Interview with Lucas Woodland of Holding Absence

We had a chat with our friend Lucas Woodland to talk about his rollercoaster year since he his chapter began as a part of Holding Absence. They are the band you are hearing a lot about at the moment but do you really know what Holding Absence are about? Read the interview below to find out everything you need to know about these guys who are sweeping the rock scene and find out what is important to Lucas and Holding Absence...

Noizze: Hey Lucas, thanks for chatting to us! How’re you doing?

Hello! I'm doing great. Thanks for having me.

N: It’s been a pretty eventful year for you and the boys already! You’ve signed to both Sharptone Records AND Raw Power Management, supported We Are The Ocean on their final tour and you just played some pretty major festivals. How do you think you managed to get it so right as a band and find success so quickly?

It really has been a very eventful year for us. Honestly, I put a lot of our success down to our age and experience as individuals, Holding Absence has been a band for 9 months now, but you've got to remember that the 4 of us have been making, performing and writing music for over 7 years now individually. We're a new band, but by no means rookies to the game. So from day 1 of Holding Absence, we knew what we wanted and how we wanted to do it. BUT, having said all that, we couldn't have dreamed for things to work out the way they have.

N: Can you tell us a bit more about how the band got started?

Holding Absence has been an entity for about 2 years or so now, but when I joined the band things became so different we do just tend to see that as our starting point. The band started when James and Feisal started writing music as they lived together, alongside old singer Zac Vernon (Parting Gift). After a few line-up changes, Ashley Green had just come off a tour filling in for my old band, and the boys first show was supporting us... So they asked him to join soon after. I joined about 6 months later, but it was very natural - I've known James for 7 years now, I lived with Feisal and as I said already played with Ash. I just felt at home right from the start.

N: You have just dropped your new single "Penance" and it is safe to say it is a bit of a banger. What's it about?

I've not openly said this in an interview, but "Penance" is the reason I joined Holding Absence. I was out of music and finishing my university degree when Feisal (Fez) asked me to pop over and track some vocals, out of interest, over an instrumental song they had, now that they were without a singer. The song resonated with me on so many levels, and I will always be grateful to "Penance" for showing me just what Holding Absence were capable of. Lyrically, the song is very personal - Written during my darkest bout of depression probably. I was looking at an overview of my life... Depression has followed me for years (verse 1), I have a bit of an affliction toward love (Verse 2)... I began thinking about suicide and pondering over the idea of it. (I must state that this was never an option for me, but I spent a lot of time thinking about the topic). And that lead me to write the opening vocals and the chorus. The chorus looks at the hindsight of a humans life, and all the little parts of them people would see that they had left behind, even in the smallest of places, if they were to take their own life. ("I wrote my love in the cracks of the cracks of the walls"). In the end, the song finally sees me realising that I am good enough for happiness. I deserve it. It's a fucking journey that song, but there's a lot to relate to and think about with it.

N: And the video for it? Where did your inspiration come from to portray it in that way?

I know I've given a very literal annotation of the lyrics in the question prior, but I believe "Penance", as a track, is hugely open to interpretation. We wanted the video to be the same way. Like the lyrics jump between a "post-suicide" kind of world, and the here and now scenes, I wanted the viewer to be taken on a similar journey, and to really take their own spin. For example, the progression of paint transferring from the walls and on to my body - I wanted the viewer to ask why. The Polaroids, the sunflowers... There's lots of little bits of imagery for people to play around with in their heads whilst watching.

N: So Camden Rocks and Download Festival! How were they? Did you manage to catch any bands yourself?

Both bloody lovely. 2 real important shows for our band, and they couldn't have gone any better - A great introduction to the festival world. We did manage to catch quite a few. Sadly Camden Rocks was such a blur as it was only a day long, but Download we managed to see some great bands like Biffy Clyro, Code Orange, Devin Townsend, Every Time I Die... And not to mention a lot of our friends who did us real proud over the weekend: Grove Street Families, Blood Youth, Junior, Venom Prison, and Casey (Who I was honoured to join onstage for a song).

N: Your last band, Falling With Style, won a competition to play Download in 2013. How does it feel comparing the two performances and how did your bandmates feel about playing for the first time?

It was a real interesting parallel. Firstly, 4 years is SUCH a long time! I didn't realise how long it'd actually been until recently but yeah, it was always going to be different as it was so long ago, but as a person I've changed, the same way Falling With Style (FWS) & Holding Absence are different bands. So for me it felt fitting that FWS, a very much happy-go-lucky band symbolised my first experience as a youngster, compared to now, playing with a more mature-sounding band. I was definitely a lot less nervous than the rest of Holding Absence beforehand, but when I got on-stage and saw the crowd, it really hit me. The turnout was unbelievable!

Photo Credit: Ashlea Bea Photography

N: How stoked are you about that upcoming Young Guns tour? Anything else in the pipeline we should be excited about?

We're very excited to be playing with Young Guns, a great UK band that we're excited to meet and become friends with as much as anything! It'll be lovely to be playing some big stages again too and to play to new crowds. We're absolutely ecstatic! Nothing announced quite yet, but we're always planning a way of stepping things up, so just keep your eyes peeled!

N: So in the past you’ve openly spoken about mental health, firstly when talking about the band’s single, "Permanent", and more recently when you played a benefit gig for the charity Heads Above The Waves. This is clearly close to home, but why do you individually, and as a band, feel it is important to continue having these conversations/making people aware?

Awesome question, and as I mentioned earlier, "Penance" is also relevant to this topic. Mental illness is something that has followed me my whole adult life and has made certain social situations and just general periods of my life unbearable. I've learned to cope with it in my own ways as I've aged, thankfully. I think the hardest thing for me now, is understanding how horrible life can be with a mental illness, and having to see others go through it without a crutch or a way of escaping. It breaks my heart to think that anybody has to feel such unwarranted sadness the way I have. I've been told many times that my music has helped people out of a hole, and that's 50% of the reason I write my lyrics so personal. The other 50% is so that I can gain closure for myself. I can take that pain and put it in a box, lock it up and throw away the key when I write a song about it. Holding Absence is nothing but a sincere band. All we want is for our music to ooze passion, emotion and honesty. So I think it's a good fit.

N: As a band, your tastes and influences will naturally vary vastly. What/who are your influences?

Kwoar, that's always a tough question. At face value we are a post-hardcore band, so bands like Underoath, Thrice, Being As An Ocean, Funeral For A Friend and so on influence the face-value, but behind that we have a lot of atmospherics and ambience that we take from bands like The 1975, My Bloody Valentine, The Devin Townsend Project, and so on. That's not the tip of the iceberg, but it's probably the most relevant answer I can give to you.

N: What can we expect from future Holding Absence releases? And what is next for you guys?

We are working towards our debut album, and working towards taking over the world. So expect a lot more shows over the coming months, and an even busier 2018. For us, is all about the music though, so we're excited to bring you the best release we can next year.

N: Final question, what would you like to be remembered for?

This is a great final question. Y'know, I listen to a lot of older bands at the moment. The Beatles, The Smiths, Radiohead... And in a world where John Lennon is dead and The Smiths will never come back, it helps remind me that your music will always be able to speak for you, even when you can't speak for yourself. The 4 of us are so passionate about our art and our message... We quite simply want to be remembered for our music.

Photo Credit: Ashlea Bea Photography