banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

INTERVIEW – ANN BOLEYN of Hellion, April 2014

| 9 April 2014 | Reply

Women in metal have always been looked at a little sideways by the masses – as if they didn’t belong.  When you speak of metal today, you can’t discuss today’s metal crowd without seeing the influence of women like Hellion’s own Ann Boleyn.  If trailblazers like Ann hadn’t stuck to their path, we may not have current rock and metal bands like Halestorm, Huntress, or the many symphonic bands that seem to make up some of my favorites today.  It was an honor to be granted a bit of Ann’s time early one morning to discuss everything Hellion and what to expect from them this year…


Toddstar: Well first, Ann, let me thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule for us. We really appreciate you taking time out.

Ann: Well, thank you.

Toddstar: I don’t know if I’m the first to say it, but let me be one of many to say welcome back.  I’m so excited. I’ve been listening to ‘To Hellion and Back’ over and over since I was able to get my hands on a copy. This is one of the best retrospectives I’ve heard from any artist in a long time, and that you really pulled together some great stuff. How is it you went about deciding what was going to go on the thing?

Ann: It was very difficult actually because the history of Hellion goes back to 1982 possibly, late ’81, but we started playing officially in n’82. There were a lot of recordings that were recordings of backyard parties and things like that. For a while, I even toyed including some of that stuff because some of the moments were just magical. It really was cool stuff, but the recording, the quality of them was just not very good. There were also some EPs and singles that we did with Mystic Records. Some of the recording quality wasn’t really good enough to include it, although, there’s a lot of people who have those things in their collections.  Now, when Hellion had started, I had really just started singing. For that reason, in some of the early recordings, there’s off-notes and all kinds of things. That’s what happens when you often just start doing something. Nonetheless, I wanted to include the early Hellion mini-album, even though the recording budget wasn’t great and there were all kinds of mistakes and things on those recordings because that’s really to me where everything started off for the band. I think some of those recordings are still pretty special.  Then, of course, moving through to the demo era, which occurred in roughly 1984/1985, it was hard for me to even listen to some of those demos because there have been so much love and attention to detail, and things put into those demos on behalf of both of the lineups of the band, and of course our two producers there. Then, it had been so disappointing, when after we had worked with, as far as I’m concerned, with some of the greatest people in the music business on the two different demo sets that we hadn’t gotten a record deal.  I thought that that would be unfair to those who had helped up, and also unfair to the fans, not to include those to show how the band really developed, and went from a stage to being a backyard party club band that granted, didn’t draw a lot of people to the level that the band eventually attained. It was a very, very difficult process.

Toddstar: You pulled stuff from the EPs as well, like you mentioned the original, but even stuff from ‘Postcards from the Asylum.’ You really left no stone unturned so to speak.

Ann: Well, I wanted to be respectful of all the people that were involved. Time goes by, and there are some people that quit the band, leave the band, end up having bad memories or whatever it is. When I set this thing … started it out, I said you know what, I went through each of the records, the old EPs and things like that. I tried to thank as many of the original people as we had thanked as well, even though some of them are even no longer with us. Then, some of them also, have gone on to other projects, or disappeared and not returned phone calls things like that.  I said, you know what, I just want to … Let’s do one record and thank everybody who was involved with everything, and then we’ll move on. You know?

Toddstar: Sure. You look back, and it’s been 30-some odd years, and then your new recording “Hell Has No Fury,” is just as strong as “Backstabber” or “Break the Spell” and vice versa. Those songs still hold up as well will anything you could have recorded. Was there any thought during the whole process, where you thought, let’s just go back and rerecord some of these and see what we can do?

To Hellion and Back

Ann: Well, we thought of recording some of them, especially some of the later ones, like off of the ‘Will not Go Quietly’ record because there’s electronic drums there on that. We thought about doing that with Simon playing drums. We may still, at some point in time do that, but you always have problems with masters being lost and things like that. Also, you start to think about is it really fair to the people that we did those original recordings with? What is there is part of the artwork. You know?  I always think it’s a little strange when people would go on and drop off somebody’s work, whether it’s bass, or guitar, whatever it is. I think, if something get’s recorded, it would probably be … Live stuff’s always great. If we do something in the studio, it’ll be from a different approach, but definitely not trying to reduplicate the original because you can’t do that.

Toddstar: Sure. You brought up the word ‘live’, and you have some great live collections through the years. Any chance that you’re taking this thing back on the road this year? What’s the…

Ann: Oh, absolutely.

Toddstar: …deal with a tour?

Ann: Absolutely. Now, I am privileged to have Simon working with me, and also, Scott, Warren and a number of different people. The business is very different, however, than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. Back in those days, a musician was a member of one band period. Then, you go back even earlier, to the ‘70s, and in the ‘70s, everyone was a member of five different bands. All I can think of is a friend of mine from back in the old days was Tommy Bolan. He would play in all kinds of projects at the same time because that’s what he had to do to make a living.  It’s weird that now, in the era that we’re in right now, it would come full-circle. People, again, are having to work in multiple bands to make things happen for them. What we’re doing, is we’ve got a great guy named Sean Duncan, who’s subbing for Simon if Simon’s not available. With Simon, he plays in Queensryche, and if he’s not available for Queensryche, they’ve got a guy in Blind Tissue that subs for him, or if he’s involved with Dio Disciples, and he can’t deal with Dio Disciples from the company piece that comes in and subs for him.  We’ve got a sub for Simon. We’re gearing on touring in the fall, late summer, fall with Hellion, with the full lineup, but in the meanwhile, going out and doing some shows, and having to use a sub, that’s okay. It’s not ideal, but it’s something that, in this era of music you’ve just got to do. We will not be stopped from touring, that’s for sure. It’s sounding great. We had rehearsal yesterday. It was awesome.

Toddstar: Yeah, you guys are going to be tearing apart the stages at Rocklahoma this year.

Ann: Absolutely.

Toddstar: To bad I’m in Detroit. Speaking of going on the road, you mentioned rehearsal. Is this truly going to be a retrospective tour for you, where you’re going back, and getting back to the beginning of the Hellion era and working your way forward?

Ann: Well, this is my take on this. When we started out with this new project together, we wanted it to stand on its own musical quality, not go on to ride on anybody’s coattails or anything like that. There was, of course, a lot of … How do I say this … a lot of controversy when we started working on this stuff together because you’ve got so many different lineups of different musicians that have worked with Ronnie and stuff. We said, we want this to be … This is not anything to do with a Dio tribute, other than the fact that we’re all very blessed to have worked with him at one point in time, meaning myself, Simon and Scott, but it needs to be something that’s different and fresh.  Now, I think that the new material is the best that we’ve ever done. I also think there’s some excellent old material as well. Yeah, it will be a retrospect to the fact that I’m sure we’ll be doing some of the old songs. I really don’t want to underestimate these new songs at all. I think the new material is the best we’ve ever done, ever.


Toddstar: Cool. I certainly look forward to hearing it. Are there any artists out there right now, that you’re into, anybody that you dig listening to, any of the newer artists?

Ann: Newer artists … Quite frankly, I listen to a lot of classical music. When it comes to singers, I think, there’s the singer from Huntress, the female singer from Huntress that’s really good. What are some of the new things?

Toddstar: I hear a lot of influence from you in Jill’s performances. I love Huntress.

Ann: Yeah, they’re a good band. I don’t have a lot of time to be listening to other stuff. With Hellion it’s a labor of love. I listened and I listened again at rehearsal yesterday. I record everything, and I come back and listen and listen, what notes are sounding funny, and should be stronger and should be in a different place. It takes an incredible amount of time, not to mention the fact that I’ve got, of course, the record company and a law practice too.

Toddstar: Certainly. You’re certainly a one-stop shop. If there is one piece of music in the history of time, Ann, that you can go back, and say I’d like to put my stamp on that what would it be?

Ann: Oh, your stamp on it … What do you mean?

Toddstar: Whether you’re writing it, or maybe, you were able to throw some vocals on the track or just to be there when it was recorded.

Ann: If I can do anything, I would’ve transformed myself into Jon Lord’s body on the ‘Made in Japan.’

Toddstar: Okay, that’s a good choice.

Ann: Yeah because I was originally a keyboard player. That’s what got me into all the music thing. I was a huge Deep Purple fanatic. I think that’s one of the greatest pieces of live music ever.

Toddstar: Cool, very cool. What made you want to do this for a living?

Ann: Probably Jon Lord.

Toddstar: You’re definitely consistent. Well, listen I know you’re a busy woman. I’ve got one more for you if you don’t mind.

Ann: No worries.


Toddstar: Okay. Again, it’s 30 years on. Hellion’s still rocking. You’ve put together a super band that’s tearing the shit out of this stuff. At this point, for you what is the meaning of life?

Ann: You know, that’s a really good question because I’ve had, in the last few years so many people that have been so influential and have passed away. I think number one, now, at this point in time is I’ve seen … Like I said, I’ve seen influential people pass away, and it causes me to think about what my legacy is because I can’t go back. There’s not going to be anymore records, for example, songs with keyboards on them. That’s one example. There’s so many of people that we’ve lost. I start thinking about how are people going to remember me? What is it about, and what makes me happy? When do I know that I am doing the right thing?  Well, I know, number one, that when I’m making music, it makes me really happy, especially, when I’m making music with people where we have a common vibe. That’s number one. Number two, I think, is people that I really like to hang out with, whether it’s my band, sometimes, the fans after the show. Stuff like that, that’s another really high point, and of course playing too. In my life, other than that, I feel a high point is when I had a really good workout, or a really good practice or something that’s physical. I think that’s great. Also, when I’ve done something that’s hopefully helped somebody, whether it’s my law practice, trying to help a worker that was injured on the job whose boss basically screwed him over, stuff like that.  I think it’s ultimately to try to be the very best human being that you can, and appreciate those moments that are very special for you and to try to remember what you’re leaving behind.

Toddstar: I couldn’t have said it better myself. Legacy is a word that’s not used very often anymore. Again Ann, we really appreciate your time. We can’t wait until everybody gets off their ass and gets a copy of ‘To Hellion and Back’

Ann: Thank you.

Toddstar: …and gets out to shows when you guys get out there in the fall, and if they’re close to Oklahoma in May that they hit that show at Rocklahoma.

Ann: Absolutely. Don’t forget about the new upcoming mini-LP CD, which will be coming up this summer. That one’s called ‘Karma’s A Bitch.’

Toddstar: …which has the first single, ‘Hell Has no Fury,’ which closes out quite appropriately ‘To Hellion and Back.’

Ann: …and four more, and they are just awesome.  I’m really excited. Thank you so much.

Toddstar: Thank you Ann and good luck in 2014.

Ann: Thanks, bye-bye.

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

banner ad
banner ad