A disclaimer to the overworked: listening to the tropical tunes of The Holidays is likely to induce a fatal bout of ‘Cabin Fever’, quickly followed by an immediate request for annual leave and the purchase of a one-way ticket to the Caribbean. Alternatively, you could whip on a pair of headphones, crank their tune ‘Golden Sky’, drown out the dulcet tones of the office and imagine you were there.
Either way, the latest offering from The Holidays literally channels the nostalgia of kicking back with a mojito and your finest Acapulco shirt when the shackles of your desk have been loosened.
Music Feeds caught up with vocalist Simon Jones, prior to their Golden Sky east coast tour to talk about an upcoming album, intricate live shows and the future of the genre they’ve nicknamed ‘Bongo-Core’.
Music Feeds: So what have The Holidays been up to?
Simon Jones: We just finished a six week tour around the country with Bluejuice. And we’re finishing mixing our album at the moment.
MF: I saw the photos on your website of the Bluejuice tour, it looked really fun.
SJ: Yeah, it was pretty interesting. It wasn’t our crowd specifically so we had to work pretty hard to make a splash. But I think that was kind of good for us in a way because there were all these songs that we hadn’t played before really, because we had just written them for the album, so we really had to bring our ‘A-Game’ to make a dent every night.
MF: You’ve got a couple of new singles – they’re a big shift in my opinion from your first two EPs. Would you agree?
SJ: Yeah, we purposefully made a shift because there was a bit of a separation between our EPs and our album. We got to this point where we were in a rut and just feeling stuck in this ‘guitar world’ sound that we weren’t really enjoying. So we said, “lets take a bit of time off and think about what we really want to sound like”, and we all went our various ways and listened to different things and started to form a hazy idea. As time went on it got to what we are at now.
MF: Speaking of the upcoming LP – what can we expect?
SJ: We got into a real groove where we were focusing on rhythm, but not so much rhythm in the way of the two singles – bongo rhythm – but a ‘groove’ kind of rhythm. So we’ve got a lot of tracks that are mid-tempo grooving tracks, where we’ve used a lot of sampled beats and more electronic stuff which we’ve never done before, and we didn’t want to go too far in that direction. There’s still a lot of guitars and stuff like that, but a lot of it is really… I don’t know how you would describe it, kind of like a new R’n’B sound I suppose.
MF: ‘Moonlight Hours’ has been remixed by Jonathan Boulet and The Swiss thus far. Do you create your music assuming that it will be remixed?
SJ: No. I find it really strange. It’s weird because you write this song and you put so much thought into the music and then you give it to someone and they put your vocals to different music. And it’s pretty strange, but it’s actually really interesting if you’ve written the song to get it sent back to you with different music behind your vocals. I remember when I first got that Jonathan Boulet remix back, I actually loved it because I’d never really thought of the song in that way before. It has this really cool trip-hop feel to it that I thought was really good. But, in general the whole idea of remixes, I still find a bit strange – the way that a remix can be more popular than the actual song.
MF: The artists who have remixed the track thus far aren’t as embedded in the dance culture though…
SJ: That’s what I like. I really like the weirder remixes that aren’t just straight club kind of tracks.
MF: Back to the album – you guys are finished?
SJ: Yeah, we’re mixing the last track at the moment, so we should be done in the next week or two. At this stage it’s officially due the first week of August.
MF: Where did you record the album?
SJ: We recorded it all over the place. We did a few sessions in the studio with a producer in Sydney, and then decided that we liked our home demos we’d been making while we were writing the new tracks. We thought, ‘if we spend a bit of money on equipment, we could do this stuff ourselves’. So, the label gave us some money for equipment, and we kind of set up our own mobile studio which we proceeded to take around various locations and recorded all over the place.
MF: What’s the creative process like for The Holidays?
SJ: The way we’ve always done it is I’ll write the basis of the song, then we’ll get together and put it all together as a band jamming. But for this album, I’ve found I’ve had the studio set up in my bedroom, and have found these sounds and it’s gone from that. Some of them have come purely from mucking around, jamming – it’s been a real mix, quite a drawn out process of about a year or so that we’ve been doing it, so each song has various incarnations, and they’ve been really fucked with to the nth degree.
MF: How would you describe the Holidays when playing live?
SJ: It’s got a whole lot more interesting because we did this album on the proviso that we wouldn’t think about how we’re going to do it live; we’d just try and make it as good as we could. So when it came time to rehearse the songs to play them live, it was like, ‘how the hell are we going to do this?’, with instruments that we don’t even have really. It took us a long time to figure out, ‘Ok we’re going to play this, we’re going to leave this part out, emphasise this new part’, and so it’s really become this quite detailed show now that we’ve had to really think about and concentrate on. And now that we’ve toured a bit we’re a lot more comfortable and we can move within it a bit, but to start with I feel like it took a lot of concentration. I mean, Will the guitarist used to just play guitar, now he’s really busy, he’s got a lot of stuff on his hands – he’s got keyboards and sample and all these things that he’s got to trigger, as well as playing guitar. And we’ve had to add another member, Dave, who’s a Conservatorium percussionist that we got to handle the rhythm side of things.
MF: I picked up on a few of the sounds in Moonlight Hours – it sounds so much like this keyboard that I had as a kid.
SJ: Is it a Casio?
SJ: It probably is then (laughs). Yeah, a lot of those sounds we got from my old Casio.
MF: So reminiscent of when I was a kid going through those shitty keyboard lessons.
SJ: (laughs) Yeah, yeah we’ve got quite a collection of old Casios and Yamahas – just those crappy, old 80’s keyboards. They’ve got some really old, weird percussion sounds that just don’t sound anything like the real thing. So we just took a few of them…
MF: You’ve got a few upcoming dates for the single release of ‘Golden Sky’.
SJ: Yeah, the song has gone to radio, but its iTunes release and everything is pending, so we’re doing just a short Sydney / Melbourne / Brisbane run to do some headline shows finally.
MF: What’s in the pipeline for The Holidays?
SJ: We’re looking forward to the album coming out and being able to play to people who actually know our songs, which I think makes a big difference. And from there, I know we’re doing a big album tour in August/September nationally, then hopefully after that we’re going to do some stuff overseas.
The Holidays play Oxford Art Factory on Thursday 27th May for their ‘Golden Sky’ single tour, with support from Ernest Ellis. Click here for more details.