By Nicholas Jason Lopez
While the COVID-19 outbreak unfortunately halted their tour plans, San Diego-based rock quartet Hey, Chels have released their debut full-length ‘Everything Goes’ digitally for free, with a vinyl version due out later this year via Brainworm Records.
Unveiled on May 1, 2020, ‘Everything Goes’ follows up their 2019 self-titled EP and was recorded by Pat Hills at Earthtone Studios in Sacramento, Calif.. The group made the decision on to release ‘Everything Goes’ for free on behalf of the harsh financial circumstances that COVID-19 has brought many people. Instead of money, they urged fans to help out with social media shares and playlist additions.
Hey, Chels is vocalist Jax Mendez (New Way On), drummer Stephanie Presz (The Newports), guitarist Kevin White (Squarecrow) and bassist Ricky Scmidt (Western Settings).
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk to Mendez about the latest release and more.
Music Bugle – How would you describe the “scene” in San Diego for your particular genre of music?
Jax Mendez – San Diego is a pretty cool spot for shows. There are a lot of great bands here and a lot of really cool people in the community we find ourselves in. When bands come through here, it’s typically pretty easy for them to find someone to help them out with a show.
Music Bugle – What was the creative process of putting together your debut full-length ‘Everything Goes’ like?
Jax Mendez – We spent a lot of time writing and demoing from home. We kind of operate like that. With Steph recently in Oakland and now in Los Angeles, it makes things way easier to work on by passing demos back and forth. The first song we wrote for this album was actually written shortly after the EP was released and since then, it was just another new song here and there. Lyrically, there was a lot of journal writing, with song ideas pulling from past, present and even some speculative experiences.
Music Bugle – What was it like shooting the music video for “You’ve Got You Now”?
Jax Mendez – Well, if you couldn’t tell already, we shot that from our home and on our phones. It’s a product of quarantine. Ricky and I both haven’t been working and we live together, so we had all the time in the world to mess with lights and projectors. We made three videos in a couple weeks this way — each of them equally mediocre. Ha. Just kidding. We’re expecting a call from Sundance any day now.
Music Bugle – You guys have decided to release the album digitally for free, given the financial hardships brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. Could you go more into what sparked that decision?
Jax Mendez – Yeah, we thought it would be nice to do that right now. The vinyl has been pushed back, so we won’t have physical copies to sell until later, anyways. In the meantime, we don’t want folks to have to pay to hear it and if you dig it, share it!
Music Bugle – How would you compare ‘Everything Goes’ to your self-tiled EP?
Jax Mendez – Musically, I think we wrote songs that were a little more upbeat than what’s on the EP. You can pretty much dance or bang your head to any of the songs on ‘Everything Goes’ and we’re very happy about that. Lyrically, on the EP, we were talking more about social topics. ‘Everything Goes’ draws more from personal experiences, past and present, that deal with love, friendship and self-reflection. Some experiences in these songs are also speculative, as I mentioned before. The title track ‘Everything Goes’ for example, is more about imagining yourself left alone by the person you hope will always stay. It’s about that lingering feeling and fear that what you have now can so easily fall apart, because things like that so often do.
Music Bugle – What inspired the band name?
Jax Mendez – At the time that Ricky and I were trying to decide on a band name – one of the hardest decisions for a band to make – I was having a conversation with a friend at a bar when The Gin Blossoms’ ‘Hey Jealousy’ began to play. I told this person how, when I was a kid, I thought the lyrics said “Hey, Chelsea.” I liked the sound of that, especially because we know a Chelsea and she’s a wonderful human. Since we usually refer to her as Chels, we went with Hey, Chels. So there is, in fact, a Chels. She’s just not in the band.
Music Bugle – To you, which do you feel is your most meaningful song or set of lyrics you always like to quote?
Jax Mendez – If I had to pick the song off this album that is most meaningful to me, lyrically, it would be ‘Tough.’ I think most of us know and love someone who battles with depression, so I wanted to write a song from that perspective — being the one who can see this happening to that loved one, wanting so much to help that person, but not knowing how. I guess you can call this perspective sanguine – optimistic, but perhaps a bit naive. The lyrics are “I know that you can be tough,” because we’ve seen this person on their better days and we want so badly for them to just pull through and be that happy person again. Unfortunately, it’s obviously not that simple.
Music Bugle – Do you feel social media makes it easier or harder for a band to stand out these days?
Jax Mendez – Yes and no. Most people wouldn’t know about our music if it weren’t for social media. The connections are so instant and make your music so easily accessible. At the same time, you are still in constant competition with other artists, but in a way that can also be encouraging.
Music Bugle – What are your future plans, as far as the rest of 2020?
Jax Mendez – Well, I guess it depends on what the future looks like based on the current situation. From what we’ve been hearing, we might not be able to even play a live show until later 2021. If that’s the case, we’ll definitely be writing. A lot. I also did a livestream on Instagram and that turned out to be a lot of fun. I wouldn’t mind doing more things like that.