Hello June playing at V Club
HUNTINGTON - Hello June’s self-titled debut album came out in September and the Morgantown-based band has wasted little time in stamping it onto the musical map.
With such equal parts catchy and heady songs as “Mars,” “Candy Rain,” and “Less Than Nothing,” their eight-song debut full-length album, helped catapult them onto “Mountain Stage” in November and onto a slew of tastemakers’ Best of 2018 lists.
You can find out what all the well-deserved buzz is about come Saturday, Jan. 5, as if on cue Hello June migrates back to Huntington’s V Club, 741 6th Ave., nearly a year since playing last here when they played with Of The Dell and Ona.
Saturday night, they share the stage with The Sedonas, a tasty Americana/rock unit that tours East Coast out of Knoxville, and melodic Huntington rockers Shenanagram. Cover is $7 for the 18-and-up show. Doors open at 8 p.m., show starts at 10 p.m.
The band’s dynamic duo Sarah Rudy, who fronts the band, and her longtime bandmate Whit Alexander, drummer, with whom she’s been creating original music with since August 2012, said 2018 was a wild ride that saw them creating, releasing and then feeling the unexpected warm glow of love back from their creations.
To start 2018, they were part of NPR’s Slingshot class, a designation given to exceptional up-and-coming artists from around the globe after being nominated by folks at West Virginia Public Radio, who were onto their five-song 2017 EP “Spruce,” that had such infectious fare as “Dance.”
To bookend the year, Paste Magazine named their album “One of the 10 Great Albums You Might’ve Missed in 2018” while Indieshop Radio named one of Hello June’s tunes as one of their 49 favorite earworms of 2018.
“It has been a really good year for us and it has been really exciting for us,” Rudy said. “We have worked really hard and put a bunch of work in and actually saw some output from that. It has been really cool to see the responses from the debut album. We did not expect any response whatsoever so to see it from Paste and NPR is humbling.”
With steam building after their 2017 EP yielded such songs as “Dance,” which landed in NPR’s Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can’t Stop Playing (thanks to Joni Deutsch, then host of WVPB’s “A Change Of Tune”), Hello June decided in 2018 to see what would happen when their songs, which have been likened to the best of ’90s alt-pop-rock like The Cranberries, landed in the hands of WV musical mastermind Bud Carroll.
Working around gigs, day-job schedules and Carroll’s steady work at his Mason County-based Trackside Studio, they spent four weekends in 2018 hashing out their eight-song LP which was released Sept. 28 on CD, vinyl and digitally.
“Bud did a good job in having a direction for a lot of the songs and really did a good job producing and finding ways to really add a richness and good texture to the basic tracks that Sarah and I would lay down,” Alexander said. “He definitely has an instinctive feel for where he wants the music to go.”
Rudy, a fan of Carroll’s work recording and producing such records as Ona’s “American Fiction” and William Matheny’s “Strange Constellations,” said they felt really comfortable with the organic way that it felt making music with Carroll, who joined them on their Nov. 11 set on “Mountain Stage.”
“Really from the first time we went to his studio to record ‘Mars’ we did that track alone by itself and we really liked the atmosphere he has created there,” Rudy said. “We felt like he was able to capture the essence of the song and in that room where we were it was really warm and organic with the feel of wood and it just smelled good. It was a really good experience, and we knew that was where we wanted to do the whole thing.”
With Rudy driving from Morgantown to Philadelphia to work for most of the year, the project took a good bit of the year to capture. To help further tell a couple of the songs’ stories, she made two videos for “Mars,” that was released on June 27 and of “Candy Rain” released on Sept. 6.
She got an assist from Marietta, Ohio-based photographer Michelle Waters, but created and edited the videos herself using iPhone footage and for Mars - clips that she bought from NASA.
“I just wanted to create something colorful and imaginative and something that captured the song,” Rudy said. “I am a very visual person and really appreciate visual art and so not having something visual to put out - I didn’t like that idea, and the whole process was just fun.”
With a new album in tow produced by Carroll, who has played “Mountain Stage” a bunch of times, it wasn’t long before the venerable Charleston-based radio show came calling, putting them on the bill Nov. 11 at the Culture Center Theater with River Whyless, Martha Scanlan, Will Hoge and Royal Wood.
Backed by a West Virginia all-star band of Carroll on guitar, John Inghram (Bob Thompson Unit and Fletcher’s Grove) on bass and the soulful singer Holly Forbes (Qiet and Holly and the Guy) on harmonies, they notched up a bucket list gig in fine fashion.
“It was a lot being freaked out and a lot being very excited,” said Alexander, of the show, which was just released to radio in December. “It was very special for us having grown up knowing what ‘Mountain Stage’ was, what it means and listening to a lot of episodes on the radio. To be able to celebrate the release of the LP on ‘Mountain Stage’ and to play songs from that LP and just getting the set ready for it and rehearsing and being a part of the production was all wonderful.”
While Hello June played the singles that had been released such as “Mars,” they also dug in and played “Less Than Nothing,” a song about poverty and addiction that she admitted on stage had never played live until that moment on “Mountain Stage.”
Rudy said she feels as a West Virginian creating art here it is important to, and impossible not to, deal direct with the issues that trouble our lives.
“I think it is really hard not to mix songwriting with things that we are around and see all of the time,” Rudy said. “I think a song like ‘Less Than Nothing’ hits on things that I feel deeply impacted by and I feel like a lot of the state, if not all of the state should have that feeling ... I can’t separate art from the way I feel about things.”
For their show at the V Club Saturday, Hello June is bringing along good friends Annie and Dave Kirkpatrick, a fellow singer, guitarist and bass player, who live in the Bridgeport area. Annie, who artistically goes by Annie Neeley, opened up for Hello June at its Charleston album release party back in the fall.
Rudy said as they have put themselves out there creatively to make original music, they continue to be inspired by the level of talented bands and musicians hailing from the Mountain State.
“There is a lot going on right now that I feel really excited about,” Rudy said. “I feel like there are so many artists coming out of West Virginia right now. It is an incredible time. We have loved Ona for years, and we are big fans of William Matheny. He is a good friend of mine and an incredible songwriter. I think it is a really exciting time here.”
If You Go:
WHAT: Morgantown-based rockers Hello June; The Sedonas, a tasty rock unit that tours East Coast out of Knoxville; and melodic Huntington rockers Shenanagram.
WHERE: V Club, 741 6th Ave., Huntington
WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 5. Doors at 8 p.m. Show at 10 p.m.
HOW MUCH: $7
ON THE WEB: Go online at https://www.facebook.com/wearehellojune/ and go online at vclublive.com
ON DECK @ THE V: Jan. 10, Chico (Documentary about David “Chico” Prince); Jan. 11, Hot Wax a night of Motown With DJ Charlie Brown; Jan. 12, Time & Distance / Emergency States / Mediogres; Jan. 16 - Huntington Blues Society Jam with Jeremy Short (at 7 p.m.) followed by Open Mic Night; Jan. 19, Erase the Grey / 4 Ohm Mono / Signals / R.C.R.; Jan. 25, Justin Wells / Eric Bolander / Nic Allen; Jan.
26, The Dividends / Shelem & The Heavy Hitters / Joey Andromeda