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| 14 April 2016 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Hailmary Kevin Curran

Perth post-grunge rockers Hailmary have gone from strength to strength since releasing their Navigate The Sunrise EP in 2014, embarking on a comprehensive Australian tour and jetting to the UK for a tour supporting the legendary Ugly Kid Joe. They dropped their latest EP, Evolve Dissolve, this month, and are chalking up more frequent flyer miles as they launch the disc around the country. SHANE PINNEGAR spoke to singer/guitarist Kevin Curran.

April 15th – Epilogue Lounge, Alice Springs
April 16th – The Jubilee, Brisbane
April 17th – The Balaclava Hotel, Cairns
April 29th – Amplifier Bar, Perth
MAY 7th – Prince Of Wales, Bunbury

Hailmary - Evolve Dissolve tour 2016

The new five-track EP sees Curran evolving as a songwriter, and features the band’s first recordings with relatively new guitarist Paul Cush. Curran agrees that Evolve Dissolve may be their best record yet.

“I feel it’s probably the best batch of songs we’ve written. I like the way it’s mixed, as opposed to anything else we’ve done. It’s got a little bit more grit to it than the last one. The vocals are not as prominent in the mix as the last couple of recordings, which I kind of like – I think it sits better. It’s heavier!”

That’s an understatement. Evolve Dissolve sounds bigger than anything they’ve previously released, vibrant heavy rock that leaps from the speakers to throttle the listener.

“Yeah, I was quite surprised,” Curran admits, “hearing it go from the unmixed stage to [the end product]. I was like, ‘whoa, here we go!’”

Continuing, Curran reflects on Cush’s first studio time with Hailmary.

“Cush is great, he’s got a great high range for those harmonies. He’s got a solo in the song, Mind Casualty, which I think is awesome. It’s probably one of the best solos we’ve had in any Hailmary recording. Apart from the ones I did, of course,” he jokes. “Nah, Cush is really good. He’s a really talented guy. He’s got a great feel, as well as his guitar style is pretty similar to mine, so I feel like we sit pretty nicely together. It’s really good.”

Even though Cush is coming from a more blues rock background, whereas Curran cut his teeth on grunge rock, their styles mesh well on record and live.

“I think even though my main influences are the early ‘90s stuff, I do love classic rock and ‘80s metal as well,” says Curran. “I like all different styles of rock and so does Cush. He probably gets pigeonholed into that ‘blues rock player’ thing, but he definitely plays some pretty cool stuff. Even some stuff he came up with for some of these songs was quite dark, which is really, really cool, so that was great. He fit in really well, probably the best [guitarist] that we’ve had.”

Hailmary 2016

All this talk of an evolution, of the band sounding heavier, might lead fans to wonder if Hailmary’s sound has changed at all, but rest assured that Evolve Dissolve still has that distinctive Hailmary sound to it.

“Yeah, I agree – a few people I’ve shown the record to said the same thing,” Curran declares. “You put it on, and it’s distinctly Hailmary – it’s good that people identify what we sound like now.”

The Ugly Kid Joe through the UK last year was particularly special for Curran, since their America’s Least Wanted album was the first CD he ever bought.

“I can remember being in primary school and having their poster on my wall, as well,” he laughs. “It was kind of cool to do your very first international proper tour with the first band you ever bought [an album of]. That tour was probably the best thing we’ve done. Just to meet a hell of a lot more bands from the UK in that two weeks, it was great.

“We had a good time, and we bonded really well together. I couldn’t stop laughing on tour. We had a great time and by the end of it, we were just so bloody tired and then you have to come home. It’d be great to just be able to do that a lot more often and just keep on playing and playing. You just get unbelievably tired, and the stage show gets way better. Yeah, we should do it more often.”

Hinting that there may be a return visit to the UK on the cards for later in the year, Curran goes on to reminisce about returning to Scotland, and his family’s roots.

“One of the highlights for me was playing Scotland. I hadn’t been to Scotland since 2001 maybe – a long time. I really enjoyed being there. In particular it was quite special for me to play in the country I was born. It was always good to use that line, when I played the show to the crowd. I said I’m from Australia and everything, but I was born here, so basically I’m playing to my people…”

Pausing to laugh, he goes on to say, “It was a bit of a cheap pop, and before we went on stage, to get another cheap pop, we had bottles of Buckfast Tonic Wine, and it was just like this… I’m not sure if you’re aware of it, but it’s just like an alcoholic energy drink. It’s really nasty, but these people will drink it, and… just say you don’t have much money and you want to get drunk, everyone buys this Buckfast stuff, so when we came on stage, we all had a bottle of that drink. We got another cheap pop from the crowd on that as well.”

Hailmary in the UK 2015

With four EPs and one full-length album under their belt, Curran is torn which format he prefers.

“Obviously we like doing albums because that’s what all our heroes do: all the bands we love make albums, they don’t make EPs. The original idea with this one and the last one was to make a two-part thing, but it’s not gone that way! It’s a lot easier to have EPs come out because it’s quicker to get stuff out, rather than having to wait until you get an album’s worth of songs to record. That takes quite a while. This time around, we did the two EPs, which is pretty much an album’s worth over a span of two years, so we got two releases and two rounds of interest from the media. It works well in that sense.”

Employing Jeff Tomei to mix the record again was a no brainer for Curran. With a resume that includes releases such as Smashing Pumpkins’ iconic Siamese Dream, as well as acts like Skid Row, Blackberry Smoke, Matchbox Twenty, Jerry Cantrell, and many more, it’s easy to see why.

“Jeff mixed the record again and sort of co-produced it – pretty much the same role as he did in our last two recordings,” Curran explains. “He was real positive with the material, as well. He said straightaway he thought that these songs were the best we’ve written, so that was good to know. From that perspective, he really believes in what we’re doing.

“Obviously, we worked with him closely in the studio in America so we could hang out personally. I think he’s got a sense of what the band sounds like by now. We’ve done a few records with him and he’s always done a really good job. It was good working with him because you feel safe with him doing what he needs to do, because he’s got your best interests in heart while doing the recordings. It’s great working with Jeff. He’s a really good guy.”

One of the hardest-working independent bands in the country, Hailmary are again travelling round the country to promote the new EP.

“For this tour we had a couple of opportunities to go to some places we hadn’t been before, so we thought, well, why not,” Curran says. “It’s always good fun and sometimes those places that don’t get the shows, so they seem to give you a bit more back than a place that gets music all the time. So we’re going to a couple of different places. We’re just trying to be that band that works hard and constantly tries to get the music out there to the rest of Australia. A lot of bands you see just do one tour and then they don’t go back ever, or for a couple of years. You’ve got to hit it while it’s hot, because people in this day and age always tend to forget about things pretty quickly. You’ve got to be in the forefront and just keep playing. That’s what we’re trying to do, anyway, and if people dig it, that’s awesome. We’re getting there slowly”

Hailmary - Evolve Dissolve

There seems little doubt that if this were thirty years ago, Hailmary would be all over rock radio and touring the country non-stop. Sadly the business has changed and rock is on the outer, at least as far as commercial radio and big business are concerned.

“The hardest thing is just that the platform – especially with rock music in Australia – is so small, and it’s really hard to get people to notice what you’re doing because there is no platform,” Curran muses. “The only real way to do that is to get out there and play. In fact, that’s all you can do at the moment. Definitely, when we went to the UK, it opened our eyes as there are a lot more people there, a lot more people into that kind of music, and there’s a lot more ways of getting your stuff out there in the UK, rather than Australia. In that sense, Australia is a lot harder to do, especially rock music. It’s a hard slog.”


There’s no chance of Hailmary ditching their guitars for synths and going hipster, so hard slog it shall be, and talk circles back to returning to the UK, possibly for regular trips.

“That’s what we’re hoping to do,” admits Curran. “Next step for us, we need a booking agent that can put us on European tours. As far as management is concerned, I don’t think we need that kind of stuff at the moment – we just need that contact [who can] let us play live. Just let us do that and we’ll do the rest.

“We just need an opportunity to play live for people – exactly what we did with the Ugly Kid Joe tour. Just let us do that, we’d be fine. We’d do really well. It’s all who you know, you know, but that’s the way it is. We’ll just keep on going and hopefully that comes along.”

An edited version of this interview first appeared in X-Press Magazine’s 13th April, 2016 issue.

Category: Interviews

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