Anne Boleyn


As a prominent front woman for Heavy Metal quartet HELLION and owner of her own record label Anne Boleyn is quite an inspiration to the growing demographic of women involved in Metal. Charlotte Whittingham got to speak with her about her record label, new EP and general issues regarding women in metal.
By Charlotte Whittingham
January 23, 2015
Anne Boleyn (Hellion) interview
Hello Anne, good to speak with you how are you?

I am very well thank you and how are you?

Not bad thank you;  I am a relatively new listener to Hellion. How similar sounding is your new EP "Karma Is A Bitch" to previous work?

It's very similar sounding; I am influenced by a lot of bands such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath you know things like that and I think that new music enhances those influences as such.

Reading the press information I understand you own your own record label; what was the influence behind your decision to run your own label as well as fronting a Heavy Metal band?

Well in 1984, Hellion released an independent release; it did very well and it reached number 6 in the charts and regardless of our success in the UK we were unable to get a record deal in the USA. So that in itself created a bit of an issue, we had a lot of stereotype especially when women in Heavy Metal were concerned at that time. Back in 83/84 when a woman was in a heavy metal band it was seen more as a gimmick rather than a serious thing. So we went to meet a lot of managers to see who would be interested in managing Hellion but each one said "Yeah we can offer you a record deal, if you get breast implants" since back then there were certain expectations. Women in heavy metal groups were seen as gimmick bands and we were expected to wear lingerie on stage; I mean it's fine if it's what they want to do but for me I enjoyed the bands I like through listening to them, I didn't have to see them to enjoy them and it wasn't based on their image. I mean image is important to a certain degree but if the music isn't good then you've got nothing.

Before we go on to talk about women in metal I would like to ask if you manage to keep a level balance between running a record label and fronting a band?

In 1984/1985 it was an entirely different business then it is now. In those days I had a warehouse and a semi-truck come up with four or five albums coming out a time and it was really a business for shipping products. It was tremendously enjoyable; so a band and a record naturally went hand in hand and a lot of the bands were on Renaissance Records.

Going back to women in metal from what I see personally people have their decisions swayed when they find out the band is fronted by a woman, would you agree with this?

I have a different approach on that. I think the term female fronted metal has, in my opinion, harmed Hellion because now there is a certain connotation that's different. That connotation these days stands in two categories; one which is symphonic metal where you have a female vocalist singing in an opera style voice. The other is what I call Cookie Monster singing where you cannot hear a single word they are saying. I mean I have respect for both those kinds of music and I understand there are a lot of people who like those sorts of bands but for those die-hard fans who want just a Heavy Metal or Hard Rock band aren't getting that now.

First of we're a different band; we play Heavy Rock and Metal, that's really where the label should be.

Regarding metal scenes, what are the differences and similarities between the USA and the UK?

In Europe and the UK it seems that the fans are more knowledgeable about the band than they are in America; I mean no disrespect to those fans in America but in America it seems that things are either huge or not. The scene we've got in America particularly with live shows is very different now to what it was in the 1980s. A lot of it has to do with the presence of medium sized venues and clubs of holding the shows cater to support bands. This has created a lot of problems; on a recent tour where we did about twenty one days across North America, we would go to a number of different shows and instead of having one or two support bands you could be having as many as eight. This creates an inconvenience for fans as they have to arrive early to watch the show to sit through eight different bands that are only on the bill because they paid money to appear on the bill. Sometimes the genres of music are mismatched so it doesn't necessarily create a great experience for the fans so this is something we are really going to be working on the next time we head out on tour.

Just to wrap up; what's your general opinion on how the internet markets music now, particularly with streaming?

The Internet has made it impossible for those who don't have producers, studios or crew; those components are expensive unless you are a major band. For example on the recent EP Karma Is A Bitch in America; either you put out one single to get people interested and then it starts appearing on YouTube and anywhere else you can download it. Now you have things like Apple products there is no reason to actually go out and buy it now.

Thank you very much Anne for speaking to Metal Temple today.

Thank you it was my pleasure.

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