Since time immemorial, fortune and fame has been what people struggled and strived for – from the ancient Roman gladiators to the contemporary YouTubers. What’s so appealing about it that so many people would give just about anything for their five minutes in the spotlight…? And why is it so that, more often than not, fame becomes your worst enemy…? Naming their upcoming album Hell Of Fame, the Italian Sleaze Rockers Hell In The Club bring to mind stories of many fallen heroes. What is their concept of “the hellish hall of fame” all about and how does the band deal with album promotion in such uncertain times…? These are just the two of a handful of questions I asked the lead singer of Hell In The Club, Dave.
Alexandra Mrozowska: In spite of what is going on all around the globe, Hell In The Club is still going strong. You’ve just released the first single as well as announced the release date of your fifth album. How do you manage to keep the band going in the face of a pandemic?
Dave: The album was ready before this pandemic exploded and in fact the release date has been postponed. The photo session was done in December 2019 and also the mix was ready in January, so basically everything was ready. Then all this happened and the only thing we had to wait for was shooting the videos. We had to wait the first days of June since there was a strict lockdown here in Italy. In fact we shot the videos the very first day there was the possibility to move between regions; me and the director are coming from different areas than the rest of the guys. Actually I am bit worried about the album being released in September because we won’t have the chance to tour. But we’ll see.
AM: …so how do you plan to promote Hell Of Fame in such circumstances?
D: Exactly what I was meaning. And the answer is: I don’t have a clue! We will make a release party in Milan in September, and it will be under the actual governmental directives. So, limited tickets, the crowd will have to remain seated with the recommended distances, and so on… and we’ll see how that will go. That night we will make two different setlists in order to be able to split the fans in two, so that the gig is in total safety. After that I really don’t know. We’re trying to plan a short tour, but things are too messed up at the moment. We’ll see.
AM: 2020 is important for Hell In The Club also for another reason, as Mark replaced Lancs behind the drum kit….
D: Mark has been playing with us for years. He replaced Lancs many times and before him also Fede, our first drummer, when they couldn’t be with us. We know him very well and we always knew that his drumming could fit Hell in the Club perfectly. So this choice was very natural… it’s like he’s always been with us.
AM: The first sneak peek we got into the new album was the first single “We’ll Never Leave The Castle”. In the video, there’s quite a crime story going on! What’s the concept behind it?
D: I wrote the lyrics of this song inspired by a Shirley Jackson’s book. Let’s just say that the spirit is pretty misanthropic, but in an Agatha Christie mood (laughs)
AM: Hell Of Fame will be your fifth album. How did the songwriting process for it look like?
D: It was pretty much the same except the fact that this time we didn’t have enough time to meet in person. At least me and the other guys. So it was basically written mostly by Andy and Picco with the will to get back a little to the sound of our first two albums. A bit less “articulated” than See You On The Dark Side. I wrote three songs near the end of the songwriting sessions and Mark also wrote one song. Then we put all together, we worked on it a bit by sending each other the ideas, and here is Hell of Fame.
AM: The recording process included renewal of your collaboration with Simone Mularoni (DGM, Empyrios etc.). Why did you decide to work with Simone again, especially that he comes from slightly different musical background than the band’s?
D: We sound like this also because of him and he is of course one of the top producers in the genre. We didn’t need a change at this point. At least not now and not in a very long while I believe.
AM: You’ve already mentioned slight change of approach towards music, you’ve also described it elsewhere as “more direct”. What did you mean by that?
D: When we said “more direct”, we were referring to our first albums, so it was a bit of a “back to the roots” thing. Not that we will never do albums like See You On The Dark Side anymore, it’s just that we felt like going a bit more “easy” this time.
AM: The album title Hell Of Fame seems to be quite significant. What’s the concept behind it? Do you have any particular famous figures in mind, just like in the song “The Phantom Punch” about Muhammad Ali, or maybe your own experiences?
D: It’s like visiting a hellish hall of fame. It’s a word pun that reflects a bit the fact that many songs in this album are about figures and atmospheres coming from movies and cinema. Check them out and discover which ones! And with Hell In The Club, there is no such thing as fame. We’re just a band that does this for fun.
AM: So far, the band covered quite a few well-known songs on their albums, from Sam Cooke’s “Another Saturday Night” to Cyndi Lauper’s “Money Changes Everything”. Is there a song you wish you had recorded a cover version of, or perhaps one you plan to do so?
D: We are planning something special about it. Can’t say more at the moment though.
AM: One of the most interesting Hell In The Club songs lyric-wise is your 2016 track “Dance” – a homage to the ‘90s and the ‘80s. What do you think has been so inspirational about those decades?
D: If you liked that song, there is one that goes deeper into the 80s this time and the title is pretty explicit: “Nostalgia”. And basically it’s all about nostalgia. We have been born and were raised in those years, so it’s natural that we see those years with a tear in our eyes.
AM: “Dance” describes the modern era with its “fucked-up crazy shit”. And yet, we have many possibilities and connections we could have only dreamt of if we were still in the ‘90s or the ‘80s. If someone invented a time machine, would travelling back be more of a gain or a loss for the band?
D: Like everything, also modern possibilities have their positive and negative sides. Of course a deeply nostalgic person is always very, very skeptic about the “new”, so that song was pretty much in that spirit. This doesn’t mean that we hate the modern era. Travelling back as a band? I don’t know. I mean, it would be pretty much the same probably. We would do our best with the possibilities we’d have, just as we are currently doing.
AM: In the same song, you fondly remember the time when there was “no need for likes or tweets”. What’s your relationship with social media?
D: Of course they’re helpful and we use them. Not as much as many other bands do though. They’re really time consuming and we prefer focusing on the music. They can get pretty frustrating at times, at least for us.
AM: Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of your first album’s release. Any plans related to this fact?
D: To tell you the truth, we haven’t thought about it! We should definitely celebrate. Thanks for the tip! (laughs)
AM: A lot of bands inspired by the ‘80s Hard Rock scene appeared in the 2000s and the 2010s, Hell In The Club being obviously one of them. Do you think that in the 2020s we will see any more of them, assuming they would have to be comprised of musicians who were born around 2000 and don’t remember even the ‘90s?
D: I don’t know. I think that this kind of music is slowly fading from people’s interests. Youngsters are into other kind of things and also the concept of how this music was played and conceived is a bit far from nowadays idea of how music is consumed. I really don’t know if there will be more bands like us in the future.
AM: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
D: We really hope you’ll enjoy our album. Thanks for the interview!
You can check out Hell In The Club’s new single and video “We’ll Never Leave The Castle” below: