Tour Tales: Hellions – October 2016 UK Tour with Northlane, Volumes and The Acacia Strain

Earlier this month rising Australian hardcore group Hellions joined fellow countrymen and labelmates Northlane on their UK tour. Joined by Volumes and The Acacia Strain, the run of six shows saw the tour hit a host of major UK cities.

Having released their second album, ‘Indian Summer’ earlier this year, Hellions were making their first trip over to the UK.

To document their time on these shores, guitarist Matt Gravolin kindly provided us with this detailed day-by-day account of the tour. Read on to find out what Hellions got up to. Daily kebabs, getting fined and, of course, late night drinking.

The Fleece, Bristol
Anthony (Caruso – drummer) made a new friend in Mr. Jack Little, who we discovered was playing at the venue adjacent to The Fleece moments after having met him. We had the time to call after load in, we all sauntered on over to watch him play. He performed a few original songs that were lyrically pertinent to us, they reminded us how far from home we were, permeating an air of conviviality and setting the mood for the ensuing hours.

We were fortunate enough to be opening up a sold out show this evening, with a 60 minute buffer between the opening of doors and the start of our set. Seeing a line of people that stretched well around the corner of the venue, one by one setting foot after foot onto the now adhesive floor of a room smelling heavily of stale beer and cigarettes was quite a sight to see. We were well received and humbled to see a portion of the audience that knew the lyrics to our songs.

The ensuing bands performed phenomenally, and for the first time on the tour I was able to watch The Acacia Strain set in it’s entirety.

With cloven hooves, Vincent (Bennett – The Acacia Strain vocalist) slowly lurches back and forth with the microphone slung over his neck, swinging like a hangman’s lynch beneath his bowed head to the eerie sounds of their opening sample – I love this calm before the storm. Their bludgeoning brand of self proclaimed “ugly music for ugly people” is unwavering in its anger and misery. Apoplectic from start to finish and a pleasure to witness each day.

Later that evening a large group of the touring party would go out in search of a kebab store (this would become a near daily ritual) and en route we were encountered by a wastrel of a local man, stumbling and slurring at as as he ate his own kebab with greasy, dripping hands. What we initially thought to be confrontation turned out to be a free but rather insipid rap performance.

Asylum Birmingham
Waking up early beneath a grey Birmingham sky, Neal (NL photographer), Josh (Smith – Northlane guitarist) and I ventured out for breakfast and coffee.

To darken an already grey morning, I witnessed a troubled young woman pick up a wet and thoroughly stamped out cigarette off of the sidewalk, put it to her scabbed lips and attempt to light and smoke it. Good morning Birmingham!

To our distinct pleasure we were joined by our Australian friend Harlan once we got back to the bus. There’s nothing quite like seeing a familiar and homely face when on the other side of the world.

Today’s show felt like new ground for us, our audience seemed unfamiliar with our music, but by the end of the set I felt as though we had won over many of the Asylum’s patrons with our sweat.
Over the course of load-out, an assailant who will remain unnamed managed to pilfer several unattended sheets of Jell-O shots and distribute them throughout the touring party, which would have us more accurately resembling a menagerie than a group of adept musicians – making for an interesting evening after bus call. Interesting for the drinkers, and in all probability quite dismal for the non-drinkers.

Classic Grand, Glasgow
Most of us would get up early and head out for breakfast today – admittedly appearing like a small mob as we promenaded the streets, black clad and hooded, admiring the architecture.

Before long Josh (NL), Gus (Volumes) and I decided to hit the bar, where we had an American beer, an Australian beer and a local beer. In the throes of epiphany, Gus suddenly felt obliged to buy us a bottle of Moët, which he kindly did. And then another, which we consumed promptly with some assistance by Diego.

Back at the venue, Dre and I perfunctorily and distractedly discarded our cigarettes onto the sidewalk when we were informed it was time to load in. Noticing this, two community service officers were quick to apprehend us for our repugnant and downright malicious crime against their community, we each incurred an £80 fine that was to be paid that day, which we did…

The Classic Grand is quite an arduous venue to load into with its many flights of steep stairs, with one of our guys unfortunately putting his back out halfway through (he has made a good recovery!)
We were, again, received somewhat apprehensively at first, but thankfully garnered a progressively keener reaction as our set picked up its momentum. ‘Creasy’ was received with notable ardor.

As usual, our successors each killed it this evening; the dually-fronted Volumes have a fill-in in the form of The Contortionist’s Mike Lessard. A fine replacement for usual co-frontman Michael Barr, adding a deeper shade of melodicism to Volumes – sporadically tearing away at the steel ribcage of the band to reveal a bruised heart.

After everybody finished up, we made a few new friends who had a bottle of Buckfast flying through the hands of the touring party – which is a treat of sorts for us Australians because it’s a rarity to find at home.

With the completion of load out, a benevolent stranger offered a few of us free entry into the club next door to the venue along with some complimentary drinks, which we begrudgingly accepted before making our way back in time for a mid-morning bus call.

Club Academy, Manchester
Hangover. Many of us could have done with a slow day but as fate would have it, Manchester held the need for a hasty set-up and preparation in general. Today ended up being incredible for us and we couldn’t have been more humbled by our reception!

Just as The Acacia Strain had begun, I made the mistake of trying to push through a sold-out audience in order to have a cigarette outside. Needless to say, I was stuck there – pinned to the bar for the duration of their set dodging flying limbs and half-dreading Vincent’s incessant galvanization of the crowd.

Northlane were a pleasure to watch this evening, as per usual. I was afforded one of those cushiony sentimental moments, filled with pride for the boys I had grown up with; some of whom I had known since I was as young as 13. Northlane are the finest Australian band active.

O2 Islington, London
Today was the biggest day of the tour thus far for every band on the package, engendering a palpable air of celebration that permeated through all involved.

Each band had a slew of old friends come out to spend time with them and watch them perform, which only heightened our mutually elated state. It was our distinct pleasure to meet UNFD UK/EU label and management representative Ben Patashnik, a passionate and inexorably driven member of the family that is our home-ground label.

Champagne and liquor were flowing like we were in a rap video. Evening hours quickly turned into small hours and a 1am bus call turned into an 8am bunk-fall – an occurrence that would become more and more frequent as the tour progresses.

Talking Heads, Southampton
We are the walking wounded. Half-waking to a considerably diminished mental capacity, grey matter dissolved and dispersed into the Southampton ether.

Northlane and Volumes have been recording fake-beef videos in advertisement for their upcoming Greater Than co-headline tour in the United States and the plan for today’s installment was for Marcus (Bridge – Northlane vocalist) and Gus (Farias – Volumes vocalist) to have a physical altercation, resulting in Gus’ shirt being ripped. It transpired that both frontmen would have clothes torn off them and be liberally covered in dirt. IS THE BEEF IS REAL?!

The show was thankfully a great one for each band and the air of conviviality from the evening before had transposed itself into today’s initially dire context. The thought of 20 more shows, mostly consecutive, is met with a simultaneously ubiquitous alacrity and trepidation at this juncture! Who knows what we’re in for.

‘Indian Summer’ by Hellions is out now on UNFD.

Hellions links: Facebook|Twitter|Tumblr

Leave a Reply