HYDROGYN: CONFESSIONS OF A BLONDE BOMBSHELL


Hydrogen is the name of the lightest, flamable gas. Add some oxygen to it and it will become highly explosive. HYDROGYN, founded in 2003, explodes too when they enter the stage, or when you hear their debut album “Bombshell”. Who are these talented newcomers, whose music is meant to be played at the highest volume possible? We got in touch with frontlady Julie, and found out that this hot lady is ready to make every metal head melt away. An interview at the very highest danger level, so to speak. But we are more than happy to take this risk for you. Let’s introduce you to....HYDROGYN.

When did HYDROGYN get together as a band, and how did you meet up?
Julie: “Well, we have been a band for about two years now. Most of us had played together in some way before we formed the band. When Jeff Westlake decided to put the band together, he called up some of the guys he had played with before and asked them to join. As for me, I was actually doing some country shows at the time. The band began auditions for a vocalist, but wasn’t having much luck. Then one day Jeff came to me and asked if I thought I could do rock. I figured I might as well give it a shot, and here we are today.”

Did any of the band members play in another band before HYDROGYN and did they record anything with these bands?
Julie: “Yes, everyone had been in previous bands, and had done recordings with the band, but nothing at this level where we are now.”

Who came up with the band name and why did you decide to call yourself HYDROGYN?
Julie: “Actually, I’m not sure who really came up with it. It really came down to a band practice and some bodily functions, that brought up the subject of gas. Well, I’ll just leave it at that.”

Which bands can we see as a musical influence of HYDROGYN and maybe you can also tell us a bit more about the influences of each band member individually?
Julie: “I’m not sure if the band itself has any influences musically. We try to keep our stuff original. We all just like heavy melodic rock. Of course, all of the members have people that they grew up listening to. I’m probably more of the odd bird, because my musical influences are a lot different than the guys. I grew up listening to gospel, country, and a little pop. But I think that really helped me going into the writing part of this album, because I wasn’t trying to sound like any rock artist of today or the past, because frankly I’m not too familiar with any of them. A few that I know as a band that we really like would be DIO, TED NUGENT, JUDAS PRIEST, AC/DC, BLACK SABBATH, HEART, GODSMACK, NICKELBACK, and much more.”

Who sets out the musical direction of HYDROGYN, or are we dealing with a ship with more captains here?
Julie: “We have our writing sessions as a band, and leave it open to input from everyone. Of course, I don’t play, so I focus on the melody and the lyrics. With “Bombshell”, Jeff Westlake and I worked out the majority of all of the material and then of course Michael came into play before the studio.”

How would you describe the music of HYDROGYN yourself?
Julie: “Fun, exciting, and energetic. We like good rock and roll! Heavy guitars and melodic vocals with lyrics, that you can understand.”

Why did Jason Fields leave the band so quickly and how did you get in touch with his replacement Dave Moody?
Julie: “Jason Fields is a great guy and a great player. He actually played for me, when I was doing the country stuff, so we were together for a while. When we formed HYDROGYN we brought him on board. But this is a business as well as a band, and we take it very seriously. This business isn’t cut out for everyone. And I’ll just leave it at that. As far as Moody goes, we met him about a year ago in Louisville, KY, where we were playing a show. We exchanged numbers, and kept in touch. So, when we were looking for a bass player, we called him up.”

Let’s take a look at your live shows, if we may. With which bands have you shared the stage so far?
Julie: “Well, HYDROGYN has performed many shows over the last couple of years. We haven’t toured with any major acts as of yet. Most have been our own headlining shows, but we have shared the stage with many other bands that are working there way to the top. So notable mentions are SALIVA and SEETHER.”

What has been your biggest gig so far?
Julie: “I would have to say a Nascar race in Richmond Virginia. We performed on the Mountain Dew stage in front of two hundred and fifty thousand people. It was awesome!”

Do you play any covers live, or do you stick to your own penned material only?
Julie: “We prefer to play our own material, but we do throw in a few covers. AC/DC (“Back in Black”), and SKID ROW (“Eighteen And Life”) are in our set, because we have recorded them during the “Bombshell” sessions. DIO as well as a few others are in our bag for a surprise as well.”

Have you ever played outside of the USA, and if yes, when/where was that?Br> Julie: “Not yet, but we are hoping to soon. Any promoters, that want a kick butt band get in touch with us. We are ready!!!”

What’s the metal scene like in the West Virginia area? Are there many clubs where you can play live or is it difficult to find a good club, where you can rock the joint?
Julie: “It could be better. There are a few good places to play, but we do a lot outside of this area.”

Which other well-known bands come from this area?
Julie: “AMERICAN MINOR, BOBAFLEX and BYZANTINE. I do not know how well-known they are world wide, but they are signed acts, who tour nationally. I believe BYZANTINE has toured England as well.”

Do you visit live shows regularly?
Julie: “We like to support other bands, when we get the chance. Right now, things are very busy for us, so we don’t get a chance to get out to see other bands too often.”

What’s the last big live show you saw?
Julie: “I saw DISTURBED during our trip to LA during the NAMM convention and one of my favorites, TED NUGENT.”

Do you use any show effects or is your show purely based on good music and loads of sweat and energy?
Julie: “We are actually working on our stage show right now. In the past, it has been based on sweat and energy, but we want to give a little more, and give people a good show to come and see. So there will be some stage effects for everyone to look forward to. We want to bring back a bit of the entertainment value. After all you are paying for it and not five people on stage, who just stand there. That is old and it sucks!”

You were asked to support DEF LEPPARD on one date. Please tell us about it....
Julie: “Actually, we were asked to do the show, but at the same time we were in the studio recording our album, so we had to pull out. We really wanted to focus on the album and felt it was not going to be good for the process. Now if it would have been multiple shows, then it may have been different.”

Maybe you can tell some nice stories about life on the road here. You must have been in some nice, funny or hilarious situations. Maybe you can share some of these nice moments with us?
Julie: “Nice moments…. Let’s see. I’m a girl on a bus with a bunch of men. I’m not sure I can think of any. I’m kidding!! We have a good time together. There has been times, when we all have piled into one hotel room in order to save money. That can get interesting! We once took an RV to Boston, MA and by the time we got back, it smelled like something had died in it. Once again, back to how we came up with the band name….”

Did you ever witness that male fans were trying to attract your attention after the show for more than just a smile or an autograph, or are you well defensed by the other band members from creeps like that?
Julie: “I have people with me that keep a watch on things, but I’m a pretty stout little chick. I can handle things pretty well. And of course, guys will be guys, but so can the gals. Actually the girls are need to be watched more than the guys.”

What’s the reaction like of the press towards your debut CD “Bombshell”?
Julie: “It’s going well. We have had a good response to the album. Of course, not everyone is going to like it, but that’s OK, because there’s a lot who are lovin it.”

How the hell (please forgive me this expression!!!) did you get Michael Wagener so far, that he produced the album?
Julie: “Michael is a wonderful person, and he has become a very good friend. We were given his number from someone we were working with, and thought we would call and see about him recording the album. I must say, that we had our doubts. I mean this guy has done everyone that you can think of. But we called him up. He invited us to come to the studio and talked about what we wanted to do, and a couple of weeks later, the time was booked. If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be where we are now. In case you didn’t know, Michael also was a huge part of the art work that was done for the album. He actually designed the whole thing. He did a great job!”

Did you also get any negative reviews, and how do you deal with those in general? Do you try to learn something out of it, or do you rather forget about it as quickly as possible?
Julie: “Actually, you are one of the first to review the album. We just got it back, so it hasn’t gone out too many to review yet. But of course, like I said, not everyone will like it. It may not be there style of music. But it’s our style, and we love it. If they don’t like it, then OK, we’re on to the next.”

Why did you include the AC/DC cover “Back In Black” on the album? What’s so special about this song for you?
Julie: “This is just a really fun song to sing, and you don’t hear too many gals try to sing it. Actually, Michael Wagener wanted us to do it. He came to hear us play live before we went into the studio, and we performed this song. He really liked it, and asked us to do it, and we did. After all, he is Michael Wagener, and he gets two votes.”

Who picked the photos for the CD? I saw some remarkable good and interesting choices there....
Julie: “Michael had a lot to do with it. We wanted to put something behind the lyrics that in some way related to the song. Some of them are very obvious and some are more personal to the band.”

What’s your favorite HYDROGYN song and why?
Julie: “I really don’t know if I have a favorite. I like most of them really well. For me, since I write the lyrics, songs like “Confession”, “Look Away”, and “Book Of Names” have a deep meaning for me and I enjoy singing them.”


What are your future plans?
Julie: “I would like to be one of the biggest bands out there. I want to be able to tour the world, and have one of the biggest fan bases imaginable. I want to spread HYDROGYN all over and that is the short and long term plan.”

Did you write any new material yet, and if yes, what can we expect from it, comparing to the songs on your debut album?
Julie: “We have been extremely trying to get the business end of things tied up, that we really haven’t started on anything. Of course, some of the guys are continuously writing new riffs, but nothing has been brought to the table yet.”

I always take a good look at the CD booklet, to see if I can find some interesting names in it. In your case, I would like to ask about the links you have with Wolf Hoffmann (ACCEPT guitarist - I presume he’s the same one?!)?
Julie: “We have actually had the chance to meet with Wolfe on a few different occasions, because the studio where we recorded is on his property.”

Another name, I definitely need to ask about is Tina Nugent - the wife of the meanest rock and roll guitar player in the entire galaxy - TED NUGENT. What’s the link between the band and her?
Julie: “This is a different Tina Nugent. This Tina is very close friend of mine.”

One little thing I also would like to ask you about is…. sushi! Does it suck, like you say, or does it rock, like Jeff claims ?????
Julie: “Oh my gosh…it really sucks!!! That’s all Michael and Jeff Westlake ever want to eat. Which means that if there is no else around, I go eat all by myself, which sucks, too! They fly to California just to eat sushi.”

Are there any interesting and important gigs on your calendar?
Julie: “We actually have a lot in the works right now. We have a few big Bike rallies we are doing. We are trying to get in with a major act to tour with. It looks like the Monterey Metalfest is a go as well. We are trying to get this set up right now.”

Is there a chance, that HYDROGYN will spread their wings and fly over to Europe to do some live shows one day, or is this to premature to consider?
Julie: “We would love to! So if you have any connections, please send them our way. We are talking to a few promoters in that area, so hopefully things will work out.”

Does the fact, that you have a female singer have any major advantages or disadvantages, or are you treated like any other band in your opinion?
Julie: “For the most part, I think we are treated like any other band. Of course, you have some bands, who just think that it is unthinkable for a woman to cover AC/DC, but who cares? We have a fun time!“

We are an online magazine from The Netherlands, completely focussed on the female musicians in the hard rock and heavy metal scene. Julie, do you feel that women still need this special attention, that we give them? Or do you think, that you already get all the recognition you earn as a lady rocker?
Julie: “You know us ladies always like the special attention. I appreciate all I can get. It really helps the band. I think the band has received a lot of recognition, due to the fact that we are a female fronted band, and that are style is different than any other female fronted band out right now.”

Like I said, we are based in The Netherlands. What else do you know about our small country, besides the fact that we have colorful tulips, tasty cheese and beautiful windmills?
Julie: “Honestly, I’m not too familiar with the Netherlands, but I do like tasty cheese.”

Julie, we read that you have your own column at www.electricbasement.com. What is it about and how long are you doing this already?
Julie: “Actually, that is something I did several months ago. It was called Julie’s Jolts. It was an online diary, that kept everyone up to date with what was going on with the band. I am no longer doing it at this time.”

We also read something about a calendar. Judging by the picture you send us, you also have a lot of talent becoming a model or something like that. Have you ever thought about a career in that direction?
Julie: “The calendar was something else that we were doing on electric basement. We posted new pics every week for people to vote on. We are looking at doing an eighteen month calendar, starting in the summer. As far as the modelling thing, it’s a lot of fun. I do things for the band, and things locally here in West Virginia, but I’m open to doing more if it comes available.”

Where can we order the calendar? (Oh shit, I believe it was sold out already!!) Are there any plans for a new calendar yet? And does it contain pictures like the one, you send to our office?
Julie: “They will be available on our website at www.hydrogyn.com sometime during the summer. And yes, the pictures will be similar to the one you received.”

What’s your goal with HYDROGYN?
Julie: “I would love to see our album go platinum many many many times, as well as travelling the world performing.”

Do you have any other hobbies or interests, besides playing in a rock band?
Julie: “I am a country girl at heart. I love animals. I like being outdoors. I love to go horseback riding or just travelling to new places. I’m also a family gal. I enjoy being able to spend time with my family and friends.”

Where can people find you on the internet, and how important is the internet for a band like yourself nowdays?
Julie: “HYDROGYN is currently all over the internet right now. If you go to google.com and search the band, you will find all sorts of things. Our material should be available for downloading on all major downloading sites by the end of March. The internet has become so important to bands nowadays. With all of the online magazines like yourselves and downloading sites, it’s huge.”

What’s so special about HYDROGYN, that people should buy your CD instead of all the other zillion releases, that come out every month? In other words, go ahead and advertise for “Bombshell” here, it’s for free!
Julie: “Well, I would have to say it’s different. It was produced by one of the greatest producers of all times, so it has a great sound. It’s good rock and roll. If you like hard melodic rock, then this is for you. And it also has great packaging. It comes in a digipack, with a twenty page color booklet inside. It’s well worth the ten bucks. We tried to bring back some great elements of rock that has been missing and stay modern at the same time. Try it and I think you might like it!!!!”

Do you want to add something to this interview here? Maybe there’s something we forgot to mention here, which might be essential for the story of HYDROGYN?
Julie: “I think, we pretty much covered everything.”

Do you have any messages for our readers?
Julie: “Yeah, check out the bands website at http://www.hydrogyn.com. Order the new CD and check it out for yourselves.”

The last words are for Julie and HYDROGYN....
Julie: “I would just like to thank Metal Maidens for the great review. Hope everyone found this interview interesting, and informed you a bit more about the band. If you would like more information about the band, feel free to email the band at: info@hydrogyn.com. Look for our new web site to go live by the end of March, first of April. Thank you!!”

copyright: METAL MAIDENS
interview by: Toine van Poorten, March 2006.

Visit their website at: http://www.hydrogyn.com

Discography HYDROGYN

*Bombshell (CD 2006; DARecords)