I sat down after a recent Hello Kelly concert with Francois Goudreault and Mike Donais from the Ontario based rock band. Goudreault is the lead vocalist and guitarist, while Donais plays guitar. Considering the band is a young emerging group one cannot help but be intrigued by their decision to cover the Tom Petty song, "I Won't Back Down". They chose the song in part because it had been something Goudreault had grown up listening to and they felt it was something that would appeal to both their younger fans and attract the older set as well.
Petty however is not someone who has influenced the band musically as their current hard driving rock beat is not indicative of the diversity of musical tastes within the members of Hello Kelly. "We could be listening to anything from the most mellow, to the cheesiest pop or even the heaviest hardcore", says Goudreault and then adds that the band will listen to anything from Winnipeg's Starfield to N*Sync, or Haste The Day. "It makes for a really cool dynamic when we are creating music," Goudreault says.
They released their first EP "Modern Day Nostalgia" in the spring of 2004. It features a post punk / garage sound on "Paper Bag Princess", "The Time to Make It Good", and the ballad "The Perfect Place". One of the things one immediately appreciates about Goudreault's vocals is you can actually understand the words whereas with some emerging rock bands the music either obliterates the words or the vocalist slurs the lyrics to such a degree they become meaningless.
The Kelly part of the group's name stems from the idea they think of their audience as a character called Kelly and sing to her. "Our goal is to be a constant encouragement, and sometimes challenge for them - so we write about a lot of different things, some are goofy, some super serious - and try to let Kelly get what she needs to get from it," says Goudreault.
He continues, "While faith is number one in the lives of every member of Hello Kelly, music is also right up there as an important part of our lives. I think that's what's been missing in music today, a genuine love for the music itself, even from the musicians themselves. Only recently has the industry started to come back to this foundation a little bit."
Donais chips in, "We don't want a label on our band 'you are a Christian band' or 'you are a non Christian band'. We're five guys that have a relationship with Jesus. Everything we do, we are surrendering and giving it up to God." Donais pauses thoughtfully and then adds, "If that's what makes us a 'Christian band', then we are." Goudreault and Donais agree that what separates Christian music from other styles of music is the lyrics and how they inform others of your beliefs and values. "If you search the heart of every Hello Kelly song I think it's pretty easy to hear that faith had a big part in creating it," says Goudreault.
Hello Kelly sees their music as a ministry. They do not however see their role as preaching to kids all of the time. Instead they believe "our lifestyles are going to reflect and our actions are going to speak louder than our words."
"The most exciting thing that can happen to a teenager is finding something that you are going to live for the rest of your life," says Donais.
The band deliberately targets the teenage crowd with their music, however the feel that the retro element to some of their songs has an appeal to an older crowd.
Writer: Joe Montague