And You Are Invited: October 28th at The Hood Bar & Pizza
By Esther Sanchez
At what is sure to be one of the parties of the year, on October 28th at The Hood Bar & Pizza, The Hellions will be joined by The After Lashes, De-Con and all of the cool kids to commemorate the release of their newest album, Hymns from the Other Side. A staple act on the thriving Coachella Valley music scene for nearly two decades, everyone who has had the pleasure of knowing them and hearing their music knows that they are a solid, kick-ass band and a generally great group of guys. And they would have to be to last as long as they have in the fickle world of making music.
I sat down with the guys over some drinks and cheese-tots to reminisce about their rock & roll journey thus far.
Angel Lua (vox-guitar): “Initially, we met at College of the Desert. That’s where I met Bob and our original bass player, Christian. We had a sociology class together.”
Bob Llamas (bass): “Yeah, I think we all had leather jackets on and no one else had that. Angel had like…a Cramps shirt and I had a Social Distortion shirt or something like that.”
Lua interjects: “And we locked eyes and felt butterflies and the bromance began (the group erupts in laughter). The cool thing is that, as cheesey as it sounds, we pretty much immediately knew we were going to start a band. We didn’t really know anyone else in the desert that were listening to the same type of music and were in to the same kind of stuff…”
Jamie Hargate (guitar): “Bob and I were already in a band at the time called Ritalin, and Angel came in towards the end of that project and played bass for a bit.”
Llamas: “We initially tried to start a rockabilly band but we sucked at guitar so it came out different than what we intended.”
Lua: “We did what we felt was rockabilly at the time which, as we improved, eventually evolved into what we are now. At first we did some house parties and we did a company party for Video Depot and our first official gig was at a bar that no longer exists called Frankie J’s.”
Hargate: “I can jump in here because I saw these guys play at Frankie J’s and it was like…a year or 3 after Ritalin and I was pretty much blown away and said, ‘You know what? I want to get in on this shit. And that’s pretty much how I got in.’”
Lua: “At that point we had been a trio because our bass player had gotten married and moved to Texas so we didn’t have a bassist. Then Travis, who had never picked up a bass guitar, or any guitar for that matter said, ‘Hey, I want to be your bass player.’ And we were like, ‘You don’t know how to play an instrument,’ and he said, ‘Well, I’ll learn.’ Then he bought a bass and we had 6 or 7 songs at the time and he learned them.”
Travis Rockwell (bass): “I learned how to play bass by earning those songs. I was always intrigued by the bass guitar and I would always take my dates to Hellions’ shows. I was sort of a mascot.”
Rockwell continues: “I didn’t really know what punk rock was until I got into high school and people were learning how to express themselves….walking around in Ramones shirts and whatnot…And now, through this band I am still hanging out with my friends from school. I have had a hell of a lot of fun nights for free and now that I’m sober, it gets more interesting every time.”
Lua: You know…we have been pretty resilient. The Hellions have lasted through multiple members, relationships, marriages, addictions…”
Hargate interjects: “And I quit the band twice, but I keep coming back because I love these guys…” (Group erupts in laughter).
I asked the guys, “With all of your history and experience, do you have any regrets? Do you wish you would have done anything differently?”
Hargate: “Everything we did initially was super D.I.Y. Totally in house. But wait until you hear this new album.”
Lua: “Yeah, it’s sort of the pinnacle of our work thus far. We are proud of it.”
Hargate: “And in the end…all of the shoulda, woulda, couldas make a great record. And that’s what we have.”
The Hellions’ record release party is guaranteed to be an amazing time for everyone in attendance. Be there or be square.