2018 marks 15 years since Hell Is for Heroes released their debut album, The Neon Handshake. So after a recent anniversary tour, the band arrived at Donington Park for their (sort of) first ever appearance at Download.

VH caught up with vocalist Justin Schlosberg and bassist James Findlay at this years festival to do some Neon Handshake reminiscing… 


Is this your first time playing Download Festival?

JF: This is our first time playing Download Festival, we first played it when it was OzzFest in 2002 or 2003. I believe we were supposed to play the first Download in 2004 – but our flights got cancelled so Metallica took our spot. A rich history.

This year marks it as 15 years since The Neon Handshake, can you remember the recording process of this album?

JS: Yeah, it was in LA at Sound City, which is a recording studio with a lot of history. We were just riding a wave really. I guess I was just still in the days where record companies were throwing silly amounts of money towards rock bands like us which we used and abused for all of its worth – so we had a great time.

You recently did an anniversary tour for The Neon Handshake, which date was your most memorable / favourite audience to play to?

JF: Both London nights for me – but the whole tour was awesome. The crowd was awesome every night to be fair. But yeah, back to London’s Sheppard Bush, spiritual home. But both nights were just great.

JS: I guess Manchester is our second home – our home from home, but yeah everywhere was just great. It felt like a real homecoming, the whole tour really. It just felt right, it was a perfect sized venue for us as well – I think any bigger and a band like ours would get lost.

After spending time revisiting The Neon Handshake, is there anything you would change about the record?

JF: There’s no going back to change, that’s the love of it. Once it’s done, it’s done.

JS: We’ve never really been perfectionists.

In the earlier stages of your career you were with EMI, since then you’ve been with Burning Heat and Big Scary Monsters – how would you compare your experiences? Would you say working with EMI was worthwhile?

JS: Yeah, overall, anyone who wants to support our music we have always welcomed with open arms. But I think with every different label has its pros and cons. Whether it’s a small label or a big label there’s good and bad stuff – you just have to roll it really.

JF: To be fair, EMI put us out on the road for two years, they supported us and made it happen. They put a lot of money in to it, they were very welcoming and it was great to have that opportunity. But like you said, we have been through a couple of labels, and there’s always an issue in some way or another, but  for the most part it’s all been good. If they wanna release our music then we’re happy to work with them.

When you guys started did any of the band members come forth and offer their services as a frontman before Justin?

JS: That’s a good question

JF: No, we all knew our limits as musicians. I think we wanted someone who could put on a show really, we had two guitarists and I think 5 people is a lot in a band really.

JS: Finn’s got a beautiful voice, he was in a choir and shit!

Would you like to tell us more about the choir?

JF: It was an international choir. But yeah, we needed Justin really to come in and make it happen.