Sadie Hell
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Sadie Hell

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Rock Folk


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Pop Rocks - Sadie Hell"

It seems wide of the mark to fault those who approach their craft in an overly ambitious manner, as there is quite a fine line between the passionate and the zealous. Ottawa's Ben Welland, who records with a revolving cast of musicians under the name Sadie Hell, has promptly cast a stake between those who describe his music as "lush baroque" and those who call it "masquerading emo." That said, at its best, Sadie Hell's self-titled debut LP is a remarkable display of anguished/angelic howls and grandiose guitar work decorated with a multitude of strings, brass, polyrhythms and allusions that often journey into the seven-minute mark. Unfortunately, too much of the album lacks the ability to inject the refinement and subtlety that help make dramatists like Antony Hegarty or (early) Conor Oberst sound so organic and expressive. Sadie Hell is such an immense mix of push-pull that it mostly forgets to exhale. (Independent)

by Daniel Sylvester
View it online here... - Exclaim! - December 2009

"Sadie Hell plays one of the Eldorado Hotel's last shows"

The Eldorado hotel is a place I've honestly never been to until last night. It's located on the corner of Kingsway and Nanaimo, so it's not exactly downtown. I don't like to stray too far from downtown, mainly because transit seems to get worse as I get farther away from the city. The owners of the hotel are being evicted in order to make way for a convention centre. They had to cancel a couple of planned shows because of this. The official closing date is March 7. It's basically staying open until the Olympics are over because it's running as a hostel at the moment.

When I finally figured out where the entrance to the hotel pub was, an interesting electronic act called The Rain and The Sidewalk was playing. Shortly after, Sadie Hell took the stage. The band introduced their show as one of the last at the Eldorado Hotel. An audience member then yelled, "But it was supposed to be the new Cobalt!" Oh, right. The Colbalt. If that rumour is true, it's almost like Vancouver is trying to evict this subculture. But that's another story.

Sadie Hell is essentially the creation of writer/vocalist/guitarist Ben Welland. Most of the band is from Ottawa and almost half of them reside in Vancouver, but Ben Welland himself lives in Ottawa. Sadie Hell originally formed into a solid act years ago on tour. Ben Welland had to provide his brother's band with an opening act. Now, they've evolved into a multi-member band, which includes his two brothers, Luke and Sam.

The music of Sadie Hell is a little difficult to put your finger on. Welland's voice is unique and is, for the most part, soft -- but don't be fooled, there's a hard side too. He can belt/scream out of nowhere. Sadie Hell's sound is almost breaking the boundary between punk and indie rock music. It teeters a little bit towards indie rock but definitely has some subtle punk rock elements layered within it.

The band has been working on a new song, which is an emotional one called "Hoarfrost." As it turns out, hoarfrost has nothing to do with another word it sounds like. I had never heard the word before (am I the only Vancouverite in this boat?) Maybe I had, and forgot about it, because it barely happens here in Vancouver. It's basically extremely crystallized frost. The hoarfrost in Ontario inspired the name of this song, which has a sad topic. It's about dealing with the death of relatives. Unfortunately for the band, they've suffered some losses in the past months. On a positive note: for a song that was recently written with half of the band in Vancouver and the other half in Ottawa, it was performed very well. It must be hard for the band to come together and learn a song in a week. But they pulled it off nicely!

Sadie Hell will be playing the Princeton Pub (1901 Powell St.) this Saturday, Feb. 27. Cover charge is $10.

To get a taste of the band's sound, check out their video below for the song "Pedestrians."

by Marie Elliott
View it online here... - Beyond Robson - February 26th, 2010

"Sadie Hell"

You know, as one of Canada’s most prominent music bloggers (ha!) I’m often asked (double ha!) how a band should go about catching the attention of preeminent tastemakers such as myself. My standard answer is “Cash,” but being named after my hometown is a good way, too. Which is why when Ben Welland sent me an email a few weeks (sheesh, has it been that long?) asking me to give a listen to his band, Sadie Hell, I was more than inclined to hear him out.

What I got was more than an ear full. On Sadie Hell the album, Welland and his band straddle the delicate balance between loud and quiet, rugged and soft, chaotic and contemplative. Have you ever watched two cats meticulously groom each other one minute and the next swat at each other with bared claws? Sadie Hell the band reminds me of that kind of interplay; crossing genre boundaries and mix up influences and styles, always gracefully, sometimes playfully. Welland and co. are not bound by any self-imposed limits. They let the music take control of the wheel and lead the way. What they end up with is a diverse and instantly interesting record that can’t be pinned down by a simple sound bite.

So ultimately, the best way to get a music blogger’s attention is to give him or her a record of substance and style, which is exactly what Sadie Hell has done. No frills, no fancy pants bullshit; just fantastic

by Jim Di Gioia
View it online here...
- QuickBeforeItMelts - March 19th, 2010

"Sadie Hell's Magnificent Debut"

It's hard to imagine that Sadie Hell has its roots in a handful of punk songs Ben Welland wrote a few years ago, often inspired by touring with his brothers' band, NOW. Sadie Hell at the time "wrote, jammed, and sweated alot" according to Welland but did not tour. But something was missing from these songs, and so over a few years he searched for more.

Eventuallly, the original, intense, compact energy of punk became unravelled into something much more complex and esoteric, especially with the introduction of strings and the like. Those songs, and several more, became Sadie Hell's self-titled debut. Coming from the focused energy of punk, it was as if a musical atom were split: an intricate explosion of sounds, some mellow, some raucous, some stunningly gorgeous - but all blending together to make a majestic record.
There is no label that can be attached to Sadie Hell: it's orchestral pop in parts, 70s era prog rock in others, folky at times, loudly expressive at others, a pinch of 80s synth rock, and intricate arrangements played at turns with sweet subtley and crazy clamour (and sometimes both). The sole (and soul) anchor to these varied styles is Welland's voice, an instrument on its own, always powerful and constantly stretched to match these different sounds.

It takes guts to pull off a record like this, and Welland has done it. The title track, "Sadie Hell", starts with Welland's voice, solo, powerful - a message to all that this is going to be the Sadie Hell record he wants, like it or not. Then we hear mellow plucked guitar, slight reverb, and expect a folky track. Then big drums, strings, horns kick in, and we expect an orchestral pop gem. Back and forth the song goes, peaks and valleys, a musical adventure through many sonic palettes. So many that, when you listen to Sadie Hell, you expect something to falter, a beat to be missed, an off note, a sour melody. There seems to be too much at stake. I could hear nothing like that: Sadie Hell hit the mark and more.

Normally when I review records I like to comment on all of the songs in some detail, recognizing they are parts of a whole body of work. It's very hard to do with this record: each song is painted with nuance, and worthy of lengthy comment on its own. Critics could easily think these tracks are a bit 'pretentious' given their length and incredible scope. But that would only apply if the effort was not realized, if the songs were not little gems. Welland's Sadie Hell go well beyond what could have been self-indulgent, setting down 9 (there's a hidden track at the end of the CD) perfectly realized songs.

"Sadie Hell" certainly stands out, setting the pace for the rest of the record. "Sadie wrote a letter to God, and wondered why he never replied" is an ominous start, but only underlines the operatic nature of the record. A sad song, for sure, but the desperation is magnificent, especially in the chorus "Said he wants to die!", (which later shifts to "Sadie wants to die!"), which is immediately flanked by a mellow horn line - a little touch of grace in a personal hell. The balance of the tracks contain similarly serious lyrics, all well matched by the power of the music. At bottom, Sadie Hell is full of ruminations on loneliness, hope, grace, and regeneration. Oblique at times, but always interesting, the lyrics match the forceful mood of the songs.

"Onward, Hop!" starts out very slowly, a mild guitar lick which expands over time, picking up steam until heavier guitars kick in, with vocals popping up fully half way through the song. Themes here include determination in the face of adversity, self-doubt followed by confidence, moving forward, all balanced with the joyful refrain of the track's title.

"Live the Evolution" is one of the few possible singles (more on that in a minute) - pretty guitar melody, gentle bass backing, horn refrains, all focusing on Welland's voice. The back up vocals here are simply lovely. This track recollects 80s pop brushed against the more modern guitar melodies of REM or Pavement. Amazing.

I've had Welland on my radio show and we've chatted in my office about his music. As a radio host, I am intimately familiar with the value of the 3 - 4 minute song: anything more risks not being played, or relegated to fringe hours on the radio. 6 of these tracks exceed 4 minutes, with 4 over 6 minutes (2 of them over 7!). In an era where easy playing is imperative, that sounds like career suicide. But there's more: when Welland released the record, it was on vinyl (with the CD as a bonus only). Now here's an artist with guts and confidence - entirely justified. As Welland said to me, "Sorry radio. These songs are for me." Except that we can enjoy them too.

The rest of the tracks on this set continue the orchestral, majestic themes, all with Welland's voice as an anchor holding the songs together in a cohesive whole. Each deserves to be listened to intently, and separately. "Pedestrians" is likely the mellowest of the lot, with slow melodic guitar throughout. "In the Fold" keeps up the mellow guitar line, with mild horns in support, all eventually hitting a more raucous plain but calming down again. After the pretty and brief "Stir In The Wings", the band returns to the wildly orchestral "The Wolf Can", moving from easy guitar to bellowing sounds and screamed lyrics. This song also has Welland appproaching a Bowie - like vocal sound. "The Wolf Can" nicely bridges the space between it and the title track, without losing sight of all the great songs in between.

Overall, Sadie Hell is an extraordinary debut, with a band setting its sights very high and achieving them and more. You'd be a fool not to find this record, and you may even be amazed that it was pretty well all created in Ottawa. And you should also know this: as I write, Welland and his band have played two recent shows in the Ottawa area: one to benefit (to help folks who work in appalling conditions) and one to benefit victims of a fire in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood. Ben Welland and Sadie Hell are true artists - revelling in the beauty they create but also fostering whatever conditions might make life more beautiful for others. Thanks for that.

And stay tuned - Ben and I conversed in more detail via email about the band and its music; we'll have that information up later. For now, buy the record and enjoy. Oh - and the name? It was meant to be a play on an Ottawa neighbourhood, Sandy Hill. Ottawans draw your own conclusions.

By David Yazbeck
View it online here… - NxEW - February 10th, 2010

"Sadie Hell - Spins"

You've got to credit a band that goes to the trouble of self-releasing a record on vinyl and then sweetens the deal by including a CD copy of the album replete with bonus track. That's exactly what Sadie Hell have done with their debut, an ambitious album of such varied sounds and textures, all of them underscored with ardent, almost plaintive vocals and a driven approach to craft, that to classify the music would do a disservice to the band's willingness to explore a diversity of approaches. Quiet and contemplative at times, lush and orchestral at others, the willingness to straddle and traverse a wide variety of styles is the band's real strength and one that makes this record such a joy to discover.

By Geoffrey Brown
View it online here... - Ottawa Xpress - February 11th, 2010

"Singer from Hell cools his yell"

Ben Welland's voice has gone from an anguished holler to a smooth bellow. He has been the vocalist and majordomo behind screamo/indie-rock group Sadie Hell for the past six years. Somewhere along the way, Welland realized that more could be achieved musically without all the yelling. The baggage from years of listening to AFI wore off as the 29-year-old found his voice.

"For me, screaming was a crutch," he says. "Maybe you grow out of it with years, maybe you grow out of it after playing the same songs over and over. You get tired of screaming and you want people to hear what you're saying."

Harsh rasps have morphed into an elegant roar as Welland gives his take on global crises (Pedestrians) and bandmate fallouts (Onward, Hop!). Those two new songs form part of Sadie Hell's forthcoming vinyl release, expected in October. Welland is the constant in Sadie Hell. Over the years, his backing band has been elastic. Tonight, Welland will be joined on the Café Dekcuf stage by two recent recruits: drummer Dave Secretary and tenor sax player Dave Halabisky (Antizario, My Tiny Circus), along with Liam Jaeger (guitar) and Jacquie Neville (electric violin) of the Balconies.

Welland -- owner of Byfield Pitman Photography and a freelance shutterbug for Ottawa XPress and Dharma Arts online magazine -- has been recording in spurts for the past year-and-a-half at Bova Sound. "These are songs that have been buzzing around in my head since 2003. It will be a beautiful thing to have closure and to actually put them on a slab of vinyl and say it's done."

The album -- with its 15 guest musicians, including Mallory Giles (Politique), brothers Luke and Sam Welland (No Other Way), Kathleen McGrath (May-Jun) and songwriter Glenn Nuotio -- is shaping up to be as frenzied as the live show. When he performs, Welland's motions are as dramatic as his voice. He arches his back while hitting a high note, buckling down for the throatier tones. Musicians swan on and off stage, playing gently, then furiously. The unpredictability makes people turn their eyes toward the stage -- the whole thing's a spectacular bender.

See Sadie Hell (the name is a twisted riff on "Sandy Hill") tonight, as the band headlines the first night of the three-day I Heart Music mini-festival, organized by blogger Mathew Pollesel. Also on the bill: Still Life Still. The quintet is Arts & Crafts' newest signing. Their debut, Girls Come Too, was produced by Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew with Martin Davis Kinack (Sarah Harmer, Apostle of Hustle). The show starts at 8 p.m. with Converters and Parlovr opening. 221 Rideau St., $10. The festival continues Friday with the Balconies, the Love Machine, Modernboys Moderngirls and Oh No Forest Fires at Café Dekcuf, 8 p.m., $10. The festival wraps Saturday at Café Dekcuf with the Lovely Feathers, Black Hat Brigade, Giant Hand and On Bodies, 8 p.m., $10.

By Fateema Sayani
View it online here... - The Ottawa Citizen - August 20th, 2009

"Sadie Hell album worth the two-year wait"

Do you hear a transfixing howl set to an odd orchestra? It's most likely Ben Welland barking at the moon.

Lone wolf Welland plus an ever-changing troupe of support players make up Sadie Hell, the hard-to-classify ensemble that compels as much for its manic edge as its hauntingly beautiful rock arrangements.

Performing for five years now with a throw-your-head-back intensity, singer-songwriter Welland seemed perfectly content to let Sadie Hell fans wait an eternity for a first album. But two years ago he started to record, taking his time—really taking his time—and finally Sadie Hell the album will appear on vinyl and CD at a Saturday, January 2 launch gig at Club SAW.

“This album took a long time because of a couple things,” explained Welland. “One, I'm a retarded perfectionist.” Welland cites a high tolerance for “listening to my own songs over and over again, obsessing over the ridiculous minutia that is audio production.”

There was also the fact that as Sadie Hell's only permanent member, “I didn't have anyone to yell at me about how any given part was good enough ... That meant that I could always call folks back into the studio, a year after they'd tracked a part and ask them ever so nicely to track it again!”

Yet there was method to this seeming madness. The resulting eight tracks on Sadie Hell offer a disarming mix of musical energy, by turns punk, abstract, melodic and orchestral—all tied together with Welland's impassioned vocals and distinctive guitar. You can hear and admire the meticulousness in Sadie Hell.

No fewer than 17 musicians contribute: Welland (lead vocals, guitar, bass, organ), Sean Laframboise (drums), Dave Halabisky (saxophone), Luke Welland (vocals, bass), Sam Welland (vocals, guitar), Mallory Giles (vocals), Peter Jurt (vocals) Rich Aucoin, (trumpet), Jacquie Neville (viola), Liam Jaeger (guitar), Dave Secretary (drums), Christian Yurt (guitar), Glenn Nuotio (piano), Angus Cruickshank, (drums), May-Jun (vocals), Cindy Olberg (cello), and Philip Shaw Bova (drums).

Engineered, mixed, and mastered by Phillip Shaw Bova, the rich, layered tracks were inspired by a dizzying range of topics, including suicide (“a cautionary tale for parents who behave like assholes,” explained Welland), fall outs with friends, lovers, and band mates, a triumph over cancer, a love at first sight, condemnation of the modern world, the U.S. bombing of Iraq, and a day in the life of a werewolf.

“He's a troubled beast who wishes he could leave it all behind,” says Welland of the werewolf. “He's a metaphor for any kind of change one experiences in life. But he's also a wicked excuse to wear big, white wolf masks on stage!”

The Sadie Hell vinyl and CD release show on January 2 will include performances by The Love Machine and Wuhan Lipfight. The event is also a fundraiser for Club SAW, 9 p.m. Cover charge is $5.

By Tony Martins
View online here... - Guerilla - December 28th, 2009

"Best of both worlds with Sadie Hell"

Ben Welland has an amusing theory that musical tastes often follow the gender line.

According to the 30-year-old singer, songwriter and the brains behind Ottawa prog-rock collective Sadie Hell, men like the power of fast, instrumental rock, while women prefer the big emotion and romantic lyrics of power ballads.

“Most of the biggest rock records had at least one romantic tune that would appeal to women,” Welland noted recently. “Kiss had Beth, Led Zeppelin did Stairway to Heaven.”

It’s a matter close to Welland’s heart because, from a young age, he too adored the big orchestral ballads David Bowie, Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins did on their records, but rarely played live.

“I’d go home after a concert feeling cheated because they didn’t seem to me as committed to playing the music, but a cheap rock version of a beautiful piece. I wanted my band to sound the same live as in the studio.”

That dichotomy gave Welland his original vision for the band Sadie Hell (a wordplay on Sandy Hill), one that combined both the power and speed of progressive rock that could also play the big, ornate and classically inspired acoustic pop that would soothe the heart.

The band’s debut album Sadie Hell gets its world premier at Club SAW on Saturday. The album’s first single, Pedestrians, is already in rotation on YouTube.

The album, which took two years to produce on vinyl and CD, is an easy-to-listen-to but hard-to-classify collection of eight fantasies Welland will, over our hour-long chat, describe as punk, indie and orchestral, adjectives I had never heard used interchangeably before now.

Welcome to Welland’s world.

“I probably am a frustrated classical composer,” Welland, the band’s only permanent member, says.

“A new decade means it’s time for a new category of music. In the 1990s, it was grunge, in the early 2000s it was emo. I’m tired of being described as being an indie artist by default. It’s time for a new category.”

Produced at Philip Shaw Bova’s studio, all eight tracks were recorded and mastered using vintage analog technology to bring out the music’s full dynamic range, much like the vintage prog-rock classics of the past.

The disc is something Welland, a professional photographer during wedding season, has been dreaming of for a long time.

“The funny thing is that I don’t like to write songs about me. I prefer to write songs about stuff that happens to other people, war, consumerism, outsourced, exploited workers and werewolves.”

Welland’s eight-piece ensemble, which toured Canada in 2006, includes Welland’s brother Sam on guitar, drummer Sean Laframboise and cellist Cindy Olberg, but can grow to twice that size at some concerts.

Details on the band and gig are posted on their website,

The Sadie Hell release concert opens with performances by The Love Machine and Wuhan Lipfight. Admission is $5, with proceeds going to to establish unions in Third World sweatshops.

* * *


Sadie Hell

Where: Club SAW, 67 Nicholas St.

When: Sat., Jan. 2, 9 p.m., $5 at the door with proceeds going to

By Denis Armstrong
View online here... - Ottawa Sun - December 29th, 2009

"This week's feature: Sadie Hell"

Sadie Hell's debut record showcases a band with plenty of ambition...and the talent to back that ambition up.


Going into Sadie Hell's self-titled debut, I really had no idea what to expect. I've seen the band's principal member, Ben Welland, play as Sadie Hell about a half-dozen times over the past few years, and each time I saw something different. One time he was playing acoustic folk, another time prog-metal, another time folk-punk. One show featured just him and a guitar, another time he had two drummers, still other times he was accompanied by violinists and a horn section. On top of that, every time we spoke he'd have something new to say about what would become Sadie Hell -- some new band members or guests or recording approach that would alter how the end result would sound. In an age where bands have demo EPs before they've ever played a show, Welland's willingness to explore his ideas and figure out how he wanted to sound before he had an album that defined him seemed kind of novel.

It also made me extremely curious as to what the finished product would be like. After all, with so many different possible directions, which one would Welland take?

As it turns out: all of them.

I mean that in the best possible sense, too. Whereas too many bands' first records bounce from style to style without sounding like they fully fit with any of them, Sadie Hell's debut is a synthesis of everything I've heard Welland do before. There's loud, aggressive rock (see the title track). There's brooding, metal-tinged rock ("Onward, Hop!"). There's epic folk-rock ("Live The Evolution" and "In The Fold"). There's even hints of Dave Matthews Band-esque soft rock (see the horns part way through "Pedestrians").

Despite how different all these songs sound, however, they're all unmistakeably the work of one band. Even if Welland likes to dabble in different sounds and styles, it's clear that he's bringing them all together with one singular vision in mind. It's an ambitious goal, but, as Welland as his bandmates show throughout Sadie Hell, it's one that the band is more than capable of pulling off.

Want to win Sadie Hell? Thanks to the band, i(heart)music has an album prize pack to give away that includes a 180-gram 12" Vinyl LP, a CD (with an extra hidden track) and a DVD of the music video, all of it autographed by Ben Welland. To enter to win, just e-mail me your name and mailing address by next Monday, and I'll pick a winner randomly!

By Matthew Pollesel
View it online here... - i(heart)music - January 5th, 2010

"Sadie Hell set to release new disc of 'orchestral rock'"

Is Sadie Hell chamber pop? Not sure precisely where that line starts and ends, but there is something lush about the Ottawa band's music. Band leader Ben Welland calls it "orchestral rock," and it does reach for grandeur. Hear it for yourself in the video below, for the song Pedestrians, from the band's debut album, which will be officially released at a show Saturday, Jan. 2, at Club Saw, 67 Nicholas St. in the Arts Court building. Doors open at 9 p.m. Also on the bill are The Love Machine and Wuhan Lipfight. $5, all ages.

By Peter Simpson
View it online here…
- The Ottawa Citizen - January 1st, 2010


Sadie Hell (full length LP+CD)
Jan 2nd, 2010 / Independent

The Our Power Solar Music Compilation (CD)
Nov 22nd, 2006 / Zunior



The music of Sadie Hell is rather hard to describe...

"Coming from the focused energy of punk, it was as if a musical atom were split: an intricate explosion of sounds, some mellow, some raucous, some stunningly gorgeous - but all blending together to make a majestic record." ~ February 2010, NxEW

"an ambitious album of such varied sounds and textures, all of them underscored with ardent, almost plaintive vocals and a driven approach to craft, that to classify the music would do a disservice to the band's willingness to explore a diversity of approaches." ~ February 2010, Hour

"riotous orchestration and roller coaster progression" "Attempting to describe Sadie Hell's sound concisely is like trying to put a cream puff through a key-hole." ~ February 2010, 24 Hours

"easy-to-listen-to but hard-to-classify" ~ December 2009, Ottawa Sun

Please listen to our album yourself on the CBC Radio 3 Website ( and form your own conclusions!

The band is lead by singer/songwriter Ben Welland. Live performances* (and the band's recordings**) are often rounded out by an intentionally revolving door of both classically trained and rock musicians including current members of The Acorn**, The Balconies*, Hilotrons**, NOW*, Rich Aucoin**, Politique*, Glenn Nuotio*, Hellbros*, May-Jun*, (as well as ex-members of) Clock Strikes Music*, As The Poets Affirm*, Jetplanes of Abraham*, and For the Mathematics*.