Bella Union Week: Interview with Howling Bells

As part of TLOBF’s coverage of Bella Union’s 10th Anniversary, we caught up with Howling Bells. Preparing to headline the first evening of celebrations after the pull-out of Explosions in the Sky we talked about new material, their love of native Australia and what Bella Union mean to them.

After Explosions In The Sky canceled, how does it feel to be headliners of the birthday celebrations? Do you feel any added pressure?
Yeah, we certainly do! There’s an ultimate difference between supporting and being the headlining band. Although we’re on tour right now in Europe, we’re trying to get a couple new songs together for the show. Wanna try and make it just that wee bit more special!

Has the success and critical praise for your debut album surprised you? Has it changed the band at all?
If an artist inherently believes in their work, like we all do, then it feels less like a surprise and more like a fellow companion! They share a similar view perhaps. That’s how we felt.

Have you started writing or recording any material for the new album? Does it have a title and will it follow the same musical direction as your debut?
We’ve been slowly but very consistently working on the next record. We’re all writing songs, mostly on our laptops, so inevitably there’s a different sound. A little more electronic, but it still maintains all the same characteristics of our first album. Strong melodies and atmosphere.

You’re pretty much based in England now. What do you miss about Australia?
Great weather, open spaces, the general easy going-ness of the place.

How were you approached by Bella Union? Had you heard of the label before?
Yep, we were all aware of artists like Francoise Breut and The Dirty Three signing to the label. A friend of ours passed our album onto Simon, and it went from there!

Has Simon given you any words of advice or encouragement?
Simon is always full of encouraging words and sympathetic wisdom. He’s been on the musical merry go round for a while, so he totally gets it! 

How does it feel to be on a label that advertises itself as giving its acts full artistic freedom whilst recording? A rarity nowadays don’t you think?
Tis indeed a rarity with the more commercial labels. However, I do believe everyone is coming down from the mass corporate ladder and realizing that artists are just too clever nowadays!

Which Bella Union act would you most like to collaborate with?
Most probably The Dirty Three or Midlake, would be great to sing a song with those guys playing!

How does it feel to be part of Bella’s 10th Anniversary celebrations? Have you bought them a card?
Ha! I didn’t think of that. Might have to buy one in Croatia somewhere. It feels exciting to be part of something so important, Bella Union really are a wonderful label for their artists, passionate and empathetic, which is something you rarely find within the industry today.

Exclusive Bella Union material
Steam a version of Howling Bell’s The Bell Hit

Look out for more exclusive interviews as The Line of Best Fit’s week long celebration of Bella Union’s 10th Anniversary continues…