Interview Questions Answered by Nick Dees – Guitar/Back-Up Vocals
Let's talk a little about the history of your band. When did you originally form and is this the original line- up?
Hold On Hollywood formed in the NW side of Houston, TX at the very end of 2014. We solidified our line-up, which is myself on guitar and back-up vocals, Ian Dartez singing and playing guitar as well, Corey Morgan on bass and Devin Holden on drums. In the first year and a half, the band went through some slight bumps and line-up changes, but we ultimately got back to this line-up and have been going strong ever since.
Do you remember how the idea of forming the band first came up?
Devin and I had spent our teens playing in a band called Series Six which my brother sang in. When he decided he didn’t want to sing anymore, we agreed to just end the band rather than to replace the vocalist after 5 years. We spent about a year after that not doing anything before we realized we were just missing music terribly. We had all these plans and ideas for Series Six that we had wanted to roll out that never saw the light of day.
One night after hanging out late at my house, I said something that weighed on Devin’s mind heavily right before he left. A few minutes after he was gone, he called me and basically was like, what do you want to do with your life? Is this what you want to do, right now? We have something we are good at, and we’re not even doing it, etc. It kind of sparked this fire, so messages were sent around, and after a while of back and forth, we decided to give it a go and try to start a new project. We met Ian and Corey over a while of doing open mics at BFE Rock Club and other venues in the area, and when we realized we were all kind of looking for the same thing, we got together and started jamming on BFE’s off nights trying to write music. We knew we wanted something huge, over the top and larger than life. Songs that made you dance and sing, feel something. It all happened so fast after that, and just felt right. The chemistry happened naturally and we quickly all became good friends. Over the next 4 months from December 2014 to April 2015 we wrote and announced the band, then played our debut show with Drowning Pool at BFE. The rest is history.
How would you categorize the style of the band?
A modern day take on arena rock is something I think we are all trying to capture with this band. We want those larger than life and unforgettable live performances, songs you can sing along to quickly and easily, and music you can relate to. What rock and roll is all about, good times with good friends.
What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?
We want the music to speak for itself, and let you take whatever image you want from it. The beautiful thing about music is one song can mean something different for every single person who hears it. Whatever image that makes for you is yours to decide.
Who are your influences and how have they shaped your bands’ sound?
The band has a wide range of influences because we all have such varying different musical interests and some similar ones. Ian for example loves the 90’s era more than anything. Bands like Fuel and such, and you can hear it in his voice. Corey loves a lot of heavier modern day bands. Devin listens to stuff all over the place, lots of electronic stuff and pop influences, and I love early 2000’s emo styled bands more than anything. But we all listen to more than just our specific tastes, you can find a good balance of us in the 80’s bands like Motley and GnR, Bon Jovi, etc.
Let's talk a little about your latest album what are the listeners in store for with this release?
We currently only have one EP out called “Save Me” which captures the band when it first came to be. These are some of the first songs we ever wrote together and so it’s raw and full of all the excitement, wonder and hope that fueled us to start this band and write those songs I feel like. We are soon to be releasing more material though, and I think it is a huge step for the band and you can see some definite growth. These new songs are much more mature and comfortable for us, we are finding ourselves more in this new material and recognizing our strengths and what we want to do with them.
Where did record your latest release at?
“Save Me” was recorded with Stephen Bogle, Grammy Nominated Producer and former guitarist of The Hunger, in his home studio here in Houston, TX. We have known Stephen for years and the level of work he puts out for the cost is unparalleled in the Houston area. He worked with Devin and I back in our Series Six days so it only felt right to continue with him here on the debut for HOH.
Producers are a very important factor in recording a good record. Who did you use to produce your record?
Well, when we did “Save Me,” we didn’t really have a set producer so to speak. We are an unsigned band doing everything ourselves with a small trusted team we have been thankful to build over the years. Stephen Bogle engineered and mixed the EP. The role of producer was more so fulfilled by our manager JD who helped arrange it all and wouldn’t let the songs be left alone until they were perfect, even when we all thought they were. He spent countless hours going over them, so many different mixes, until they got as good as we thought we could get them. We were very green to recording back then, it was our first legitimate release as a band so we learned a lot in the process. A good producer is definitely one of the most important parts of making a record, so I’m glad someone we could really trust like JD was able to fulfill that role then.
Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Early on Ian and I lived together in a 10x10 room. We wrote a lot on acoustic guitars there and would bring songs to the band most of the time and just flesh them out there. Some were group efforts at jam sessions when an idea kind of popped up, like our title track Save Me. Since then though, Devin has become very interested in producing and learning to record. He’s built a small set-up that we have been using to demo things out, and it’s become a lot more of a band effort with everything else we’ve written since then. We can record things as we are writing them, and everyone pitches in their ideas, then we get up and jam it out and see where it goes. Ian and I have always handled most of the lyrics though, it’s just something we like to do.
How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
In the last year, we have had a lot of success as a band. We’ve done things we could only have ever dreamed of, and I think that it has brought us together more than ever. We are better friends than we have ever been, and that relationship is VERY important in a band. If members aren’t getting along, it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes. This new level of friendship we have reached with all of us has helped our musical side too. We’ve learned over the years our strengths and weaknesses, how to be honest with each other more to help ourselves improve. Learning each other and what Hold On Hollywood’s “sound” really is has helped us mature our writing so much. These new songs we have been working on really feel like the “next step” so to speak for HOH.
Where do you draw the inspiration for the songs you write?
Usually the lyrics come from very personal places. I write about love and things in my life that have affected me emotionally on a large scale more often than not, and the same applies for Ian usually. Its stuff everyone has been through and everyone can relate to. I am excited to see the different subjects we can write about in the future as our abilities grow.
How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
To me, lyrics are one of the MOST important parts of a song. I like to think we have strong lyrics with good meaning, and the songs are wasted if you don’t actually take the time to get to know them on that more personal level. They will have so much more impact if you learn the words and get the feeling behind what we were trying to capture in their delivery.
What are your current tour plans, if any?
We have been branching out regionally and working our way out of state lately. Houston has grown exponentially for us and allowed us to reach new heights, so we are hoping to very soon be planning more real tours and getting around the country to new fans every night!
Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
We try to put on larger than life shows as I mentioned earlier. We know we are in the music business, but the music business is just a branch of the greater entertainment business. People are coming to see a SHOW, so they need to get that. If they wanted to just hear the songs played perfectly like the record, they could just listen to your CD at home. We’re all about lights, movement on stage, and crowd interaction. Unforgettable moments that you can’t find anywhere else than at our live performances.
Do you see as we do that most local radio rarely support the up and coming new bands and even more local bands just starting out?
Definitely, but you have to understand why. Radio is a business first and foremost, and all businesses have to be able to stay afloat. That requires lots of money and there unfortunately isn’t much or any money in local and unknown acts. They are taking a huge risk by playing bands like that. Most of the time these DJ’s and Program Directors aren’t in love with what they are playing, but they have to do what their bosses tell them to. The way any job is, and that’s okay, we can all understand that. We have been fortunate enough to grow a strong relationship with our local alternative station 94.5 the Buzz, which is one of the biggest in the country, but it took many years and lucky opportunities being capitalized on to get to that point.
What do you think of the music industry right now?
I think the music industry is in one of the most unique places it has ever been. Now is the time of the independent artist more than ever. With the rise of social media and the connection with all sorts of people and places through the internet, you can do so much more than ever before. And with the advances in modern technology, it’s easier than ever to buy quality and affordable equipment to make your own music at home, record it, and release it, all the while reaching new and bigger audiences around the world. There isn’t as much money in it as there used to be, but if that’s what you’re doing it for, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. You have to do music simply because you love it. You do have the benefit of having so much more control as an independent artist and putting out something that is more YOU.
Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?
It’s definitely hard to start. You have to realize that you’re going to suck, and suck for a long time. There is SO much about this business you have to learn to be successful, and most lessons have to be learned the hard way. There is no tell-all guide or some secret code to win in the music industry. You simply have to get out there and hustle harder than everyone else while putting out a quality product. Play to no one, and keep doing it until finally you got a decent crowd in front of you, then try to do the same all over the world.
Tell us about your thoughts on your local music scene?
Houston is a big city, a melting pot of so many cultures and people. Depending on where you go, you will find it all, from the heaviest of metal to the slowest smoothest R&B type jams. That’s one of the best things about this city, the variety.
You just have to know where to look.
Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
Lower Than Atlantis is a band out of the UK that has been around for a while and is huge over there. In the States though they aren’t nearly as well known. Unfortunately they are about to go on a hiatus, but they have a fairly large discography that is unique enough from album to album for anyone to find something they like. The whole band is fans of them and definitely suggest you check them out. I’m not sure what everyone else likes as far as more unknown bands, but I have been digging some bands like Microwave, Elder Brother, A Will Away and others in that vein.
How has Social Media impacted your band?
It’s changed the game for us. We are fairly big on social media and the power/reach it has. We believe any band or entertainer not utilizing it is doing themselves a disservice. It’s also allowed us to get so much closer with many of our fans. We make it a point to meet and talk to everyone we can at shows, but some fans are far away from where we play. Social media makes the distance non-existent in a way, and that’s awesome.
Where can our readers find you on the web?
Holdonhollywood.com has everything you could ever need on us! If you’re on a social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc, just type in the name and we’ll come right back! Our music is also just about everywhere we can put it, so go stream us if you want, or purchase a song or EP!
Thanks for answering these questions. Do you have any last comments for our readers?
Never stop dreaming. That’s how this started for all of us, and it’s come so far with so much potential to go even further. Thanks for taking the time to learn more about our band and what we do! It’s people like you who make it all possible for us! We hope we can play a show near you soon and get to meet you! Until next time, keep rocking!
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