Holding Absence have had a whirlwind start to their life as a band. Picked up by Nuclear Blast Records’ offshoot label Sharptone when they had barely been together six months, 2017 has seen them tour relentless and drip feed some excellent singles from their upcoming new album. We caught up with Holding Absence frontman Lucas Woodland backstage at this Summer’s Download Festival a couple of hours after they had come off stage…
So we’re here with Lucas from Holding Absence, how’s it going sir?
Lucas: Really good man, thank you. The atmosphere around here is just amazing, I mean the atmosphere at Download is always great. We’ve had loads of people coming up to us asking if we’re playing today or tomorrow and it’s like “dude, we’ve already fucking played!”.
It looked like it went really well earlier, the tent was absolutely packed!
Lucas: Thank you very much. It’s been tough to not think that I was over-imagining that. I remember stepping on stage and thinking “oh Jesus Christ”. But thank you for saying that, because we could be like “it was rammed” and other people who were there could have been like “no it wasn’t that busy”.
RS: Did you enjoy it, or is that a stupid question?
Lucas: Oh man, moments like that are with you for the rest of your life.
Compared to virtually every other band on the line up, Holding Absence have been together for such a short space of time and there is so much going on for the band that you must wake up some days thinking “this is nuts”…
Lucas: Well you know as you said, Holding Absence is a fresh band, we started in August or September last year so it’s not even a year old yet. As individuals, I’ve been gigging in bands since I was fifteen and it’s been seven years now, so it’s a weird collaboration of the experience that we’ve gained over the years but also getting a really good headstart. We’re just blessed that the first Summer we’ve spent as a band we’ve been able to spend playing festivals like Download.
You’ve already played shows and tours with so many notable bands, is there any one show or tour you think has benefitted the band most?
Lucas: It’s tough you know, we’re a very particular band, very sincere. If there’s a small venue full of people that I can look in the eye and exert my emotions on them, that’s really easy because I’m literally there. If I want to try and make you feel this particular emotion, it’s easier because you’re right there. Bigger stages can make you lose things in translation quite quickly so it’s been tough finding the happy medium. We played We Are The Ocean’s farewell London show at The Dome and that was wonderful, that venue is unreal. The size of the stage in that place, even just as musicians who like playing music, to have a big stage and a nice PA, everything about that show was crazy and we had to adapt to it as it happened, the same as today. Those two shows have kinda proved to me that we’re not stuck playing club shows for the rest of our lives. We can play festivals, we can play big stages. I think that (WATO) show was the most inspiring and the most defining show of our lives so far, it was unreal.
RS: That’s a very interesting choice because as a band you’re just getting started and of course they were winding down.
Lucas: We thought there was a bit of odd symmetry going on there, and it’s also why we took the gig with a pinch of salt because we thought the crowd were there to mourn in some cases rather than get excited by a fresh band. We’ve played with bands like Loathe, Carcer City, Blood Youth, all these great fresh bands that are all up and coming and it’s been great because the people who are there all care about up and coming live music. So we had to say to ourselves, we’d done three shows with We Are The Ocean, we’d got in the groove of it by then, we said to ourselves, people are not here to get into new music, they are here to enjoy old music for the last time.
Once you’re done here there’s a whole festival full of things happening; A headline tour, Amplified Festival, Fat Lip Festival, a lot of yo-yo’ing between smaller shows and festivals.
Lucas: That’s been one of the interesting things about being in this band so far, we will play all kinds of things. Last week played a venue in Newport called Lepub, and then the next day we were playing Camden Rocks Festival in London, and then this week two days ago we were playing Swansea and today we’re here at Download. It zig-zags massively so it’s been up to us to just trust in the music and not worry about any of the peripherals because you can’t trust in too much other than at the end of the day you’re going to get up on the bloody stage and play your songs *laughs*.
It’s quite unusual these bands for a band at such an early point in their career like Holding Absence to get picked up by a record label as you have done with Sharptone / Nuclear Blast, what did that feel like?
Lucas: Unreal dude, it’s a fairytale, it is the dream growing up. It’s one of those things as the industry reshapes and molds it’s not the be all and end all like it used to be, but Jesus Christ it has been fucking great.
RS: Even if the money isn’t there in the same ways as before, at least it puts the team around you.
Lucas: Yeah, like today has been fucking great, like I don’t want to come across as too privileged but Nuclear Blast have absolutely nailed it for press and PR today. We’ve been so well looked after, and we’ve always been aware of what’s been going on, they are so on the ball. So little beneficial factors of labels are awesome. If I had said to myself a year ago that this would happen I never would have believed it.
RS: And of course it potentially opens doors for you that wouldn’t otherwise be open.
Lucas: Yeah dude. Like I said, I’ve been making music for a very long time now and my past band, we did four EP’s, it wasn’t a case of we didn’t want to write an album, more “who will care if we write an album”. With Sharptone, Nuclear Blast, Raw Power, UTA, all the people around us, they’re going to make sure that an album is what people are ready for from us and make sure the album run is everything it needs to be.
RS: It’s also having the people who will then say if you need to turn around some more music faster than another album then pushing you towards an EP as the next thing potentially.
Lucas: Totally. Or singles or whatever. It’s great because with the relationships we have with all of those groups of people we understand there has to be compromises, but they are so accommodating to us so far.
As we’ve discussed you’ve got a fairly heavy couple of months shows wise, is the plan for the release of new music mapped out to the end of the year?
Lucas: Pretty much, I’m not sure how quickly you’ll get this uploaded (Ed’s note: not quickly enough to blow the surprise) but we’ve got a new single coming out in a few days so that’s quite soon. You know we only officially have two songs out, so it’s been hard playing to such passionate fans, and I use the word fans because this band and the fans are a family and we want everyone to experience the same things together, it’s been hard looking at people singing along with such vigor with such little material released. We’ve only got two songs you know, sorry! *laughs* Finding the right time to release is tough. This single should’ve been out a month ago but it was just too close to Slam Dunk and too close to Download, or rather the hype of Download was worth waiting a little bit longer. Little things do have to come into play quite often but we have people around us to help steer these things.
One final question, which we ask a lot of people we’ve interviewed down the years, are you a Simpsons fan?
Lucas: Hell yeah man, maybe not as diehard as some, but definitely.
RS: Who is your favourite Simpsons character?
Lucas: Aww man that’s so tough. I really like Ralph, I feel like he’s really really understated. You can’t help but feel sorry for Ralph. I used to play Simpsons Hit & Run religiously because my parents were too good to let me have GTA *laughs* at the age of 14 or whatever it was. Ralph is the dude.
Holding Absence play a free show in London this Friday (18th August) with Bad Sign at Old Blue Last to celebrate the release of Bad Sign’s new album Live & Learn. Holding Absence also hit the road as support to Young Guns in September, tickets for that tour can be picked up from Seetickets now. Their debut album will be released later this year. Lastly, you can check out our review of Holding Absence’s performance at Download 2017 as part of our coverage from the Friday of the festival.