Tell the members of Hellion they are the next thing and they will laugh before agreeing with you. We are! Weıre the real thing; the only thing! they said just before wowing an enthusiastic crowd at Los Angelesı Street Scene Festival. But Hellion isnt just another Los Angeles based heavy metal group with big dreams...those in the know are predicting the same surge of success for Hellion as that achieved by Motley Crue and Ratt.
Singer Ann Boleyn, guitarist Ray Schenck, drummer Sean Kelly, guitarist Alan Barlam, and bassist Bill Sweet attribute a certain amount of their notoriety to their charismatic female singer. Ann admits that being a heavy metal singer is difficult for a woman because people ³either love you or hate you. You get the response from the media and the record companies that this is the next big thing or this is terrible! Ann doesnıt mind the strong reactions she elicits from the crowd. I want them to< be totally into it or into it not at all.
Guitarist Alan Barlam has a theory about Annıs contribution to the group. Some people have the attitude - Oh Hellion, thatıs the band with the girl singer - and that makes me ill. Yeah, we have a girl singer; she kicks ass! Pardon the expression---this girls got balls! Shes got four guys behind her who are putting on a hellacious show---once the skeptics come and see that, their mouths drop open and they are like - Wow, I guess we were wrong. - Thatıs why we have a loyal following, because we have a female front person and they either go one way or the other; theyıre either totally into us or theyıre not into us at all. Playing house parties also helped give Hellion a reputation among L.A. kids. As Ann remembers, We lived in a big house in Tujunga. We had parties out there, kegs of beer, 500 to 600 people. One of them had 3,000 people and helicopters came to break it up! We had to move out. A mailing list, acquired by guests at the parties, proved to be a great form of promotion; Hellion would notify these newfound fans about their gigs and theyıd turn out in droves!
One show that stands out in Hellions collective memory was a showcase at the Palomino...a well-known country/western club. A guy who handled bands like Alabama came to one of our parties. He had an in with the guy who booked The Palomino. So, we were booked for a record company showcase. We passed out all these tickets and we had about 500 people show up because we told them we had free food! The club was expecting a typical Sunday afternoon concert; what they got was a swarm of metal mad fans! The gig proved to be an important one, for that show enabled us to be booked into other clubs with status and recognition.
Hellion believes that being a part of the L.A. metal scene has been a generally positive experience, as other metal natives have come to their aid. Ronnie James Dio produced their first album and has helped the band in a big way. Members of Motley Crue and Ratt have shown their support, too. As Ann says, L.A. is the most happening place for music in the world. Youıve got a good climate, all of the record companies are here, its great. But at the same time, one of my gripes about the record companies is theyıre so caught up on proven formulas that they dont grab anything different. England is onto things that are a bit unusual and theyıll take gambles, L.A. wont. Other than that, L.A. is great.
Perhaps it is Hellionıs drive and determination---as well as their dynamic stage show---that have helped the group make a major name for themselves in L.A.ıs metal scene. You have to give up everything, Ann said. Nothing can be more important than the band. Motley Crue said stick to your guns...Hellion says donıt take no for an answer. Keep doing what you have to and drink lots of beer.
(by Dianne Noel)
Member of the Metal Banner Exchange