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Feature Interview: Oscar + Tim, Holy Holy

Holy Holy has clocked up some serious K’s. The band that was born in Thailand and grew to what it is in Stockholm is back on our shores. The duo of Tim Carroll and Oscar Dawson have brought a new wave of pop music with them. The friends of over 10 years are about to release their first EP “When The Storms Would Come” and embark on a headline tour. We got the chance to have a chat with the lads.

So how did Holy Holy start, you guys met when you were volunteering as teachers right?

Oscar: Pretty much, the word teaching is kind of a loose word in that context. We were fresh out of school and went over to Thailand, it was an experience to see the world and teach some kids English.

Tim: We met over there; and it was such an experience one of the teachers over there had a motorbike and let us ride through the rice paddies. Drinking rum…

Oscar: Haha yeah, we also lived in a monastery for a while there and there were these two sects of monks who were breaking away from each other. We were caught in the middle and ended up stranded in this monastery with the rouge monks.

What happened in Europe - is that when you formed properly?

Tim: So we met in Thailand. Got on really well, but music wasn’t that much of a focus for me then. I played guitar and loved singing but I wasn’t performing or recording or anything.

Tim: I started working at the Troubadour and began playing there a bit and made a solo record and we were almost living parallel lives; Oscar in Melbourne and touring with The Dukes Of Windsor (his former band) and me in Brisbane. Then in 2011 I was living in Stockholm and Oscar was in Berlin. I was working on a project where I made a new song every month and Oscar came and helped me with one track and I loved how it sounded. We started writing a few songs and that was sort of the basis of how we started writing songs together then forming a band.

How does it work when one half of the band is in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne?

Tim: We wrote a bunch of songs in Europe that was the main body of work and the basis of the band. But about half the record we have written since we started recording. Those have come about in different ways, by sending sketches of songs to each other or being on the road together.

Tim: I don’t think the writing is the major hurdle, I think the regular rehearsal is the hardest part. We often book a rehearsal studio a few days before and drink beer, catch up and practice.

Do you think this album is any different from the previous EP?

Oscar: I wouldn’t say it’s different but more of an extension.

Tim: The band is kind of interesting because we can do different things, like we can have moments that are really driving and up tempo then really sweet sounds. The album is probably showing more colours of what the band can be.

One of my favourite tracks off the album is “Holy Gin” how did you get that wicked underwater effect on the vocals?

Tim: We ran the vocals through an analog synth.

Oscar: Our producer Matt Redlich unscrewed the synth and patched the vocals through the chorus model on the synthesizer.

Was this album run through a traditional sound desk?

Tim: A lot of it was on two-inch tape and we used very old microphones. But some of it was run straight through pro tools

Did you plan to record it “traditionally” rather than through pro tools?

Tim: We have an approach that we are tied dogmatically to any particular method, we let Matt dictate what method should be used. It really depends on what the song is like in it’s structure and what vibe we’re going for.

When I listened through the album I heard a lot of 80’s sounds and bits of Springsteen, was this something you went for intentionally?

Oscar: We Bruce Springsteen, we used to do a cover of “I’m On Fire”.

Oscar: There were a lot of different influences spanning from Blondie to Fleetwood Mac to Neil Young.

Are you nervous/excited/freaking out about your national tour?

Oscar: I’m not that nervous about this tour, sometimes they can be quite intimidating but not this one. Also those sorts of things level out about after a while, I know the pitfalls of playing live but I feel I have systems in place to help out.

There is a really good Springsteen quote he said, “When you go on stage, you have to think like you’re the biggest rock star in the world. At the same time, you have to remember you’re not saving lives out there, its just music.” Having that in your head is really important and we try and live that.

Is there any particular venue you’re excited about visiting?

Tim: Any venue full of people that is kind enough to spend their money to come see us.

To wrap up can you tell us your favourite place to grab a beer in Brissy and some local bands your loving?

Tim: The End Bar at West End, some friends of mine run it and it’s the kind of place I can usually go and meet friends. Then bands lots of different bands but there is one band in particular they are called Big Bad Echo and I just thought they were great. Now on this tour they are supporting us on this tour.

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