The Hellfreaks, a female fronted modern punk rock band based in Budapest, Hungary. Not something you hear everyday, but we are in a modern world and The Hellfreaks are the epitome of the music industry in 2017. Hard working, ballsy and driven, Rock ‘N’ Load caught up with front woman Shakey Sue who gave us a brutally honest take on life of a Punk Rock band from the far corner of the globe.
I first wanted to take the time and thank you for doing this interview with me today. For our readers who haven’t heard of you yet, can you tell us about yourself and anything about the band you’d want us to know? Who have been your major influences in your writing style?
Hello guys, this is Shakey Sue, singer of the band and first of all I’d like to thank you for having us!
We’re The Hellfreaks, a female fronted modern punk rock band based in Budapest, Hungary. As you might imagine, in the world of rock, we’re kind of in the middle of nowhere. I know that you have a lot of punk bands in the UK – compared to that we don’t even have a small drop of a scene. Unfortunately our uniqueness in our country didn’t make it easier for us, so maybe this is one of the reasons, why we had to work incredibly much to make any steps further.
Today, after 8 years of our very first concert, we’re one of the most touring Hungarian bands internationally-wise, we played over 200 gigs over the country boarder, we recorded 3 albums, all on German labels, have over 5 million views on our youtube videos, sold over 5000 physical records and are super happy to have a worldwide fan base that we can call our own.
There is no major influence I could point out: all of us have their part in the songwriting, all of us are different, with different musical roots & tastes. Personally I am very much into female fronted rock and punk music, where the music has some “balls”, so comes naturally, that my taste influences me somehow. But mainly, we’re all into rock music, so it would be quite unnatural to do something else.
Let’s talk about what you currently have going on. Any new music or new tours in the works? If you were to say one song of your own perfectly sums up what you are all about which song would that be?
We are working on our new album all the time and we’re freakin’ excited, cause we’ve changed a lot compared to our normal writing routine. For example I realized a small dream of mine and built up a tiny “recording corner “ where I’m able to sing, shout & scream in my own flat and record it. This opportunity made it possible for me to improve a LOT.
But at this time we also have some very interesting names on board for this album – but I’ll talk about that when the time has come. 😉
This fall we just released 2 new videoclips:
“Burn The Horizon”
is managed by a really one-off and special teamwork. Steven Shea (American writer and producer) made the videoclip with his professional team and he managed the writing and production also. The unique thing about the video is the location of the shooting, because only the ‘viral video’ was made in Hungary, all the other parts were made in the United States of America.
The latest one is “I’m Away”
The financial background for it was partly based on fans’ support through an indiegogo campaign, in exchange for which they were provided with such merch and relics as, for example, my corset which I was wearing in the video for “Boogieman” in 2011.
It is very hard to find a song which sums up our past – but “I’m Away” is for sure the song that shows you which direction we will go along in the future.
When you write any new music, can you tell us what the process is like? Describe to us what happens in a typical writing session.
As I already mentioned – everyone has their own role. But we always start with the instrumental part and after that it’s my turn when I work out the vocals.
The biggest cake slice of the the whole process belongs to our bass player, Gabi: who doesn’t, by far, just work out the bass lines, he is more like our “ in-house musical director”.
I’m more the lonely rider type: I’m not able to write any lyrics if there is any human around. (Cats are accepted). I just need my inner and the outer peace and silence to be able to create.
With the music industry always changing and evolving, what are the things you like and don’t like about it? What aspects of the industry do you feel have hurt or helped your career? If you could change anything about it, what would it be?
I think the most dramatic change at all, by far, is the fact that it is not enough to make good music. It’s not even enough to make good music and be special somehow. It’s not an option anymore to make shows, to rock the sh*t out of the stages, to spread your music live to build up a fanbase, because the tendency for checking unknown bands is quite over. You have to find other ways to reach wide open ears.
I know I will kill the romantic part of band life with my next sentence, but if you’re not managing your band as your own small company, you’re lost.
In one person, you have to be your own CEO, your own sales department, your marketing department, your web designer, your graphic department, and of course, while you are all of that in one person, you still have the struggle not to lose your artist in yourself – and the artist is exactly the opposite of all of that I have listed before and that makes it quite hard.
If you want to have a touring band – there is so much more than music that you have to deal with. I’m quite sure you’d be shocked, if you knew how much time we spend on band management and how much time we can actually spend on our music itself.
This part definitely makes me sad – but on the other hand, this is also the reason why it all turned this way.
When you’re preforming how do you handle any mistakes on stage if they ever happen? Do you have any stories that stand out to you that you had to make a memorable recovery?
I think there is no situation on stage that you can’t handle with humor.
What just popped up in mind happened a long long time ago: we played at Wave Gothik Treffen in Leipzig, Germany, “unfortunately” in front of a lot of people, when I, with a stupid move of my own, somehow managed to hang my microphone up in my backcombed hair. Of course in the middle of the song and I just couldn’t take it out. I felt quite stupid with a microphone on my head, but not having a microphone in my hand to sing …
So all I could do was to tear it out with one move. It hurt like hell, and my hair was ruined for a longer while. Stupid me, but show must go on!
How do you decide which songs go into a set when you perform live? Do you change up the sets or stick to a regular set list? Do you have any covers?
We change our setlist with every new album. Maybe that’s also a way that keeps us motivated to write new songs – We all love when it’s time to have some fresh wind on the stage. But every time we fix a setlist, we fix it that way, because we’re sure that we have found the best combination of our songs. We don’t want to change it, because every change could only be the second best. That’s why we only change it when we have our new album in our hands.
Getting closer and closer to our 10-year anniversary, we have more than enough own songs to play, so we don’t have any covers in our setlist right now.
If you had a choice to go on any bands tour, which tour would you pick and why?
There are many bands on our wishlist, but one of the first bands would be Zebrahead, because as their lines say “ We wanna party party”.
Do you have any advice for any upcoming artists? What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you when you realized you wanted to be a musician?
I’ll keep it short this time.
“Rehearse more, edit less.”
The best advice for any musician at any point.
Any last words?
Thank you so much for having us! Hope to see you at our upcoming shows! Peace, hell, love!