AUSSIE band Howling Bells took a few years off - then put together an album in just 11 days.

The four-piece play King Tut's tomorrow night, as well as playing an in-store set at FOPP on Union Street in the afternoon.

It's in support of their new album, Heartstrings, a snappy collection of sultry, dark-hearted rock 'n' roll and their first release in three years.

For singer Juanita Stein, it was vital the band took some time off.

"It was far more healthy for the band to take a break than ploughing through the last few years," she says.

"I remember a tour we did many years ago with the Cooper Temple Clause, at the very tail end of them being a band, and they just felt like they were dying for a break from each other and the group.

"I remember thinking that I don't want to get to that point where I can't breathe anymore in the band."

The Aussie quartet first came to British attention in 2006, when they moved to London and released a well-received debut album, before going on to tour with Coldpplay.

Both their second and third records saw the foursome spend plenty of time in the studio, so for Heartstrings Juanita was pleased to rattle through the recording.

"It felt like good, rollicking karma in a way," she explains.

"There'd been three years of doing nothing, I wasn't even writing a lot at that point, and then it came on like a tidal wave.

"It was all written in a couple of weeks, and then the whole record was recorded in a couple of weeks too."

When Juanita says it was three years of doing nothing, she's only referring to the band's activities.

The songstress gave birth to her first child in that time too, and feels becoming a mum has changed her songwriting.

"This record is definitely a testament to that experience [giving birth], emotionally," she says.

"I feel like I'm far more emotionally transparent on this record than on any other, and that's probably down to becoming a mother and feeling such profound tenderness that you can't help but be that much more open in your writing.

"I always thought I was a private singer, and I almost found it offensive that people would want to know more about what you'd offer.

"I kinda understand that desire and relationship you have with the audience more now."

There's been other changes too - bassist Brendan Picchio left the group to go back to Australia and was replaced by Londoner Gary Daines, while the quartet switched record labels too.

Yet they're still making music after a full decade, a longevity that's rare among modern bands. Juanita points to money pressures as being the hardest challenge for musicians to face.

"The truth is that to survive today as a band in this industry is about as hard as mining for gold on Bondi Beach," she says.

"It's unbelievably difficult. Any possible challenge that could be thrown your way will be, and after 10 years just releasing this album feels so different to the first one, in terms of how it's released and how the industry is."

Surviving and still making music under those pressures is one reason why the frontwoman is so delighted to have marked a decade with Howling Bells.

"I am pleased we've had 10 years, especially because it's unusual for a band to be there after a decade if they're not filling stadiums," she adds.

"There's something very profound about the connection between us as a band to have survived this period of time and those challenges."

That doesn't mean that she doesn't sometimes wonder if it's all worth it, however.

"It'd be absolutely crazy if you didn't ponder whether you should still be in a band over a 10 year period," she concludes.

"There were points where I wondered if the band was necessary and those moments tended to happen during those breaks.

"But the second the four of us were in a room with instruments we knew we had to make this record."

l Howling Bells appear in-store at FOPP tomorrow, 5pm and then play King Tut's, 8.30pm, £9