During this pandemic, Brett Hellings finding himself sequestered in his home studio working on his music and writing new songs he was longing to develop and record.
In his home studio, his dream was focused on one thing, music and nothing else.
Hellings were to fly to Los Angeles in the late spring of 2020 and land on the Sunset Strip. They managed to record and produce an awesome live performance video for the track ‘Lil Bit of Love’ at the Whiskey a GoGo with director Glen Wexler. The shoot was fully COVID compliant and was a quick fix of music for Brett in 2020.
When Brett returned home, all his thoughts were still on one thing and that was music.
Since the pandemic had everyone on hold, and no touring in the near future, Brett met with his management team and came up with a plan to put together a recording session comprised of seasoned musicians whom he admired and always wanted to work with. Normally these artists would be on tour with the bands they belong to, but due to the unique situation in 2020, Brett wanted to investigate this possibility.
The musicians who were contacted included Tommy Henriksen from Alice Cooper/Hollywood Vampires, Richard Fortus of Guns n Roses, Buck Johnson of Aerosmith, Kenny Aronoff from John Fogerty, John Melloncamp and numerous other acts and Billy Sheehan, from Mr.Big & David Lee Roth
Added into the mix was producer Rob Fraboni, who would round out this group to and created what was felt to be a true dream team of music……
The process began with phone calls placed to investigate these artists’ availability, which then turned into zoom calls. From there, arrangements were made, dates were available and a location was chosen….all of the pieces began to fall into place.
This session project was then dubbed the “Hellings Hellhounds” session. This has evolved to become a fantastic opportunity for Brett to be able meet and to work alongside, rounding out this amazing group of musicians.
Luckily the pandemic opened up free time for these legendary musicians to be able to come together and make some unforgettable music.
Brett got their blessing of the current band members of “Hellings” which includes Zeus, Elias Reidy, Rodney Thurman, and Ed Artz. They all saw that this project was a unique opportunity, something that any singer would dream of doing.
Now for Brett, the dream was starting to turn into reality.
Everyone has flown in from all parts of the globe to the Sonic Ranch Studio in El Paso, Texas to get to work.
This dream Brett had is now a reality, and as everyone arrives in El Paso to start turning this dream project into reality, the story begins…
Hellhounds Daily Diary
First day, all of the “Hellings Hellhounds” coming from around the globe.
Excitement is building as each prepared at home for the music that will be made, now coming together as a unit.
Through the days of the pandemic, COVID compliant, doing what comes natural to each musician –
Day one…arrivals in, setting up…complete.
Day two begins with each doing their equipment setup and testing.
The photographer arrives and also gets his gear set up to start an array of pictures and videos.
He’ll be showing everyone the process on what it takes to be a part of a recording session and get this music recorded.
The band got set-up quickly and managed to begin to play together and gel as a band. One entire song was learned this evening.
So day two is done….while everyone sits and eats dinner together we are all preparing for tomorrow.
Day three is here…
Brett is in the studio with Tommy, Buck, Rich, Billy and Kenny….going over the music for the day.
The sound was tighter then ever, even through it was the first time playing all together….
Rob Fraboni’s plane is late, the boys are on their own, all goes just fine.
They Keep rehearsing and getting all the music down.
Time for dinner, talk about the day and what tomorrow will bring.
Day four at Sonic Ranch starts with the band going to work early to refine and develop the new material for this session.
Rob Fraboni, the producer of this session arrives to the studio to begin his work. Rob’s flight to El Paso was delayed making for a very late arrival the previous evening.
Rehearsal is going well, songs are being arranged, refined, and finished. Rob is very happy with the progress that has been made so far and begins to add his input to the songs.
The band and Rob put in a long hard day but the time passes quickly because everyone is getting along both personally and creatively.
After dinner there’s an ad hoc jam session that picks up when everyone returns to the studio. It runs fast and loose and the passion, talent and skills of these talented musicians fills the studio with some blazing riffs and heavy beats.
Another day bites the dust here in Hell Paso.
The morning today is spent moving the band equipment from the rehearsal setup in the room to the recording positions.
Time is spent placing microphones in their optimal locations to capture the perfect amp, keys or drum sound. This process takes all morning and into the afternoon hours.
The band sits down around 2:00pm and starts to play while Rob the producer begins to dial in the sounds that he wants to hear from each instrument.
This process goes into the afternoon and sometime around 4PM the recording process begins.
Then band lays down one track and begins the second, then time and energy begin to run out…
The day begins around noon, band gets into the studio, warms up and begins to track.
Overdubs and group backup vocals take place in between big drum beats and blazing guitars.
The band and producer are getting along great and working as team getting 2 tracks laid down today.
The songs are sounding fantastic, big rock run the gambit from intensity driven rock songs to beautifully crafted ballads.
Session folds up around 11:00PM
This morning the B-3 Organ and Leslie are carried into the studio and brought to life.
Guitars and guitar amps are traded out and exchanged until the perfect combination is found.
The band during the tracking for one of the songs has one of those ‘happy accidents’ that ends up bringing the entire band surrounding the acoustic piano and completely re working the arrangement of a song together.
This is what truly shows the dedication, creativity and desire to go beyond what’s expected, and by doing that create a better and more original song that is going to surprise everyone…..
The band goes back into the studio takes a couple of passes at this new arraignment and decide to return to it fresh from a night sleep tomorrow morning.
The session ends again around 11:00PM, a few glasses of wine are made to disappear and a great group of artists retire for the evening.
Began work this morning on song number 7, with 3 more remaining songs to get through in our last 2 days. Piece of Cake…Famous last words J.
Todays task is a re recording of one of Brett’s songs that was previously recorded about 12 years ago, that is getting a bit of a facelift and sounding fantastic.
We all went out to dinner this evening at the Cattleman’s Steakhouse close by to the studio, it was time to have a night out and get off the property.
It’s a fantastic restaurant that is a combination, museum and menagerie and the food was spectacular.
After dinner it was back to the studio of a good hang and a bit of tracking. Buck was laying down a B-3 track and put a small cut in his hand during the track.
A little blood on the stage to make it all real…Tomorrow’s another day.
Today gave birth to two Hellhounds tunes. One is an original recording and one, the band’s first cover tune.
The band was kicking around ideas all day long searching for the right cover tune and sometime right around dinner it was decided.
Once chosen the band began to put their own arrangement onto it and began to brand it with the signature sound they have built for themselves over the last week and a half.
Two more songs are done and dusted .
This group of musicians is truly bonding as friends and playing together as a true unit as if they had been doing this for years.
Hang onto your hats pilgrims the best is yet to come, the record being built here brick by brick is going to turn some heads in a few months….
Today’s the day we get the last track, number 11 in the can. Recording starts at Noon as always everyone on time and ready to go.
This final song is a tune that will be built from scratch in the studio by the band.
They all sit around the piano again and in the morning work out the basic song structure and start with the lyrics on acoustic guitars and piano.
After lunch around 4 PM everyone heads in to track it. This song takes on a life of it’s own once the band start to play it electric and a really unique and fun song begins to emerge from what was nothing this morning.
A scheduled photo shoot is cancelled in order to to not break up the rhythm of the composition and execution of the recording.
Tomorrow is the last day of recording and a bunch of press work that remains to be done, it’s gonna be a busy day…
Today is a day of overdubs, finishing work and a review of the first songs recorded to look at them with a fresh eye and see what might need to be done to improve them.
The band has developed as a unit so much in the last 5 or 6 days that some real changes might be made to the first few tracks laid down.
There is a photo shoot today in the early evening, the ‘Magic Hour’ for light around here. Also interviews were done with each band member.
This is the busy day we were expecting yesterday.
Later tonight around 8:00 PM we will all have an end of session BBQ, pack up our gear for shipping and get ready to go back home.
An fantastic experience has been had by all and I feel a terrific album recording has been made here in Hell Paso, April-May 2021.
See you when we are ready to unleash it on the world…