“What the hell?”
That was singer Ricky Shuler’s reaction when guitarist Efrum Ferguson suggested naming their metal band Kelen Heller. “It was very interesting and intriguing,” Shuler says. “If that name was already trademarked, I was thinking another—since he already had the “K” and “H”—would be Killing Hitler.”
The Greenville quintet, which also includes drummer Kevin Wall, bassist Eddie Lamb and guitarist Mark Frey, brings more than shock value: groove. “Redefine”—one of the songs Kelen Heller tracked at Inman’s Revolver Studios for a debut record—echoes leather-clad powerhouses Sevendust and Slayer.
Ricky, What’s the best track from your upcoming album?
A song called “Dump.” We called it that even before I wrote lyrics to it. It’s about going through adversity and other bands. It’s very heavy but it’s also got the melodic thing we were talking about earlier. When you hear it, you’ll know what it means.
You’re a melodic singer. There are a lot of heavier bands around today that neglect melody. How do you feel that limits those groups?
It just gets real boring if you don’t mix it up.
What’s interesting about how Kelen Heller writes songs?
We take it upon ourselves to make a good idea better.
What’s the last new hard rock band that impressed you?
The Doors are one of your biggest influences. What are some of your favorite Jim Morrison vocal performances?
My favorite album would be “Morrison Hotel.” My dad passed away when I was a kid and I went through his albums and I found that one. He’s such a poet, obviously, and he did awesome rock songs and love songs as well. What he spoke of was his life’s soundtrack. “Peace Frog” and “Blue Sunday” are my favorites off (“Morrison Hotel.”)
What's a way you get in the zone for cutting a vocal track?
Sometimes I take a little bit of whiskey and sometimes I go in and improvise and see what happens. You can always change it.
What kind of whiskey do you like?
The good stuff, like Crown and Special Reserve. But it’s not good to drink too much of it because I’ve heard myself after doing that. (Laughs.)
Kelen Heller opens for Noxious at The Handlebar at 9 p.m. Jan. 15. Tickets are $11. For more information, call 864-233-6173 or visit www.myspace.com/kelenhellersc.