Photo Credit: Nathan Roach
Over the Bank Holiday weekend Noizze got the chance to sit down with Holding Absence vocalist Lucas, bassist James and drummer Ash before their set at this years Slam Dunk Festival in Birmingham. Playing their first year on the festivals bill at the Rocksound Breakout stage, the band talk about their festival experiences, coping with the rising pressures, the albums that raised them and much more.
Noizze: This is your third day at the festival correct? How're you finding it so far?
Lucas:Yeah, It’s been perfect, it’s been exactly what we’d hoped for, we’ve been taken aback every day. We’ve obviously toured quite a lot around the UK, so for us to see so many people we’ve seen before but in one room, y’know it’s awesome. I wouldn’t say any day’s been better than any other yet, just because the first day was kind of a shock to us, for me I just remember when permanent kicked in. Obviously we’ve had a one up change our guitarist left so we’re currently playing with a brand new line up essentially. So we weren’t sure what the hell it was going to sound like or feel like, and the second it kicked in it just felt right you know what I mean?
James: It’s testament to the fact, who comes, who goes, how we look, any of that, Holding Absence is bigger than that, and it’s all about the fans, the supporters. whatever you want to call it, they make it what it is, without them it’d just be another show
N: So with today being the last day of Slam Dunk is there anything you want to see happen before it’s through?
L: I wanna see us not clash with Creeper but that’s not going to happen haha, I dunno it’s kind of like Groundhog day, obviously you guys kinda like turn up and it’s a great day of festival, and then you go home, but for us it’s like the same thing again tomorrow, so it’s kinda weird, I kinda know what’s going to happen today if you know what I mean?
J: I really like bumping into people in other bands as well, as cheesy as it sounds, especially ‘cause we’re like the new baby band who’ve just started getting on to all these things, it is nice though, we’ve met loads of people this weekend that we’re doing stuff with next year. Like we met the guys in As It Is who we’re touring with in November, we’ve been chatting loads to the guys in Creeper, maybe going to try and do some stuff with them. It’s really cool to just finally be int he circle you know what I mean?
N: So is there anyone on the bill for today that you grew up listening to?
J: Good Charlotte man.
L: For me I think Counterparts were a really important band of my like, becoming an adult, I think a really important part of who I am as a person is they taught me how to embrace emotion, y’know? and not in a like, not in a way to feel embarrassed about it, but to take it on and feel really good about it… there’s a lot of legends at this festival.
J: Even the ska bands, like Goldfinger were on the Tony Hawks game soundtracks, and like every kid’s our age played them y’know?
N: So you’re signed to SharpTone records and you’ve released a split EP with label mates LOATHE, how did that come about? Was it a label or band decision?
L: It was our decision, they were really good about it to be fair, SharpTone didn’t push us or pressure us or rush us at all, but obviously the UK is a small place, as many as bands as there are, when you try and make waves you see the other bands out there making waves y’know? Like we were pushing, LOATHE were pushing, we just thought how cool it was that both bands were completely different but had a very similar vision and message, we’re on the same label and we kinda wanted to do something a bit different as well. The split EP was the perfect thing for us really.
N: Was the label’s roster something that impacted your decision on who to sign with following Permanent’s release?
L: yeah, the thing is, SharpTone were so hands on with us, they were really supportive, like we put Permanent out, just one song - and they mailed us about six days later saying “we’re really interested, let’s see what we can do”… it wasn’t so much a case of “these guys have we came as romans signed to them” or anything like that, but more “These guys are obviously a great label with some great bands, but mainly they care and believe about our band, and that’s what you need, I’d rather be on a small label that cared than a big label that didn’t.
N: Hailing from Cardiff do you think being in a capital city is an advantage in a band or do you think a bands location is kind of irrelevant?
J: There’s a street in Cardiff called Womanby Street and we all grew up around that, we’re from the valleys originally but growing up Cardiff was the place you went to see bigger bands play and stuff, the local scene has always been so strong, like even before our time, in the 2000’s it produced bands like, Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For A Friend, Kids In Glass Houses, The Blackout, so many great bands that kept Cardiff alive, Places like Fuel Rock Club, they’ve been going what 10 years now?
L: Yeah about that.
J: So there like some of the most important people in the Cardiff music scene.
L: I think it does have good and bad sides, it’s funny because Wales is its own country, it’s quite an anomaly in the UK scene, cause obviously we’re stuck in the corner really… with one or two cities famous for music y’know so… for valleys boys I guess, we used to catch the train into cardiff, it kind of felt like the only way to go was into Cardiff, so living close was great, we could have been stuck in west wales somewhere with a bit less opportunity y’know? I guess being Welsh sometimes isn’t the best thing, but y’know luckily we were close enough to a big city to take advantage of that.
J: Coming back to Womanby street, and like Cardiff in general, there were points where me and Lucas anyway, cause Ash is from Northampton, there was a point when we were in uni and we were going to like 3 gigs a week? of like extremely different genres, you could see a death metal band or like a clean poppy band.
L: Yeah just general rock n roll and stuff.
J: We’ve seen so much now we have a really clear direction on how we want to be, like we’ve seen people do things we like, we’ve seen people do things we don’t like, we’ve seen people make mistakes and we’ve seen people do things really well.
L: So I guess what James is saying like, being int he heart of a city like Cardiff, teaches you so much more than being in a little town or something, you see more.
N: So there’s definitely an air of hype around you guys currently, does that affect you in the band? Are you aware of it?
L: The thing is being in a band you want that pressure, you want everything, like I wanna be playing the main stage you know what I mean? and that’d be a hell of a lot of pressure but you have to welcome it, because you’ll never ever grow if you don’t welcome change. So yeah we really respect and appreciate the buzz at the moment, and we just want to see how much more we can do.
N: In other interviews you’ve mentioned how since the band signed it’s become more hectic in the day-to-day and you’ve had to really step it up, have you developed any coping mechanisms for dealing with added frenzy?
L: I think it’s very important, it’s sad to admit now but music is a job now as much as a hobby, and when i used to have a long day in uni or whatever growing up, I’d always be like, right go home, listen to music, play piano or guitar or whatever, and now it’s funny ‘cause like, a hard stressful day, we’ll bang our heads against the wall some days, and then I’m like “Well I don’t wanna listen to music today”, I’m tired of it. So I think it’s super important to find separate coping mechanisms, like having a girlfriend or best friend who’s super supportive and is always there for you and doesn’t just always talk about music, for example I love football, James has run loads of business’ and stuff… it’s important to have another vice, other than music.
J: Some of my best friends who I play xbox with, they’re all into music as well, say we have a long day, like I’ll go on xbox maybe like tomorrow when we have a day off from this before we go on tour the next day, and they’ll be like “Ah how were your shows?” and I’ll just be like “Can we talk about something else…”
N: Stick to KD Ratios is it?
J: Yeah for sure, but I think the big thing is we know that we’re lucky and we appreciate every second we get to be in this environment
L: I’d let it swallow me whole if I could like…
J: It’s not often you get to do a job that you love, I mean you’re here as press I’m sure you appreciate getting to do this today….
N: Oh yeah of course.
J: So we could ask you like “Are you tired of asking questions” y’know? And that’s kinda how we feel about it.
N: That’s a cool way to look at it, with you lads I feel like I could talk all day, so let’s talk releases, you’ve put out a double A side, a split EP with label mates LOATHE and previously in interviews you mentioned you’re working on an album, could you tell us some more about this album?
L: Hmmmm Yeah, so it’s been in the works for a very longtime now, we’ve been working towards it from basically day one now, the split EP was never an idea, we were working towards the album, like we had album songs and then said to ourselves, “Let’s hold them back, keep them for the album, and work on the split and start the album again” so it’s been a real long time in the works, but at the moment we’re like 80% of the way there, it’s that other 20% y’know? we just wanna do what’s best by our fans, ourselves and our band, and just release the best album we can, ‘cause we know people have been waiting with baited breath and we appreciate it a lot…
N: Fun one now, what’re some of your favourite albums as a band?
L: Oh shit, good question.
J: That’s not an easy one!
L: You’d be shocked at how that is probably the most simple question to ask a musician but I’ve never had to answer it, so it’d be Doolittle by the Pixies, Grey Britain by the Gallows, the Black Parade by My Chem, Vheissu by Thrice, and one more, it’s gotta be Radiohead... In Rainbows by Radiohead, yeah.
N: And James?
J: There’s this band, I’ll mention them because they’re not that well known yet, with members of “Stick to your Guns” and “Stray from the Path”, and “Structures”, it’s a band called “Trade Wind” and I think we can collectively agree it’s all in our top 5s, I think it came out last year?
L: Yeahhhh, it’s so good! You make everything disappear.
J: Yeah that’s it, so it’s a band called Trade Wind and the album’s “You Make Everything Disappear”
N: And you Ash?
Ash: Kinda like breakdowns, but with yeahs and gang vocals, like Bullet, but not as heavy, like cheesy, like temper temper, but going back to albums the poison was what made me want to be in bands, and then from like Bullet and growing up and being like 14 and being like “this is so heavy” and then finding Trivium existed, or finding out Slayer existed, I’m like 20 and I’m finding bands now like “My Ticket Home” I can’t remember the album name but I remember the year, 2013 (Editors Note: My Ticket Home released “Strangers Only” in 2013), and it’s this really eclectic mix of like, it sounds like grunge limp bizkit but the vocalist sounds like Corey Taylor and it’s amazing. I listen to the whole album, like I put it on, and I can’t just listen to one song, always gotta listen to the whole album.
N: That’s all we’ve got time for I’m afraid, but thanks for chatting to us, is there anything you want to let your fans know about before you go?
L: We’re playing a few festivals over the summer, we’re playing 2000 trees, we’re playing Beyond festival in Manchester, MacMillian festival in Nottingham, we’re about to announce a tour with As It Is in November, and we’re playing some really big venues there as well. And hopefully by the end of the year we’ll have some more music for everyone.