This interview is from August 2006, from the Unofficial Journal of the 'Route du Rock' Festival, Fort du Saint-Père in Saint Malo, France, when Howling Bells played there.
Unfortunately it's in French, so I'll try to translate it when I get chance. I'm sure I can do a better job than Google Translate, which makes everything it touches read as though it was written by a three-year-old with dyslexia.
Here's my best effort at translation. There were some colloquialisms I couldn't get my head round, but you'll get the gist.
Imagine PJ Harvey, The Kills and the Velvet Underground playing the same piece and you will get a little idea of what this young Australian group is like. On reflection, there is nothing worse than comparisons for a young group. But then how do you categorise a group that cites F. Scott Fitzgerald in its bio (“In the real dark night of the soul it’s always three o’ clock in the morning”)?
Howling Bells chime the first bells of the festival this Friday at Route du Rock for an opening gig that one imagines to be dark and mystical. Like their music. Different, consuming, sexual, stripped. It really grabs the ears with an album that one hopes to see distributed quickly in France, spreading the language of rock from another era, that of Victorian England. Like a good mix of the gap between Baxter Dury and Elysian Fields, all aided by the shamanic voice of Juanita Stein, sexy sexy. A good way to begin the 2006 edition on the Fort du Saint-Père with this first appearance in France for the Australian group.
Fan of Dolly Parton and of pleasing country with current tastes, enthusiast of songs that knock you dead (The Bell Hit), envy of phantoms doped with testosterone (Ah Juanita, your hair and your sparkling face..)? Envious of feeling desire?
Howling Bells. Fort du Saint-Père, this Friday, 19.15. Maybe THE revelation of the festival.
Isn’t it a bit frustrating to play this evening at 7.15pm when you describe yourselves as a group of “three in the morning”?
You know, three o’clock in the morning is a spiritual state you can create that doesn’t matter when, doesn’t matter where in the world or in the solar system, perhaps the universe…..
Listening to Howling Bells is a bit like an encounter with the phantoms of the night. What kinds of spectres have you rubbed shoulders with during the recording of the album?
Only my own ghosts, and God knows they are many. At least in song, some are gentle, others terrifying. But isn’t that what makes life exciting?
There are four of you. Can you describe your next concert in four words?
Dawn. Mist. Wolves. And some streetfights.
It’s good that you’re playing in France for the first time and better that’s it’s ‘Route du Rock’?
I guess so….
Do you consider France as a rock country, a land where Howling Bells can grow?
We can grow, yeah. Give us water and a watering can and we will grow and grow. From there big tours of France…. French music leaves me speechless. My favourite artists are from your country: Françoise Hardy, AIR, Colder, Phoenix – they are all fantastic!
And one in particular who resonates…..
I can only say the truth. Above all Air, who haunt my long nights. Equally, the older ones, like Gainsbourg. Actually I listen to Francoise Breut and Colder on loop. There is something pleasant and mysterious in their music.
Howling Bells has a brother and sister, with you and Joel. What type of relationship do you have in the group? A destructive one like the Gallagher brothers, or a slightly ambiguous one like the White Stripes? A bit of both?
Joel and me have the same father, the same mother, the same brother… therefore no, not any ambiguity!
Juanita, do you think your feminine voice brings a bit of English rock ‘new blood’, like for example The Kills, or Dolly Parton for example. Howling Bells seem to shade towards country in certain songs.
Well, there is something unique in each song. I don’t think you can generalise like that. We possess a unique gift for life, as if possessed, and Dolly Parton is as important as Patty Smith! Everything’s in their energy in fact, more than the sex of the singer.
I do read them honest! I forgot you'd posted that. But you must see what I mean about google translate. It translates literally and misses all the idioms and expressions, so some of it doesn't make sense.