Meet the Beat-Hells – the punk rock Fab Four

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The Beat-Hells against the Beatles

david owens

If you like punk, rock and the Beatles, today is your lucky day.

The Beat-Hells – the Fab Four but not as you’ve heard them before – launch into your unsuspecting ears with their self-titled debut album.

Rolling off the cover last year with a full-bodied cover of the Beatles’ 1962 single ‘Please Please Me’, their avowed aim is to inject a bit of mayhem and mischief into Merseybeat, and craft a fast, frenzied, frenzied version Fabs.

The Beat-Hells is a project born during confinement in Wales and Germany. The line-up includes Welsh musicians Neil Starr, on vocals and guitar, and Will Davies, on bass, complemented by German musician, Sibbi Hafner, on vocals and guitar. The band also includes a rotating cast of different drummers. Of which more shortly.

The idea for the band was born out of their mutual love and adoration for the Beatles and rock/punk music, picking out some of their favorite Beatles tracks and giving them a unique, modern punk rock twist.

“In March 2020, I contacted a friend I had met ten years ago called Sibbi, who plays in a German band called Itchy,” explains Neil, a well-known musician in Wales thanks to his appearances. as the leader of groups such as Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons, States and Empires, Attack! Offensive! And Dopamine.

“We first met ten years ago when Attack! Attack! supported Itchy on a German tour. The tour was amazing and we immediately hit it off as friends and have always stuck together. contact.

“I also talked to Will Davies about playing bass guitar for the project. He’s one of the best bass players I’ve ever played with and had the pleasure of being in two bands with him in the past. Attack!Attack!and States and Empires.

Meet the Beat Hells

Rather than recruiting one drummer for the whole album, Neil and Sibbi decided to go with a different drummer for each track, which resulted in a number of good friends from around the world playing on their upcoming self-titled debut album.

The call for accomplished sticksmen reads: Ed Udhus (Zebrahead), Dane Campbell (Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons), Kob (punk rock factory), Johno Fisher (States and Empires), Eike Herwig (Donots), Sascha Madsen (Madsen), Michael Dreilich (Blackout Problems), Max Zimmer (Itchy), Daniel Kotitschke (Van Holzen), Flo Weber (Sportfreunde Stiller), Fab Füss (Emil Bulls) and Fabi Halbig (Killerpilze).

“It’s a great team of drummers,” laughs Neil. “We decided not to try to find a permanent member on drums mainly, I guess, because we knew we couldn’t rehearse due to the pandemic, so we decided instead to bring in a different drummer for each song, the idea being that they could record from home or at local studios if they are open.

The first single to be released digitally on all platforms was “Please Please Me”, chosen as it was one of the first singles released by The Beatles.

“It was also one of the first songs that we arranged and recorded,” explains the frontman. “It’s full of energy and an early Beatles classic.”

A digitally tracked 14-track full self-titled album, featuring a handful of Fabs classics such as Help, Ticket to Ride, Taxman, Good Day Sunshine, Back in the USSR, I Saw Her Standing There and many more of those songs that have woven themselves into the fabric of rock ‘n’ roll history.

But now the band have dedicated their first full-length player to vinyl and CD – with the particularly striking vinyl available in eye-catching white and green versions.

The Beat-Hells self-titled debut album available on vinyl and CD

The Beatles may be one of the most covered bands in history, with a number of popular tribute acts faithfully reproducing those songs of yesteryear, but there’s likely never to be a had bands like The Beat-Hells.

“I’ve always loved the Beatles and always wanted to cover a Beatles song when I was in previous bands,” says Neil. “In 2013, we actually recorded a few Beatles songs when we were states and empires. We never released them to anyone because the band went on hiatus shortly after recording the songs, but they sounded great and that was kind of the starting point I guess. Beatles songs lend themselves so well to the punk rock style.

Punk rock transformation

Like most musicians, the Fab Four played a central role in Neil’s budding musical life.

“In my late teens, it was the first time I made an effort to research them and the history of the song and I instantly fell more and more in love with their music,” says- he. “I always played Beatles songs as part of cover bands when I was growing up and always loved singing their songs.

“That’s why it was almost impossible to choose tracks (for the album) because there are so many amazing songs. In my head, I had to think that there would eventually be more than one album to be able to justify myself not to do certain songs.

“The album release is 14 songs at the moment, but we’ve recorded 16 in total, so there will be two more to upload at some point, hopefully,” the singer adds. “We tried to split the choices and arrangements between me and Sibbi, that way Sibbi sings half of the lead vocals and I sing the other half of the tracks.”

That there are certain Beatles tracks that lend themselves more to a punk rock transformation than others, the Welshman believes is a stylistic match.

“We tried to mix the style of the songs so that it wasn’t just punk rock,” Neil explains. “Taxman, for example, I went for a more Rage Against The Machine vibe, really focusing on the riff to make it more Tom Morello influenced.

“I Saw Her Standing There is squarely in the style of punk and Helter Skelter, we just tried to make it sound as heavy as possible because I read that Paul McCartney when he wrote it was trying to write the heaviest song in the world at that time.”

The punk fab four

If there’s anything you can say in a vaguely positive way about a global pandemic that’s had such a devastating effect on so many lives, it’s that it’s inspired a surge of creativity in so many forms. art, especially music.

“In a way, it’s inspired by COVID,” says Neil of The Beat-Hells project. “I’m not sure any of us would have had time to do this while writing, recording and touring with our other bands, so the lockdown certainly helped give us free time to do this.

“Obviously, this was only possible because there are also home studios. Every layer on the album was recorded remotely, at no time did any of us rehearse as a band or record together in the same room, so it was also a weird experience.

“With each track having a different drummer, it also made mixing the album very difficult, trying to make it sound consistent track after track. The album was mixed by Todd Campbell (music producer and member of Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons) and he did an amazing job.

Until recently, the singer was the frontman of the Campbell family rock band, the band started by Motorhead guitarist and Pontypridd native Phil Campbell, along with his sons. Neil being the only unrelated one in the group.

After five years, he parted ways with the band last year, but is keen to point out that this new punk rock project has nothing to do with his departure from PCATBS.

“The album was written and recorded during lockdown, so we weren’t doing anything on tour with PCATBS. The guys at PCATBS decided recently that they wanted to explore a different option in a leader and vocalist, so that was the because of the change there, that project had no bearing on the decision.

Phil Campbell and the Bastard Sons (Neil Starr pictured second from right)

For now, the musician is putting his all into The Beat-Hells with a “let’s see what happens” attitude.

“We haven’t set any targets or goals,” he says. “We’d like to play the tracks live at some point, but for now the plan is to see what people think of the digital release and if people like it we’d like to get straight to work on a second album.

“It would be a great festival band in my opinion, because the songs are full of energy and everyone already knows them to sing them.”

And if the Beat-Hells appear live, don’t expect them to ape John, Paul, George and Ringo like so many others do.

“We broke the rules a bit on this because Will, who is the bass player, doesn’t sing, Sibbi and I play guitar and sing, which doesn’t quite follow the Beatles to the letter of the law,” says Neil. “I love Paul and John’s voice so it’s impossible to choose, Ringo’s voice doesn’t bother me either and I’m not saying that just because we share the same last name!”

To learn more about The Beat-Hells via their Facebook page and to buy their album, click HERE


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About Joan J. Hernandez

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