MEET THE BAND: Eric Hellinger (guitar), Annastacia (vocals), Austin Harpel (drums), Phillip Martin (bassist)
THIS TIME IT'S SERIOUS: The band came together about a year ago as singer Annastacia, who says she "knew of" guitarist Eric Hellinger from other musicians, heard the guy playing at Mohawk Studios in Huron where she was recoding her "folk-y" solo project. "I thought it couldn't be the Eric, but it was," she says. "In a creepy twist of fate way, I met the other guys in a studio as well." Prior to forming Hello Violet, Annastacia had only sung in high school bands that she says weren't very serious. "We had more pizza practice than practice practice," she says, explaining that practice would regularly get short and turn into a pizza party.
A VARIETY OF INFLUENCES: Annastacia says band members didn't get together as a group of friends as much as a group of musicians. "We all have different backgrounds," she says. "We come from all different places. I know Pink Floyd was initially a big inspiration, but we went in a bluesier direction. I have a love of R&B slow jams and Eric is the blues fan. We were working on one song, and Eric said he could pick a fight with the blues any night, so the blues aspect wouldn't be there but for his bitching guitar."
AN AUSPICIOUS DEBUT: The songs on the band's new EP, All or Nothing, emerged from a jam session. "When we first started playing together, Eric and I just wanted to schedule a jam," says Annastacia. "As a vocalist, it's an interesting experience. I had prepared lyrics from this big book, and he had a compilation of riffs. We decided which lyrics evoke the best emotion from those riffs. We would strip a song down and change the lyrics out. We wrote the first four songs quickly and thought we were hot shit." The other songs took a little longer to compose.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Songs such as "Trigger Happy " feature intricate guitar riffs and fluttering vocals (think Cranberries); on the other hand, the title track simmers with intensity as Annastacia drops the f-bomb. "To be quite frank, it's about suicide in general," she says when asked about the title track. "I'm a woman and for women in the music industry, the pressure is on. I thought I could be in the industry for ten or 12 years, but you start to realize that it's all or nothing. It's about desperation and giving everything and nobody cares. There's not enough rope to tie the anchor to the boat." Annastacia says the band has written a handful of new songs it hopes to record in February. "The new songs are darker," she says. "We have chosen to stick to the blues. Some of it sounds like [acclaimed singer-songwriter] Josh Ritter, and we've written a lot of story songs too."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: hellovioletmusic.bandcamp.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Hello Violet performs with the Wileys and Frigid Touch at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Happy Dog.