones booked out almost every weekend to play shows, with the aim to grow and improve.
Hands of Hope fit this description like a glove. With their debut, self-titled EP, the Melbourne melodic-hardcore quintet has been gaining a fair amount of attention within their domestic surrounds.
We catch up with the group pre-show in Melbourne to gain an insight into current band life. What emerges is an open and strong collective, which belies their young professional and personal age.
“The response [to the EP] so far has been ridiculously good,” vocalist and lyricist, Nathan Coff says.
“Before we released the EP, no one was coming to shows, hell, we didn’t have any shows! With this EP we’ve been booked out every weekend for the next month. We played a show last night and the night before and I’m wrecked,” he laughs.
“It’s my first official release in a band, so it’s great to have it be so positive,” guitarist Scottie Simpson adds.
With no label and almost no backing except for their own pockets, friends and social media,Hands of Hope have shown that you don’t need thousands of dollars in advertising to get your music out there, you just need to make good music.
Although a band can stand firm and confident in their music, it eventually falls upon listeners to decide whether a group will flourish or fall into the cracks of the scene. Understandably, Hands of Hope were naturally hesitant in the lead-up to the EP release.
“We were pretty confident in what we’d written but we actually re-wrote the whole EP a few months prior to the release as we weren’t happy with it. We spent heaps of time on it, we were waiting to see what everyone thought of it,” Simpsons tells us.
“It’s a bit different than what a lot of bands are doing now. It’s a bit more melodic and there were even some songs that didn’t have breakdowns. So we weren’t sure how that was going to be received,” Coff says.
The band is lively and prepared as we talk to them before set time. The show equally featuresdebut KYS Aussie Spotlight artist, This Fiasco among other local bands. Throughout the evening, it’s a gig of added significance.
“We’ve got quite a few friends playing and it’s actually our bassist’s last show,” Simpson notes.
“It’s going to be a bit fun and a bit sad but there seems to be a fair few people here so we’re thinking it should be a great show,” the guitarist says.
Additionally, it’s also an interesting event for Coff who is under the weather with a cold during the day’s event.
“I hate performing badly but I’ll perform no matter what,” the vocalist reassures.
Focusing on Coff’s lyrics briefly, we get to the bottom of some of the stories behind such songs as ‘Dear Old Friend’.
“A lot of the lyrics come from personal experience. I like to write to get things out like, ‘Dear Old Friend’ is about a mate of mine that lived across the street from me. We grew up together but then he got involved in drugs and he just changed as a person. We drifted apart because of the drugs. It’s a song about how upset I was about it but at the same time, couldn’t do anything about it. So whenever we play that song it helps me deal with it and I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and say they’ve gone through a similar thing and that the song has helped them with it too. That’s insane to me!”
“But most of the songs are just about personal experiences and people come up and tell me they’ve experienced something similar and can relate to it.”
“When I came into the band, a lot of the stuff was already written so the other guitarist, Matt Henley and I sat down and re–wrote most of the songs,” Simpson says of the process of making the EP.
“We did it with Sam Bassal [Ocean Grove, drums] and he’s great because he’s so young and knows so much about music. He’s really honest too. If he doesn’t like something he’ll tell you so and tell you to try different things. Working with him was a lot of fun and even though he worked on a lot of little things, it’s the little things that matter.”
As we head inside the venue to watch the set, there are a large number of people in attendance for a local gig. It is however unfortunate the majority of punters hang around at the very back of the room. But that’s (thankfully) no deterrent to the performance.
Despite Coff’s cold, he plays admirably, bringing the emotion into the songs and delivers the songs as strongly as the studio versions.
Simpson and Henley are note perfect in performance, shredding away at riffs and melodies. The PA system presents no issues in the form of distortion or crackling.
As for the rhythm section, it was disappointing to see bassist James Simmons leave as his technique and precision is highly commendable, blending in perfectly with Emile Battour’s tupperware-tight drumming.
If the evening teaches us one thing, it’s validation Hands of Hope are on the right track.
You can purchase ‘Hands of Hope’ from the below links and can read our positive review of the EP by clicking this link.
Google Play Store: http://bit.ly/1pFqIYQ
Amazon MP3: http://amzn.to/1haDLMy