HELLO STRANGER has a bad reputation. Anybody’ll tell you: you go see a Hello Stranger show… you’re liable to get hurt.
Emerging from the influential Silverlake scene and after years of relentless touring, they’ve honed their act into one of the most ferocious live shows around. Likewise their sound has tightened up, transforming into a rock and roll juggernaut capable of incinerating anything that stands in its way.
But before all this destruction, there was creation. It started with Los Angeles natives Juliette Commagere and Joachim Cooder, a couple who’ve been making music together since they were sixteen. Meanwhile across town, recent L.A. transplant Jared Smith was covertly sleeping on the floor of the coffee shop he worked in by day, strumming his guitar to soothe the savage beast to slumber. After a chance meeting, the trio buckled down, determined to turn all this late night placing into the real deal. Hello Stranger was born.
As soon as the band had built up a dedicated local following, the major labels came a-calling. These suits dug the band, but they had demands: they wanted front woman Juliette to stop playing an instrument, they wanted the trio to record some cheeseball songs written by other people, they essentially wanted the band to become something they were not. Despite the temptation of the bigtime, Hello Stranger stuck to their guns and passed on the offers.
Instead, they enlisted blueblood relative Ry Cooder to co-produce their self-titled album in 2006. Recording on their own dime was really the only option if they wanted to get their music out there without the interference of a label. The result was a fresh blend of rock, electro pop and roots revival, bolstered by Juliette’s alluring vocals. Los Angeles based indie Aeronaut Records liked what they heard and immediately picked up the record for release. Before hitting the road in support of their debut, the band recruited Ben Messelbeck on bass, to further fill out their sound. Lineup complete, Hello Stranger commenced touring their asses off, taking their fire and brimstone to the masses. Touring was more than a duty—it became a way of life, and Juliette started a blog which has garnered a dedicated following, to document the bizarre and sordid business of touring the country in a van, getting drunk in small towns, sleeping on strangers’ floors and winning over legions of new fans in every port.
Always pushing their sound into new territory, Hello Stranger is currently recording new tracks with influential and heavily sought after producer Mike Elizondo (Maroon 5, Fiona Apple, Rilo Kiley, 50 Cent, Eminem, Pink). With Elizondo’s guidance, they are churning out new scorchers like “Big Boots”, “Broken Wing” and “Gimme Back My Wig”; songs bursting with a heavier sound harkening back to they heyday of stadium rock. In addition to shredding on her beloved “keytar”, Juliette has started to play electric guitar on stage. The vibe is AC/DC as fronted by Chrissie Hynde or, more specifically, it’s like Joe Walsh (in a chick’s body) fronting Def Leppard (but the drummer still has both arms intact). This new material continues to showcase their range with a Spanish language track, “Tienes Nada,” (a nod to Juliette’s Mexican heritage) and “Put Out The Fire,” a collaboration with Malian guitarist Vieux Farka Touré, son of internationally renowned Ali Farka Touré. Juliette’s new lyrics are a reaction to decades of shitty female-empowerment songs as sung by clueless girls pretending to be strong and “perfect just the way they are.” The truth is that we’re all crazy and messed up and these songs reflect that reality, preaching empowerment through shopping and fucking.
Hello Stranger is catching the ear of established acts, repeatedly touring with them despite a lack of major label ties. Kings of Leon invited them out on their North American tour in 2005. More recently, Hello Stranger supported Rooney and The Hush Sound on a three week cross-country run before finishing out 2007 with a sold out show with Eagles of Death Metal. Additionally, Juliette recently leant her vocals to Avenged Sevenfold’s new self-titled album. The band has also stepped into the film world with songs appearing in the much-buzzed about “Lars and the Real Girl”, the upcoming Forest Whitaker/ Jessica Biel starrer “Powder Blue”, and 2008 Sundance film “Good Dick.” They’ve also linked up with legendary filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, contributing a song to his first English language film, “My Blueberry Nights,” which stars Norah Jones, Natalie Portman, and Jude Law. Ready to show the world who has the biggest balls of them all, Hello Stranger will be supporting the Foo Fighters and Against Me on their upcoming stadium tour (Jan/Feb ’08).
SUPPORTING LOVE HOPE STRENGTH