Belle Haven are a band who wear their hearts on their sleeve. Since lighting up the scene with their 2015 debut Everything Ablaze, the Melbourne-hatched five piece have had more than your average dose of highs and lows, from touring the US with the legendary Norma Jean to teetering on the point of break-up after getting screwed over by some dodgy AF music industry “professionals”.
Luckily, the lows didn’t break them. They stuck together through the shitstorm, learned some valuable lessons, changed the way they did things and now they’ve emerged on the other side of it holding an honest, emotional and absolutely towering new album You, Me and Everything in Between, which also happens to be their debut with upstart label Greyscale Records, the collaborative brainchild of Destroy All Lines dude Ash Hull and punk radio lord Joshua Merriel.
It’s due to hit our eardrums this Friday, 16th June and to gee us up for it, guitarist Christopher Vernon and drummer Jake Zammit took some time out to chat candidly with Music Feeds about the past, present and future of the “family” that is Belle Haven.
Music Feeds: Congrats on your upcoming Greyscale debut! What was it that drew you guys and the label to each other?
Jake Zammit: Ash is cool. Josh is cool.
Christopher Vernon: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. We were talking to a few labels and Greyscale seemed to be the one that believed in the record the most. Which is more important to us than how big the label is.
MF: There are some really powerful themes on your new record, lyrically it feels like a lot of it was written to empower the underdog. Was that something you set out to do?
CV: Belle Haven was walked on a hell of a lot as a younger band. Labels/management and creative professionals like videographers would take advantage of us and we just didn’t know any better. This record was more of an ’empowering people to quit being walked on’ kind of deal. As soon as we quit taking shit from industry ‘professionals’ and started doing stuff more DIY things have really picked up cause no one within the band is trying to take advantage of the band.
MF: You’ve said that lead single ‘Selfmade’ was inspired by the band’s experiences getting screwed over by certain professionals and friends over the past few years, which feels like something pretty much all bands can relate to. Without naming names, can you share any of those experiences with us, and maybe some advice for other young bands that could potentially save them from falling into similar traps?
CV: There are a few that stand out to me. But the worst one is most likely the one that nearly caused Belle Haven to split. Before our last USA tour, we paid a well known videographer to do a music video for us that was definitely our most expensive
MV: at that point. Long story short, he never replied to emails or messages or answered his phone and often rescheduled shoots last minute. He also missed 5 deadlines that we all originally agreed on. 5 deadlines sounds stupid, cause a deadline is a deadline. But as I said, long story. Eventually, this all led to the MV being void as we had just recorded our new record You, Me and Everything in Between. He didn’t want to refund the money, even though all the missed deadlines was none of the bands fault. It ended with me taking him to VCAT and him refunding an agreed amount the day before the hearing. So we won in the end, but was so ridiculous to think we had to even deal with that. My advice to younger bands is that if someone has any form of bad rep, there is usually a good reason why. And if you’re unsure, just make sure you have a contract with who ever you’re working with. Contracts are life savers and if people aren’t going to mess you around contracts shouldn’t scare anyone.
MF: So you’ve had some shows with your Greyscale brethren Deadlights – for those who may have never caught you guys in action before, what are some of the main reasons why they won’t want to miss out on seeing Belle Haven live next time?
JZ: We bring the party, go hard and rock the fuck out. There’s not much more to say.
CV: Our live show has always been our most popular part of Belle Haven. Regardless of record sales or online hype, our shows have always have great turn outs. Our Melbourne Worker’s club show is a perfect example of that. Selling out nearly 4 weeks in advance. I would like to think the reason people come see us is that the audience feels like just as much as an important part of the show as the band’s performance is.
MF: Once the tour wraps up, what are your plans for the rest of 2017? Any international dates on the horizon?
JZ: We’re going on a holiday to Wye River to spend some alone time and write some new music over the next few months after our current tour. International tours are always discussed, but hard to always know what’s going to happen in the end.
CV: We’ve had a few offers for International Tours since our last USA one in late 2015, but none that have really worked well.
MF: If you could see one big international music festival come to Australia (and play it!) which one would it be?
JZ: Ooooo, I reckon Download would be a great experience just because of the variety on it.
CV: There is this really cool festival in Europe that Impericon runs. I would love to play something like that!
MF: Out of curiosity, do you guys feel like heavy music gets enough support in Australia? And if not, how would you like to see things improve?
JZ: From what I’ve seen the scene has died down a lot, but internationally, it seems a lot of Aus bands are getting recognition which is super cool. But in the end, I don’t want bands to listen to music they don’t want to just because it’s ‘heavy.’
CV: I feel like now more than ever people are backing heavier music. Northlane got #1 on ARIA Charts. That is not something that would’ve happened 5 years ago. But I think that people like music cause they like music. They shouldn’t have to support something if they don’t like it.
MF: It’s really cool how you guys refer to yourselves and your fans as a “family”. Being in a band is kind of the most complicated relationship you can have with another set of human beings because you’re simultaneously business partners, collaborative artists, friends and family all rolled into one. What’s your secret for keeping all sides of that relationship healthy and strong?
JZ: Thanks. Yes, true. You just have to love what you do really at the end of the day because if you don’t want to be there and they don’t want to be there, no one is going to be having a good time.
CV: Everyone has gotten really good at not fighting over dumb stuff. But it’s taken years and a perfect line up to get to that point.
Belle Haven’s new album You, Me And Everything In Between is out on Friday, 16th June via Greyscale Records.
The band’s Melbourne fam are also invited to a celebratory sausage sizzle this Sunday at the Treasury Gardens: