The death and life of Hath No Fury7/24/2013
You can’t keep a good girl down. Jen Allen’s a good girl.
Through very solid songwriting, a stable of talented musicians and some relentless promotion via social media, Allen’s band Hath No Fury — then a five piece — capped off a productive start to 2012 by playing April’s Gross Domestic Product Music Festival. Then the bottom fell out. Personalities began to clash, and Hath No Fury, as bands sometimes do, broke up. But for Allen, the loss of her backing musicians was just a setback for the band, not the end.
“I just wanted to build it (back) up,” she said, “into something I could love, with people I could trust and enjoy making music with again.”
So began the assembly of Hath No Fury, 2.0. Getaway Scene guitarist Brian Olson was added, followed closely by 4ENT bassist Andrew Wightman. Finding a timekeeper, however, proved problematic, and Allen spent months auditioning drummers without finding a fit. Enter Alchemist drummer Jay Corigliano. Corigliano has worked with some of the most creative musicians in the Des Moines scene, and he saw the potential in Allen’s songwriting. So he approached her about joining.
“I saw them play and was digging what they were doing,” he said. “I started kind of playing with their sound in my head and knew that I could add something to it.”
But perhaps the biggest change in the band’s make-up was up front. When the band parted ways with its original vocalist, Allen moved to center stage herself, and Hath No Fury became a four piece.
“When I had somebody else singing, it was mostly because of self-doubt,” Allen admitted. “I’d always wanted to sing. So with the first lineup, (I was) able to gain the knowledge and the confidence to say, ‘OK, I can to this, but I don’t want to do it alone.’ ”
Allen’s vocals are keyed down from the original versions of the songs, which were written for a soprano. The vocal difference, combined with Olson’s technical flair and Corigliano’s more metal influences, make for a completely revamped sound.
“My vocals are more aggressive than the original vocals,” Allen said. “(Brian’s) guitar is a little more melodic. We’ve got some more intricate drums. The harmonies and bass lines are a little different.”
Now that everyone in Hath No Fury is on the same page, the band is establishing its identity and making Allen’s songs new again.
“It’s coming together quickly, and I’m excited about that,” said Wightman. “That’s the best thing about having a singer that’s writing the songs and writing good songs. It’s easier to want to make that song better when it’s good to begin with. There’s no struggle there. It’s just, ‘How can we make this shine?’ ”
“I feel like the songs are a lot stronger, because (we were) just listening to what she wrote,” Olson explained. “(We) just wanted to write something that complemented her.”
“This is the first band I’ve been in where it’s been like, I think I can really complement what they’re doing here,” Corigliano added. “Plus, I just love it when I love the songs.”
For Allen, it’s that vocal support that makes this cart go.
“I feel like these guys really, genuinely like me, which is nice,” she said. “Whenever I’ve lost members, it feels like getting broken up with in a relationship, even when the parting is amicable.
“But you’ve got to forge those relationships.”
Because you can’t keep a good girl down.
“I’d have people come up to me and say, ‘Oh, I thought you were done,’ ” Allen said, shaking her head. “I won’t ever be done. I can’t.”
Hath No Fury plays the post Slutwalk show at Wooly’s on July 28. CV
Chad Taylor is an award-winning news journalist and music writer from Des Moines.