Ann Boleyn is a recording artist and performer from the United States. Arguably she is responsible for coining the term speed metal. She also is credited for developing the careers of many international recording artists through New Renaissance Records, the record label she founded.
Interview With Ann Boleyn of Hellion
By Londa R. Marks | Metal Music
Published By Tempi-Dispari, Rome, Italy and
Rock Legend News Firenze, Italy
Ann Boleyn vocalist and founder of metal band, HELLION. Ann Boleyn is a recording artist and performer from the United States. She is also credited for developing the careers of many international recording artists through New Renaissance Records, the record label she founded.
Rock Legend News: Ann, can you tell us what was your approach to music has been. Was there someone in particular who influenced you?
Ann Boleyn: My approach to music is to always do the best I can, and not to make excuses when things go wrong. I do not like it when people make excuses about their music.
I have had the privilege of working with so many people over the years that it is hard to name just one person. I like to think that I learn something from everybody I work with. Right now I am working with Simon Wright, Scott Warren, Greg Smith, Maxxxwell Carlisle, and Gerog Dolivo, who are in the new line-up. I am learning from all of them.
Rock Legend News: Between 1981 and 1982 you founded Metal band Hellion. What are some of your favorite memories of those days?
Ann Boleyn: One of my favorite memories of the early days was when Hellion traveled to England for our first time to at the London Marquee. It was such an exciting time. Bands like Metallica, Exodus, Mercyful Fate, and others were just getting started. We made a lot of friends and some of those friendships have continued for many years.
Rock Legend News: In 1984, Ronnie James Dio offered to produce Hellion. During the same time, Dio's wife Wendy with Niji Management, began managing the band. Do you feel that this helped escalate the band to success or what were the lessons learned from this extraordinary collaboration?
Ann Boleyn: When Hellion started working with Ronnie we already had a Number Six album on the charts in England. Having Ronnie as our producer gave Hellion respect among some people in the music business. But, it was not enough to get Hellion a record deal.
Throughout the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Ronnie had said in interviews that he did not believe that any female singer had the power to sing ‘heavy rock’ - which is the term he used to describe his music in the early 1980’s. When I started working with him it was well known that he didn’t like female singers in ‘heavy rock.’
Ronnie told me that his opinion about females singing heavy rock changed after he heard me sing. But, he also told me that, before he would go into the studio with Hellion, that he needed to be sure that my voice could handle the hard work he demand— and that the quality of our music was up to his standards.
We spent a lot of time talking about the best ways to write music and lyrics. One of the first things Ronnie told me was to never allow anybody else to write melody lines or lyrics for me.
When Ronnie was touring to support his “Last In Line” album, he would fly home to Los Angeles and work with Hellion on his days off. On many occasions, Ronnie would perform a show in another city one night, sign autographs after the show, and then fly back to Los Angeles the next morning and be in the studio with us by ten.
Over the many years that I knew Ronnie, I saw his career go through high and low points. It did not matter if he was performing in a club, or in a sports arena — he always gave his best. I think that was an important lesson.
Rock Legend News: Last year in June, you announced that you were forming a new incarnation of Hellion. What are your future plans at this stage; will there be a new album and tour? If so, will we will be lucky enough to see the band in Europe next year?
Ann Boleyn: Hellion just finished a tour of North America. We also just released the ‘Karma’s A Bitch’ mini-LP. Hellion just accepted offers to perform at some festivals in 2015 and 2016. We are not allowed to announce the shows until the festivals make the announcements.
Rock Legend News: With "New Renaissance Records" you helped develop the careers of several bands such as Sepultura, Flotsam & Jetsam, Morbid Angel. Is your work continuing in the same direction with helping other bands and if so, can you reveal who you may be working with next?
Ann Boleyn: It is almost impossible to make money from the sale of CDs or music now. My main goal is to help preserve the legacies of the bands who started out on New Renaissance Records. and to make sure that their music continues to be available. I have no plans at this time to sign new bands to New Renaissance Records.
Rock Legend News: You are also an actress and composed various soundtracks. How do you prioritize and manage your time to accomplish all these projects?
Ann Boleyn: I have not done any acting in many years. Right now my main focus in Hellion. Hellion is my priority. We have never performed in Italy, or in South America, and are looking forward to the opportunity to play in both places.
Rock Legend News: I want to ask you the same thing I am asking others because it is a profound occurrence now. Why do you think the 80’s/70’s are re-igniting? I mean, it is like it's 1985 in Colombia, South America; it is happening here in Italy and it is apparent all over the world that the 80’s and even the 70’s rock styles are becoming enlivened again.
Ann Boleyn: As long as you have a computer with an internet connection good enough to listen to music, there are no limits. A band’s success is determined by the music’s ability to connect to the soul of the listener. Hellion is happy that new fans are discovering Hellion’s music, and that the old fans continue to support us.
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