The Holidays....Are Coming
Paradise is often defined as the supreme or ultimate abode, heaven – the after-life, or a state of complete bliss... the only problem is that no one actually knows where ‘paradise’ is or what it even means when one claims to have found it. This lingering mystery haunted Simon Jones during the writing of The Holidays’ debut album – the fittingly titled, Post Paradise . “I always thought that the album leaned towards this idea of getting out of the everyday routine and getting away from it all,” the frontman muses
“There was definitely an escapism feel to it. I was just thinking about what that vibe was, and the idea of paradise, I thought, was pretty interesting because in a number of literary references... any scenario where people find paradise, it’s always what happens when you get there. And the idea of paradise is never a destination; it’s always something more and something different... like a restless searching for something else.”
Post Paradise is a superb debut album resplendent in dreamy guitar lines, tribal-like percussive rhythms, soulful groove-laden melodies and vibrant electronic flourishes. “Midnight Hours, Golden Sky and Conga were the first trio of songs we had that defined for us what the album was going to sound like,” Jones affirms. “All three of those were a fair departure from the stuff that we’d done earlier, so they seemed like the template for what we were looking for.
“After that, we kind of branched out a little bit and tried more electronic stuff and a more rockier track, which broadened the horizon. We didn’t want to focus too much attention on things like bongos or congas or any particular sound. By the time it was finished, there was a fair bit of variety in the equipment that we used and also the techniques that we were using.”
Such an approach would ensure that a strong cohesiveness and beautifully-realised vision was harnessed to The Holidays’ debut album. “From the start, we kind of kept to the palette of sounds that we liked that would also tie everything together, regardless of which way the song-writing was going,” notes Jones. “And as it developed, we wanted some songs to have a different feel to others. A Million Eyes (the compelling finale) is probably the most different sounding thing we’ve got. But across the whole album and I’m not quite sure how this happened, but it’s all got quite a similar vibe to it.”
With Talking Heads, David Bowie and Low asserted as significant influences and drummer Andrew Kerridge’s love of hip-hop, it’s no surprise that the Sydney quartet have explored such diverse sonic avenues on Post Paradise. “Because it’s been quite a while since we started the whole process of writing and recording, there was a lot of time to absorb a lot of different influences and music,” Jones considers. “I found that once we had broken through one barrier – like the barrier of ‘okay, we’re gonna use keyboards’ – then it’d open up another barrier like ‘okay, now we’re gonna use sampled drums’.
“And every time we broke through a barrier, there were no confines to what we could do anymore and eventually it got to the point where there were literally no boundaries to the recording,” Jones enthuses. “It was open season on instruments, techniques, style... so I found that really encouraging… listening to stuff like Eno and music that didn’t place an importance on a particular set-up of musicians or instruments, but were really just playing for the feel. Once we accepted that, it was really good for our song-writing and also our general production. The limits were only what we knew how we do and what we could get our hands on.”
The Holidays self-produced Post Paradise while Tony Espie (Avalanches, Midnight Juggernauts, Cut Copy) assisted with mixing duties. “It was like a learning curve the whole time, a lot of trial and error and I guess that’s why it took so long,” Jones muses. “We created a lot of interesting stuff that we couldn’t have done in the studio because we wouldn’t have had enough time or the inclination to try all the stuff that we did. I really enjoyed the extreme hands-on nature of self-producing.
“With this album, I found that most of the really productive writing occurred when we got excited about some new idea we had or some piece of equipment that we discovered and then it’s be a really spontaneous burst of writing,” the singer/guitarist relates. “There was something about recording the album ourselves and having the time to make things up as we went along that was really good and kind of liberating. A lot of the time, we’d have a really rough skeleton for a song and we’d just lay things down in recording and literally make it up on the spot and that spurred on more creativity.”
Having already garnered attention from NME magazine and supported international acts such as Jamie T and The View, do The Holidays have a keen eye on the UK? “We’re quite happy to take it as it comes,” says Jones. “The plan at this stage is to play some festivals here over the summer and then play some shows in the UK and the US early next year, but I don’t think any of us are under any illusions of becoming the biggest band in the world or anything like that overnight. We’re pretty prepared for the long haul and to keep working away... I don’t want to get anything cheaply. We’re all pretty committed to making another album and another album and growing organically.”
How much importance was placed on blurring the boundaries between genres, and removing – to some extent – the scene-obsession that seems to characterise a large part of the music industry? “That was very important – we spent hours talking about the music that we like and how there was no one that conformed to any particular scene,” conveys Jones.
“I really love the ‘odd one out’ theory of music. I’m not saying that we’re that, but in any particular time or place there’s always some sort of scene or sound that’s common ground and we like the one person that’s not doing that.
“I think being tied to a particular scene is pretty limiting and diminishes what you do a little bit. As time goes on and as the band grows, you really can shake that off and I think we started completely that way. As a band who was into The Strokes and all thos e indie rock bands that were popular five to ten years ago and as we’ve matured and honed our craft, we’re going to a place where we’re happy to make more unique music.”
THE HOLIDAYS launch their unstoppably excellent debut album Post Paradise with a pair of huge shows at The National Hotel in Geelong this Thursday October 21, then at The East Brunswick Club this Friday October 22. Tickets from eastbrunswickclub.com, 9388 9794 and The East box office. They also play Billboard with Bag Raiders on November 17, and the Laneway Festival at the Footscray Arts Centre on February 5 (tickets on sale this Wednesday October 20 from lanewayfestival.com.au). Post Paradise is out now through Liberation.