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When it comes to their lyrics, Bellhaunts aren’t holding back: “Are you a boy or a girl, what’s between your thighs/I’ll drag it out, I’ll cut it out as far as I can away from you.” Ouch. One listen to the endearingly awkward Santa Ana post-punk combo’s music, and you’ll feel like you stumbled onto an unholy amalgam of the Misfits and Sleater-Kinney. With the help of manager DJ Oldboy, the band— fronted by the imposing voice of Adrienne Santellan and backed by her brother, Joshua Santellan (guitar); Vivian Anica (bass); and Robert Ramirez (drums)—released thesix-song EP Bleed Into My Mouth, defining their kinetic style of slashing guitar, pumping bass and bold melodies. In addition to exploring squirmy subject matter in their lyrics, Bellhaunts can just plain blow your ears off, as with the achingly sweet track “Herd of Fake Spiders.” What’s next? A new four-song EP and some gigs at Tropics Lounge and Alex’s Bar.
OC Weekly: Your songs incorporate R&B, country, and post-punk. Is that what you guys listened to growing up?
Adrienne Santellan: I listened to oldies. I got the Rhino collections of 1950s to ’60s music. My mom would actually try to change the radio station because she hated oldies.
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Adrienne: I would sing Dion’s “The Wanderer” around the house as a kid. He was my official vocal coach.
What’s it like working together as siblings in the same band?
Adrienne: I bug him a lot. It will be after midnight, and I’ll say, “Hey, do you want to play this for me right now?”
Joshua Santellan: It’s different when we argue because we’re related. If we fight, she’ll just tie me up to a fence with her bicycle chain.
Adrienne: Are you still mad about that?
Joshua: It was a rolling fence! There is no other band where you can be like, “Yeah, we just ran our lead singer over with a bike, and she was totally cool with it.”
Your lyrics are so personal; is it difficult to sing about such emotionally charged material?
Adrienne: No, but I do cry a lot. I’m really sensitive.
Joshua: Anyone can bitch about his or her girlfriend onstage for 30 minutes or some bullshit like that. She’s able to explore her feelings through her songs and lyrics that have a deeper meaning.
Robert Ramirez: Our song “Party Time Genocide” is really disturbing, but it’s a satire.
Adrienne: It bothers him because it’s about mutilating genitalia.
Ramirez: I’m a dude, and it hurts.
Adrienne, where do you get inspiration to write your songs?
Adrienne: Jesus [laughs]. A lot of my music is pretty dark. My mom worked at a mortuary, so as a 5-year-old, I’d be there with dead people, watching my mom comb their hair. She would show me where they pulled out the blood and put in the formaldehyde.
Songs like “Abortions for All” seem more political. You sound pretty pissed-off.
Adrienne: I was watching this Morrissey documentary. The first thing I heard was “Morrissey thinks the human race is disgusting.” I get angry at things I can’t change. I can’t destroy what’s going on in the world, but I can sing a song about it.
Bellhaunts perform with Mafia Rusa, O.K.T. and Sinister Ways at Tropics Lounge, 1842 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton, (714) 525-1977; www.thetropicslounge.com. Fri., 9 p.m. $5. 21+.
Hey, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, contact info, high-res photos and impending show dates for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 2975 Red Hill Ave., Ste 150, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Or e-mail your link to: email@example.com.
This column appeared in print as "Haunted Garage."