Artist Spotlight: Hello Death

A night of experimental soundscapes took place at Company Brewing Saturday night presented by FTAM, which is the experimental DIY organization founded by Peter Woods (of Credentials). Performers included noise rock band Credentials, experimental folk outfit Hello Death, and experimental percussionist Jon Mueller.

Hello Death consists of vocalist/bassist Nathaniel Heuer, vocalist/guitarist/violinist Marielle Allschwang, keyboardist/vocalist Erin Wolf, and guitarist/lap steel Shawn Stephany. They have been around for almost ten years and are known for their symphonic folk harmonies and frequent shifts in primary vocal duties.

Their third full-length album “For Those With Many Hearts” came out about a year ago. Heuer describes their recording process.

“A friend of ours has a barn that we use as a studio sometimes called Speckled Chemistry up in Cedarburg, and we had recorded our first two albums at April Base with Jamie Hansen; he’s a really great recording engineer…he basically came up and we just drank a lot and played the songs. Our process ends up kind of being the same every time where we record live and then we do overdubs, so for the most part we get the feel of everybody in the room together. It was really fun because we bought a piano and had to carry it down to the barn and have it tuned, and this old-timer came out and wrote this long description of the piano in cursive…he noticed it hadn’t been tuned in like forty years or something…but it sounded great.”

While there are three vocalists in the band, Heuer is the primary lyricist.

“Our first album I wrote a couple songs, but since then it’s been Nathaniel cranking out the hits,” Allschwang said. “But we’ll help build the skeleton into flesh-and-bone.”

“Marielle and I have ideas about harmonies and vocal parts,” Wolf added. “It’s kind of what our hand is in it, but Nathaniel is the main lyricist and he writes the skeleton.”

The band is working on new material they hope to record in the coming months.

“We ended (our set) with three songs that are as yet unrecorded that we’re fleshing out right now,” Heuer explained. “We’ll hopefully record probably over the winter, maybe early spring, depending on peoples’ schedules. The problem is the longer the process takes the more songs I write. Now we have eleven (songs).”

Heuer shares how he feels Milwaukee’s music scene has evolved in the past ten years.

“I think there’s a lot of cool things that have happened, but a lot of things have also just gone the way of what makes sense for bands. It’s cool to see younger musicians being like “I’m gonna actually be a musician.” I think it’s pretty great that they’re doing it, but I also think that there’s some compromise that has to happen…like it’s much easier to tour as a duo than with a full band and actually make a little bit of money. I feel like we’re artists coming together and we want this to be exactly what it is and not worry about any sort of commercialism.”

Hello Death is continuing to write until they have a recording date set. They have no more shows booked as of now, although they plan to tour with this next album.

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