Berlin is one of Europe’s most culturally rich and historic cities. It is also arguably the EDM/techno/house capital of the world, so I found it quite surprising that Berlin laid down the first foundations for Australian alternative rockers Holy Holy.
When I sat down for a chat with Holy Holy's lead guitarist, Oscar Dawson, he expressed his liking for the city and its cultural significance. However, he mentioned how the music scene in Berlin ‘didn't have much influence’ over the band's style of music, his ‘experiences while travelling abroad’ having been far more instrumental.
It’s safe to say that Oscar’s time in Berlin sounded a lot more productive than mine was.
Since early 2015, Holy Holy have been touring internationally and they have just completed a national tour. I questioned whether touring this consistently was the best way to improve and get their name out, especially with the vast accessibility of the Internet.
Oscar reminded me that ‘if you can be successful, build a following and get your music out there and begin to make a living from it without touring, then you are definitely a real outlier.’
Oscar also informed me that touring is essential for any band to ‘stay afloat’ as it is ‘really one of the only areas where you can make much money’, but even then that the costs of touring in Australia are almost like touring in a ‘New Scandinavia.’
Even though areas like Western Australia, Tasmania and sometimes South Australia can feel ‘left out’, it can occasionally mean that making extra trips over to these more isolated states ‘might turn that national tour from a break-even to a loss.’
Holy Holy’s debut album When The Storms Would Come has been out for a little over two months now and Oscar mentioned that ‘I don’t know if anything has surprised me’ as he commented on managing expectations.
‘Sometimes when you release music you can get into this weird headspace where you are either totally overly confident in what you've done or the total opposite of that, where you release this music and you are like, “Oh, I've totally fucked it now.”’
When The Storms Would Come is, in my opinion, perfect for a long car ride down the east coast of Australia. I asked Oscar what this debut album says about Holy Holy, and, thankfully ignoring the banality of that question, he stated they tried to create ‘beautiful tones and nice instrumentation, strong lyrics and stories’. Well, I think they have done just that.
‘When we play live we like to add a few things and really stretch things out and let people into the music a lot more. I think the response to that has been really good,’ Oscar mentioned as he reflected on the band’s live show.
‘When I go to see bands play and they just play the record I always wonder, “Well, what else have you got to offer?”’
When I sat back to soak in all that Holy Holy have to offer, I could be forgiven that there is something nostalgic about their appeal, as if they are a throwback to classic rock.
‘There is a real risk in being nostalgic, as you can be bound by that,’ Oscar admitted, but he also reminisced that ‘as a guitarist I’ve been playing since I was a teenager and playing along to all these old classic records, probably from my parents' record collection more than my own, because thats what I loved doing. I try to borrow from that world and try to always do something different.’
He also stated how ‘that’s not always possible, though’ since there is the ‘weight of history on any musician's shoulders, really just because there has been so much that has been done and we are still using the same instruments.’
‘You can sometimes find yourself in a situation where you are kind of like, “Shit, what have we got to bring to the table?”’.
However, Oscar reassured me that you can always feel when you have done something that you think is ‘unique to yourself or something that’s fresh, and I think it can be a subtle difference.’
In early 2015, Holy Holy were awarded the International Pathways Grant that funded their European tour. The use of government grants and funding is essential to the growth of many up-and-coming Australian bands trying to break out internationally.
Oscar couldn't agree more, stating the need for more government funding.
‘It’s not as if it’s that much money when you are talking about the national budget,’ he said, and went on to stress the benefits: ‘When bands and other artistic endeavours are successful overseas, it does make a difference.’
Some examples Oscar used were Australian international successes Courtney Barnett and Tame Impala, mentioning that when ‘[Impala & Barnett] are successful outside of this country, which they are, people say, “Cool, what else is coming out of Australia? What’s going on there?” It does make a difference. I don’t think its wasted money.’
If you're wondering, like I was, if the title of Holy Holy’s debut album When The Storms Would Come was an homage to a famous line from The Dark Knight Rises, it is safe to say it is not.
I was assured that it was actually one of their lyrics and that the song was written before the Christopher Nolan movie came out.
Thankfully for Batman, Holy Holy will not be sending a subpoena any time soon.
Real life Bond villain Eddie Goldsmith has a passion for photography, movies, basketball and speaking in third person. Like most other sleep deprived 20-somethings Eddie's managed to find a balance between calm and collected to being one coffee cup away from never sleeping again. Writer, Editor, Generous Lover, Photographer and part time funny man I'm always looking to try my hand at something new.