PAINT is set for release on February 24 and new single That Message is available now.
“Holy Holy’s new album Paint is pure perfection. It encompasses so much more than songs. Feelings and emotions are released and the Painting To Paint concept is genius.” Music Injection Australia
Sophomore records, particularly when the first is received so positively, are heavy with expectation, hope, and a preconceived, cement notion of what an audience believes an artist should be. Artists then must choose to bow to the pressure, or ignore all external noise and follow their intuition. Just over a week from now, on February 24, HOLY HOLY will release their second album PAINT; a panoramic record which absolutely pertains to the latter option, the boys are back with a bold, distinctive and fiercely captivating LP. And today, HOLY HOLY and acclaimed Australian expressionist painter, James Drinkwater announce ‘Painting To PAINT’: four local artists curated by Drinkwater, bring to the canvas four songs from PAINT. Inspired and accompanied by HOLY HOLY’s music, the process of creation from blank canvas to completion will be filmed and edited into four separate films by award-winning local director, Charlie Ford. With undeniable vision and meticulous attention to detail, That Message , the third single lifted from the awaited new album, today kicks off the first video of the set, painted by Drinkwater himself.
HOLY HOLY have somehow both undone and strengthened listener preconceptions that may have established themselves with their acclaimed debut album, When The Storms Would Come. Strengthened, in that melody rules all in PAINT as it does in Storms – both vocal and guitar alike, each infliction is settled firmly and boldly in a bed of compelling texture. Undone, in how it is that texture that binds all aspects of melody, harmony and form that is often completely unexpected, but most welcome. The album is familiar, a comfort – yet refreshing, and exciting all at once. Oscar Dawson, lead guitarist and founding member of HOLY HOLY, reflects on the new songs, “PAINT was truly a lifetime in the making. All good records are…the themes from our lives, our practice, our instruments, our styles, and our influences, have been filtering in for years and this is the best job we could do of distilling them.”
These elements have been distilled to perfection on latest offering, That Message. As soon as the mechanic open hi-hat passes nonchalantly through the opening beat to the track, the audience is assured that HOLY HOLY are not a static entity. Skillful guitar playing from Dawson punctuates the synthetic textures, while layered vocals from Tim Carroll float eerily upwards towards the unknown, repeating the mantra, “Let it go, let it go, let it go…” Speaking on the single, Carroll says, “The only guiding principle we stuck with was that we wanted to push ourselves and take some risks. It was a challenging process and as is often the case, I think the restrictions pushed us into new and interesting territories.”
More on this below. Jen had a chance to chat to Tim about their project.
Great to have a chat again.
You guys had an action packed 2016. Touring, with the Darwinism Tour and recording and I assume loads of other Musical activities.Did you get some well deserved rest in over xmas?
I did, yeah, I definitely wanted to down tools and take some time away. It was awesome I have just a lovely summer.
You are in Melbourne?
No, I am from Tasmania.
Oh even colder.
Yes I live on a farm on 50 acres in country Tasmania. It is the perfect place to hang out, it has a dam and I have got lots of family around.
Your tour ‘The Darwinism Tour’ started in Amsterdam and ended in Brisbane. I won’t ask you if Aussie crowds were best because I know the answer but is there a funny story of any of those gigs that happened that was not funny at the time?
Let me think as there are lots of different moments. The Canberra show was an interesting one, we turned up in Canberra at a venue that we have never played before called The Basin. We walked inside and there was all these metal guitars on the walls and the guys behind the bar looks like bikies. We kind of realist that we were in a heavy metal venue. I was thinking what are we doing here and what is it going to be like. We had to sweep the broken glass off the stage when we started setting up as we were listening to heavy metal music. Then at one point the bar manager came out with a guitar that he wanted us to sign to put up on wall and it was all very weird in that respect. However we put our playlist on and our support band started playing and turned into an incredible really fun gig and we actually really enjoyed it. At soundcheck I was a bit unsure what we were in for.
2016 will always be known as a shocker of a year for the entertainment industry with so many of our beloved artists passing away. Was there one in particular for you that was an inspiration to you and was tougher for you to accept that they have gone?
I mean it was a shock when Bowie died for sure, defiantly did not see that coming and all so Prince was a huge shock and I have always felt a certain connection to Prince, we played at the Sydney Opera House a couple weeks after Prince passed away and not long before that he had performed on that stage with a solo on the grand piano and it was funny to think that just a few weeks before he had played and then he was gone. I did seem to feel that people come and go and leave this world, you know there is a sadness and fondness to their work when they go but it is the natural part of life.
Yes very true.
So, new album out soon! It is hard to picture all the work that goes into the 44 minutes of music that you are going to release. You see to be able to write music everywhere, venue green rooms, airports and carparks. Any other place stranger than that?
I live on a farm in Tasmania that I said earlier and I find that has great hours for writing. Once my wife goes to sleep, I go out the door with my guitar and a bottle of rum and there is actually a tree house on my property that is far enough away that I can go and make a lot of noise and not wake anyone up. I have written quite a few melodies and chorus’ there. So in the treehouse overlooking the canopy of trees in Tasmania’s forest. There are a bunch of demos, like Willow Tree, in the album. So that is a good spot.
The Aussie kid in me says how cool!
How many donuts were consumed during the recording session or is it best not to count and just say a lot?
It kind of ramped up, first session we only had one packet and the second session there was a few more and the last session I bought 4 packets thinking that would do us for the whole session but at the end of the first day they were all gone. I remember people asking is there more donuts and I said yes but when I got out to the kitchen there was none left. The consumption rate had gone up as our recording went on. Coffee and Donuts just felt right fro this album.
Exciting news about your album called Paint and now hearing about the Painting to Paint pr0ject.
The cover artwork is by James Drinkwater, who is a super talented guy but that is not all he is doing for Holy Holy. You guys have some seriously amazing ideas. Can you tell us about the Painting to Paint project?
So James Drinkwater is an old friend of Oscars and an old friend of mine too and James was living in Berlin when Oscar and I were there when we first started working together. We were all hanging out at parties and so when we came up with the title of this record and we were thinking about what we would do for artwork, James’s name came up. We kind of reached out tentatively to James and he was really keen and he presented us with a bunch of different works and the one that we ended up going with on the cover had some of the colors that Holy Holy have been associated with in the past. Then that was kind of fun and then we decided when James came to our newcastle show when we were chatting to him and we came up with some ideas that he could maybe paint some guitars for us or drum kit. One thing lead to another and we a way of reflecting the difference of the but relax in a our film has been authorized becoming irrelevant and shipng this Painting to Paint project. We are choosing four songs and James is going to find four artists, well himself and three others to go into a studio and create art work in one day that is inspired by one of the songs of the new release. There will be a video about that time which will be the song and their work that they have created, as a visual medium to enjoy the work of the artists. We are really excited, it’s great to have the support of our manager and our label and help us make them happen. There are so many ideas when you start to talk about lights and cameras and all the things that need to happen might not. Everyone is on-board and will be excited to see what the results are like.
So the first song for this will be ‘That Message’ and this song’s artwork is painted by Drinkwater himself. This song is the opener on your album and the lyrics are thought provoking and made me reflect on some things that I have done and have not done. Was there a particular reason it was chosen as the opening track and the first of the four week painting to Paint Project?
That song always an interesting one in the writing process, it was one of those songs that really just came out of nowhere. I was driving from my farm into town and the melody just kind of came to me and I pulled over and got my phone out, and i still have that recording, you can hear the windscreen wipers swishing and the rain. I presented it to the guys, I remember saying hey what do you think of this? I worked on it for a while and in one production session I was trying to crack it and see how it would be and see if it would be a Holy Holy song as it has a more r&b feel to it and I was trying to work out whether it was going to be right for us and then I remember really clearly we had some breakthroughs in quick succession and that synth sound, that bubbling sound and we thought let’s introduce some sleigh bells and we put some chimes over that. Then we did the guitar parts and ended up being true guitar parts going against each other and all those things happened in five minutes and then we were in the soundscape of what the song was going to sound like. I guess I always like that introduction and it builds this sort of space and color. So it always felt right to me as our opening song. I also feel that having this song first up on the record was cleansing the palate from our last record and getting rid on any preconceptions of us as a band.
I have listened to the album at least 8 times now while I was writing this interview and driving. The stand out track to me and the one that I keep going back to put on is ‘Willow Tree’ When I was a kid my friends and I used to when it was hot go to the creek and lay down under the Willow trees to keep cool. We carved our names and said that there would be always a piece of us there. Listening to this song the first time I’m like What now??
I love the harmonies in this song, I mean you guys are the kings of harmonies. Can you take us through the inspiration behind this song?
Yeah similar to you are grew up in Queensland and I spent a lot of time in creeks and around Brisbane with my friends and there was a willow tree in my neighbors house that I used to swing in and I find them so romantic and even the name of them is kind of beautiful and I was talking to my wife as I wanted to plant one but she is an environmental scientist and she said no fucking way they are invasive and damage the waterways. But they are so beautiful so I guess there was that kind of imagery. The first verse is on a reflection of being there in the morning when your partner comes out in the second verse is like more of a self reflection and I guess it is about writing music and second-guessing yourself and going over and over things and changing them and stuck in a whirlpool of thoughts and things like that. There are some songs on the record that are stories with different characters and things happen in the song and there are other songs that are just moments and colors.
Talking about being whirlpool. How hard is it to be in that Vortex to make sure that everything is exactly the way you want it? I mean I change my mind so much about what I think is important. Do you get to a point where you say enough is enough and Stop thinking about it?
I guess, I think it’s more accurate to say that is as close as I can get kind of thing. One thing I like about Kanye West was watching his release of The Life Of Pablo and see him change the name bunch of times and change the release date and change the songs and I’m like oh man I totally get what you are going through and I love the fact that he doesn’t give a shit and changes it. It can get to the stage when you can approve a mix, and then you send it off and then it gets mastered and you are driving your car and you think you know what? I wish this was a little bit louder or softer. I guess I consoled myself by saying it is good that I work with other people like Matt Redlick, who produced and mixed the record and I guess I consoled myself that he makes it all makes sense and coherent, I think it’s also that the album is still so fresh and I have only had at myself for a little while complete and i think once I’ve had it for a bit longer it will become a bit more consolidated and i will think here is the record and stop questioning it and finding fault with it.
How often do you listen to the album between the time you make it the time of it’s release?
The making of a record listen to it a lot, demos, different mixes, different versions and I am really in it. I listen to it driving etc. I find that it is helpful for me to be able to process what we need to change and what we need to work on. I think when it comes back from mastering and when I listen to it all together in the order that they will appear on in the record, I listen to it a bit but once it is released that is kind of the end. Once our first record was released I didn’t listen to it again, it was kinda like well it is out I don’t have to listen to it anymore.
Well I will let you go now Tim, all the best for everything that you do in 2017.
The cover artwork for PAINT is a striking artwork by Drinkwater. Drinkwater’s expressionist work seems the most appropriate visual summarisation for such an arresting and fascinating collection of songs; broad, textured strokes of thick paint bound energetically across the canvas, evoking the influence of the complex music that it represents.
Inspired by this artwork, HOLY HOLY and James Drinkwater are thrilled to announce their collaboration Painting To PAINT, in which local Australian artists carefully selected by the band and Drinkwater, Ben Kenning, Chris Horder, Lottie Consalvo, bring to the canvas four songs lifted from the album.
“This project has allowed a rare crossing of the line that exists between the Australian contemporary music scene and the Australian contemporary art world.” says Carroll. “There is an opportunity here to see how an artist who operates in the visual world, interprets and responds to a work created in the sonic one. Working with James is a real honour for us.”
“When asked to curate the paint project for HOLY HOLY it was something I agreed to immediately on the grounds of mutual admiration, I hold a lot of respect for the boys,” enthuses Drinkwater, “It presented an opportunity to draw on a reservoir of visual artists that I find compelling. Lottie, Chris and Ben, all gifted painters with incredibly different practices meant it could only be monumental.”
The first of this series is That Message, painted by Drinkwater himself, set for release on February 15. “I chose ‘that message’ because I liked its dream state spacial quality. It has this incredible pulse that is layered and textured with drama, like a painting…..like paint, explains Drinkwater, “Holy Holy have a sophistication in their approach that I find engaging and enamouring.”
Set to roll out next week in the series will be Willow Tree painted by Consalvo, Shadow painted by Horder and Send My Regards painted by Kenning.
PAINT is set for release on February 24 and new single That Message is available now.
About the artists involved in “Painting To PAINT”:
James Drinkwater is a Newcastle-based artist whose practice traverses painting, sculpture, assemblage and collage. He makes work about place, intimacy and memory, using abstraction, colour and mark making for transmission of these preoccupations. In 2014 Drinkwater won the Brett Whiteley Travelling Scholarship and is dual finalist in the Wynne prize (2014, 2015) and a 2016 finalist in the Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery NSW. He has held numerous sell-out exhibitions in Australia, UK and Singapore.
Lottie Consalvo is a Newcastle-based artist whose multidisciplinary practice spans painting, sculpture, performance, video and photography. She began her career as a painter but moved to performance art after a European residency in 2010, and for which she was included in the highly acclaimed Marina Abramović: In Residence presented by Kaldor Public art projects, Project #30 in 2015. Consalvo’s recent work furthers this conversation with a physical presence for imagination, memory and physchological transitions in paint. Beautiful, organic forms and colours reference spiritual places such as altars and shrines and natural phenomena like the blurring shift in the act of falling. Her work is held in the collections of Art Bank, Allens Law Firm, Warner Music Australia and in private collections in Australia, UK, Germany and Canada.
Christopher Horder, (Brett Whitely travelling art scholarship and Dobell Prize finalist), has been painting and exhibiting nationally and internationally for over 20 years. His stain paintings echoe the techniques of oriental masters combined with the abstract expressionists of the 50’s. The paintings capture a dynamic force of the metaphysical aspects of paint itself. The exploration of the alchemy between artist and nature is the driving force in capturing these epic cured stains of unpremeditated and primordial imagery.
Ben Kenning is a painter and mixed media artist from Newcastle whose work focuses on drawing, painting, and mixed media works on canvas and paper, regularly exhibiting his works in solo exhibitions in Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne. Kenning articulates a balance between motion and rest; matter and void; chaos and order, whilst redefining conventional notions of mental, physical and spiritual realities. The artist draws connections with and between these dichotomies as the basis of his ideas and allows his intuition and subconscious to process such through his work.
James Drinkwater (“That Message”) – http://nandahobbs.com/artist/james-drinkwater
Lottie Consalvo (“Willow Tree”) – http://nandahobbs.com/artist/lottie-consalvo
Christopher Horder (“Shadow”) – http://horder76.wixsite.com/christopher-horder
Ben Kenning (“Send My Regards”) – http://benkenning.crevado.com/