[INTERVIEW] Anthony Caruso of Hellions

On the back of incredible album Rue and a colossal performance at Unify Gathering 2019, Sydney four-piece Hellions have continued in their seemingly endless rise. Gearing up for some of their biggest headlines to date, we sat down with drummer Anthony Carusso for a quick chat about Rue, and what’s to come.

So, I want to touch on Rue a little bit.
Rue has this way of instantly dragging you into this fantastical world and I think that’s mostly in play thanks to the theatrical aspects that carry throughout the album. What are some of the major inspirations you guys drew from with Rue?
I think the biggest inspiration for us, in general, have been Queen and My Chemical Romance which you can hear sonically. For Rue, in particular, Elvis Presley played a part. What we’re taking away from those artists is the fearlessness that they have in their approach to creating. They did what they wanted to do because that’s what they loved. I think that’s been our biggest takeaway; staying true to ourselves and making those sometimes tough decisions with our core values in mind.

Yeah, it’s tricky but it’s definitely something that can be done.

I feel like you’ve carried on with that from Opera Oblivia! You know, that’s the kind of album that’s all about that. I feel like there’s still a lot more that sort of transcends both albums, like there’s that discussion of the human experience and how we interpret each others’ emotions, so when you set out to write something as special as Rue was it ever the intention to have that narrative continue through?
Not in particular, no. I think it happens naturally and I think that’s because we’re still very much growing up. I guess there’s things that are important to us, and things that still relate to us. We don’t do it on purpose, aside from the obvious like 26 and The Lotus. Overall, we’re trying our hardest to stay true to ourselves and what we stand for. And that’s the result!

Another thing that carries from Opera Oblivia, and I think it’s there throughout the entire Hellions discography, is the lyrical prowess. It sets Hellions apart from other bands in the genre, so what’s the process in writing words that are so poetic in nature?
The bulk and skeleton of our lyrics come from our guitarist and vocalist Matt. He’s one of those people who’s head is constantly in books. He’s got this incredible way of articulating everything we want to say.

He’s got a poetic brain.
Yeah, and there is this process where we pick it apart and swap things around. Everything plays a role in creating it all. But that knowledge and the way the words are spoken definitely comes from Matt’s brain.

Man, I hope I’m not alone in this, but sometimes I really feel like I need a dictionary to help me through! Are there ever times where Matt’ll come back to you and you’re like ‘what is that word’?
Yes all the time! It gets to the point where we have to say ‘Matt, we can’t have this word in the song.’ You know, because none of us know what this means and if someone ever asks we’re not going to be able to tell them. Generally he’s aware of what those words are I think there’s a fine line between being ignorant about those words, and realizing their impact.

Well you could always make it up, you know! Decide what the words mean to you on the spot.
Yeah, next record we’re gonna make up a bunch of words and see if anyone catches on.

I think a lot of people really connect with what this album is about, especially in part with Matt’s songwriting. There’s the darker moments on the album, but ultimately it feels very optimistic. So it’s really cool that you’re able to unite so many people that are connected to Rue. Are you guys excited to bring that energy and optimism to the stage?
I’m shaking with excitement, you know. I’m about to bust. Seeing the amount of people buying tickets and coming to shows is already really overwhelming, so I think it’s going to be really humbling come May. As far as the show goes, we’re putting in a lot of effort in to challenge ourselves as performers. We want to be better and put on the best show we possibly can. Not just to the benefit of the audience, but so we can walk away from this and say ‘We’ve done our absolute best’.

What can we expect from the setlist?
Building that has actually been a lot of fun. We’ve had constant debates about it, but we’re finally signing off on some of it. We’ve got some songs we haven’t played live yet from Rue, and some we haven’t played in three or four years from Die Young. We’re really putting an effort into production and trying to make it the most engaging experience we possibly can.

Sounds like its gonna be a massive celebration of Hellions so far.
Yeah, especially since we’re getting into bigger venues, and moving on. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for a long time. It feels like a rite of passage. We can get this done, have this huge experience and then sit down and think ‘Where do we go from here?’

Like you just said, you’re playing some bigger venues and upcoming is your biggest headline tour if I’m right??
Yeah! Some of these rooms are bigger than we thought we’d be able to play!

That’s really exciting! Are you guys excited to bring the more theatrical elements to some of the larger stages?
Absolutely. I mean, there are some restraints. We can’t do everything we want to do; We can’t have a full orchestra behind us, but one day. Unfortunately, these venues aren’t quite big enough. I think overall, the plan is for it to be a theatrical experience.

Just to sort of touch back on the interplay between your records, Obviously there’s ‘Lotus Eater’ from OO and ‘(theatre of) The Lotus’ from Rue. Can we expect to see anything fun that you do with that?
We haven’t decided on that just yet. The idea that we can tie everything together is something that’s definitely been brought up. We’ve even gone to the extent that we’ve considered playing the songs from the 20 series back to back.

That’d be great.
It’d definitely be awesome! I won’t give you too much, but we’re considering things like that.

Before you guys get on stage, you’ve got a great mixed bill! There’s a bit of pop punk in Yours Truly and some hardcore in Dregg, and it’s really cool to see.
Thank you so much! We worked really hard to put this together. We wanted this tour to be as inclusive as possible. We also wanted to bridge what seems to be a small divide between scenes and fanbases. I think it’d be great if everyone could know that we’re all in it together, and it’s all one big family. That’s what we went for.

It’s really cool to see Hellions constantly fighting for the greater good. You’re donating money from ticket/merch bundles to Beyond Blue and it’s great to see how much you guys care.
Doing stuff like that is important to us. Beyond Blue have really helped us personally, and they’ve created this platform that really helps people and made it so accessible. We felt like we wanted to give back a little. IT’s important for us to use our small voice to touch on social issues and the things that are important to us.

It’s back to that fearlessness you mentioned before.
Yeah, and there’s another charity aspect that we’re going to introduce hopefully soon. We’re really excited about it. We want to be able to support these organizations that put in so much time and dedication to helping others.

I love that! I’ll stop eating into your time, after one last question – Can we expect to see Dre do a solo interpretation of the dance from X (Mwah)?
Dre literally never stops moving, so I dare say he’ll do something like that. You know, it’s been really funny to see people at shows and especially Unify to see people do the dance themselves! But yeah, I definitely think Dre will be strutting his stuff.

I’m just imagining the crowd and him doing that in sync together, and it sounds great.
*chuckles* I really hope that happens!

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