Stella and The Very Messed began as an idea spat from the imaginations of Stella Maxwell and Dave Hawkins, former members of Austin, TX based pop-rock band, Cruiserweight. While the band retains some key elements of their former band’s sound-- quick and to-the-point rock ‘n’ roll executed with high energy and painfully hooky melodies-- this new project also ventures into new territory, experimenting with more complex instrumentation and arrangements, ranging from dancey synth-pop to Americana. Stella and the Very Messed exist on a continuum that matches the passage of time between then and now; you can hear the early 2000’s pop-rock past in their songs but it’s like, an evolution, maaaaan.
After a year of fleshing out ideas and recording demos, Maxwell and Hawkins recruited Chris Nine (Karaoke Apocalypse, Manhole) and Donnie Adkinson (The Letters Organize, Whores) to record their debut full-length album. On Fences was released in January 2020, and the band fortified their live sound with new members Nik Snell (The Cutaway) and Sam Rich (Black Books).
Beloved Austin radio station, KUTX picked up the first track, “The Mightiest/Writiest Pen” and put it in their regular rotation for a several months, which solidified the band’s stature in Austin.
A slew of shows were lined up for the spring, but after playing a couple, the band said NAH LET’S GO TO OUR RESPECTIVE HOMES FOR A YEAR AND LEARN TO SEW OR WHATEVER AND NEVER SEE ANYONE BECAUSE THAT SOUNDS FUN. And so they did go home, like most everyone else.
The thing about pandemics is they don’t happen very often, so knowing how you’ll be affected by one is impossible until it happens. For Maxwell, a few months in lockdown gave way to an unforeseen perspective: with the entire world turned upside down, she was finally ready to write about her personal tragedy, which had felt impossible until she saw it against the backdrop of global suffering. With three new songs on deck, the band got to work, passing around files and slowly assembling what would become their next release.
Stella and Very Messed’s newest EP, Marigold (Out 5/7/2021) was produced, engineered, and mixed by Hawkins at Sunbird Studios, just outside of Austin. The songs are heartbreakingly personal, pieced together beautifully with plenty of space. The first two tracks convey longing and grief, respectively; “The Feeling” is anchored by a tasteful blend of acoustic and electric guitar, while “Marigold” celebrates wide open space with bare-bones instrumentation and somber overtones. The third track, “Ain’t No Baby” is a tongue-in-cheek palate cleanser with a strong nod to mid-90’s fuzzy guitar rock.