Local rock band ready to unleash its second album, 'Deadly Passions,' this week
HUNTINGTON -- In the musical lab all winter, Hydrogyn has stirred in all the elements and just the right energy for a full-scale, girl-powered, global metal explosion.
That's the plan.
Holed up all winter at Huntington's Smash Hits Studio, the locally-based and globe-trotting rock band, Hydrogyn is set to unleash its second CD, "Deadly Passions" Tuesday, June 10, in the United States and June 23, in the rest of the world.
Out on the UK-based label DR2, an imprint of Demolition Records, the band is excited about the summer release that was produced by guitarist and band founder, Jeff Westlake.
Westlake, who started the band in 2003 with Julie Westlake and fellow veteran guitarist Jeff Boggs, said they're anxious to get the CD out for people to hear the band's own home-grown blend of female-belted heavy metal, and thankful for the support of a good-sized label.
"We're real excited because it's being able to take what we've done and put a big money player behind it," Westlake said of hooking up with Demolition Records. "Of course, they are a big label. They have made their living for their entire career off of classics bands like WASP, Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot. They decided they wanted to get more modern and get to the here and now, so they signed us and signed a band out of the UK, called MacQueen, which is a great band, and they signed Steve Harris, out of Iron Maiden, his daughter, Lauren Harris."
Westlake said the label was first in contact with them in September 2007 when Hydrogyn was playing a gig in Seattle.
"We went out there and basically had a showcase but didn't know it," he said. "Before we left Seattle we were called by the label so we came straight home, threw the dirty clothes in the hamper, grabbed some clean ones and eight hours later we were on our way to New York City."
For its first CD, "Bombshell," the band had hooked up with Nashville-based metal master Michael Wagener (Metallica, Motley Crue, Megadeth, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper) at his WireWorld Studios outside Nashville, and at some pre-production at Thunder Bay Studios in Ashland.
When Wagener wasn't available for this CD, Jeff decided to bring it all home.
With Julie writing lots of new originals, and Jeff producing, the band began building the new CD with Steve Riley at Smash Hits Studio in Huntington and the boys in the band, Jeff (guitars), Chris Sammons on bass and Josh Kitchen on drums.
In addition to being convenient, Jeff said Riley got a smashing sound out of the band.
"Steve does fantastic work out there," Jeff said. "The album is really big, the guitars are big, the drums are big, of course, the vocals are big, the bass guitar is phat, it really is the way we wanted it to sound. Before we ever got into the studio, we did a lot of pre-planning, and it helped out a lot. When it came time to mix the album, it was mixed right in your face -- no big room reverb, I wanted it to be right here."
Julie Westlake said the first CD crash course of working with a legend in Nashville really empowered her to hone her songs and craft -- something she feels has really paid off with this CD.
"Being able to work with Michael made my writing ability improve so much in learning how to structure songs properly and how to build songs to make them more energetic," she said.
Working over the past few years with Wagener for half a dozen recording workshops was also invaluable in learning first hand about getting a great sound, Jeff Westlake said.
"We basically got a life's worth of lessons in the three years of working with Michael," he said. "He is such a good person and we're thankful to him. When he wasn't available the band talked about it and they all said they wanted me to do it. So I'm now the guy in the band writing songs and producing the album. So if the album is bad, I'm going to get it twice as hard."
Westlake should be safe from a band beating as the CD walks that razor-thin line between being heavy enough for the wallet chain-carrying crowd and melodic enough for radio.
"I think Jeff loves the heavy guitars and I think musically that is why we have the heaviness to it," Julie Westlake said. "But we also have the very melodic parts of the music. I never grew up listening to rock or metal. It was always country for me, so for me it's not anything else but melody that draws me in to write the lyrics."
Jeff Westlake said the CD has a bit of a different style than "Bombshell," as the CD has a more metal yell to make it less pop sounding.
"It's a lot heavier, the songs are a lot different, almost a different style," Julie Westlake said. "I think 'Bombshell' tended to be a bit more on the pop side of things. This is a little more aggressive."
"When we say heavy we're not talking like Cannibal Corpse heavy," Jeff Westlake said, laughing. "It is still really heavy -- the music is heavy, but what I really like about the album is that it is hooky from start to finish. The song that leads off the album, 'Rejection' was strictly written for our European fans. You've got double bass being played at 75 beats per minute -- that's just the kind of thing they like. Then we end the album with a very beautiful piano-based song. In between, there is something for everybody."
What Jeff Westlake also likes is that the CD really sounds like the band's ever-maturing musical vision -- lots of crunchy guitar, lots of great melodies and singing and even layered at times with a rarely-heard metal instrument -- the Hammond B3 organ.
"I think Julie said it best that we made the album we really wanted to make this time," he said. "It's modern sounding. There's a Hammond B3 organ all wet, nasty and sloppy on there and it blends so well. We got it all mixed, and it sounds really good, some screaming and some baby grand working on the album. We got all that different stuff working yet it sounds fresh, and modern, and us."
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