Interview: Holding Absence

For some musicians, it can take years dropping in and out of bands to find the right chemistry with other musicians. On paper, Cardiff newcomers Holding Absence have seemingly appeared out of nowhere in a short space of time. However, as bassist James Evans explains, their formation comes after spending years in other bands. “Myself and Giorgio (Cantarutti – guitarist) originally wanted to form a sort of melodic-hardcore project after leaving our previous band Oceans Apart. We enlisted Feisal (El-Khazragi) as our second guitarist. In the meantime, I was working on a pop-punk band with my friend Zac (Vernon), who ended up becoming the first proper vocalist, which changed the general musical vibe of Holding Absence.”

The (very) early days of Holding Absence saw members come and go; Vernon left last summer and is now part of a new band called Parting Gift. Nevertheless, the arrival of vocalist Lucas Woodland last August solidified the band’s line-up and they haven’t stopped moving forward since.

“The past few months have been an absolute whirlwind, however, we’ve been working so hard to ensure that Holding Absence is constantly active, that none of the success that we’ve had recently feels underserved or surprising,” states James. “I am however hugely grateful to be in a band with four guys who want it as badly as I do. We’ve all been in multiple bands and Holding Absence is more than just six months when you consider the five to seven years of being in other bands before we formed this one.”

James accurately describes the band’s sound as “a sort of hybrid of melodic hardcore with post-hardcore elements, combined with post-rock atmospheric.” It’s a spot-on summary of what Holding Absence offer on their first two singles; ‘Permanent’ and ‘Dream of Me’. The latter is a collision of atmospheric elements and sturdy melodic hardcore that sees Woodland’s vocals soar. While ‘Dream of Me’ carries itself with urgency with elevated instrumentation. “They’re sort of polar opposites in the sense that ‘Permanent’ is a lot more hard-hitting whereas ‘Dream Of Me’ is more of a singalong,” says James.

At the core of both tracks is a heavy emotional weight. It’s something that James sees as a major element to band’s music. He says “I think the only reason people would still label us in with ‘melodic-hardcore’ is that our music is emotionally charged and the lyrical content is pretty deep. Personally, I’m a real fan of meaningful lyrics and I often get Lucas to send me his ideas. He’s a really talented lyricist and it’s good to know that the same amount of effort goes into our lyrics that goes into everything else we do. I think there are a tonne of bands who just have ‘place-holder’ lyrics that get thrown over potentially great songs.”

While the band’s experiences so far have been a thrill, they are preparing themselves to make an impact for the remainder of 2017. They joined SharpTone Records (We Came As Roman, Emmure, Miss May I) last month after talking to Sal Torres (A&R/Product Manager at SharpTone) since last Summer. James picks up the story, “we had a few other labels reach out to us, but we were sold on how friendly and accommodating Sal and Shawn (Keith – label co-founder) at Sharptone were to us. We spoke about some of our creative ideas, and they were nothing but supportive towards them. We have a great level of communication with everyone at the label and we’re really looking forward to the future with them.”

The future does look bright for the Welsh quintet as they aim to be the “busiest band in the UK of 2017”. With tours supporting We Are The Ocean and Blood Youth pencilled in for the coming weeks alongside several headline shows and a couple of festival spots confirmed, it looks like they’re making good on fulfilling that promise. One upcoming date that does stand out is their spot at the Download Festival in June. “It’s definitely a tick on each of our bucket-lists,” proclaims James. “To see our name on the poster along with tonnes of bands we are inspired by is pretty crazy. However, we’re not nervous, in fact, we’re looking forward to showing some of the bigger boys how we do it with some feeling!”

While they are full of confidence going forward, James and company are eager not to forget their roots. During our talk, he points out fellow Welsh bands, Junior, Casey, Venom Prison and Astroid Boys, all of which will be joining Holding Absence at Donington. “All of these bands are killing it in their respective scenes and putting Welsh music on the map!” James is proud of the musical history and possibilities his hometown of Cardiff has.

“It is crazy to consider how many great bands have come from Cardiff and Wales in general. I think we have a really strong music scene in Wales with some really good venues (Clwb Ifor Bach, Hobos Bridgend, Fuel Rock Club, The Moon Club, The Globe). We also regularly have a lot of great bands playing Wales which helps inspire younger generations, especially when they’re able to support big touring bands.”

James also speaks affectionately about local promoter Dean Whittaker (Imperial Music / Throwfest). “He’s one of the hardest working independent promoters in the UK, without him, all the larger global touring bands wouldn’t bother coming to Wales. He’s been a supporter of Holding Absence since day one and is constantly convincing agents to bring the bigger bands to Wales.”

While their immediate future seems to be living on the road, there is a debut album in the works, yet the band realise the magnitude of what producing a first full-length brings. “We never stop writing music, but we don’t want to force 10 songs out in the space of a few months, call it an album and hope for the best, assures James. We’re genuinely happy with the music that we’ve ended up creating, I don’t think it’s what any of us originally set out to do, but every track is meaningful and we never plan to write something that isn’t.”

In the meantime, playing shows is what Holding Absence will be doing. When asked what the band’s shows are like, James described them as “extremely emotional, visceral and energetic. He expands by saying "we like to try to find a balance that somewhat resembles the chaos that bands like The Chariot and Dillinger bring to the table along with the sheer beauty that bands like Caspian and Hammock are able to curate.”

‘Permanent’/‘Dream Of Me’ is available limited edition picture disc here.

Holding Absence links: WebsiteFacebook|Twitter|InstagramTumblr

Holding Absence are set to play the following dates:

16th Westcoast Bar, Margate w/ Create To Inspire
17th Waterfront Studio, Norwich*
18th Met Lounge, Peterborough*
19th The Cellar, Oxford*
20th O Riley’s, Hull*
21st Think Tank Underground, Newcastle*
22nd Cathouse, Glasgow w/ We Are The Ocean
23rd SoundControl, Manchester w/ We Are The Ocean
24th The Dome, London w/ We Are The Ocean
5th The Flapper, Birmingham*
6th Esquires, Bedford*
7th Red Room, Nottingham*
9th The Key Club, Leeds w/ Blood Youth & Loathe
10th Boston Music Rooms, London w/ Blood Youth & Loathe
12th Portland Arms, Cambridge*
13th Clwb For Bach, Cardiff*
14th The Cookie, Leicester*
15th Live Rooms, Chester*
3rd Bloc Bar @ Camden Rocks, London
9th Download Festival, Donnington
22nd Amplified Festival, Gloucestershire
*Holding Absence Headline

Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)


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