Chris Sammons – Bass
Julie Westlake – Vocals
Jeff Westlake – Guitar
Joe Migz – Drums
The american band Hydrogyn released the fourth album called “Judgement” in this year, today we talk with the vocalist Julie. Welcome on Aristocrazia Webzine, how are you?
Hello Gabriele. I am great and you?
The first step is talking about the history of the band, so please tell us yours.
Basically I had shown up at a studio where Jeff Westlake worked to record a demo. After recording that I had asked him about a band and how to go about playing out and he and Jeff Boggs put together a band for me and we played a couple of shows together. After that they had been putting together HYDROGYN and we stuck on getting a vocalist and asked me at the last minute just to sit in to get them through the weekend and we did it. It was challenging as I knew none of the material and had 2 weeks to learn 14 songs. I loved it so much that I stayed and here we are today.
The album shows that you are mature and that you know your potential, there are many sides which show you as a modern band with the passion for hard’n’heavy and the southern sound, how were the songs born? Did you find any difficulties in making it? And are you satisfied of it?
Not so sure about the sothern thing but ok ahahahahahahaha. Um…it was a difficult album to make unlike our earlier ones. It was only difficult due to Jeff Young being involved. Jeff was just not the right fit for this band. He wanted to be Megadeth 2 and it was not our goal in life so to speak ahahahahaha. We tried it for about 5 months with him, recording and writing but it just did not work. It was actually very painful with him involved because he was so far away from what we wanted and what we had become that it was just not good. Now once we decided to move on without him it went as it always had. Jeff Westlakehad almost the entire release put together before Young’s arrival in Feb of this year so once the experiment was over ahahahahahahahaha we went and finished it up/ Jeff called in Boggs to help and it went like clock work. I am very happy with the way it turned out and love the CD.
You are really pleasant in very catchy tracks such as “Alone” and “Gonna Getcha” but also in stronger songs like “Self Destruct”. Which is the best Julie in your opinion? Surfing on the internet i read that you didn’t listen to metal or rock in the past, what made you think that this is your world?
I like the hookier stuff like GG and Alone and Right Thing Now etc but I also love the challenge of the the heavier stuff as well. Over the past 6 years my voice has really developed into one that can do both but no matter if it is heavy or more on the POP side I guess we could say… as long as there are hooks and harmonmies and that “Hydrogyn Element” I love it.
How is the composition process? Do you write the lyrics and do you help the other members in the songwriting?
Jeff Westlake handles about 95 to 100% of the music normally. On this CD however we got a bunch of friends involved with us from all over the world which was a blast and wrote. We had been asked by people we had met on tour and friends we had made and we did that approach and it was great. I do however do the lyrics almost totally on my own. That is my stamp on thing normally.
I guess that the push expressed in “Self Destruct” fits the lyrics, since i couldn’t read them can you tell me which are your favourite themes and why?
Well i really do not have any favorite type. I deal totally in what is around me. Things that i see, read, hear or experience not only personally but to my friends and band mates etc…. Real life stuff for the most part. So whatever that happens to be at the time is what i put on paper.
In “Big Star” there is also Doug Pinnick from King’s X, how did you came in contact with him? And how did you choose the song which he would take part in?
Well we met Doug back in 06 i think. Kings X records with Michael Wagener as well and we had been introduced to them there and then Jeff did and autograph session at the Randall Amp booth at Namm with them as well in 06 so we had known him for some time. It was Jeff Westlakes idea to have him involved and Jeff Young got in touch with him through Michael Wagener and that is how it came about. Westlake picked that song…i don’t know why or when but it came out cool.
Your statement for Charleston Gazette in which you talked about a strong pression due to the comparison between a female vocalist and male one influences your not putting on weight, also you said that no one wants to see a fat woman swaying her hips on stage. Raw but honest. How was this message received? Did you get heavy criticisms?
Ahahahahahha everything you do in this business gets you criticized. It is true and it was a good question and I answered it. There are bigger people out there that have a ton of fans but I still stand by what i said and I truly believe it as a norm. There are as I said some exceptions but they are few.
The women number in rock and metal is growing, are there any differences in the treatment with male musicians? Is the bigotry for a woman which wants to make heavier than pop music still living or is people beginning to appreciate the vocal qualities besides the look?
I am not sure. There are more of us but for me at least I seem to be out on the limb a bit. Most of the females sing in the gothis style which i think is cool but I like more the direct approach and the in your face Dio, Dickinson type approach. People seem to be shocked by that and why is your guess as well as mine but it is my voice and the way i sing. I like being me and i like the music we make. I have no problem with the gothic style but thats just not me.
You are a beautiful woman, I can’t deny it, but how much is it important both on stage and in the world?
Thank you very much. I have been blessed alot and in many ways. I do not know how important it is actually. The guys seem to like the posters and things but I am a musician first and just try to make a living at doing what I love which is music. Everything else is just what it is and how people see it. I am here to make great music and help empower the females out there to show them they can do this too. A girl from Ohio in the US out of a small town can do it then any one can ahahahahaha.
Reading other your interviews I noticed that you are a charismatic and determined person. but who is Julie in the every day life? How do you spend your spare time when you are not with the band?
I have a house by my parents and animals and just love being casual and hanging with friends and family on my down time which is not much. I am very relaxed and love helping children in any way I can.
Let’s talk again about the album, How was it received by the critics and the fans?
Seems to have been received very well to this point. We hit the Billboard charts in the US so it is good there and all seems to be going good.
Which are the medias which you use to keep yourself in contact with friends and fans?
Facebook a lot and email and I use Skype to call my friends i have made all over the world. I have been blessed to meet so many great people in the touring and love to stay in contact with them as much as I can.
Which is the live performance which changed your life? And the one you’d like to make?
They are all great. Played infront of 250,000 at a nascar race in the US. THat was big and my first time playing in Paris was awesome. At the end of the day though they are all great and I love every one of them. That is the payoff for the hard work.
If you could make a festival with Hydrogyn as headliner and all the other bands you love, which are the first five that you would say?
Well first would of been Heaven and Hell. I am so glad I got to meet Ronnie with Jeff Westlake in Cincinnati , that was cool. The Halford, Ted Nugent, Aerosmith and Kings X.
Is there an experience which you’d like to forget or another one that you consider as a useful one even if it didn’t go so well?
Oh I dont think so. There have been so many. One of the best was meeting Ronnie James Dio and also Michael Wagener which I have become good friends with now. Can’t think of any bad ones that i stil remember this far away. Oh no wait… Jeff Young. Could do without ever having met him.
Will we see Hydrogyn in Italy for some live shows?
Yes. We were there in Nov 2007 and had a great time and some really good shows too. Love to get back there and play.
Thanks for the time spent with us, the last message for our readers is up to you.
Thanks to all the fans and thanks for keeping HYDROGYN alive and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon. Thank you Gabriele.