Know what I love? Interviewing kickass metal vocalists. Know what I love even more? Getting to talk to vocal pioneers like Leather Leone, Veronica Freeman, and now Ann Boleyn of HELLION. I was fortunate enough to get her on the phone just before the release of the anthology To Hellion and Back. We discussed all things HELLION so get your fix here:
Amps: You recruited legendary producer Ken Scott to produce the new tracks. How did that come about?
Ann: The relationship with Ken Scott began in 1985. Originally we recorded some demos with Ronnie James Dio which we hoped would land us with a major record company in 1984. That didn’t happen and for one reason or another we ended up parting ways with Niji Management Group and changing personnel. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out well with Ken then either, but we had a great relationship with him in 1985. When it came to doing something new I wanted to go back and kind of start up again where we left what I considered the high point of HELLION, ’84-’85 and go back to the basic classic sound and do what we were supposed to do. I wasn’t looking to create any new genres or follow any kind of trend. So we went to Total Access Studios and made it happen.
Amps: The 2-disc anthology drops April 1. How excited is everyone for the release?
Ann: Really, really excited!
Amps: Tell me about Maxxxwell Carlisle, your guitarist. He’s an up-and-comer, huh?
Ann: He’s a really exciting guitar player and it’s an honor and privilege to have him in the band. We originally approached some other guitar players and for one reason or another some of them wanted to go in a newer genres direction and I was adamant about not trying to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to go back and do the classic metal that was the reason I got into the business. So in the end we were referred to him because he only wanted to play the old school metal and when I met with him it was good from the start. We went to rehearse and it was the right combination from the start. There’s one new song from this line-up on the album and it’s a teaser for the new EP that’s coming out and that new EP’S gonna be called Karma’s a Bitch, so we’re super-excited about the reintroduction of the old music and the EP that’s coming out this summer.
Amps: You’re at this year’s Rocklahoma, correct? And then some UK shows up next, right? Then what’s the plan?
Ann: Rocklahoma for us is a warm-up gig. It’s been a while since I got out and played live so we’re doing a couple of local benefits here in L.A. It’s been a long time since I’ve been onstage, particularly onstage with HELLION. Simon Wright (drums) can’t be with us on some shows so we have Shawn Duncan from DC4 subbing for us. It all works out. Anyway, after the warm-up shows it’s our hope that we go to England for festivals and things, and we’re just gonna hit it hard.
Amps: You guys ready to get out and share the music live? Chomping at the bit, or what?
Ann: I’m chomping at the bit, I love playing live. To me playing music in the first place-I mean it’s nice to go in and record, but there’s a magic that happens when you look out at the crowd and they look at you, and you’re enjoying the same thing at the same time. There’s just something so special about that. That to me is what makes playing heavy metal the best. It’s the connection to the people.
Amps: You’re very involved in a lot of things aside from HELLION. I asked V from BENEDICTUM the same question: There are only 24 hours in a day, you know that, right?
Ann: Hahahaa, yeah! But it all depends on if you believe that or not. Those of us who believe in magic can make more things happen in a day than others.
Amps: What do you listen to in your spare time?
Ann: I listen to a lot of classical music. I’m a huge fan of Wagner. It’s a classical version of heavy metal. I love the themes and the epic side of that music. I listen to very, very little modern music. A lot of it just doesn’t inspire me.
Amps: Any hobbies we should know about? Woodworking or building birdhouses?
Ann: I do run occasionally. I always try to get out and exercise when I can. I’ve pretty much always done that. I’m a civil rights attorney so I do some of that stuff and try to help people that have been screwed over by major corporations and employers. I try to help make things right on that front which is an uphill battle all the time. I’m also trying to get the back catalog of HELLION reissued.
Ann: Exactly. We’re trying to make people see the value of physical CDs instead of downloads, which is why we have the anthology, the EP, and a reissue toward the end of the year. This is more personal. The remasters on this anthology are amazing. They were done by a gentleman named Andy Pierce over in England. And when I hear the songs it just sounds 100% better. It’s not even a question.
Amps: Tell me one thing that I CAN”T find about you online.
Ann: Wow…I don’t know. In this day of Facebook and all that, I just don’t know! There’s not a whole lot that people don’t know about me.
Amps: Say something to the HELLION faithful.
Ann: Well first of all I want to really thank the people that have been with us, both the newcomers who are discovering HELLION right now, and also the ones who have been with us for many years. The people’s support, especially on Facebook and twitter has been responsible for what’s happening right now in many ways. I have to thank very much all the people who have followed us, and done all the retweets, and the sharing. In this modern time it’s helped us so much. I’m honored and appreciative of everybody so much.
Ann Boleyn and HELLION are back, so you had better take notice, metalheads. This is old school metal done right, so pick up To Hellion and Back as soon as you can!!