The Australian-born, UK-based band that is Howling Bells had its origins in a Sydney, Australia-based outfit called Waikiki. Current Howling Bells members Juanita Stein (pictured above), Joel Stein, and Glenn Moule (drums) were in Waikiki. Guitarist Jimmeh Brandon rounded out Waikiki’s lineup. While Juanita Stein now plays rhythm guitar and is the lead vocalist in Howling Bells, she played bass in Waikiki and shared lead vocal duties with her younger brother, guitarist Joel.
In the January 17, 2003 issue of the Australian newspaper The Age, Juanita Stein said:
“I think Australia’s got to move beyond rock music.
”It’s like a sick obsession that if you don’t sound like a grungy, heavy rock band that’s trying to own the address of skater kids in Australia then you’re not successful – but there’s so much more (to music) than that.”
Waikiki recorded an EP titled Presents . . . in 2000 and an album, I’m Already Home, in 2002. In 2003, Jimmeh Brandon left the band, Juanita Stein moved to guitar, and bassist Brendan Picchio joined the band. The Steins, Moule, and Picchio relocated to London the following year, changed their musical direction, and rechristened the new band Howling Bells.
Juanita Stein discussed the reasons for ending Waikiki in a June 22, 2006 article in The Age, and recalled feeling strange onstage at a gig in 2004:
“I realized onstage that night that I wasn’t into it. I didn’t believe in what I was doing. I thought, ‘How will [the audience] feel it if I can’t?’ “
Waikiki’s sound was melodic rock and was a contrast to Howling Bells’ current blues-infused, alt-indie-country sound.
To watch Waikiki’s 2002 video for “New Technology” (with Juanita Stein on lead vocals), click below:
To watch Waikiki’s 2002 video for “Lucky” (with Joel Stein on lead vocals), click below:
Howling Bells’ new single, “Into The Chaos,” will be released in the UK on November 17th. The second Howling Bells album, titled Radio Wars, is due out in February.