Young Heart Attack
By Alexander Laurence
Heart Attack formed in 2001 in Austin, TX. The band consisted
of Chris Hodge (vocals/guitar), Frenchie (guitar) and Steven
Hall (bass), and Joey Shuffield (drums). They got together
out of the shared love for hard rock. After a few gigs they
became the biggest band in Austin. They soon acquired vocalist
Jennifer Stephens who completed the classic sound of the
They played for a year and released a few singles. A big
show at SXSW took everyone by surprise. Shortly after they
signed a deal on XL. They travel to Europe and rocked the
European crowds alongside the Darkness and the Datsuns.
The "Misty Rowe" single appeared in autumn 2003,
a song about a character on "Hee Haw." I caught
them last year opening up for Junior Senior.
This year they played some shows with Peaches. The full-length
XL debut Mouthful of Love dropped in the USA in May 2004.
I spoke with Steven and Chris before their sold out show
at the Henry Fonda Theater. On stage, Chris announced: "All
our songs are about our three favorite things: long hair,
Mexicans, and tequila."
AL: Where are you guys from?
Chris: I did a lot of traveling when I was young. I was
a military brat.
Steven: We have all lived in Austin for a few years. We
are all from different places.
AL: You met Jennifer when she was going to the University
Chris: She hung around one of our mutual friends. We were
looking for a girl singer. She was like a stoner chick back
then. She was a hippy. She has her own look.
What did you guys do before the band?
Chris: I delivered
coffee at a coffee warehouse. It was great.
Steven: I haven't worked
a real job in over ten years. I have always been in a band
or working in a recording studio. Frenchie and I have been
in bands for a while.
AL: You have a studio called the Bubble. You worked with
Lemmy from Motorhead recently?
Steven: We have played with him before. We did a song for
his solo album and a b-side for our last single. We did
a cover of AC/DC's "Get It Hot." We did a song
for his album called "Love Is Like A Hurricane."
AL: What was it like working Lemmy?
Steven: It was cool. We had toured with Motorhead in the
fall and we had known him for a while. We started chatting
about doing some stuff together. We said "Why don't
you come to Austin to our place?" He spent a few days
hanging out and we wrote some songs. We put some tracks
down. We went to some strip bars.
AL: Is Austin known for its strip bars?
Steven: Lemmy is known for going to strip bars! He thought
it was fucking brilliant. There is a place called Expose
there, which has some of the hottest women you ever seen.
AL: Is that where you go to s get inspired?
Chris: Yeah. Very uplifting.
AL: What is the Bubble like?
Steven: It's on the east side. It's at the gateway of little
Mexico. It's a 24-track studio. It has classical gear. It's
world class. It's all analog. We have pro tools but we don't
use it for what we do. We have some tape machines.
AL: It seems like many bands down there have their own
Steven: At a certain level you have to. Frenchie and I
built that studio six years ago when we were in another
band. Our contract was bought out by Warner Brothers. So
with that money we built a studio. We have moved it downtown.
Since then we have been working on bands. He and I have
been learning engineering. We have been producing.
AL: What bands have you worked with lately?
Steven: There is a new band that we are going to take out
with us on tour called The Action Is. They are a cool rock
band. There are a ton of Austin bands.
AL: How does the songwriting go in the band? Who writes
Chris: The songs usually start with a riff.
Steven: One of us will have a riff. Most of the songs we
wrote together. Some songs I wrote by myself. Sometimes
we will collaborate. I'll go "What do you think of
this?" And someone will go:" I have something
that will go with that." Or visa versa. We are going
to try to get everyone involved with the next record.
AL: Did you write all the songs before Jennifer joined?
Steven: No. Just one song. We formed the band and made
it what it is. Jennifer joined almost at the beginning.
Things happened fast.
AL: You have been together for about three years now?
Steven: Joseph joined about two and a half years ago. We
had been playing for six months before that.
AL: What was the reaction in Austin?
Steven: It was hyped as fuck. We were written about constantly.
Most of us had been in some prominent local groups so it
was written about in the local papers at first like we were
some supergroup. It was ridiculous at home. We had two full-page
feature articles about the band in the first three months.
We didn't have a record deal. We hadn't played out of town
yet. We had eight songs. We were playing clubs that were
way too big. The hype died off soon after. That's when we
started to get serious. We started to tour. We got a record
deal quickly. We started writing songs.
AL: What do you think of The Datsuns and The Darkness?
Steven: We are fans of those bands. They are our peers
and contemporaries. Some of those guys are our friends.
I like it if it is solid rock. I don't care for any of the
Chris: It's good to see bands that started rocking again.
Nobody wants to see a sad screamo band.
AL: Do you like Kurt Cobain?
Chris: I like Nirvana but I think he was full of shit.
Being suicidal is being a pussy. It's ironic that a man
with that much power didn't realize that he could have a
way out of any situation. He was tired of fame and being
a rock star. Well, take some of your money and go buy a
fucking island and live with your family.
AL: There was a lot of downer music from the 1990s.
Steven: We are not into the downer vibe. We live in fucking
Texas. We don't have a reason to be upset. We have great
weather and a great culture. There are a lot of margueritas.
We want to get excited when we are onstage. We want to do
something that is a lift.
AL: I was looking at some pictures of Young Heart Attack
a few days ago. You were playing live. Every pictures you
guys were smiling and enjoying yourself.
Steven: Playing live is what we like doing. It's like your
woman. You look at her and you smile because you love her.
That is what this band is like. We are all best friends.
We are very close. We formed this band to make ourselves
happy. We intend to make other people happy.
AL: People look at bands like yourself and The Darkness
who are playing heavy rock again. They think that these
guys can't be serious, they can't be THAT positive: they
are being ironic. What do you think about that?
Steven: I know The Darkness and have toured with them.
It is not a joke. It's what they love to do. That's it.
If you think it's a put on, that's what entertainment is
for. That's like saying I don't like the film Die Hard because
it is not based on a true story. Or I don't like the concept
of Rocky Balboa because he wasn't a real prizefighter. It's
all entertainment. It's the same for music. There is no
rule that all music has to have some deep meaning behind
AL: What are your songs about?
Steven: "Mouthful of Love" is obvious. "Starlite"
is a boy girl songs. "El Camino" is a song about
our favorite bar. "Tommy Shots" is about the first
summer we spent as a crew. We used to rent boats out in
the lake. We used to drink and have a great time. It was
such a great summer. We had to write a song to remind ourselves
that we can have a great summer again by doing those things.
Chris: The summer is symbolized by taking tequila shots.
Steven: "To The Teeth" is about Chris moving
back to Texas. "Sick Of Doing Time": we know what
that is about. "Misty Rowe" is about when I was
a kid. I was obsessed with this actress who was on Hee Haw
and Happy Days. She was really sexy. I forgot about her
for years. Then I saw her on television a year or so ago.
Misty Rowe was the first woman on television who made me
feel different. I wasn't aware of having a hard on yet.
But it was a pure feeling of that is a different girl from
all the other girls. The song is an ode to her. The lyrical
imagery in that song is pretty tense. I hope she doesn't
get upset and send me a letter.
AL: How many songs do you have?
Steven: We have written about thirty songs. We just picked
the best ten songs. It's stupid to make a real long record.
Every some of my favorite records are too long to listen
Chris: This is our first record. We are a rock and roll
band. We don't need an epic experience the first time out.
AL: Most of the early Led Zeppelin records are ten songs
and thirty minutes.
Steven: We don't play long sets. Even when we were playing
headlining sets in London we would play for forty minutes.
I like how the Dwarves and the Jesus and Mary Chain would
play for ten minutes and leave. I think that is brilliant.
The next album might be thirty-five minutes long.
AL: Are you going to work on the next album already?
Steven: Chris and I are going back in the studio and start
writing the next album. Our goal is to have both album out
within twelve months. We want to have written and recorded
the new album by the end of summer.
AL: What is your setlist
Chris: We will play some b-sides and stuff from the album.
Maybe a few new songs and a cover song. We can play fifteen
songs under forty minutes.
Steven: We have to learn a cover song. We just got invited
to play on this Replacements tribute album.
AL: Who are some bands that you have toured with?
Steven: We have toured in the past year with Peaches, Motorhead,
and The Darkness. We played with a great band from Britain
called Viking Skull. We have been fortunate enough to play
with some great bands. On the next tour we are supporting
Jet. Then The Mooney Suzuki is supporting us.
AL: You have played with a lot of different bands.
Steven: In the past year we have played with The Darkness
and Motorhead, and then we have played with Peaches and
Junior Senior, which are totally different types of crowds.
We are used to playing with guitar bands, but with Peaches
it's totally different. There are elements of youth subculture
that attend shows with Peaches, who would never attend other
types of gigs. We are managing to get in all areas. It's
AL: The Darkness is like the Kerrang magazine crowd.
Steven: Sure, it's metal. It's hard rock. We were playing
to sixteen-year-old girls who really look up to Peaches.
People in the gay community like her. It's cool. We are
really fortunate that we can cut across all these different
AL: You are a big band in England?
Steven: England is like a second home. We are a lot bigger
there and we play bigger venues. We are playing on the main
stage at Redding this year. The lineup on our day is amazing.
AL: When are you going to play New York and Los Angeles?
Steven: In July, we are going to do the proper support
tour for the album. It will be the most extensive America
tour. We only played half of the Peaches tour. We played
on the east coast. When she got to Los Angeles we were already
here doing a video for "Starlite." We have done
four videos for the album. The new video has no performance
by the band. It's more like a loose adaptation of The Outsiders
by S. E. Hinton.
AL: On this album was it all live takes?
Steven: A lot of live takes. There are a lot of live guitar
solos too. Not all. We add in vocals and layer the sound.
We did the record in three two-week sessions. We have some
tracks that we never finished.
AL: What other bands do you like now?
Steven: I like The Libertines a lot. I like The White Stripes.
Chris: I like The Secret Machines.
AL: What did you like when you were growing up?
Steven: I like a lot of punk and hardcore music. I liked
Black Flag, X, and stuff on Discord Records. We were listening
to Rancid recently. I still like punk, but when I was a
kid, that was all I liked.
AL: A lot of bands that I see now have cheap guitars. What
gear did you have?
Steven: We tend to tend to lean in the Gibson and Epiphone
and Marshall direction. The tone is perfect.
AL: Does the band have any religious or political views?
Steven: I am not sure if there are any religious views.
But the band is definitely left wing and liberal in its
views. We are very anti-Bush and anti-Republicans. We are
pro people. We want to make this democracy a real democracy.
AL: A lot of young girls show up to see Young Heart Attack?
Chris: I guess we put out a sexual vibe.
AL: This album is thirty-five minutes of pure sex.
Chris: It's a good album to fuck to.
AL: Did you hang out with Peaches a lot on this tour?
Chris: Yeah. She's
great. She's awesome. Really down to earth. Really punk
rock. There is an after party every night with Peaches.