Louder with Holding Absence
Being one of the most exciting and highly praised new bands of this year is as good an excuse as any to get too big for your boots, however Cardiff-based quintet Holding Absence have remained as endearingly humble as ever, despite their meteoric rise into the view of the mainstream rock world. Their powerfully affecting, ethereal yet immovably gritty sound has captured the hearts and minds of rock fans across the UK, Europe and the world, and with an album set for release next year, 2019 looks as though it may well belong to Holding Absence. We caught up with frontman Lucas Woodland and bassist James Joseph before their show supporting As It Is at Manchester’s O2 Ritz to reflect with them on one of the craziest years of their lives:
Your single ‘Like a Shadow’ was recently released via a premiere on the Radio 1 Rock Show- how have you found the response to that single in the days since?
Lucas: It’s been incredible; the whole thing has just been amazing! When you release a song you always have high expectations, but as a musician you’re also quite cynical, so we hoped it would go down well, and to be honest we knew it deserved to go down well. Sometimes you get a song where you look at it from the perspective of a fan of your own band and you think ‘this is awesome!’, and I think Like a Shadow really had everything we hoped it would have.
James: It passed the ‘Mum Test’ too! Every band I’ve been in, I’ve been like ‘Oh Mum, I’m in this really cool band! Listen to this!’ and she’s been like ‘Why is he shouting?!’. But with this one it’s pretty catchy and even she admitted it!
‘Like a Shadow’ has that emotive, gut-wrenching power that has endeared many people to Holding Absence- how much of the inspiration behind the tracks comes from your own experiences, and do you ever find it difficult to share such vulnerabilities in your music and on stage?
Lucas: It’s a good question because I feel like there is a lot of vulnerability to writing song lyrics, and the aim of this band is to be so sincere that its… not uncomfortable, but to subject people to emotions that even they themselves maybe aren’t ready to feel yet. I was very conscious of ‘Like a Shadow’ being a ‘radio song’ so I didn’t want to go too in on the honesty as in some of my other lyrics, but I feel like the song still has that melancholic tragedy underneath, and I think it still evokes as much emotion as any of our other songs, just perhaps in a more subtle sense.
You have recently added new guitarists Chris and Scott to your line up- has that solidified your creative direction or does having more people involved in the creative process diversify your range of influences?
Lucas: When our guitarist left we were just a three piece with no guitars, and we were halfway through recording an album, so it was a very tricky situation to be in. We were very aware that adding people could dilute or strengthen our line-up. I feel like both Scott and Chris both have strengths, and weaknesses in a way, that add to the band in a really complementary way, so I feel like it was definitely a good decision.
James: It’s nice to move forwards as five friends again as well, because we got signed quite early on in our careers in terms of releasing music, there was so much pressure on us to get this first album done, and I think that’s part of the reason that we’ve had members come and go, but now we’re really excited about the future. Now that we’ve been able to see all the things that we did wrong in the process with album 1, we’re really excited to start the process for album 2- that’s not to say that we’re not still super happy with album 1 though!
You’ve completed the European leg of this tour with As It Is, Trash Boat and Courage My Love already- how has tour been so far? Do you have a favourite city you’ve played?
Lucas: It’s been incredible- I think we’ve earnt our stripes as a band in terms of touring now, as we’ve played closing in on 200 shows in just over 2 years, and we’ve done Europe nearly 50 times in the last year, so every time we go out, at least a few people will know who we are. For us as a band it’s been incredible, and being a support band it’s been great to have a lot of new people getting into us! Some people would come to day 1 of the tour and have no idea who we are, and then by day 3, if they’re following the tour, they’ll come and sing along to us! And this lot are the nicest bands we could have asked to tour with too!
James: We have a real community vibe with our fans as well, so when even just ten Holding Absence fans come to a show, it’s like a family, so those ten people will be louder than a hundred fans would be for someone else!
As well as touring anywhere and everywhere this year, last time we spoke, you mentioned that you’ve been working behind the scenes on your debut album- what has the creative process been like in creating that record?
Lucas: It’s been a very long, strenuous process, we’ve really had to roll with the punches, and as a result the product we have now is not the kind of product I would have imagined we’d end up with when we started, but at the same time I’m so much happier with it now than I would have been had I got what I wanted a year ago. We’ve written with so many different people too, whether it be our old guitarist Feisal for some of the songs, or our new guitarists Scott and Chris, or various producers, and we’ve just tried to make this record the most real, passionate music that we possibly could. If I gave you a timeline of how writing this record has gone, it would be in the least orthodox way possible, but we’re super happy with where we ended up!
James: We’ve very much become our own people throughout that process too- I think everyone in this band could go off and do their own projects off the back of this album
Lucas: Yeah, we’ve all learnt so much individually too!
Can you give us any hints as to what the sound and feel of that record may be- will it build on any one of the major atmospheres of your previous releases, or should we be expecting more of the unexpected?
Lucas: I think the first six songs we did were constantly ‘expect the unexpected’- nobody really knew what to expect at any given corner! I think for us, if we’d kept doing that we’d have ended up with a folk song and a trap song- there’s only so much we can really do with our sound so I think the album is a complete expansion of everything we’ve already heard.
Now that we have your new single out, is that going to be building towards an album announcement any time soon…?
Lucas: Very very very very very soon…
James: Five verys!
Well we can’t wait to hear it! And if Holding Absence’s set that followed was anything to go by, everyone else should be just as excited as we are to see where this talented young band are heading for next, because something tells us that it is somewhere monumental.
‘Like a Shadow’ is available to buy and stream now across all platforms. Watch the accompanying video below:
Connect with Holding Absence on Twitter: @HoldingAbsence
Connect with Holding Absence via their website: www.holdingabsence.com