Gosh. 2007. How time flies (usually like a banana).
I’d only recently moved to Australia, and was in the process of coming into contact with a whole new world of music that hadn’t yet made its way over to Canada or the US yet. At the time, the now (sadly) defunct Vibewire Magazine was willing to accept freelance pieces. And somehow, through some chance opportunity, I’d managed to get my hands on an excellent EP by a recently-formed Sydney based rock outfit.
And what music fan doesn’t secretly dream of one day being a music journalist? How could I pass by the opportunity to experience that?
The Holidays want you to know: if you come to their show, don’t mind the cask wine lying about within vicinity of the stage. It’s a motif. Roger Waters had a tortured psyche and inflatable pigs, Green Day had Super Soakers™.
They have cask wine. Lead singer Simon Jones and bassist Alex Kortt are – surprise! – wine aficionados and have a rather peculiar way of showing off their love for white wines, especially Verdelhos. But don’t be afraid – the members of The Holidays are not wine snobs. In fact, Simon Jones is not afraid to mix his wines with other beverages, much to the horror of wine snobs the world around.
Easier access to booze isn’t the only thing that’s left The Holidays with reasons to cheer. It’s been a good year for them. Airplay in both Australia and the U.S., attention from A&R Worldwide, and a steady set of gigs has left the band feeling fairly satisfied. And then there was that small matter of the launch of their debut self-titled EP. “It’s nice to have something out, of course,” said Simon. Even over the phone, he sounds positively ecstatic. And with reason.
Their first EP is a non-stop assault of music that makes the feet tap. “It’s our thing,” said Simon, talking about The Holidays’ poppy arrangements and accessible – but not frivolous – lyrics.
There’s nothing dour about the songs on their EP at all. From the upbeat melody of the title track, Holiday, which just begs to be listened to while strutting about a city, to the suddenness of The Werewolf You Become, a more serious yet surprisingly spontaneous in-studio track that wasrecorded within one hour (“there’s nothing immediate about it,” Simon suggested, sounding almost bemused), the EP is a rich panoply of tunes that suggest exactly what the band set out to do: create a united form, but still maintain a distinct enough amount of musical diversity among all the songs.
The highlight of the album might in fact be Planes, a song about a difficult relationship between two people. Despite the seriousness of the subject matter, the song itself is has a fast temp, is eminently danceable, and rocks along at a steady pace towards a thundering resolution.
The goal, Simon suggests, was to have the kind of music people can listen to one-hundred times. The Holidays have no desire to be thought of as disposable pop. And certainly, Simon grants, “We ended up writing music that we want to listen to.”
Taking notes from Elvis Costello (whom Simon considers to be “a lyrically interesting songwriter”) and Brian Wilson, to name a few relevant influences, the musical philosophy of The Holidays is really quite simple: write enjoyable, upbeat music that utilises rhythm guitars whenever possible.
“We’re a guitar band, really,” says Simon, matter-of-factly. And they’ve put their skills to good use. Around the time of formation, the members of the band took note of the “kind of angsty, new wave sound, 70’s style” that was undergoing a musical renaissance, and made a decision as to what they were going to do.
“We were kind of conscious in going away from that,” said Simon. Instead, The Holidays chose to focus on creating songs that utilised rhythm guitars, inventing melodies that would stick to the walls of a skull like gum to the sole of a shoe, and singing music that made the listener’s day a little better.
As many fans are wondering: does this mean their next album will feature similar types of songs? Simon revealed somewhat cryptically that the band is “still deciding, trying to write as much as possible.”
At this stage, he suggests that at the end of the year there’s the possibility of another EP, to form a bridge “between the albums”, and that sometime in early ’09 fans of the band will be graced with a third release. Until then, look for the band surrounded by casks of wine.
Don’t ask. It’s just their thing. That’s how The Holidays roll.