The Hellp could be the last cool band on earth

Chandler (left) wears waistcoat and top STEFAN COOKE and trousers, belt and bracelet talent’s own Noah(right) wears waistcoat and top STEFAN COOKE and trousers and jewellery talent’s own

The Californian duo are on a mission to save rock ’n’ roll from algorithm ’n’ blues.

We find The Hellp’s Noah Dillon and Chandler Ransom Lucy at Barney’s Beanery, the memorabilia-drenched bar in West Hollywood that’s been serving rockers, rollers and, more recently, a younger TikTok crowd for almost 104 years.

Seated in a torn red leather booth, the pair’s near-identical style is pitched somewhere between Justice and The Ramones: all razor-sharp jawlines, skin-tight denim, big white sneakers and leather jackets as a second skin. To reclaim a sense of mystery in rock n’ roll, they refuse to divulge their ages. (Based on their foreheads, they’re probably late twenties.) Naturally, they wear sunglasses indoors. Like punk-rock cartoon characters, they dress like this every day.

When I started the band, I had one mission in mind: to move the needle in the underground,” says singer Noah, nonchalantly, between sips of hot water and lemon. We did that by 2019.”

Formed in Los Angeles in 2015, in their early years The Hellp attracted a cult but fervent fanbase despite – or perhaps thanks to – the air of confusion and chaos around them. Chiefly: an inconsistent output of singles and a shapeshifting sound that veered from Bruce Springsteen to Crystal Castles to their heroes Blink-182. More recently, the pair have begun to build an ardent following as a properly talked-about synthpop duo. This is perhaps thanks to the indie sleaze goldrush, which has sent A&Rs searching for artists who trigger nostalgia for the more hedonistic and less anxious spirit of 00s music. They reject the association, but they’ll take the major label deal. The band signed with Atlantic Records at the beginning of 2023.

Chandler and I come from nothing,” says Noah, who was raised in a hyper-religious household in rural Colorado and didn’t consume secular media until he was 18, while Chandler hails from California’s wine country. What was our destiny? Concrete, house framing, working in a grocery store. It takes a lot to get where we are. Even though we’re nowhere.”

Noah wears top MUGLER, trousers and necklace talent’s own and shoes ANN DEMEULEMEESTER

The Hellp’s ascent has been slow, but even in their early stages, there were signs that their approach to the industry was working. The video for 2016 track Confluence, which follows Noah as he strips naked while running down an Arizona highway, is said to have been on Frank Ocean’s mood board when he made Blonde. Their 2017 song Beacon 002, which samples the 2013 Yeezus track Send It Up, was, if the blogosphere is to be believed, on rotation aboard Kanye’s private jet. Initially made up of Noah and guitarist Eddie Liaboh, Chandler joined The Hellp as a drummer and producer a year after the band’s formation, with Eddie leaving in 2018. At The Hellp’s riotous live shows, Chandler navigates a combination of electronic instruments through a mixer, while Noah takes care of vocals; occasionally, they hire a guitarist to perform stage right.

As for how Noah and Chandler met, that was on a photoshoot for Hot Mess, the art project and creative platform founded by Noah and model-slash-actor Luka Sabbat, with the pair bonding over knowing every word to A$AP Rocky’s 2015 track Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2 (LPFJ2). As well as working as a photographer, Noah has also been a substitute teacher, while Chandler has a past life as a model. Neither had made music before The Hellp.

There’s such an enhanced lore to us that other artists are lacking,” says Chandler. Noah chips in: We have a story. It was the right time to do a major label in the arc of our story. It was either quit the music project or evolve the narrative. We both have many other skills and talents. We could have done a million things but we’re doing this.”

The band may look hot and unbothered, but there’s an underlying anxiety to The Hellp – especially when we talk about the future of the music industry. With algorithms challenging authentic artistry, the pair believe 2024 may be their last chance to make it. It’s the end of music right now,” Noah says. I hate to be the AI guy, but that really is going to change everything. We’re about to enter a whole new era, so it’s very important for us to do this thing at this point. I wanted to quit [music] years ago, but I think it’s important because of the precarious nature of the time we have been placed in to try and do something true.”

Chandler and Noah are well-placed to deliver. The latter’s references lean toward eso-teric and classic, the former’s are pop-punk and comedic, but they always seem to meet in the middle. During our conversation at Barney’s, the pair debate Brad Pitt’s performance in 1998’s three-hour flop Meet Joe Black, cite their favourite film scores (for Noah, it’s David Fincher’s The Social Network, composed by Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor), celebrity haircuts (Chandler picks Drake’s swoopy bowl cut from Nickelodeon’s Drake & Josh) and the coolest rock star outfits of all time (Lou Reed’s Transformer-era for Noah, Tom DeLonge during early Angels & Airwaves for Chandler).

But where the twosome vary on pop culture favourites, they align on fashion. Noah and Chandler both got into it when [A$AP] Rocky put the Rick with the Raf,” says Chandler. They became fans of experimenting with style, mixing the rare designer piece with affordable staples and streetwear in what they call a post-2012 A$AP Rocky world”.

Chandler wears top GIVENCHY and jewellery talent’s own. Noah wears jacket STEFAN COOKE and hoodie BALENCIAGA

As for what excites them about fashion today: We’re just chasing that high of new leather,” says Chandler with a shrug.

It’s a look that certainly matches their sound. The Hellp make music to get sweaty to, that’s precision designed for call-and-response choruses coming out of mosh pits in dark clubs you haven’t heard of. Some songs have new wave vocals over breakbeat drums. Others lean toward garage rock or tease electroclash. That genre-skipping eclecticism is all part of the charm and it’s already won the admiration of subversive rocker Yves Tumor, for whom the pair opened for on tour last year, as well as designer Mowalola, who booked The Hellp for her London Fashion Week afterparty last September.

Our music has never even been that good,” states Chandler. But it has something in it.” Noah concurs. Even if it’s not the best, and even if it’s not the worst, there’s something real to it, and there are not many real things anymore.”

California Dream Girl, released last spring as The Hellp’s first single since signing with Atlantic, is a polished anthem fit for a top-down drive through Malibu. The chorus is embellished with the sound of camera shutters and there’s a pop-punk 5, 4, 3!” countdown before the drums kick in. Given that the song’s co-producer Chris Greatti, the Spinal-Tap-lookalike guitarist for Yves Tumor, has crafted scuzzy pop-rock for artists such as Yungblud and Willow Smith, it all checks out.

Greatti believes 2024 will be the year of The Hellp. Pop culture wasn’t ready for them when they started the band but it’s finally catching up,” he says in a text after my meeting with the band. The amount of The Hellp disciples I met all over the world this year on tour was proof.”

If their upcoming releases follow suit (the band promise more output in 2024 than any previous year, although fail to divulge exactly what), The Hellp may find themselves following in the footsteps of their beloved Blink-182: taking their brand of power pop to teen movies and becoming crushes for schoolgirls the world over. When asked what makes The Hellp an American band, Chandler responds, It’s ambition. We’re the last ones showing up with our pickaxes and we’re here to find gold.”

Despite reeling off lofty quotes, The Hellp believe, above all, in sincerity. Their commitment to becoming the coolest band in the world is dead serious. It’s never a joke,” says Noah. I’m very shocked when people realise we’re not joking… It’s all about just being cool. And by being cool, I mean doing something real and beautiful.” You can tell he means it, even from behind his sunglasses.



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