Howling Bells (album) - Background


Most of the song lyrics on Howling Bells were written by Juanita Stein when she took time off from the band's previous incarnation, the Sydney-based pop rock group Waikiki. All members of Howling Bells were also in Waikiki. After growing discontent with their pop rock sound, the band members opted to assume an indie rock identity and changed their name to Howling Bells. The group began to perform material from Howling Bells while still called Waikiki. The majority of the lyrical subject matter centres on Juanita's own interpersonal relationships. She wrote some songs about the loss felt through ending relationships and others about forming new romance. Afterward, drummer Glenn Moule, guitarist Joel Stein, and bass guitarist Brendan Picchio arranged the music around her words.

We wanted to let the music breathe and get away from our urban environment, so we tracked down this beautiful house.

“ ” –Juanita referring to their demoing location in Victoria.

The band found a country house in the mountains of Victoria, where they spent a month creating demo tracks for the album. "Broken Bones" and "Blessed Night" were the only two tracks not to be demoed in Australia. "I'm Not Afraid", the album's last track, was written by Peter Stein (Joel and Juanita's father), who is also a songwriter and musician.

After hearing Coldplay's A Rush of Blood to the Head, they agreed that was how they wanted their album to sound. They sent demos to Ken Nelson, who was responsible for producing A Rush of Blood to the Head. Nelson soon responded, stating that he would be interested in working with them. With little financial security, they relocated to London and waited for Nelson to finish production on Coldplay's X&Y. The start date of the recording of Howling Bells was repeatedly delayed because Coldplay was dissatisfied with its studio sessions. In the meantime, to support themselves, the members of Howling Bells took up temporary work. Eight to ten months after their arrival in England, Nelson contacted them with the news that he would soon be ready to record.

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