Yes, I’ve been well, very busy as usual touring away. I spend most my life on the road, or if not in lovely Bromley writing songs and booking tours.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Aveiro”?
Yes of course, it’s one of the tracks from the new album “Come”. I chose this as the first song to put out there as I guess it’s the nearest thing to a pop song I’ve ever written. That and Placid Lake (also on the album) are pretty upbeat for me.
Well the song Aveiro is about one of the most beautiful places I’ve played on tour. Also met some of the nicest folks there and over the years it’s become a place I’ve been very fond of while touring Portugal. So, I wrote a song about the place and my friends there. I wrote this song in fact on the sand dunes by the sea watching the Atlantic hitting the beach just before playing a show in a beach bar there… was pretty cool.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
This song is about the city of Aveiro in Portugal, it’s not only a very beautiful city with Canals and Gondola’s like Venice but it seems to be a very well kept secret of a place. It has beautiful beaches and is a wonderful place. No one event inspired it, I think it was just how much I liked the place and how many awesome friends I’ve met there that really inspired me to write a song for that city. I’ve even had a meal cooked for me by one of their most famous musicians Emmy Curl who was a wonderful person who makes some incredible music.
How was the filming process and experience behind the video?
It’s a bit basic, it’s an iPad on time delay placed outside the window of Mercado Negro, the venue I was playing that night in Aveiro.
I chose this spot for the Aveiro video to do anime lapse video as I had many hours before the show to kill so I set the iPad up and just let it roll then a bit of editing and it was done. I’m not really a video maker but it says a lot about the place I feel.
The single comes off your new album Come – what’s the story behind the title?
Well the title of the album is partly down to the fact that all of my albums are one-word titles and I’m randomly working my way through the alphabet. I wasn’t trying to be rude although after the fact I could see that maybe. It’s more from the title song on the album “24 Hours (Come)” where I sing “Come on sing with me today”. It’s kind of a hope “Come” like they used to shout at Tim Henman, I guess, “Come on Tim” and it’s the feeling of hope I’m trying to get across in the album. This is certainly my most accessible and hopeful album (well at least I think so).
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process to start with was small acoustic sketched songs written in about 2013 I think. I had a period where my partner was very sick and I had to cancel a tour in France, which I hate doing (I did tour once with a broken arm!) but some stuff is bigger than music so I stayed home and looked after my partner and had a fair amount of time on my hands as sick people sleep a lot (hence the song “Sleep”). I had a creative splurge at the time as I wrote both this album, my previous double album (s) Odd/Even and Hail (a more experimental album) during this time. But this album was born out of hope that my partner would get better. The subjects of each song on the album aren’t all the same but they are all fairly positive I would say.
But yes, the process started with acoustic sketches then demos using other instruments to the final album being two weeks in a recording studio with various session musicians I had hired to realise the vision of the album. It was a lot of work and took nearly 5 years from those first sketches to the recording process. Unlike other albums I’ve done I really took my time to build up to this one.
What was it like to work with Robert Hobson and how did that relationship develop?
I’ve known Rob for a very long time. In fact, we both go back from maybe 2003 I think. I met him when I was in a sludge metal band named “Among The Missing”. He put us on in Leeds where he lives and we became friends very quickly. When he started his studio in house originally, I was one of the first acts he recorded. I was pretty much living in his house for a month making an album, both of us kinda finding our way with it all. Over the years I’ve used him and John Hannon at NO recording studios in Rayleigh in Essex a lot. We have done a few records together and although he primarily does heavier albums, he’s always liked working with me, and me with him. It’s funny when we work together its very professional, but as soon as we clock off its back to being mates.
How much did he get to influence the album?
He is an incredible engineer with an ear for detail that I’ve not seen in many other engineers. He’s very OCD I guess but uses it to make the best possible album. With this album particularly he was great with the string arrangements, telling me what would and wouldn’t work. He even gets a writing credit on “Aveiro” as he helped me score the strings a lot on that one. Also, his engineering skills are incredible and his ear for details in the mix and what I wanted the record to sound like are incredible. I love working with him and it will happen again as I’ve already got something in mind for a future album that would be perfect for him.
Would you call this a departure from your previous musical work?
I guess it is a bit of a departure to what people have become used to, a more blues sounds and by that I mean delta blues. But then I do span many genres with my music, I guess I get bored easily and I am also very much into trying something new with each album to give them each their own little personalities. The last album I did while still in my band, but my second solo album which was fully intended as my last solo album “From The Dawn Chorus…” has strings and things but is way darker and I feel like my first two solo albums for that matter were me just doing something away from my very heavy band. This album is way more lighter and hopeful than that album and I’m way more proud of it. It’s probably the most proud I’ve ever been of an album I’ve made (not that I’m not proud of all my work but this one was a long vision and a hard process both writing wise and financially to get done).
What role does Portsmouth play in your music?
I have no idea to be honest, I’m back there so little… I stay in Bromley these days and haven’t played in Portsmouth my home town for a while for some reason or other. But hopefully I will play there in 2020, I do miss the old place. I have a couple of songs about growing up there (not on this album though).
How has The National and Leonard Cohen influenced your writing?
Leonard Cohen for me, well what a poet and incredible writer. The way he wrote blows my mind. I wish I could write so well. I guess vocally a lot of the delivery on this album is a low spoken style of singing which is why people who have heard it have compared it to him.
The National, again more of others comparing my work to them than being a direct influence I guess but I do like them a lot and I had them, Bonnie Prince Billy (who one song is about), Smog/Bill Callahan, Lambchop, Wilco etc. in mind. It’s kinda an alt country album I guess if you had to put it in the racks in a record store, I guess that is where it would go.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
I write a lot from things I know to be honest, songs about friends or places I’ve been and my experiences. This album maybe has a bit of a countryside feel to it lyrically, I guess. The break-down of each song goes like this though:
Track break down.
1. Numbers Game- This song was written many years ago in fact is the oldest track on the album. Standing at maybe 10 years old. It’s about one of my favourite singer songwriters Oldseed from Winnipeg Canada who now resides in middle Germany. We met in Scotland and then toured several times together not only a great Human being a very inspiring guy and brilliant musician who should be more famous than he is. I wrote this song about him for his wedding which I played at.
2. Aveiro- is a city in Portugal which I have played many times in fact no Portuguese tour is complete without an Aveiro show. The city itself looks a bit like Venice and has so many beautiful beaches (on which this song was written upon). It’s also got a whole bunch of lovely people who have become such great friends. For recording the song Robert Hobson helped adapt the string arrangements to give this very simple song a very grandiose sonic structure with soaring strings and vast arrangements.
3. One Day At A Time- This song is one of the most minimal on the album with just guitar and a few effected instruments behind. Started from an idea I had while stopping in a Dutch art space. But then developed more back in London. The song is about my ability to be the worst tourist despite all my touring. I see the sites and don’t really care that much. I’m more about the people who make the city and prefer hanging with folks in each city.
4. Sleep- Almost like a lullaby. It’s a very quiet song as it’s about my partner who was asleep sick in bed when I was writing this album. Thankfully now better but I took time off touring because of this for a short while to look after her. It’s a love song subjectively and again fairly simple melody with some dream like effects.
5. Prince Of The Palace- is a song about Bonnie Prince Billy, I’m a big fan and have met him a couple of times. It’s more of a tribute to him that actually about him. His album I see a darkness is still one of my favourite albums of all time.
6. 24 Hours- this song is about a race car in the le mons 24Hours race or is it? It’s not it’s about me trying to quit smoking but the inspiration came from thinking about race cars used to be cover in Cigarette sponsorship. I’m still trying to quit and part of the tittles joke is that 24 hours is the longest I’ve managed to quit smoking. The song itself builds into a gang vocal ending. Unfortunately the backing singers got sick day of recording so myself and Katie Stone (who sings back ups on the album as well as playing violin after she was drafted in last minute as original back up singer Helen Chambers was ill so could not be there) do different voices to make it sound like a bunch of different people.
7. (I’m Not) Icarus- is about how I have vertigo. I have never been good with heights. I thought about the Greek legend of Icarus and how I would never do that. I probably would have never even made it up the tower anyway ha ha! It’s also about how some musicians aim to be world famous and reach the heights. I am happy where I am at and feel blessed to have spent the last 13 years doing something I love for a living, touring round the world playing music and the incredible journey I have been on. The song itself is probably the nearest thing to a straight up rock song on the album.
8. Placid Lake- I’m terrible at relaxing, I have manic depression so I’m either doing loads of stuff and thinking new ideas all the time or in a massive depression cycle and can’t move and feel numb. But every now and then I can just kick back. This song was written about a time when I went to a lake in Finland and spent time just taking saunas, skinny dipping, drinking, smoking and rowing a boat badly. The song has an almost pop vibe to it and the end disco bit is a half nod to ABBA via Mark Eitzel, who is another one of my favourite songwriters.
9. London- The last track of the album is about the city I have called Home since 2000 (although spent a year in 2006-2007 in Edinburgh and have been on the road most of the time since 2006). I moved to London in 2000 leaving Exeter where I had been for 5 years for University and first full time jobs as well as bands etc. I never really intended to move to London as I always thought was far too big. I was wanting to move to Bristol. But a job offer came in and my band Shima moved to London so I found myself in the big city. The lyrics for this song actually came from an old diary entry I found many years later and turned it into a song. It’s about dealing with a move to a big city and feeling lost and isolated. I’ve grown to love London and without that move I may not be doing what I am doing now and that is also reflected in the song. The song starts off pretty quietly and sparse but builds into a massive crescendo and is a final statement to the album. In fact, it’s the only track on the album with fuzzed up Guitars and an epic wall of sound. It makes a very logical conclusion to the album as a whole.
Any plans to hit the road?
Yeah, I’m pretty much always on tour anyway doing between 250-300 shows a year most years. So yes, I’m off all of October in Mainland Europe and then UK tour in November.
What else is happening next in Tim Holehouse’s world?
Well lots is happening my end indeed. As well as the usual loads of touring in Europe and across the pond in the US of A and Canada, also plans are a-foot to tour Japan again for the first time since 2006. I have been writing the next album this year by writing and recording a song a month for this whole year. I am finishing up a charity album about mental health issues with several collaborators, it’s an electronic album in the style of maybe Massive Attack, Nine Inch Nails, Portishead, Depeche Mode, Fever Ray, that kinda thing.
I plan to keep touring and keep writing for another few more years at least and hopefully make it to the end of alphabet with the albums… ha ha!