Interview: Belle Haven

It's a busy time right now for Melbourne's Belle Haven, with the release of their second album, You Me And Everything In Between out this Friday, June 16th via the bands new home, Greyscale Records. We got to speak with vocalist, David Vernon, about what to expect from this new album, as well as topics such as mental health, growing as a band, who they would love to play with and a whole lot more.

Your new album titled You, Me And Everything In Between will be out this Friday on Greyscale Records, was it a smooth writing process or were there some curve balls thrown at you in the process?

A bit of both actually I guess. We had really clear and concise goals that we wanted to achieve with this album that I feel we definitely achieved. In that sense it felt very smooth and overall it was a very positive experience for us, however, there was a lot of stuff going on outside the writing process that wasn't going smoothly. This was happening at the same time as we were trying to write the record, which added a lot of complication to it. Speaking from the lyricist and vocalist perspective, I was trying to change a lot about the way that I was singing, performing and writing as well. So, trying to do all that while touring as well and not having a lot of private time to work on things myself, it's very intense and sometimes it can get a little overwhelming as well. But the rest of the dudes in the band have been great support and they're amazing at what they do and they're amazing at helping me do what I do also. So yeah, whilst there were definitely complications and curve balls along the way, overall I think it just made the process more... right.

You guys have a very strong message for people that struggle with mental health issues and depression, which is great to see a band get the word out there about such a serious subject that needs to be talked about. What's it like having Belle Haven and your music to use as a vessel to get the message out there and using it as an outlet also?

It's a really interesting thing man. There's something really special about having people relate to the music and the lyrics that we write, and they may also relate to my personal experiences that I've dealt with. It puts as in a similar point and it automatically makes us the same, we are equal, and that is a beautiful thing. But it's also so sad, the bigger the band gets the larger our audience grows, it's so bitter sweet for us and sometimes very overwhelming. It's an odd thing that so many people are hurting, but it's beautiful that they feel like they can talk to us of all people about their hurt and their struggle. That's very touching for us and it's a privilege for us also. But just seeing so many people who are hurting in one room at one time, it's just, it's almost bitter sweet isn't it. It's an odd thing. But we are super grateful with what we are able to do with this band and this music, so that we can connect with other people, and we get to meet some amazing people.

Did you approach You, Me And Everything In Between with a particular message in mind or a certain lyrical theme once you started writing?

We knew that we wanted this record to be overall, at least lyrically, a little more aggressive. But for me personally, writing the themes and the lyrical content on this record, I was actively trying to shift the perspective that I had on a lot of situations that have unfolded in my life. This record is my attempt at catharsis and to try self help I guess and to try and change the way I view things, it's been an interesting experience for me. It's a little too soon to tell whether it's actually worked, but I guess we will be able to tell when we are able to play the new songs live when I'm letting it all out along with the beautiful audience. But yeah, definitely just tried to change the way that I view things in my life I suppose.

You guys just wrapped up a few shows with the boys in Ambleside and Deadlights. I'm sure after the release of this new album there will be plenty of shows to come. So what can people expect when going to a Belle Haven show, perhaps for those who haven't witnessed you guys live before?

Even if they have seen us live before, we're doing some really cool stuff on this tour and lets just take not how incredible Ambleside and Deadlights are. They're great bands and we are so stoked to be able to play with them, and they were the first two bands that we wanted on this tour and they were both into it. It's the ideal lineup for us and it's exactly what we wanted. But also, our show, we have a lot of really cool stuff planned and a lot of really unique moments. We want people people to feel like they're not coming to see a band get up and play 10 songs or whatever, instead they're coming to the Belle Haven show. It's a really full on, sort of visceral, intense and engaging experience. It's not just like, they played this song and this song and then they did this and spoke about that, we want it to be a very full on experience and a really full on show. That's what you can expect.

How did getting signed to Greyscale Records come about for you guys? And what's it been like working with them so far?

Getting signed to Greyscale was one of the most natural things and one of the best decisions we've ever made as a band. I was getting dinner with Ash Hull, one of the heads of that label, at the start of 2015 and he was telling me how he wanted to start a record label and I told him that I thought it was a great idea. He didn't tell me that he was also planning on working with Josh, who's also a good friend of the band. When they officially announced it I was blown away and so excited, everything started off awesome, they signed Our Past Days and a couple of other bands. It never really crossed my mind that Belle Haven would sign to them though. We had a lot of trust issues as a band, being taken advantage of and manipulated by people that we thought we could trust. So, when it came to finding a label to help us release this record, we felt very out of our comfort zone and sort of nervous about getting excited and talking to someone at a particular label. Initially we'd be like, yes this is cool and then there would be a lot of fear about it because you don't want the same thing to happen again. As soon as the album was done, I was telling Ash about it because we talk all the time pretty much on a daily basis. I told him it was done and how stoked we were about it and he said that he really wanted to hear it, so I showed him of course. He listened to it, then he showed Josh, then he got back to me within a couple of days saying that it's amazing and they would really love to work with us. The more we spoke to them, we could tell that they loved the music and they loved the band. Ash was also our booking agent a few years ago for a period in our life as a band, so he knows us well. There was that original trust that was still there and it just felt so natural and so right to sign with them, and they're really helping us to have faith in other people. They have fulfilled every single thing that they promised us with this release and more by far, constantly expanding on our expectations by blowing us out of the water. They've been so good man, it's a really great time for the band where we are really starting to come out of our shell a bit more again and have a little faith in people again and not just really on only ourselves like we have been for the past year or more. Greyscale is probably better for this band than they even realise honestly.

That worked out very well by the sounds of it. Do you guys all work your day jobs still? I know you do singing coaching, what's it like juggling a full-time job and being in a band that continues to grow and succeed like yourselves?

Yeah, it's definitely tricky finding a balance but we make it work. I teach singing, I'm very fortunate because I get to make my own hours basically. Chris is an audio engineer, so he engineers, produces, mixes and even masters records, so again he is also his own boss. Tom is also working on a new business, creating soundtracks for various different things, I think he just created a soundtrack for an iPhone App which is pretty cool. Mara is spending a lot of time building a business, doing various media for other bands, and shooting music videos. He's been doing all of our media for Belle Haven, he directed and edited our video for 'The Carving Knife' and 'Selfmade' and he also directed, edited and shot the entire thing for our new music video 'By Hook Or By Crook'. Jake tells us all the time that he loves his job, and he really does, he balances both very well and we all do really. There's going to be a point though where our jobs aren't as important to us anymore and the band, whilst we definitely aren't making a living from this band, we're definitely not losing money anymore either. Day by day we're very slowly getting to where we want to be where we don't have to deliver pizza anymore, you know what I mean? It takes time, but we'll get there.

So it looks like you definitely want to take Belle Haven to that next level and make this your number one priority as a full time thing then?

Oh man, If we could have Belle Haven be a full time thing and just have like 500 gold Mercedes cars (laughs) but if we could solely live just writing music and performing and travelling together, it would be the dream man. There's nothing I can imagine that would make me any happier. I love teaching singing, don't get me wrong, I love helping people grow and expand their vocal capabilities. But there's nothing more enjoyable for me, than spending time with my best friends and writing music with them, travelling, you know, all that jazz.

If you were to pick say 2 or 3 bands to play with on a big stage in front of thousand of people, who do you think you would collectively decide to throw up on there?

Well Paramore would definitely be number one right now because most of us are frothing that new After Laughter record, well most of us, 3 out of 5 of us are Team Hard Times and the other 2 out of 5 are Team Hard Pass (laughs). Panic! At The Disco would probably be up there also, and then we'd have Coldplay. They're all just such great bands.

At least that lineup would guarantee you a run of sold out stadium shows, that's for sure.

Yeah you know if you could organize that for us then I'd be super into it.

I'll see what I can do and let you know (laughs).

Thanks mate (laughs).

Well that pretty much wraps it up, thank you so much David for taking the time to chat. Do you have any words for your fans that will be reading this interview?

I hope when the new album is out and you've had a chance to listen to it you're able to feel what we feel and find yourself on the same page as us. We want you to feel as equal to us as you can and come to a show and talk to us about your experiences and tell us what's going on with you. Let's talk, let's chat, let's get to know each other, because there's nothing more enjoyable for us than speaking with you. It's going to be awesome.

You, Me And Everything In Between is out June 16th via Greyscale Records. Pre-order here.

Written by Steve Jenkins

Watch the music video for the track 'You' below:

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