Holding Absence is a band that creates music that goes against the norms evident in Spotify culture. The creation of an album that reflects a journey for the listener is rare in this day and age. The culmination of emotion with a raw sound encompass music that reflects the yearning of the soul. Throughout this process the listener goes on an emotional rollercoaster that sets Holding Absence apart from other bands in this period. Hailing from Cardiff, Wales and comprised of Lucas Woodland (vocals), James Joseph (bass guitar), Scott Carey (guitar), and Ashley Green (drums)—the band is on an upward trajectory that we believe will only allow them to pursue bigger and better things in the coming decade. Their latest single, ‘Gravity’ only emphasizes the place Holding Absence has solidified for themselves. Currently signed to SharpTone Records, and soon to be releasing ‘Birdcage’; WCBG believes that the band is something special and we hope to share their message with all of you. In the words of Holding Absence “You Are Everything.” It was a pleasure to speak with Lucas and James about the band’s accomplishments so far and their goals for the future.
WCBG: Thank you so much for speaking with us today, it’s an absolute pleasure. Can you please introduce yourselves and tell us a fun fact about you?
Lucas: Hello, I am Lucas and I am the singer of Holding Absence. I have two lifelines on my palm instead of three, which is very rare.
James: Hi I’m James, I play bass and I can whistle and hum at the same time.
WCBG: If you could any item in the kitchen what would it be?
Lucas: A pizza slicer
James: A rubber spatula
WCBG: What are you currently listening to?
Lucas: During this quarantine, I’ve been listening to a lot of music. I’ve been going back to stuff I’ve been neglecting a bit. I’ve been listening to a lot of metalcore and Paramore as well.
James: I subconsciously know that there won’t be any music festivals this summer, so I’ve been listening to a lot of those as background noise. Like the Reading Festival sets.
WCBG: What is your favorite album in your personal collection?
Lucas: Doolittle by the Pixies or In Rainbows by Radiohead. I’ve recently gotten into collecting vinyl and I have these two. They’re pretty much two of my favorite albums of all time, so I’m lucky to have them.
James: My flatmate has Songs for the Death by Queens of the Stone Age in his car and we listen to that one all the time.
WCBG: What musician(s) inspire you to be a better musician?
Lucas: Thom Yorke. All the things I do, my interest in writing lyrics, enjoyment in playing the guitar and piano—he does all of those things to the max. I am inspired by his falsetto voice as well. For example, the way he plays the piano.
James: I don’t like to look up to any person in particular—I’m more of a bands kind of guys. Playing bass there’s not that many [people].
WCBG: How did you pick your respective instruments?
Lucas: Both me and James started on different instruments. When I was eleven, I played the drums in school and that was originally what I wanted to do as a musician. Later I realized I was better at singing. Being a boy in school, there weren’t many who could sing, and bands have male singers. I was fifteen or sixteen years old we all wanted to sing in a band and luckily, I could sing.
James: The first local band I was aware of that I joined needed a bassist and I was a guitarist before. I was like oh I could probably play bass and I’ve stuck by it since then. Although, now I love playing guitar more than ever.
WCBG: I feel like the instrument picks the person. It’s kind of like things happen for a reason.
James: Look at how this band started. I think everything happens for a reason. The story is so intertwined, everybody knew everybody—it’s a faith kind of story.
WCBG: What is your writing process like?
Lucas: It depends, it differs a lot. We never have a clear-cut kind of way. As we mature as musicians we try to aim for a song underneath the production and find the right chorus or lyrics or melodies. First, we started out more with bedroom production. We tend to bounce off each other; it’s nice to have three other people in the band you trust a lot.
James: When you’ve been in a band for ages you know when it is the right time to hand something off to another member. It gets to pass through three other sets of eyes.
WCBG: What is your favorite part of a song you’ve written?
Lucas: That’s really tough…I would have to say ‘Penance.’ It was the first song that I worked on with the band and it has such a cathartic ending. The closing lyric is “I deserve to be happy now.” It is such an epic moment; I like to think of it as a sonic epiphany. This was the first time I felt incredibly proud of something I’ve done.
James: We are definitely guilty of overthinking music; there are times we have spent weeks on a little part of a song. I would have to say the bass line on our song ‘Everything,’ it was the first part where we were jamming in a room together and it’s been like that ever since. It was basically untouched—it’s a moment in time that now belongs to everyone else.
WCBG: I loved your self-titled and I love the journey you go through as a listener. Can you tell me about your latest release, ‘Gravity’?
Lucas: Thank you. We pride ourselves on creating a coherent sounding album. When the opportunity to write ‘Gravity’ came up, we knew it was going to be a single. Sometimes you have to have the humility to write something catchy—something to catch your ears—something cool and a little bit different. I remember when we were writing it, we came up with the drumbeat, and ironically our drummer was the only one not in the room. I don’t know where the idea came from, but we went with this rolling drum thing that shout out at you straight away. The rest of the song stemmed from that. For the chorus, we knew that was what the song was going to be about; it’s an epic kind of track.
James: We always set out to be an album band, we listen to albums in full a lot and a lot of our favorite bands don’t necessarily have a lot of great singles but have amazing albums. Sometimes music from our favorite bands without context is a bit weird. It’s hard to find a way to fit the best part of your band into three minutes. That’s why we went with that drumbeat, we wanted it to be super bombastic.
WCBG: What is your opinion of streaming services like Spotify?
Lucas: That’s hard because I sit here with my Spotify account open. To be honest, it’s hard to deny the fact that streaming services are now part of our everyday life. It would be like someone who is forty denying having a smartphone. It’s just the way the world is now; it’s tough because as a musician you think a lot of that should be changed. My life has been saved by albums not singles.
James: Spotify is amazing and allows people to put music out in the world very easily. It makes it accessible but at the same time the market is over-saturated. It makes music more of a commodity, I wish we lived in a time—the end of it was buying singles from a shop and you would only have that to listen to.
Lucas: My dad always goes on about how when he was younger and I kind of wish it was like this now. He would buy a magazine and it would list your favorite band and next to your favorite band was some other band or an album. You would then go to your local record shop and buy that record. Sometimes if the album had good artwork you would get it and hope that the album was good as well. I think that’s why vinyl is making a comeback; people are sick of the streaming culture. I buy one album for every ten I would have back in the day.
James: It’s also about retraining people’s attention spans. With a physical album you have to try and appreciate it as it is.
WCBG: If you could change one thing about the music industry as it is today, what would it be and why?
Lucas: Music is in the same category as celebrity as sports or film stars or any other profession with as much celebrity as ours. Footballers make millions and as a musician we don’t see that as much in that respect.
James: I want to be a band that can operate and exist within the current industrial machine.
WCBG: Describe your sound in three words.
Lucas: Passionate, emotional rock.
James: I was going to say cathartic but that’s similar to passionate. I do agree with what Lucas said.
Lucas: I read somewhere that if you’re writing a book and you can’t sum it up within a sentence then you need to go back to the drawing board and it’s similar to this.
WCBG: What’s the scene like in Cardiff?
Lucas: It’s a lot of emo and metal-core There’s so much culture in the area and it bleeds through to bands and their music.
James: Lucas and I have been super active in the local small music scene for years. It’s nice when your friends in other bands come see you in other places and so on.
WCBG: What are your goals for 2020?
Lucas: I want to be happy and successful. I want to make as much music as I can, meet as many people as I can and go to as many places as I can.
James: Definitely more travelling. Like to read a little bit more about politics and things. And learn more about things that happened in the past that we didn’t learn about in school that would be good to know.
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