Hey Violet Is Keeping Pop-Punk Alive
Pop-punk remains alive people and Hey Violet are spearheading the movement. If you don’t recognize their name, you definitely will recognize their anthems like “Fuqboi” and “Guys My Age,” which shamelessly call out the real effed up sh*t that guys can do. The band, consisting of Rena Lovelis (lead vocals), Nia Lovelis (drums, vocals), Miranda Miller (rhythm guitar, keyboard, vocals), Casey Moreta (lead guitar, vocals), and Iain Shipp (bass) have taken the world by storm ever since opening for 5 Seconds of Summer in 2016 and continue to make waves with their latest hit, “Break My Heart.”
The fivesome is not afraid to hold back with lyrics like, “Yeah you’re a fuckboy, I’ve been through it before/I’d rather cut out my tongue, Then let you kiss me with yours”. Their charisma and relatability have earned them a die hard fan group and they continue to write from the heart.
“It’s never awkward to write about that stuff just because it’s true!” Rena said after I’d hung out with the band at their show at The Gramercy Theater in NYC. As they come off their first ever headlining tour, I caught up with her to talk about what it’s like moving from an opening act to a headliner, the band’s relationship with 5 Seconds of Summer, and of course, how to combat fuckboys.
In your new song Break My Heart, you sing about actually wanting someone to break your heart. Where did that come from? What inspired you?
We’re the kind of band that really over-analyzes different aspects of love and the different perspectives of how you could look at love. So we really took that and wrote this song and it was basically just about getting into a relationship with somebody and there’s these moments of like you have butterflies in your stomach and you get the first kiss and the first date and it’s all great and you get the honeymoon phase. And the song is basically about getting to the point where you know that’s all fine and good and you’ve experienced that kind of love with this person but you love them so much that you want to experience the other side where you have your heart broken by them, you feel this desperation for them, you want them back, you long for them. So it’s a little bit masochistic, but that’s what it’s really about.
The song definitely has a poppier vibe than a lot of your other music. I know you’ve said you’ve wanted to move more main stream rather than pop punk because it reaches more people. Was it difficult making that transition? Is there a difference between writing something more punk versus more pop?
No, I don’t think it’s difficult and I guess what I meant by “reaching more people” is that it really wasn’t about “we want to be anything that will make us [big].” It wasn’t about that. It’s the music that we like to make, it’s the music that we love to put out and the music we enjoy listening to. So it wasn’t difficult making that transition just because we’d been wanting to go in that direction anyway.
But I guess the difficult part was that we were so used to guitars and certain chords that we used a lot so I think the transition was definitely a little bit difficult to get into the mindset of pop music. But I think the producer we’re currently with and working with, he really helped us transition into it really smoothly and our fans have been taking to it really amazingly and have been so supportive.
Is it weird writing songs like Fuqbois and Guys My Age when you have two guys in the group? Or do they help give you an alternative perspective?
Oh no, it’s never awkward to write about that stuff just because it’s true! For us, it’s about not so much specifically guys doing it, even though that’s what the song about because it’s from my perspective, it’s more about it could be a girl whose kind of acting like a fuckboy! You know, Guys My Age we’ve always said that it goes both ways, a guy should be treated just as well as a girl should be treated, it just happens to be that it’s from my perspective. We’ve asked the boys before, “Hey, how do you feel about these songs?” And they’re like, “No, they’re true! It’s totally fine.”
Fuqbois is the anthem I think for every girl out there because we’ve all encountered them. What is the worst line a fuckboy has ever used on you? Do you have any tips for combatting fuck boys?
Oh yeah, well it’s like all of the typical fuckboy saying like, “Hey are you up?” at 2 in the morning. I think the most common one I’ve gotten is, “What would you be doing if I was there?” and like “Did you see my selfie on Instagram?” I’m like, that’s such a weird thing to ask somebody! I’ve gotten that before.
Tips on how to avoid them, I mean it’s pretty easy to pick them out they’re a very specific kind of species of man and so to pick them out you first how to identify them which is simple. Then to avoid them, literally just don’t talk to them, don’t engage in their fuckboy activities! (laughs)
You came off tour with 5 Seconds of Summer this past summer and now you’re on your own headlining tour. What is the biggest difference in moving from being an opening act to the main act?
The biggest difference is I would say, obviously it’s our tour, so we can really take control of what we want to do onstage. I do remember that some of 5SOS’s team didn’t want us to use certain part of the stage, like we couldn’t go down the aisle that they had set on part of the tour like when the venue would allow it. When they would put down the little aisle that the boys could walk down so they were closer to the crowd, I remember we couldn’t use that.
Now it’s kind of like I can climb on literally anything I want! That’s one thing, but it’s also just different as in like on 5SOS’s tour we had four other guys that were around our age range and going through the same things we were. We learned from them and they learned from us and it was like this mutual respect as musicians.
Now on the headlining tour, we really had to just be like alright, we got this. I’m terrible at talking to the crowd onstage just because I get such, I don’t know, it’s not stage fright it’s like speech fright? I don’t even know. It’s really just taking control of what we want to do and I think we did that pretty well. I’m so proud of the other four in the band, just in how they handle everything. It’s stressful, tour can be stressful, but we really get through it together.
Did the boys have any influence on you musically?
I mean, I think the great thing about them is that they would really let us do our own thing musically. Even though they’re a part of the label that we’re on, they just let us do our own thing. I think Ashton would maybe say, “Oh, this verse is great!” We would share demos all the time. Their demos, our demos, they were always playing on the buses. They would say like, “This is what’s going to be on our second album!” and we would be like, “This is what’s going to be on our EP!” We really didn’t have input in like, oh you should do it like this or you should change this to this, it was just like enjoying the music and showing each other. Like I said, it was that mutual respect as musicians. We obviously have such different music right now and I think just enjoying both genres was one of the highlights of the tour for us.
How did it feel to play at a legendary place like The Gramercy Theatre?
Immediately when we saw the Hey Violet sold-out marquee it was like, “oh my god we have to get a picture! That’s amazing!” so we took a picture in front of it. I just felt these butterflies in my stomach like, our fans sold this out! They did that and we did that! I always make a point onstage when there’s a sold out show to make it known that they did this and it was their support that got us the sold out show. It was just incredible, there’s not even any words for it.
Do you have a favorite fan moment from the tour?
I mean, one fan gave us a piñata that was from another fan who couldn’t get into the meet and greet. They gave us this piñata and it reminded me of the “I Can Feel It” music video, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but we were just bashing a bunch of piñatas in the video! It was just a nice little throwback present, it was really nice.
I think just generally meeting fans all the time is really humbling because you get to see the people that are listening to your music and you get to gauge who they are as people and how old all of them are and where they’re from. Obviously you can’t remember every single one, but it’s just nice in that moment to to be able to learn about these people and make that connection. I feel like that’s what it’s all about, making connections with your fans. I think it almost helps them enjoy the music more because its like, “Oh I got to meet the band! I got to meet the people I’m listening to. They’re not just random voices coming from my phone.” (laughs)
Favorite tour you’ve been to as a fan?
Oh man, let me think. We just went to Panic! At The Disco last night and seeing him do the backflip onstage that he does, it makes me want to learn acrobatics! It just makes me want to do flips onstage. I’m so clumsy, I’ll probably trip on something and break my ankle, it’ll be great! (laughs)
I remember seeing The Neighborhood, I don’t listen to them that often, but their live show and what they had coming up on the screens was really inspiring because the set design was just really beautiful and what was playing on the screens was really meticulously chosen to be on there and I just really liked that. I just hope to go to a bunch of concerts in the future because I just watch so many live videos but on YouTube of like Twenty One Pilots, The Weekend, The 1975… and I just want to see all of these people live. I’ve already seen the 1975 live but id like to see them again just because you can never get enough of them!
Photography and Interview by Keri Dolan