We Are Hex breaks the spell 

click to enlarge GREG "THE MAYOR" ANDREWS
  • Greg "the Mayor" Andrews
It's early on a Tuesday evening and I'm sitting at a booth near the front door of The Red Key Tavern, waiting for Jilly Weiss, singer of Indy's once-promising We Are Hex. I'm imagining that the set up for this interview is almost exactly the same as it was two years ago - - almost to the date - - when NUVO's Scott Shoger interviewed Weiss and drummer Brandon Beaver in this Broad Ripple neighborhood bar.

In 2011, the band seemed bound for bigger and better things - - they'd just recorded a 7'' with Jack White's Third Man Records, which delivered the group to the ears of a larger audience and attracted attention from big industry players, like booking agents and marketing professionals. Pieces on the group remarked on their momentum; interviews had members commenting "quitting isn't an option."

But sadly, at the end of August 2011 they announced an indefinite hiatus, halting just before a string of dates on the West Coast and a September plan to record with Tim Green, producer for Melvins, in San Francisco. The exact reasons were unclear - - a combination of a guitarist's depature, health problems and then, disastrously, a robbery. The Hex Haus - - the band's infamous practice space, recording studio and living space - - was robbed, shutting down whatever rumors of a comeback still lingered. We Are Hex went radio silent.

Back to the present. A silhouetted figure appears in the doorway, dressed in black with a large, shady hat. Weiss speaks hesitantly as we begin talking, perhaps experiencing a sort of dej√° vu. Many were disappointed with the band's fade from the scene in the midst of so many exciting opportunities. Their recent success playing at LUNA on Record Store Day and a string of regional shows indicates that the reconstructed band is twice as fervent.

"We had one practice where we played the old songs and it felt like maybe we missed a week of practice, but it didn't feel like two years," Weiss says.

Looking back from their recent return, whatever happened, the hiatus is exactly what was needed on a lot of levels. The evidence of their new material's raw potency is contained in the tracks on the new 7''. Reinvigorated and emboldened, Weiss croons in the title track of Lewd Nudie Animals, "I never wrote a love song and I won't start soon."

We Are Hex is set to release the Lewd Nudie Animals 7'' on June 1 at White Rabbit Cabaret. Weiss can hardly contain her excitement at having included two of her favorite bands on the release show bill, Day Creeper and Kam Kama.

"I'm really inspired when the bands are really awesome; I guess some people want the bands to be not as good as them," she says. "I play better when the other bands are inspiring."

During the period of inactivity, Beavers was free to start Fountain Square noise-punks Ancient Slang, one of the most talented new arrivals to the scene. Guitarist Matt Hagan had left before the hiatus and been temporarily replaced. Weiss explains that Hagan needed to go on a soul journey, although her voice is tinged by a mixture of concern and amusement at the possibility that his journey had led him to what might be a cult.

"[He joined] this hippie community in Tennessee," she explains. "We didn't hear from him for a while and I have my suspicions... it might have been a cult."

The Hex Haus is no more, but the band - - including Hagan, who's back on guitar, and Trevor Wathen on bass - - has been practicing and working towards a full-length, a process that seems way past due creatively. And they're working quickly. The two songs on their upcoming Jon Spencer-produced 7'' were written immediately after reuniting.

"The song is my favorite when it's taking shape and it's not structured yet. It still has freedom or unpredictability," says Weiss. "That's why I like playing that live."

Their style of noisy rock defies sub-genre labels, focusing instead on that insatiable live energy which ignited their devoted fan base in the first place. This is a group of artists, demonstrated in the wild onstage persona of Weiss and the cultish aesthetics they surround themselves with - - cow skulls, black magic and all things pentagrammed. A darkness, part constructed, part intuitive, fills the aura of We Are Hex.

Similarities drawn to Joy Division, The Cure and Bauhaus do their sound no justice: this is music you need to experience for yourself, preferably live.

They've also been booked to play on June 28 with psych-rockers Burnt Ones on Musical Family Tree's Listen Local series at Broad Ripple Park. With the support of music industry giants like Jack White and Jon Spencer, they're set for a rise once again.

"I definitely feel like we're starting where we left off, but maybe we have a little more material to draw from. More ideas. More riffs. More lines," Weiss says.

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