Halo Circus (featuring Allison Iraheta)
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Halo Circus (featuring Allison Iraheta)

Los Angeles, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Alternative Rock

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"Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus Cover Duran Duran Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/allison-iraheta-halo-circus-cover-duran-duran-20140711#ixzz3o729U8lZ Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook"

Allison Iraheta's ties to Duran Duran are strong. While she sadly never covered the Fab Five when she competed on American Idol in 2009, she's since recorded music for the Skaist-Taylor fashion line (co-founded by John's wife, Gela Nash-Taylor); her husband and Halo Circus bandmate, Matthew Hager, has worked on recent Duran Duran albums; and Halo Circus's song "Something Special" was even co-written by John.

So it makes sense that Manimal Vinyl would recruit Halo Circus for the upcoming compilation Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran, which will also feature D2 covers by Moby, Warpaint, Little Dragon, Carina Round, and Austra. But Allison and company didn't go with the most obvious cover choice for the tribute disc: They interestingly opted for "Do You Believe In Shame?," a criminally underrated 1989 single from Duran Duran's fifth album, Big Thing.

"Do You Believe In Shame?" has become a staple (and highlight) of Halo Circus's live shows, but only Yahoo Music has the exclusive premiere of the official studio recording. Allison's band puts a Gothic, operatic, almost heavy-metal spin on the funk-pop ballad, and the result is definitely something to believe in and a very big thing.

Listen to Duran Duran's original below for comparison/contrast purposes:

In other awesome Halo Circus news, Yahoo Music can exclusively reveal that the band has just been added to the Grammys' "Women Who Rock" cruise Nov. 4-8, which will also feature Heart, Emmylou Harris, Indigo Girls, Estelle, Skylar Grey, Shawn Colvin, Joan Osborne, and Mindi Abair.

Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/allison-iraheta-halo-circus-cover-duran-duran-20140711#ixzz3o72IyR2E
Follow us: @rollingstone on Twitter | RollingStone on Facebook - Rolling Stone


"Halo Circus at The Hotel Cafe Friday October 10"

Halo Circus At The Hotel Café, Friday October 10th 2014

Written by Alyson Camus | October 12, 2014 0:07 | No Comments
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Halo Circus

Halo Circus is some moniker which seems to announce joy, fun and a certain part of mayhem, and I can say that the LA Indie quartet didn’t disappoint during their show on Friday night, the third of their October residency at Hotel Café! The quartet (two guys and two girls) gave a rock show with hard-hitting and infectious pop melodies, very diverse songs with bi-lingual lyrics (English and Spanish) and even covers –but not any covers, rather powerful renditions of hit-songs – all transformed by Allison Iraheta’s powerhouse vocals.

Effectively, the first thing you notice with Halo Circus is their frontgirl, the pink-haired Allison Iraheta, who owns the stage as few people have manage to do it: she takes the stage by storm, passionate, bold and loud, but she also has the presence of an angel, with a brilliant and powerful voice… I have to say it should not be any surprise to anyone as she was the fourth place finalist on the 8th season of American Idol by singing ‘(You Make Me Fell Like) A Natural Woman’! However, I never follow Simon Cowell’s own circus, so I had no idea of this when I went to see Halo Circus, but I immediately got the feeling Iraheta ‘s massive and soulful voice will not be a secret for very long.

Her pink hair contrasting with the black outfits of the band, she was going from dramatic vocals to a soulful and badass tone, effortlessly destroying the place with a passionate and incendiary presence, and the audience was with her from start to finish… I can’t exactly explain how such a combination could work, but Shirley Manson and Heart crossed my mind several times during the show. But let’s go back to this,… effortlessly,… this was the most impressive part about the whole band, no matter how many groups have tried to get to this rock sound fronted by a big-voiced female, very few can do it with such ease, confidence and natural. They even managed to make a Duran Duran song, ‘Do you Believe in Shame’, completely theirs, with a wide screen rendition, a real darkness, unleashing a late 80s rocking and emotional rage,… well that was simply great, and you can even check out the recording here, which will be included on a Duran Duran tribute album due in October.

The whole band was actually on fire, as the ex-American Idol candidate has surrounded herself with top-notch musicians: bassist, keyboardist and producer Matthew Hager (Duran Duran, Scott Weiland, Simply Red), drummer Veronica Bellino (Jeff Beck, DMC of Run-DMC) and guitarist Brian Stead, and they all had decided to give the show some epic dimension. They also invited on stage two guests for two songs, Victory Mori on guitar and Gee Rabe on accordion, bringing tender and quieter moment, and a more dramatic Spanish vibe or should I say a rebel and romantic Mexican vibe (during ‘Yo Me Voy’)… Then they embarked into a bluesy and tough cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing’ which got a lot of success… ‘You’re rad!’ screamed someone, probably reflecting everyone’s thought about the amazing frontwoman’s powerful and wild stage presence.

The colorful and vibrant Halo Circus is currently signed to LA indie label Manimal Vinyl, and they have just released a 4-song EP (on October 8th), but they are currently finishing their debut album due out in 2015 with Matthew Hager producing, and Gavin Lurssen (Elton John, Foo Fighters, Bruno Mars) mastering the collection. Duran Duran bassist John Taylor has called them the “best live band in the U.S.A.!’ so if you are in Los Angeles you should not miss their next Friday night residency at the Hotel café, it’s happening on October 17th!

Setlist:

Nothing At All
All I Have
Desire (lo que vale la pena)
Yo Me Voy
Do You Believe In Shame? (Duran Duran)
Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing (Chris Issak)
Something Special
Out Of Love
Band Aid - Rocknyc.com


"Kicking Ass And Being Awesome"

Halo Circus is a beast of a band. Their reputation for delivering an experience unlike anything out there is backed by the authenticity of their live shows. The band’s unique performances are cropping up everywhere in the last year, from the LA Grammy Showcase, to Allison Iraheta’s record-setting weeklong gig as guest vocalist on The Tonight Show, This month’s four week Residency at Hotel Café, and on a cruise ship to the Bahamas at next month’s Grammy Festival at Sea. Halo Circus just might be unstoppable.

Halo Circus is singer Allison Iraheta, bassist Matthew Hager, drummer Veronica Bellino, and guitarist Brian Stead. While the band members who compose Halo Circus have a long list of credits, collaborations, and accomplishments individually, all of these talented musicians also share only one laser-like focus right now: Making the best Halo Circus music possible.

Before their Friday night performance at Hotel Café, I had the opportunity to speak with the band all about their forthcoming album, Duran Duran, possible future collaborations, recording with legends, the Bahamas, life and love.

For a review of Halo Circus’ 10/3/14 performance at Hotel Café click here. You can see them perform live at their last two Hotel Café residency dates, 10/10/14 and 10/17/17 at 9PM.

“Do You Believe in Shame?” is your amazing new single that is actually a cover of a Duran Duran song. Why did you choose to go with this song out of the entire Duran Duran catalogue?

Allison: Well, we all know that John Taylor of Duran Duran wrote that song. I am a big Duran Duran fan, and, actually, I would say that we all are fans. We were asked to do a song for the Duran Duran tribute album, Making Patterns Rhyme. When I heard “Do You Believe in Shame?” I knew it was the one.

Since the whole band is here, let’s go around real quick and tell me your favorite Duran Duran song.

Allison: Probably “Come Undone”.

Veronica: Mine has always been “Come Undone”.

That is classic Duran that never gets old.

Matt: Definitely “Do You Believe In Shame?”. I saw the guys perform in New York when I worked on their album, Red Carpet Massacre. I actually never heard the song before, and when they performed it, it blew me away. I always thought that if we ever had the chance to cover anything, it would have to be that song. When I introduced it to Allison, she fell in love with it. So, that is the story of how our cover came to be.

Well, why am I not surprised?

Brian: Mine has got to be “The Chauffer”.

Man, how great is “The Chauffer”? That’s my favorite as well.

This next question is for Allison. Pre-Idol, what level of influence did Duran Duran have in your life?

Allison: The problem is that, pre-Idol, I had my head stuck up my ass. I’ve had many influences, but Duran Duran will always leave a mark on you. I remember the first time I heard Duran Duran, and it was actually “Come Undone”. It definitely made me want to be different and push myself further as a singer and vocalist.

Take us back through that moment when you first heard “Come Undone”.

Allison: Oh my goodness, I don’t know. I remember when the chic started singing, I thought that was so badass.

Veronica, in her best Simon Le Bon: “WHEN YOU COME UNDONE!”

Allison: Yeah! And Simon’s vocals, and his harmonies! I really get lost in them. It’s just so weird, and he really went there on that song.

Veronica: The guitar riffs did it for me. The guitar at the very beginning of the song is what got me right away. Very beautiful.

Can you take me through a Halo Circus songwriting session? Who all is present? Because it seems like you have people like Paul Williams and John Taylor coming in and out of the studio all day.

Matt: Originally, the song writing sessions began with David Immerman, who is no longer with the band, but is a good friend of the band. The objective was to give Allison a sacred space to explore lyrically and to reveal herself in a kind of different way. You know, for television to work, you need to have a very specific theme, and she was known as a rocker chic, but in the writing sessions we wanted to give her the space to explore new territory. When I realized she was singing Ranchero music and she was singing professionally at a very young age, this started conversations about Roy Orbison and things that were so far away from how people knew her. That was the original invitation to start to explore that.

Matt: A typical Halo Circus writing sessions now... When Paul Williams came in, first we sat around for an hour talking about life and all of our feelings and everything we’ve been through, and then made the decision to write about what we talked about for an hour, and then an hour later there was a new song.

It seems like that sort of self-discovery is a vital part of the songwriting session.

Matt: It has to be because we want to do something different, and the only way to do something different is to try to figure out what your strengths are and take that as far as you can. You’ve got to be willing to fall down and make mistakes.

Speaking of studios, where do you record at?

Allison: We have a studio at home that we work out of. Sometimes we go to another studio, Wolf Dog studio, where we rehearse. That’s where we recorded “Do You Believe in Shame?”. But mainly we record at the studio at home.

It seems very important to have that recording equipment available at home, because you never know when inspiration will strike. What’s the difference in quality between recording at home and the studios you’ve used in the past?

Allison: A huge difference. It’s night and day. I’ve spent time in studios for so little time, and different studios that I never even got to know. A studio is a place where you get to know yourself as an artist. I never had that opportunity before now. That’s what I got out of this studio [at home], becoming myself.

Let’s backtrack a little; what became of your last guitarist, David Immerman?

Matt: David is on tour with Avril Lavigne.

Is David going to work with Halo Circus in the future, or is he gone?

Brian: David gave me a call when he got the gig with Avril. David is a good friend of mine, so he calls me up and says, “Hey, man. I need someone to fill in for me and we want to keep it in the family and same circle of friends.” So, he introduced me to the band. I came in and did an audition type of thing… Well, well, a year later, here I am. But David is a great friend of the band and we all wish him well.

Brian, how long have you known Allison and everyone?

Brian: Going on about a year now. I started playing with Halo Circus last November, so it’s been almost a year of kicking ass and being awesome.

Speaking of kicking ass and being awesome, how excited are you for the Grammy Festival at Sea?

Halo Circus: Woo~!

How did they first approach you about performing at “Women Who Rock”?

Matt: We’re still not sure if it was a mistake or not! One day, we just an E-mail asking us to play this amazing cruise with HEART and Indigo Girls and so many other greats. I think we were just shaking the whole time.

Allison: It’s crazy. We did the first ever Grammy showcase. We got a lot of love from those guys at the Grammys. They were just so good to us. We could only hope that we would run into these people again. Then that e-mail! The same people were telling us that they wanted us to perform on this amazing cruise. It’s a freakin’ dream! It is so cool.

Is there anyone in particular on this cruise who you’re looking forward to meeting?

Allison: HEART!

Matt: Definitely HEART, and a lot of others.

Veronica: HEART and Skylar Grey.

Have any of you ever been to the Bahamas?

Veronica and Matt: I have.

Half the band has, so it’s pretty much old news.

Matt: We also have our accordion player with us tonight. [Gee Rabe]

Oh, you’re bringing out the accordion tonight?!

Halo Circus: Woo~!

Is the accordion a component to the upcoming Halo Circus album?

Matt: I would say it’s part of the color. One of the things that we really enjoy doing is exploring different cultures we try not to be too grounded by the constraints of alternative rock. She [Gee Rabe] brings an amazing background with her. She actually changed a lot of the arrangements. She is an incredible musician. I don’t think there will be an accordion on every song, but there is certainly a huge chunk of the Halo Circus album that will have accordion on it.

Very interesting. Let’s talk more about the new album. Matt, I know you’re multi-instrumental, I know a lot of you play different instruments and that you’re a diverse band. What other elements or instruments are going to be on this upcoming album?

Matt: we have Veronica on drums and we have Brian on guitar, some electric and acoustic, obviously Allison on vocals and me on bass as well as keyboards. We’ll have violins, we’ll have cellos… there is a song where we actually use a saw…

A saw? That’s too awesome.

Matt: Veronica is going to play Cantonese and Orchestral stuff. Brian is actually a pretty killer mandolin player. Mandolin makes some pretty great distortion.

I’m getting more and more excited about this album. Is it finished? Or are you still recording? Or just editing?

Allison: We’re at 90%.

Matt: There are two things. We need to finish the last 10% creatively, and we need to make sure we’re with the right record label. That’s a big chunk of what we haven’t done so far.

Is it going to come out on Manimal Vinyl?

Matt: No. At this moment we are entertaining offers. We have been trying to find the best home for it.

Early 2015 release, are we still on track for that?

Matt: Yeah, the goal is sometime first quarter of 2015.

I like how you don’t burden yourself with a specific deadline and just do it at your own pace because when you rush things like this they tend to turn out terrible.

Matt: Well, we could have put it out a year ago, but it wouldn’t have been as good and we weren’t as good of a band. We sounded a lot different. From last year of being on the road and opening up for people, we’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other and bringing everyone’s character and energy into these songs. There is nothing so precious as keeping true to the writing sessions. That’s pretty incredible, and the audience seems to be responding to it.

How many tracks will this album include?

Matt: We’re looking at about an eleven song record.

Did you end up producing a lot more material then you are going to use?

Matt: We tend to start throwing things away once they start smelling funny.

That’s just generally good advice.

Matt: We’ve written a lot of songs but we won’t finish them if they aren’t feeling right. We’re not one of those bands that writes 40 songs and uses the best three. We’ll come up with 40 ideas and throw most of them away, but the ones we stick with we’re very proud of and are very personal.

Allison: Adding to what Matt was saying, this is kind of a concept album. Without one song, the next song won’t make sense. It’s like building a human being from scratch.

And now I understand why you guys haven’t released a ton of songs yet. In the present music industry, which is more acclimated to a single song market, something we don’t see as often is concept albums and full length albums that you can enjoy in their entirety. It’s almost a lost art nowadays.

Allison: I think everyone today seems to have short term memory loss.

Is there a title?

Allison: There are a few in the air but I can’t share them yet. Once I release it, people will be like, “ooh!”

Can you give me a rejected album title, then? What is a throw away one?

Matt: Just Like You, Two.

[Everyone laughs]

Speaking of your first album, Allison, are you currently working on any solo stuff?

Allison: Nope. This is it. This is where I feel at home. I’ve never been this true to myself. I want to keep this going for as long as I can.

That’s awesome. I am so happy for you, Allison. Matt, I know you’ve done a lot of different work for a lot of different people. Are there any other projects you’re working on right now?

Matt: I have, but everything is about Halo Circus now. I’m looking forward to getting out on tour and releasing more stuff.

What is your level of involvement in 76 steps?

Matt: 76 Steps is the name of my recording company and my publishing company. It’s a funny story. I had a house in Silverlake with a long driveway to reach the house. I had a drummer do a recording session for me once, and he actually counted all of the steps leading up to the house. He walked in my studio and was like, “In case you were wondering, you have 76 steps.”

It’s certainly an interesting metaphor, because getting to the top definitely doesn’t happen in 10 steps, and it doesn’t happen in 15 steps. Maybe it happens in 76 steps…

What is 76 steps is working on?

Matt: Everything is about Halo Circus now. I’m putting all of my money down on black.

Is that another rejected album title? “All Of My Money Down On Black”?

Matt: Why not?

Veronica, first, you rock in ridiculous amounts.

Veronica: Thank you.

Also, I sort of have a huge crush on you.

[Veronica laughs]

Can you tell me about your involvement with Daryl from Run DMC?

Veronica: We were working on some new songs early this year, but it’s very sparse because he lives in Jersey. I’ve been his drummer for about three years. We do a couple shows a year. I was in the studio with him this year working on some songs that I was singing on and writing with him. A lot of studio stuff this year. He came to our Halo Circus show and loved it.

Did he get on stage that night?

No, he stayed in the audience that night.

Any Halo Circus and Run DMC collaborations on the horizon?

Veronica: You know, that’s never come up in a conversation, but you may have just planted the seed. He would totally do it, too, because he loves the band.

I feel like my job is done here. Last question: if Halo Circus could perform anywhere, where would it be?

Allison: To sell out the Hollywood Bowl.

That’s cool, but I thought you were going to aim a little higher and say something like outer space.

Veronica: I don’t think anyone would hear us, because there is no sound in outer space… Yeah, I’m a nerd.

Halo Circus goes on to perform an amazing set by any standards, however, I noticed something amiss. Allison has a subtle nervous energy about her while she is on stage. This nervousness she releases when singing, but builds rapidly between songs. During songs, however, she goes into an impenetrably rockstar trance and the delivers her lyrics with powerful and careful emotion. As the front(wo)man for Halo Circus, Allison paints the band's already vibrant instrumentals with a sultry and passionate flair in her personal style that she is now known for.

Later, I ask Allison one last question:

You’ve come a long way from Idol and have experienced so much. Do you feel like you are still developing yourself as a singer, or are you focusing more on songwriting with Halo Circus now?

I feel that with this band I have learned more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I think that’s what being a songwriter and musician is all about. You explore all parts of yourself. [Both] the parts that you are afraid of exploring [and] the parts you aren’t consciously aware of. I couldn’t be happier with where I am. This band has given my creativity and musicianship such a loud voice. I feel my songwriting and development as a singer is never ending and I hope it will always be. - Examiner.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio


“I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then.”

-Lewis Caroll

Halo Circus has been taking their time while taking the Los Angeles music scene by storm with their relentless live performances that Duran Duran’s John Taylor is calling “The best live band in the U.S.” But for the band fronted by bilingual international recording artist Allison Iraheta, their journey to get to where they are today is nothing short of wondrous.

Halo Circus’ debut show at The Troubadour in 2013 received a standing ovation from the tightly packed venue. Their next show at the Whiskey A Go Go was performed in front of 10 people. The band spent the next year fervently practicing and performing anywhere they could be heard. During Halo Circus’ triumphant return to the Whiskey A Go Go one year later, they were invited to perform at the 50th anniversary featuring The Motels to a sold out crowd. This gave way to a month long residency at Hotel Café, featuring breakout performances accompanied by multi-cultural instruments.

For Allison Iraheta, the curious, pink-haired latina, life before Halo Circus is like night and day. Her time as an artist during American Idol and Telmundo’s popular television show Quinceanera was spent living in an ordinary world where the music revolved around the fans rather than the artist. When she met producer and Halo Circus bassist Matthew Hager, who encouraged her to take a different approach to songwriting, the intense self-discovery that followed would lead her down the rabbit hole and into an alternate reality. Thus began Halo Circus.

A Halo Circus show is an otherworldly experience overflowing with high energy harmonies and deeply introspective lyrics. The band from Los Angeles makes music that transcends language barriers, exploring different culture by introducing instruments such as violins or accordions into their live sets while providing audiences with a feast for the senses. The intensely personal lyrics of Halo Circus resonate with audiences of all ages.

The bilingual anthems for introverts performed by Halo Circus can best be described as an emerging art form. Singer Allison Iraheta sings in both English and Spanish, seamlessly dissolving language barriers. One listen to their music and it their diverse range of the band is immediately apparent. Their songs are seductive, infectious and rebellious, daring to do what conventional bands can’t. Their music is best heard by the soul rather than the ears.

You may recognize Allison as a Season 8 finalist on American Idol or the Telemundo show, Quinceañera: Mamá Quiero Ser Artista, although she has been anything but idle since those days. Her 2009 solo album, Just Like You, debut at the 35 position on the Billboard Top 200 album charts and sold over 35,000 copies within the first week. While developing her own personal style as an artist with Halo Circus, however, Allison has grown tremendously, which is immediately apparent on the debut Halo Circus album.

Matthew Hager plays a mean bass in Halo Circus, although he is no stranger to producing platinum records, either. After graduating Berklee College of Music, Matthew has worked with diverse talent such as Stone Temple Pilots, Mandy Moore, Justin Timberlake, Duran Duran and many more, Matthew is now all in on Halo Circus.

Veronica Bellino moves her drumsticks with the speed and precision of a woman possessed, creating the backbeat to this circus. In addition to being an accomplished Cantonese and orchestral drummer, Veronica’s previous work with Jeff Beck and DMC of Run DMC has helped to shape her live performance with Halo Circus into what is being called the “best live band in the U.S.”

Brian Stead is a relentless guitar aficionado as well as a masterful mandolinist. Former End of Ever guitarist, on stage Brian evokes all of the energy and charisma of Hendrix, Keith Richards, and all of the great guitar gods before him.

Halo Circus’ first EP, Gone, was released in 2013 on Manimal Vinyl, debuting at the number 43 position on iTunes Pop Charts. The EP which also contains a Spanish version of “Gone”, as well as English and Spanish versions of their song, “Nothing Left”.

Halo Circus’ cover of Duran Duran’s “Do You Believe in Shame?” was featured on Making Patterns Rhyme: A Tribute to Duran Duran alongside Moby, Little Dragon and Warpaint.

The band also performed at the first ever Grammy Festival At Sea: Women Who Rock, alongside Heart, Emmylou Harris, Joan Osborne, Estelle, Skylar Grey and many more in 2014.

Their highly anticipated forthcoming album will be released 2016. The debut studio album by Halo Circus is currently being mixed by multiple Grammy Award winner Craig Bauer (Kanye West, Smashing Pumpkins) and mastered by multiple Grammy Award winner Gavin Lurssen.

Unreleased music video available on request.


Band Members