Rock Eyez Webzine
Rock Eyez
Rock Eyez Webzine


Interview with Julie Westlake
(Vocals - Hydrogyn)

Julie Westlake

Interviewed by Brian Rademacher
Date: April 18th, 2006

As a young child did you play any instruments?
Piano, a little bit, but nothing to brag about.

What was the first record you bought?
I have no clue.

Do you remember a record as a child that you listened to a lot?
As a child I was sheltered a lot. I wasn’t into a lot of rock music. I was more into country, gospel and sappy stuff. I would go out and buy some karaoke CDs and go in my room and sing. I always loved Mariah Carey and Celine Dion and a bunch of country stuff- absolutely no rock whatsoever.

I can hear that in your voice as you sing.
Can you? I’m a big hick; all the guys are like, “If we can just keep her from talking…” (laughing).

I think you can sing just about any genre you want…
You know what? I do. I enjoy that. Like I said, the past couple years I have been doing rock, but growing up it was country and pop, so I like doing it all. I will do acoustic shows every now and then. We’ll throw in some Patsy Cline, and it catches people off guard when they see us do acoustic and you hear a little country here and there in the set and then they come to the rock show and it’s just like in your face. It’s rock ‘n roll (laughing).

What was the first concert you attended?
Actually, I hate to admit this, but the first concert I went to was a Brian McKnight concert, and I think I went because I had free tickets. But my real first concert I went to that I really enjoyed was Ted Nugent.

Did you have any feelings seeing Ted?
It was just great. I was twenty-two when I went to my first real rock concert. It was really exciting at the House of Blues in North Carolina. I was right in front of the stage and rocking out with everybody. Ted Nugent has so much energy that he passes it off to the whole crowd.

How were you in school?
I started out in elementary and junior high doing the whole cheerleading, basketball thing. I played basketball, but I had no clue what I was doing. I would run out on the basketball court and say “Ok, where do I go now?” (Laughing). I love softball and I was pretty darn good. Once I got into high school I focused more on the choir and the theater, and I took college prep classes. I really enjoyed it all.

Did you win any awards as a youth?
I did. Growing up I used to get into talent shows and stuff. Like I said, I did the whole country thing growing up. I would go to the Nashville Star auditions and get through a couple rounds of Nashville Star in Ashland, KY. I won honor things in school for academics and physical education. But most everything I’ve done has been in music winning local competitions and things like that.

What band influenced you into going into music?
That’s a good question. Basically it came down to Hydrogyn was formed already and they were looking for a vocalist and they were doing auditions. They couldn’t find anybody and couple of the guys in the band did some country shows with me. They said, “You can do this.” I said “Sure, I’ll give it a shot.” The first song we learned was “In the Still of the Night” by Whitesnake. Once we did that, I said I wanted to stop singing that sappy crap and rock. I would have to say Whitesnake, but before that it was seeing Ted Nugent.

What was the first garage band you were in?
This is it. I did a couple of local country shows opening up for acts. The whole rock thing was completely new. They had a gig they booked because thought they would have a vocalist by that time. Two weeks before the gig I stepped in and did the show: of course, I had lyric sheets taped everywhere, but that was it.

Is it true that one of your past jobs was cemetery sales representative?
Yes! I’ve done just about everything. I was a carpet installer, did siding, waitressed, worked at a hearing aid center. The last thing I did was sell dead people stuff (laughing) which was interesting. It was good money.

The band started in 2003. Did you submit your demo to many record companies before releasing “Best Served With Volume” in 2004?
Well, that was a demo that was professionally packaged. But for quality, it was pretty much a demo. We used that to get shows when we were doing cover shows. Probably the biggest accomplishment was sending it to Michael Wagener. He listened to it, and he heard the potential even though the quality wasn’t great. He listened and saw the potential for this band to do great things.

The cover of “Best Served with Volume” has a lot of Pepsi cans pictured. Did you have the endorsement with Pepsi after or before the release of “Best Served with Volume?”
(Laughing) Really, it was before. We had only been a band for a couple months before Pepsi actually wanted to get involved with this. They’ve done a lot of stuff for us and helped us out a lot. That is something we wanted to do to say thanks and support them for helping us.

You opened for Def Leppard. How did they treat you?
We were supposed to open for Def Leppard. What happened was, we booked the show and then Michael Wagener agreed to do the album and so the Def Leppard gig fell during the time we were in the studio. So we had a choice: to do the show, or concentrate on this album to make sure it’s the best it could be. So we opted to work on the album.

“Vesper’s Song” and the Vesper Novel: tell us a little about that project?
That was actually Tony Caputo, author of the graphic novel Vesper. He’s done a bunch of other stuff. A friend of ours in Chicago happens to know him, and he was looking for a band to create the theme song. Our friend got us in touch with him. We talked to him and sent some of our music so he could hear the band. Vesper is a female character that is a rock star. The novel is about a rock star that has the fame and fortune and all the other things that you have to deal with. She has superhuman powers: it’s neat. Tony’s wife is a poet, and she sent us a poem for the novel. We took the poem and basically took the important parts and formed the lyrics and put the music to it. Vesper won several awards and looks like there is going to be a Vesper two.

Tell me about Electricbasement and Julie’s Jolts?
When we were starting out, Brian Coles contacted us about doing something on there. Basically it was something every week like a little diary. I would just go in and fill everyone on what’s going on with the band. We were looking at doing a calendar and posting pictures, and people would vote on what pictures should be on the calendar. That calendar should be coming out maybe next year.

Jeff’s Washburn model guitar: is that available now?Julie Westlake
It will be. It’s almost completed. It’s his own signature series and he got to design the look and he’s really excited about that. We should have that in about a month.

When you first met Michael Wagener (Alice Cooper fame), what were your thoughts on his desire to, produce Hydrogyn?
Honestly, with me not having the whole rock background, I had no clue who he was. But the guys in the band were freaking out on the way down to meet him. They were really excited and I was saying, “I guess… ok.” When meeting someone that has done the things he has done, you expect them to have this huge ego. But, he is so down to earth, and one of the nicest people you can ever meet. It was a really cool experience just to meet a person like that and be very personal with him. We recorded at Wireworld in Nashville.

On the new CD “Bombshell” you put a rendition of AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” which sounds great. You also thought about doing "Rainbow in the Dark" by Dio or "Turn up The Night" by Black Sabbath. Did you record them for a later date?
They were not recorded. They are some songs that we do in our cover set. People just love those songs and we are fans of Dio. That was something we talked about doing. We did AC/DC’s “Back in Black” because you don’t usually hear a female doing that song. Michael came to see us live and see if we could pull off live what we can do in the studio. So we did that song and Michael just really liked it and said we had to do that song. We also recorded Skid Row’s “18 and Life”. We pressed only a couple thousand of the CD’s with “Back in Black” and are completely out of them. They will be a special edition. You will not be able to get them; the new pressing will have “18 and Life” on it.

You have fourteen tracks on the new “Bombshell” CD. Four of them were from the first release and put on this release. Were there major changes on those songs?
Not a lot. For the most part they sound a lot better. There are little things were changed but structurally things stayed the same.

Julie, do you do modeling as a pastime?
I do. That is something that just came into being since Hydrogyn started. I did some things for Easy Rider and Harley Davidson in the past. I did some posters and it is something I would like to do more of.

If you could donate funds to any cause, what would that be and why?
We have done this in the past. Anything with children: we did some stuff locally with a charity called New Beginning. It’s something for single mothers to go in and get clothes and food for their kids. I love kids- anything that is going to help children, I about doing that. If there’s a benefit for kids and I’m available, I am all about doing it. I basically will help out any charity if I’m available.

Will there be a Hydrogyn tour?
There will. We are in the process of arranging everything and the tour should start in May.

Let’s go down some tracks on “Bombshell” and give me some insight?
“Vesper's Song”, we did that previously so we basically knew what we were doing. For me the recording process was long. For me you have to get the drum tracks, the bass and the guitars and I would go in a do the main vocal tracks and then go in and do the solos. Then I would come back in and do the harmonies. It took two months to do the album. For most of the vocals we spent fifteen minutes to an hour on each song. For me, it was a lot of sitting around out in the lounge area watching TV, and then it would be my turn and go in and do it.

Were there any songs that were more difficult then others to record?
Not really. Some songs you can be more creative on harmonies like “Love Spoke,” which is a more poppy song. That probably took the most time because of the different harmonies.

Do you have a favorite song?
I like all the songs. I really like “Confession” a lot. There are some songs that you just write and are basically fun songs. “Circle” and “I’ve Been Waiting” are just some fun songs. Then there are songs that really mean something to you, like “Confession,” which has something to do with part of your life, and “Look Away S.P”. and “Book of Names.” I really enjoy singing those songs.

Is there any song the record company is pushing for radio?
Yes, “18 and Life” because that is the single that is pretty much out right now for radio. That was a huge song for Skid Row and that is why we added that to the release because everyone wanted to hear that. We are in the process of doing the first video for the album, for the song “Blind”.

I heard there was a video for “The Sand”?
Yes, actually when we did the first album “Best Served”. We went and did “The Sand”. It’s different because it has the old lineup with the old image. The image has changed pretty much.

My particular favorite song is “Breaking Me Down”.
That seems to be a lot of people’s favorite.

I saw some press photos of you with a KISS shirt. Were you a fan of the band?
I was a fan of the shirt. I do like KISS- they are a great band, and if Hydrogyn could be as successful as KISS that would be awesome, and that is my goal. Those guys have been doing this a long time and are still big today. Those press photos were done in a cemetery. We were doing a show in Louisville, KY, and right across the street was a really creepy cemetery, which is where they were taken.

The clothes you wore for the album cover- are they custom made?
That was something I just threw together. Going into the photo shoot they will provide stylists and stuff if you want to. I real nervous going in to a shoot and having someone else picking out my clothes-that really freaks me out. That was some stuff I collected over the years and just threw together. Nothing handmade. I would love to have someone create clothes for me but that was stuff I picked up here and there.

Did you have any meetings with Bill Chavis (Chavis Records) for the new CD “Bombshell”?
We discussed things that are going on with the band. He’s a really nice guy and has his head on straight, and he’s working really hard with the band. It is great being part of his label.

So what happens after the release?
Touring, we have a huge fan base in Europe and we would love to start touring the US and Europe as well. We were so busy working on the album we did not focus on playing. After that there is so much to do: the release, distribution and all of that stuff.

Julie, Rockeyez appreciates you taking the time to chat with us. Would you like to say anything in conclusion?
We would love to have everyone’s support when we go out touring. Keep an eye out for our new website which will be going up soon with a lot of new merchandise. Check us out at our Myspace site. Thank you very much, Brian. © 2005 All rights reserved. The contents of this site may not be reproduced without the expressed written consent of
Site design and layout created by Carlos Rodrigues. Problems or suggestions? Contact the webmaster.