Los Angeles-based band, Hell & Lula, are not just on a mission to make great music – they want to make a difference. Their strives towards environmentalism are making airwaves on a grassroots level, as the band shows that it’s “thexy” to go green. I interviewed the lead singer, Michael-Alan Kolb, to see where their inspiration comes from and what they have in the works.
Hell & Lula currently have some great eco-conscious projects and practices. First, they have recently launched their Pledge Music Campaign to raise funds to convert their “Cool Bus,” a retro-fitted school bus, to run on waste vegetable oil. They have developed a recycled merchandise program that accepts donated second-hand clothing items and then personally hand-screen them, making recycled one-of-a-kind merchandise. This has been a benefit to the band, lowering production costs, but also a great benefit to fans which get a lower price point than a new shirt. Their light show is “green,” 95% of their custom light show was created using re-purposed guitar cabinets, which use household compact fluorescent lights. CFLs use about 1/6 of the energy of the standard halogen stage light to create the same light output.
There has been a movement in the last couple of years with bands trying to be more Eco-conscious from their touring practices to their cd packaging and I was curious where Hell & Lula found their inspiration. “We do things a certain way because we feel that it’s our responsibility to do so. Sometimes it costs us a little more, sometimes it saves us loads of money,” says Kolb. “For us, going green was never really discussed or something that needed to be decided upon. It was just, ‘hey, plastics suck, let’s not use it.’” But Kolb didn’t start out as an environmental advocate. His roots lie in the deep south, where he had a 69 Mustang, ate fast food regularly and bought a lot of consumer-driven items. Gradually a change started to happen in him, “My interests and my world view were changing in radical ways. I warmed up to the idea of personal growth, instead of stagnation.” He sold or gave away majority of his personal items and moved into a van, cutting down on his expenses and carbon footprint.
Kolb’s lifestyle in Los Angeles has stayed on a similar path. He lives on the Hell & Lula “Cool Bus,” so a lot of his normal excess power and water usage concerns are eliminated by default. And he is only plugged into the grid, but just for a few CFL light bulbs, a mini-fridge, phone and laptop. The sink faucet is a hand-pumped style, which makes drawing water difficult, therefor greatly reducing his water usage. He also keeps his possessions to a minimum, partly due to lack of space on the bus. When giving green advice Kolb says, “I think the most important thing about environmentalism is really considering the consequences of every action we make. There aren’t any hard and fast rules, because everyone’s situation is different.”
When ending the interview Kolb closed with some of his grandfather’s advice that he hold dear to him, “There are always two ways to do things in life: the easy way, or the right way.” Hell & Lula have definitely chosen the latter. Their environmental efforts are a true telling that a band can make small changes to contribute to a big difference. For more information on Hell & Lula’s Pledge Music campaign, click here.