The last time we introduced you to a “new” Brazilian band around here, it was the excellent Black Drawing Chalks. Not to say there haven’t been other exciting bands in between, but there’s one that’s gotten us particularly interested lately: Hellbenders. Having released their first album Brand New Fear last year, Hellbenders are easily Brazil’s foremost desert/stoner rock band at the moment, though they often tend to surpass that genre label. Recently, the group took a huge leap forward in their career, one that few ever get a chance to: they recorded their second album album at the legendary Rancho de la Luna.
Rancho de la Luna, the studio in the Mojave Desert where Josh Homme recorded with Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age; where the epic Desert Sessions took place; where the Arctic Monkeys were taken to record Humbug and changed forever; and where Foo Fighters recently made an episode of their Sonic Highways HBO series, as well as a new song. It is also a studio where any bands willing to record have to first be invited by owner David Catching.
While more details of the Hellbenders’ story can be found below, we’d like to proudly present a short documentary on the recording of the band’s second album, including lots of footage from them at the Rancho. Be sure to turn the subtitles on:
The story of how Hellbenders ended up at Rancho de la Luna is actually connected to Antiquiet, in a way. When we featured Black Drawing Chalks in 2012, that led the band to be picked up for a SXSW gig in 2013; since both BDC and Hellbenders hail from the city of Goiânia (and share a partnership), the connection led the latter to play SXSW this year. As luck would have it, watching that Hellbenders gig in Austin was one Jimmy Ford, a close friend of Dave Catching, who introduced the band to him. In August, the band received the proper invitation to record at the Rancho.
In order to gather the necessary funds for the recording session, the band made good use of crowdfunding site Catarse, selling records and merch in advance, as well as providing other rewards. As predicted, they surpassed the funding goal, and made their way to the studio in October. Throughout twelve days, they had more than enough time to record the seven songs they’d written in Brazil, and to take up the challenge of writing another one on the spot – something of a tradition at the Rancho. If you take their word for it, everything went smoothly: the studio is a very “relaxed, informal space”, with nothing but the music and the surrounding landscape to focus on and be inspired by. With their leftover time, they practiced some target shooting, attended Brian O’Connor’s birthday party in the desert, and put Dave Catching’s famous cooking skills to the test – “the best hot dog I’ve ever eaten”, says lead singer and guitarist Diogo Fleury; “he’s like a mythical wise man or something”, adds drummer Rodrigo Lopes.
When asked about which songs they’re the most proud of, the band laughs and, naturally, claims it’s like picking a favorite child. Bassist Augusto Scartezini picks a track called Bloodshed Around for its involving “horror movie” vibe; drummer Rodrigo Lopes seems to favor the still-untitled song they wrote in the studio, which captured the vibe of the session; Diogo Fleury mentions The Hunter, which draws similarities to their first album, but “sends them over the edge”; and lastly, guitarist Braz Torres sheds light on Memorized, a song of “extremes”, going through several different tempos and moods. They seem to hide just how excited they are over the new material, and barely manage to.
While the proper recording of their second album is done, Hellbenders still have some work to do before releasing it early next year. From what we’ve heard so far, it’s worth being excited about, and yet another great addition to the list of records made at Rancho de la Luna. We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, catch up with the band over at their Facebook, and stream their 2013 debut below: