April/May 2014

by Anna Schlotjes

Fresh Talent: Lightning Bells

by Anna Schlotjes

Fresh Talent: Lightning Bells

It’’s a rare and beautiful thing when an album makes you grin like an idiot whilst doing a little dance at the lights, as you walk to work – which is exactly the effect Lightning Bells’ EP ‘Chime’ had when it got into my brain early one morning. Influenced by the illustrious Mr Bob Dylan, and a small-known band called The Beatles, ‘Chime’’ is a “melting pot”” of influences, inspired by elements of front-man Christy Whelan’’s childhood; his opera singer mother and strong Irish culture.

“We’re working on finding our own sound and building on what sounds and instrumentation we have that people relate to,” says Whelan.

What stands out about ‘Chime’ is the quality of the recording. Produced by Israeli guitar wizard and friend of the band Arli Liberman, mixed at The Lab studios by Olly Harmer and mastered by Andrew Edgson at Studios 301 in Sydney, it clearly has been a labour of love.

“We’’re really proud of the fact we could pull it together while being busy with other things too. It sounds polished, and it’’s great to listen to it and think it sounds like a real band, that could be taken seriously. It’’s exciting to have it listened to by discerning ears, and we love that the sound we’’ve got on the record is replicable live.””

The process of making ‘Chime’’ began with Whelan and his sister Emily singing at home and “… a dirty old basement blues band with Luke [Benson].” Since then, forward progress has been strong. They started jamming some material with a different line up, before Liberman became involved as a guiding hand.

“He assisted us in shaping and crafting the songs around our melodies and really helped bring them to life,”” says Whelan. “Putting Chapters on the EP was one of the scariest things for me. We recorded it live in one take, and Arli really pushed for it to be on the album. It’’s bare and raw, and really reveals the sound of my voice.””

The current Lightning Bells’ line-up consists of Christy Whelan on acoustic guitar, vocals and general front-man duties, Emily Whelan contributing cello and beautiful harmonies, with Luke Benson rocking the trumpet and synth-y goodness. Helping create the band’s “slick pop sound”” are jazz school musicians, Ryan Carroll on drums, Sung Jin Hong on bass and Ryan Drew playing guitars. ‘Chime’ is an album that rings true, and Lightning Bells are a genuinely humble and musically-focused band.

“We just love getting lost in a moment within a song, or in what we’re doing on stage. Ultimately, I just want people to take away a sense of enjoyment from seeing us play, just like I get a sense of enjoyment from seeing the bands I love play. We just want to be honest, there’’s no pretence in the band. We drive shit cars because we spend money on producing quality music, and we’’re okay with that. We’’re not trying to pretend to be anything that we’re not.””

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