Hey Violet has not always been the alt-pop band they are today – they were originally an all-female pop-punk band from Los Angeles called Cherri Bomb. Over the years the band, which is now comprised of Rena Lovelis (lead vocals), Miranda Miller (rhythm guitar, keyboard, vocals), Nia Lovelis (drums, vocals), Casey Moreta (lead guitar, vocals), and Iain Shipp (bass), have evolved from their punk roots to their current sound that is making waves. Named 2017’s “Best Underground Alternative Band” by iHeart Radio and “Artist Primed For A Breakout in 2017” by Billboard, Hey Violet are ones to watch. On their newly released album, From the Outside, they mix an electric sound with drums, keyboard, electric guitar and “groovy bass lines” that are accompanied by lyrics reflecting on love, heartbreak, and hookups. Their most popular hit “Guys My Age” has a stuck in your head rhythm and over 27 million listens on Spotify. The band recently wrapped up a sold out North American headline tour and performed “Guys My Age” on both The Late Late Show With James Corden and Late Night With Seth Meyers.
Indira Cesarine from The Untitled Magazine caught up with Hey Violet and their lead singer Rena Lovelis for an exclusive photo shoot and interview. Rena explains how the band evolved, what songs she connects with, the band’s inspirations and what they look forward to in their future.
Indira Cesarine: I understand you guys got together in middle school. Can you tell me how everybody met and how the band evolved?
Rena Lovelis: The other two girls and I were in a band before and Nia and I know each other from birth and then we found Miranda. People were submitting auditions videos and coming in for auditions for the band. Miranda submitted a video because she was on vacation in Florida with her family and ended up getting into the band. After that, I was their temporary base player.
Nia and I have been playing music together for about ten years, but how Hey Violet started was that we needed another member to kind of reform this band and not just reform it – create a new band. It isn’t Cherri Bomb, it’s a different band, it’s a whole new look, it’s a whole new style, it’s a whole new genre, so a new name really aided in becoming this thing we wanted to become.
We found Casey through a bunch of bands with young kids playing around the LA area and Orange County Area. He was playing with one of those bands. Then we found Iain and after him we found our base player on tour and he ended up joining the band.
IC: How would you personally describe the sound and style of the band?
RL: I would say it is definitely alternative pop with some groovy bass lines and big 80s drums and it almost feels like nostalgic.
IC: Your new album From the Outside just released in June. Can you tell me what inspired the title and any of the new themes we see in the album?
RL: A lot of the themes on the album consist of relationships and primarily it’s about love and all of that good stuff. Nia came up with the name – she got it from a lyric from one of the songs. The song was “Where Have You Been (All My Night).” The lyric in the song is, “I have been watching all the lovers from the outside.”
The album meaning is basically that you can look at your life from different perspectives, the different loves that you go through of your relationships and all of these different things. You’re looking at them and all you see is these different perspectives of yourself and you see all these different viewpoints and through that you learn who you are as a person. I feel that this album is us having our own voice as a band and being able to put out the music we want to put out. I think that “From the Outside” really captured that nicely.
IC: What song on the album do you feel that you personally connect with the most?
RL: In terms of my favorite song its “Where Have You Been (All My Night),” but in terms of really connecting to and really feeling the lyrics, I would say it would probably have to be “Hoodie” because every time I sing that song, I know exactly what it feels like. It’s a song about keeping some – for lack of a better word – memorabilia from past relationships and hanging on to them because you don’t want to let this person go and that happens every time I go through a break up. I keep something from all of my past loves and I still have most of them from each relationship. It doesn’t signify that I still want to be with them, but at the time keeping it did. I know exactly what that’s like to hang on something for so long and be afraid to let it go because you loved this person so much.
IC: So how is this album different from the 2015 EP I Can Feel It?
RL: You can hear it by song – it’s completely different. We went from being kind of like pop with punk roots to having an alternative pop album. We definitely use guitars and stuff, but our I Can Feel It EP had hard drive – at the time I was playing base and singing instead of just singing and that’s a huge difference.
IC: So you’re just singing?
RL: Yea, I’m just singing. I think I might have like done one base lick or something like that. We didn’t have Iain at the time, so it was like we were doing the music and it was basically the producer who was jamming on the base and I loved it. He would just come up with the coolest licks.
One day in the studio he was like, “Do you want to play one of these baselines?” and I was like, “Yea sure why not?” Yeah a lot of it has changed since the I Can Feel It EP. It’s so much different with the band and where we are going musically and you can really hear that. That’s the biggest difference – you can hear it from song to song. You can definitely immediately sense the change.
IC: Who would you consider one of your biggest musical influences right now?
RL: I would definitely say that The Weeknd was a big influence on the album and St. Lucia. We were really inspired by a lot of 80s artists like Cyndi Lauper and The Cure. All of those bands and artists that really made their mark in musical historyand have that nostalgia feel. You can listen to The Cure now and it’s like, “Oh my God. This takes me back to a time that I have never even been to.” You know what I’m saying? Like that desperation for a different era.
I really feel like a lot of modern artists are really taking from 80s artists now a days. It’s just being inspired by those sounds and that desperate emotion. That’s the longing we all wanted to capture in this album. That why I say it’s kind of nostalgic when you ask to describe the album because it does take you back to kind of a different time.
IC: You guys have some serious touring under your belt. I know you mentioned that you’re on a radio tour, but can we actually see you play over the summer?
RL: We’re playing in Japan in August and I am so excited. We are going to be playing Summer Sonic in Tokyo and Osaka, and that’s the first time we’ve been to Japan.
IC: Are you doing any festivals?
RL: You know what, we are not doing any festivals, but I would absolutely love to get on our own tour. I think right now it is going to be a lot of promotions for the album and everything, but all I want to do is be on our own tour or open up for somebody. I think that would be amazing.
IC: And so what can we look forward from you next?
RL: I mean, hopefully just making even more albums. Short term I would just say playing as many shows as possible. Hopefully reaching more people and meeting more and more fans – just casually taking over the world.
Photography and Interview by Indira Cesarine for The Untitled Magazine