MUSIC INTERVIEW: Holding Absence
In a matter of days Holding Absence release their eagerly anticipated self-titled debut album – one that has been two years in the making. Despite challenges along the way, the quintet are stronger than ever and ready to take on the world in the most sincere and heartfelt way possible. We caught up with vocalist Lucas Woodland to hear all about the new record, their positive relationship with social media and more.
So you’re gearing up to release your debut album which is a massive milestone for the band. What’s the feeling at the moment, nervous? Excited?
Yeah literally both of those emotions I think. You know, we’ve been waiting so long for this and as a band we’re just super excited for it to happen, but as self-critiquing musicians we’re obviously very nervous and sat here anticipating people’s thoughts. So it’s a mixed bag as always but yeah, mainly excitement I think!
We’re glad to hear it! The album has been about two years in the making and within that time you dealt with a sudden member change. How did that affect the process for you?
I mean honestly it could have really, really been a detriment to us, and there were periods of time where we were very worried about the future of the band I think. But it all played out into our hands in the end, and I think the current line-up we have is the most focused we’ve ever been. Not many people know, but that line-up change happened not just mid-album, but mid-recording. We spent a week tracking the first half of the album and then did the Loathe tour and then obviously the split happened, and then we were left having to write and record another half of the album. So it was a big change during a very important part of our band’s timeline, but I feel like we definitely pulled it off and if anything it benefited us.
You went into the studio with George Lever again who you worked on the split EP with Loathe, how did your relationship develop with George over that time?
It was definitely a very different experience. Like I say we tracked the album in two halves, so the recording process was dragged out massively compared to the This Is As One EP split. When we recorded This Is As One we hardly knew the guy, we spent three, maybe four days in his kind of garage in his father’s garden. When we went on to do the album we went to a big studio further out and we pretty much lived with him for a week, so it was a very different experience. We’re really grateful for the time we spent with George, I think he really helped shape this album in more ways than one. It wasn’t just the sonic qualities that he brought, he really, really helped us to think about our music.
The album documents a relationship from start to finish. Now that’s something that we think most people would see as a very private matter. How did it feel to you to be so open and honest in your lyrics?
So first and foremost, the album isn’t literal as such. It’s not about an actual relationship, so for me it was very much a case of writing this story line and narrative in my head, and then channeling emotions that I had felt throughout my life into the narrative I guess. I feel like I’m very grateful that I am at peace and at one with my emotions and the emotions I’ve experienced over the years, because writing song lyrics you are very bare to the world. Exposing is probably the word, it’s a very exposing situation to have to pen your feelings and thoughts. So there were lyrics and chunks of the album that were very hard to write, but I think part of this band is very much that we are super sincere with the message and the way I write lyrics. So yeah, it was just a case of channeling the feelings I’d felt before into this narrative and trying to make it as believable and real as possible.
Do you think it’s easier these days being a confessional artist in a time where fans have a much more direct relationship with bands on social media?
Yes! I think the world is changing and by no means is it done. I think there’s still a lot left to be done, especially when you think about the male suicide rates, there’s a lot left to change in our world in regards to being open about your emotions and at one with the way you feel. But I definitely feel like a strong part of our connection with our fan base is how hands-on we are and how honest we are about our lyrics, and I think that’s something that will only get better with time.
Yes we absolutely agree. So we’ve listened to the record a few times now and we absolutely love it. One of the things we love is your use of dark and light.
I’m glad you picked up on that!
Thanks! So y’know, you’ll take quite dark and emotional lyrics and juxtapose that with uplifting music, and that’s a theme that also carries on throughout your photos and artwork. Is that something that developed naturally, or is that a concept that you had in mind from the beginning?
Honestly that’s a really good observation, because it’s something that we try not to put into people’s mouths as much, but I think a very big part of our band is the duality and the universe of emotion we try and explore. There’s no emotion that I don’t want to touch upon really, and in doing so there’s a big gap between our subject matter. We’re very open as a band about the love and beauty on earth and in life, but also the hardships and sadness that often overwhelm people. I think for us it’s all about context, it’s all about…not relishing in the dark times, but really, really facing your demons in your darker hours to really appreciate the light that comes to you in the end. Like you say it’s a very subtle thing, but between the black and white photos, the moth being in two halves as well, I think A and Z are very big parts of our band and we really do try and just show everybody the universe of emotions that we can.
Can you tell us a story or fact about the album that we may not already know?
I’m trying to think…a cool thing, there’s a track called Purge which is a very subtle piano track. The piano part is actually recorded by Sleep Token. So that’s a very unique thing!
That’s really cool, good fact! So as we mentioned, the album has been two years in the making and the music industry is extremely fast-paced. Did you notice over the course of the two years that you were challenged with any changes within the industry?
Yeah for sure, I think as you say it’s a fast-paced industry and now more than ever due to the internet it’s evolving so quickly. One thing that has definitely crept up in the past two years is the importance of Spotify playlists. We’re very aware that certain artists, look at Drake for example, he released a massive double album purely so he’d have more music to get playlisted. So we’re very cautious of the fact that the industry is changing around us, but honestly I think we had our heads down so much that we just didn’t let it affect us really. I think our genre of music, when you look at bands like Thrice, Underoath, Alexisonfire, albums are very, very important and I think as people and as music consumers ourselves the things we love in music aren’t the singles as such, or the three-minute listens. They are the ‘track ten of twelve’, the ’48th minute’ of the album. It’s more about the patience that you need to have with music really, so for this album especially – and maybe the industry will change so rapidly that releasing an album isn’t a thing in ten years time y’know – but for us it was essential to completely disregard the modern world and write music as if it was 2003 again.
We like your way of thinking! So to celebrate the release you have the UK tour dates, are there any tracks that you haven’t released off the album that you’re most excited to play live?
I think this tour will actually be quite a weird one for us, because we are very aware that people love the old aspects of our band but we’re also very excited to show off the new ones. So for now we’re not really going to wash people with album tracks as much, so there’ll be a few songs that will be missing out on the setlist purely for the sake of Penance, Dream Of Me and Permanent making the setlist. But literally every track I’m excited to play live. Last Of The Evening Light, Your Love, Wilt. There are some really, really special moments on this album that I think will really translate live.
Well we’re looking forward to hearing them in a live atmosphere. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat to us, do you have a final message for our readers?
Honestly just to anybody who has checked out our band, we’re incredibly grateful to everybody who has supported us over the last couple of years. You know, even if we split up the day after our album release, this whole journey has been life-changing not only for the five of us, but for everybody who has ever been involved with this band. So yeah, thank you!
Thank you so much, good luck with the album release and we’ll see you at a show.
Interview by: Hannah Gillicker
Holding Absence‘s self-titled debut album is due for release on Friday 8th March via Sharptone Records, available to purchase HERE.
See Holding Absence live on tour at one of the following dates:
Thu 21st – SOUTHAMPTON – Joiners
Fri 22nd – BIRMINGHAM – Flapper
Sat 23rd – LEEDS – Key Club
Sun 24th – HULL – O’Riley’s
Mon 25th – GLASGOW – Garage
Wed 27th – MANCHESTER – Rebellion
Thu 28th – CARDIFF – Globe
Fri 29th – LONDON – Underworld