Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Erik: Busy! Which means happy! And excited to tour!
Can you talk to us more about your single “Mountains to the Sea”?
DK: It started as a folk experiment with just Robby on mandolin and then quite quickly it became this desert rock song…
Rob: Yeah, turned into a real barnburner! Once we kick off, there’s no turning back. It’s dark and minor, but also uptempo; a favorite combination of mine. There’s an intensity to the song, and to the way all of our parts lock together– from the dirty backwoods church organ, to the clockwork sounds of the banjo.
Erik: It was one of the most collaborative efforts in orchestration that we’ve ever had, which means we all take great pride and ownership in the song. It’s a perfect single for us to share.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Erik: Ask Rob. He’s the wizard who got hit by the lightning bolt.
Rob: I’ve always gravitated towards dark subject matter in my songwriting, and “Mountains to the Sea” is essentially a song about celebrating the dark twists the human mind can take. Gloom, rain, and shadows are often viewed as the lack of sunshine, beauty, and happiness. I don’t necessarily feel that way, and I wanted to write something that validated the worldview of enjoying darkness, or at least acknowledged that it’s important. The choruses are a little more mystical and nebulous; it’s sort of a cycle of reincarnation that comes with embracing what it is that you love. Once you can admit who you are, you’ve tapped into something bigger than yourself. In the song, that empowerment is presented as some kind of reincarnation, or state of “always having been.”
Can you tell us more about the upcoming video?
Dave: It’s a big ensemble piece that we worked out with a lot of great dancers, choreographers, and designers– it’s nice having talented friends!
Rob: Absolutely. Like all Hollows projects, it was definitely a family affair.
Jeff: We knew we wanted set choreography and we knew we wanted a room full of dancers. Going from there, we started shaping the idea around a faux “American Bandstand” feel. When we mixed that with the elaborate imagination that resides in Rob’s head, I think we really got exactly what we were looking for.
Rob: I kept getting flashes of things like “The Old Man and the Sea,” and DK eating golf balls. For some reason, everybody let me put all this goofy stuff into the video. Sensory overload was one of the goals, and I think we achieved it. It communicates all the right vibes of a cool, sexy, ’60s beach party indoors on a sound stage… with an octopus.
DK: It’s a lot trippier than I expected. In a great way.
The single comes off your new album Between The Water and the Wonder Wheel – what’s the story behind the title?
Dave: Well, every song on this record mentions water in some form, as well as some sort of motion or change…
Jeff: …all these characters dealing with a journey, struggle, or a major transition– whether it be positive or negative. It’s the juiciest part of any story: the transition from one level to the next.
Dave: And Jeff had been making frequent visits to Coney Island to collect pieces for the sculpture that we used for the cover art, which he was literally finding between the shore and the big Ferris wheel there.
Erik: Jeff is a longshoreman at heart with enough rope to pull the whole van up onto the shore if we ever start to sink… he spent some good time at Coney searching.
Jeff: And I observed there’s just this beat– this breath, this moment– when leaving the calm and peaceful waves of a gently breaking surf, as you turn back to the cacophonous whirlwind of responsibility and society…
Dave: The water’s always moving. The wheel’s always moving. Sometimes you find yourself standing between them.
How was the recording and writing process?
Erik: Writing takes awhile with us because we all do it collaboratively, so it’s challenging and exhausting and inspiring all at the same time. Recording is much faster. Super focused, exciting and satisfying. Being in the studio is like playing a live show, except we are each others’ audience.
DK: Ultimately what came out of those sessions is a new sound for us, and I think the storytelling is wonderfully diverse while all living in the same world.
What was it like to work with John Siket and how did that relationship develop?
DK: We met at a gig in Bushwick and the relationship developed pretty quickly. John really has a remarkable ear and working with him came naturally. He’s someone who cares deeply about making great sounding records.
Erik: Talk about a master of his craft. He is a shaman on the mountain of rock that we are trying to summit.
How much did he get to influence the album?
DK: He’s all over it! He had us try a lot of new things in the moment while we were in the studio, and a lot of those changes are still played in our live show.
Rob: It was a genuinely fun challenge to work those changes out in real time in the studio, and then go for a take. John’s got a great ear, and he usually knows exactly how to take a song from 95% to a fully completed entity.
Does Brooklyn plays a role in your music?
Dave: Well… two-thirds of the band lives in Brooklyn– all within a few blocks of each other; it’s a sitcom.
Erik: But all of us have such an immediate and intimate relationship with New York City itself that is hard to describe. The second you walk out the door of your home you are both overwhelmed and energized by the scope of the city and its energy. Brooklyn is the most populated borough in NYC… and it doesn’t disappoint on the hype. So yes, living there, it influences my entire world view in a beautiful way.
DK: Even the need to escape it at times.
Would you call this a departure from your previous material or more like a follow up?
Jeff: It’s definitely a continuation. Building on where we were on the last studio project, we’ve added some more heft.
Dave: Yeah, you could argue that record leaned more heavily on the “folk” half of the spectrum and this swings more towards the “rock” side— it’s got different pet sounds, at least: the cellos and harmonicas are Fenders and synthesizers now…
Jeff: …beefier guitar parts, gnarly organ pads, drums.
Erik: It’s an evolution. We are all learning and growing together. It’s another chapter and there will be many more.
You have mentioned your upcoming tour and the album has been your biggest accomplishment to date– how so?
DK: Forward momentum. The songs, the album, feel like a focused and driven piece of art.
Erik: And the sheer size and scope of what we are preparing to do, logistically, has been a major undertaking. It’s taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get ourselves to a place where we can take our music on a 12,000 mile ride over two months, so it’s already a huge accomplishment to get to that place. Now comes the most fun part of all, getting to play shows for our fans and friends all over the country.
How are you preparing for your upcoming tour?
DK: Practice, practice, practice.
Jeff: And making a LOT of lists! But when you start crossing things off, you feel like Superman.
What are you looking forward the most?
Erik: Looking out into the crowd at a show and seeing people I’ve never met having a great time listening to our stories.
Jeff: Playing music and playing music. Also, exploring so many regions of the US that we’ve yet to discover. And playing music.
Can fans expect anything new on your performance?
Erik: We’ve been working hard to keep our harmonies tight and our dancing shoes loose. Anybody who comes to see us should be prepared to dance harder than they ever have before.
What else is happening next in The Hollows’ world?
Jeff: More music videos. It’s an exciting platform to present our songs. It also allows us to collaborate with other artists in different mediums. It always amazes me to see how differently people can interpret an idea. The fun part is when all those interpretations become one.
Erik: And beyond that, the future is wide open. We’re going to be patient while we’re on the road and simply enjoy that experience… we’ll wait for the next door to open and then walk right on through it when the time is right.