.Hellbender Releases ‘Scumlordz’ EP

Show & party at Phoenix for 4/20

Sonoma County-based metal bands of all styles come and go, but the four guys in Hellbender have always been inclusive when it comes to playing shows and have outlasted many others.

Rather than bringing a homogeneous cast out each and every time they play, Hellbender’s varied bills are what makes them a veritable live force and bring back their own and newbie fans time and time again.

With its four members part of many well-known and lesser-known bands, Hellbender’s strength lies in its members’ myriad influences. And although at first listen most would categorize their music as metallic hardcore, upon further inspection the guys are doing something much bigger with nods to classic thrash and New York’s underground punk scene.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

And with a brand new EP waiting in the wings, the band is looking to play more in 2024 and, more importantly, broaden their fan-base playing coveted support slots with national acts when possible.

At present, Hellbender is rounded out by core members Eric Lee (bass), Greg “Clee” Clecak (guitar) and vocalist Bill Scheffler. Their latest addition is drum phenomenon Eric Strand. For those not in the know, Lee was part of Petaluma Junior High’s first metal band to play a talent show, the much-talked-about Sacrilege featuring the late Miles McNaught (also from Accolades) on guitar.

Bohemian: You guys have been around for a minute. Hellbender started in what year?

Eric Lee: Clee and myself started this band back in 2012, with Billy joining shortly after. We wanted to be the heaviest thing around, and that has always been the focus. We have been through six drummers, but not by choice. Our current drummer, Eric Strand, we have known since the ’80s.

B: For the newbies out there, what were members’ previous bands?

EL: I’ve been playing with guitarist Clee since 1996, including Porterhouse, Wingnut and Crimeseen. I was also in Accolades and an extreme metal duo called Concoction. Bill has been in several bands, such as Indulgence, Seeds of Hate, Bombsquad 707 and S.E.E.D. Eric (Strand) has been in too many bands to name, but he’s mostly known as a former member of Engage, Victims Family, Roadside Bombs, Closing In and is currently playing with Lucky Ol’ Bones.

B: What is the title of the new CD, and will it be pressed on vinyl as well?

EL: The EP is called Scumlordz. It’s a title that had been floating around since the beginning of the band. I would love to get it out on vinyl, but we are going to wait on that for now.

B: How many songs didn’t make the record? Where did those riffs initially come from?

EL: This was all new music. All five songs made the cut and we didn’t really have anything else. It was stuff I wrote during the pandemic that was recorded on my iPhone. Clee also had a bunch of new riffs, so we would get together at his house and try to organize parts before we played it with everyone. Riffs would also come up in the practice sessions. It was very much a group effort. We wrote with Eric (Strand) for about a year. The whole thing takes time and you have to try different ideas and melodies to hear and feel what works. We also used Dropbox a lot. Songs got rearranged a dozen ways.

B: You’re also playing a huge 8-band bill at the UC Theatre with New York’s Biohazard and Forbidden. How did that come about?

EL: Since we worked with Craig & Chris on the record, it was a natural progression to land a Forbidden gig. We are extremely honored to be part of the first Omega Fest on Saturday, May 4th. New York’s Biohazard hasn’t played here in 30 years. Also on the bill are Exciter, Warbringer, Hatriot, DeathGrave and Frolic.

B: Why the Phoenix Theater for your CD release show over other Sonoma County venues?

EL: Everyone in this band has basically grown up there, and we all have played countless shows since the ’80s. During the pandemic, we had no studio, and the great Tom Gaffey allowed us to do weekly rehearsals there until we finally got our own studio. The Phoenix is our home, so it’s a no-brainer to do a release party there.

Hellbender plays the Phoenix Theater, located at 201 Washington St., Petaluma. Supporting acts include Right To Remain, Here Comes The Comet, and Prostitution. Tickets are $12 in advance and can be purchased at thephoenixtheater.com. Doors open at 7pm, Saturday, April 20, and the show starts promptly at 8pm. All ages are welcome.



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