EMQ’s with HOLDEN
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Richmond, VA based Post/Doom Metal band Holden. Huge thanks to all of them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
MA: We are Holden, out of Richmond Virginia. I’m Michael Arcane, I beat the drums.
PS: Palmer Struman. I do vocals and guitar. Sam Berson (bass) and I have been jamming on and off for the better part of a decade. We’ve always had a hard time holding onto drummers until Mike came along, so when he arrived a couple years ago shit really clicked.
How did you come up with your band name?
PS: I’m a huge Cormac McCarthy fan. His character Judge Holden from the book Blood Meridian is a creepy dude that I’ve always found myself fascinated by. The name felt fitting.
SB: What Palmer said, but he left out the part where Holden was his original idea, we didn’t commit to it and went a slightly different route, and then changed it to Holden by the end just to piss him off a bit.
What country are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
PS: The US. The metal scene is smaller compared to Europe, that’s for sure… but it’s rabid. Here in RVA it’s always been great – some really huge acts are from here – but it’s been quieting down. Smaller venues have closed their doors so a lot of metal seems to have a hard time finding something around here to play.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
MA: Our album “Ursa Minor” comes out May 8th. It is ‘only’ 5 songs but we consider it to be a full length, as it tops 40 minutes of music.
PS: The first single is called ‘Sparks Between Teeth’. Go check it out.
Who have been your greatest influences?
SB: From earliest to most recent, Jamiroquai (specifically because Stuart Zender), Rush, a lot of grunge bands, Tool, Intronaut, Helms Alee, and some smaller, one man does all acts like Cloudkicker, Deathmole, and Gull.
PS: I’d be lying if I didn’t say Tool and the ‘90s grunge movement. More recently it’s been really sludgy doom and shoegaze stuff though.
MA: Me personally, I come from a death metal background, and it’s been fun bringing some of those sensibilities to a band like this. I’m very old school, so Death, Morbid Angel, Malevolent Creation, Obituary, Carcass.
What first got you into music?
SB: I started playing guitar in middle school through high school, bailed on it for a year or two, picked up a bass and taught myself to old funk and jazz records, and then just kept playing. I don’t remember if there was ever a reason to start playing other than I thought it was cool.
MA: My parents were big into music, and as a kid after Saturday morning cartoons we’d spend hours playing 45 records. A lot of Motown and classic rock. I really got into metal in high school, but it was the release of albums like “And Justice For All”, “Seasons in the Abyss”, Sepultura’s “Arise” and GWAR’s “Scumdogs of the Universe” that made me want to learn to play drums.
PS: I’ve always been fond of playing music. I started with piano, then was a band nerd in middle/high school. Guitar is all self-taught for me.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
PS: Billie Eilish or Chelsea Wolfe.
MA: When you’re an unsigned band you can’t answer that question out loud without sounding totally presumptuous. But if I had a dream opportunity I’d want to write a song with Brann Dailor of Mastodon. I think that would be a ton of fun, and an opportunity to learn so much.
SB: Jeremy Enigk or Devin Townsend
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
PS: Hell Fest. I’ve always wanted to go.
MA: Again, presumptuous, but if we are talking dream festival, who wouldn’t choose Wacken? I mean, to be able to play to that crowd, just kill me now.
SB: Also Hell Fest or Wacken Open Air
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
SB: I got nothing here. Bass players don’t get gifts.
PS: Can’t think of anything. Mike might have some good stories there though.
MA: I’ve never gotten anything weird, but I’ll tell you a quick story about the craziest one I’ve seen. In my old band, we played a show in NYC with Emperor. I was backstage talking to Ihsahn when security brought a fan up to him. Dude presented Ihsahn with a brand new custom made guitar. It was a gorgeous hybrid guitar with a built in midi interface and all sorts of other bells and whistles. It was easily worth over $2000. He spends a minute showing him everything, tells him he’s a monster fan and it’s just a gift. Ihsahn thanks him, fan heads off, and Ihsahn turns to me and picks up the conversation like nothing happened. I was floored. I don’t think it’s the first time he’d gotten a crazy gift from a fan!
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
PS: Right now? Stay indoors. Keep your head up. Check on your loved ones. Stop hoarding toilet paper.
SB: Crazy times we’re living in. Stay safe, stay inside, and if you find yourself going a little stir crazy, it’s a good time to try to start creating something.
MA: You’re probably stuck at home reading this, so listen to our shit. I think we just want it to be heard, you pour so much work into it, you just want to know heads are bobbing because of it.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
PS: I’d have to go with a cliché and say Randy Rhodes or Kurt Cobain, but honestly I’d be all about bringing back Neil Peart right now.
MA: Chuck Schuldiner. He’s a legend obviously, but he was the nicest guy. I got the chance to hang out with him, and I can’t say there is a nicer dude in all of metal. Such a loss.
SB: Prince overall, Layne Staley if Prince doesn’t count as a rock star. (Yes he does – Rick)
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
MA: I like creating. I like having a song at the end of the day that is yours. It is tangible and permanent. What I hate is the business. Getting your music out there has never been easier, and never been harder. T’s easy because anybody can upload tracks to Tunecore and boom…their album is on Spotify. It’s harder because your big release is lost in the sea of all the other releases, because everyone is making and releasing music these days. And fans attention spans are so short, if they find you they move on so fast. Building any sort of following these days is harder than people think.
PS: I love the feeling when a song comes together and you’re jamming on it and it just sounds crunchy and killer. I hate the feeling of writers block.
SB: My favourite thing is hearing something I’ve written, finished, cleaned up, and recorded. It might not be for everybody, but I’m real proud of the stuff I’ve put on tracks. My least favourite thing is that part where you’re writing something and it just doesn’t sound or feel right, but you can’t place your finger on it and you end up shelving it for a while.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
PS: Streaming services would pay artists more money.
SB: I’ve gotta agree with the streaming service issue Palmer mentioned. Napster died so these services could live, but they don’t pay shit to the artists.
MA: I’d try and get labels to take more chances and develop new artists. Labels can still do things for you, like get you on the right tour or get you on the right playlist or radio. Being on a label still holds weight with fans, it’s like an endorsement. But labels are so strapped nowadays they only want to sign the “sure thing.” If you don’t have 20K fans built in already with multiple tours under your belt, they’re not interested. It’s become a chicken and egg thing.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
SB: Fair to Midland – “Arrow & Anchors”
MA: Carcass – “Necroticism – Descanting The Insalubrious” is the best metal album ever. Non-metal, The Beatles – “Abbey Road” is unbeatable.
PS: The first one that immediately comes to mind is Tool – “Lateralus”.
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
PS: Vinyl 100%!
SB: When I just wanna listen to something, digital. But when I want to really sit down and engage with it, vinyl all the way.
MA: Downloads, and then vinyl. Downloads because you can get BETTER than CD quality files streamed today. Take our album, you can get it at CD quality from our bandcamp site, or MP3 if you haven’t gotten with 2020 yet, but we also offer the 24 bit 96 KHZ Master. Downloads are super versatile and you won’t get better quality. Vinyl is romantic. If it is mastered correctly, you get a relaxed version with more dynamic range albeit less in your face slam. It’s a great way to enjoy your favourite albums in a different presentation plus the tactile experience of holding something tangible in your hands. It’s a process to play vinyl, it engages you, sort of like how eating certain foods with your fingers draws you into the experience. CD’s are obsolete and on their way out. I know they are still very popular in Europe, but a CD is just a digital download stored on a plastic disc. Cassettes are for people who really want a vintage experience but don’t care too much about sound quality. Tape is a fantastic medium for recording, but consumer cassettes are not very good, not without very high-end tapes and playback devices. I’m a little into audio, LOL.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
PS: I’m a programmer. It’s how I make my money. there’s no money in this whole music thing.
SB: I’m a front-end web developer, which is what I do to make money, because there’s no any money to be made in music these days unless you’re a massive artist.
MA: What I do now. All of us have day jobs. Music doesn’t pay our bills. Our jobs do, and that allows us to make music.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
PS: People I love that I know well: close friends and family. I’m a socially awkward weirdo and I don’t like going out of my comfort zone.
MA: 5 people I don’t already know but are really into food. My wife and I are foodies and we love to cook. Like balls out, big elaborate meals cooking. I just want to break bread with people who ‘get it’ on that wavelength, and make new friends through that.
SB: My wife, my two sisters, and Anthony Bourdain’s corpse. Don’t know the fifth, but I’m also not sure it’s needed at this point.
What’s next for the band?
MA: We have started work on a 2nd album, a direct follow-up to “Ursa Minor”.
PS: “Ursa Major”. Full length.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
MA: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. And our album is offered for sale on Bandcamp.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
PS: ROFL. They’re a fucking cake. As someone from the US, whenever this question comes up it cracks me the hell up. I’m definitely gonna get flak for that answer but they’re sponge — a biscuit isn’t sponge. Sorry guys.
SB: I had to look up what these were, but I’m going with cake, because it’s in the name. I know them as Delicje, and yea, those are cakes. I don’t care how small they are, it’s not a biscuit.
MA: I have to go with cookie (biscuit). I’m actually familiar with the polish version of them, Delicje, because my wife is from Poland. Granted they don’t perfectly fit the definition of a cookie or biscuit, but they definitely aren’t a cake. That’s crazy talk.
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
PS: Yeah thanks for takin the time to email us these questions. Check us out. If we disappoint you let me know so I can take it way too personally. If you dig what you hear tell your friends.
SB: Thanks for listening to us, and if you dig it, cool, tell your friends about us. If not, well, it’s ok, just tell your kids about us.
MA: Buy. The. Album.
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