INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Holding Absence are a metal outfit from South Wales, comprising of vocalist Lucas Woodland, guitarist Feisal El-Khazragi, bassist James Evans and drummer Ashley Green.
Despite having only released three tracks up to now, the four-piece are already making themselves known on the British metal scene with an emotional post-hardcore/metalcore sound coupled with powerful lyrics which deal frankly with such subject matter as death and mental health.
The band have also been establishing themselves on the live circuit, having pretty much played non-stop over the last year, including a set at this summer’s Download festival, and are working hard on a debut album, to be released soon.
I spoke to Lucas in the comfort of their dressing room, prior to their performance at the recent Macmillan Fest in Nottingham, and this is what he had to say:
How did the band first get together?
I joined the band after they had been together for about a year. It started off with Feisal living with James and jamming. I had been best friends with the guys for years, so when they parted ways with their original vocalist and I had recently left my old band, it kind of made sense for me to join.
It’s kind of like an amalgamation of musicians and friends working together in different bands over the years meeting at the same junction.
From where did the name Holding Absence originate?
The name came from a reference to a song by Hammock, a really good band who play kind of post-rock and have been a big influence of us. The song was called ‘Holding Your Absence’, and I think the boys thought it sounded really cool, so they took the name from that, basically.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
It changes all the time. At the moment, we’re working towards an album, so we’re totally in “head down” mode. Feisal is always brimming with ideas, he has quite a nice bedroom set-up, so he’ll often be coming up with songs.
Myself and the rest of the band will sit down and look at what he’s got, or we’ll perhaps bring him something and take a look at it from there.
The lyrics and vocal melodies are done primarily by me, but to get the best out of the band, we will all openly work together, for example, if somebody has a suggestion, maybe they’ve come up with an idea for some lyrics, then we will never be against putting it in a song.
At the end of the day, it’s whatever makes the best music.
Giorgio “Gio” Cantarutti, who was one of your guitarists, left recently. Do you think his departure has left a hole in the band?
Gio was, and still is, one of our best friends, and was also a founding member, but to be honest, him leaving hasn’t really affected us that much, you know.
It was a completely amicable decision on his behalf, and we miss and love him, but, and don’t get me wrong, I feel that the band will carry on the same without him.
Will you be carrying on as a four-piece now, or are you going to be looking for a replacement?
The idea at the moment is that we’ve got a stand-in guitarist, he’s playing shows with us so we can keep the same set-up as before, but for the time being, because we are in such a place where there are four permanent members and with our creative output, we’re trying not to get anybody in too soon, because we don’t want to disrupt the chemistry.
Paramore or Pvris are both four-pieces that play with five members, and that’s what we’ll be doing.
The band played Download earlier this year. How was that as an experience?
It was awesome. We’d been working very hard prior to that. We started in August of last year, so when I joined, we had just missed the festival season, so yes, it was kind of always off the cards to play a festival, we never expected anything, so we just toured like crazy through the whole of the winter and up to this summer, when we played Download.
It just felt like the boiling point, like everything was drawing to a close on a very hard-working year for us, so there was a real celebration.
I remember looking out towards the crowd and seeing a couple of hundred people we’d seen in these small venues across the country, so yeah, personally and for the group as well, it was very special.
What are the plans for the near future?
Like I said earlier, we’re currently working towards an album. We’ve been touring relentlessly over the last year, we’ve just hit seventy shows in that time, so it has been quite busy for us.
We understand that obviously, our content level is low, we’ve only released three songs, it’s hard because we’ll play shows and some people will know all the words to the lyrics, but that’s still only half a set, so we’re at the stage now where we feel that we’ve done a lot of graft and we’re ready to give back.
We’ll also be touring with Young Guns later this month, that should be really cool, hitting up a few key locations across the UK.
What is the band’s long-term aim?
It’s a big one, isn’t it? To be fair, we’ve all been in bands for a long time individually, and now, we feel we are at the same stage where we respect ourselves and each other as musicians enough to just make the best music, and to change as many lives as we can.
I know that’s a little bit cliche, but we’ve got fifteen people now with Holding Absence tattoos, and we’ve only brought three songs out.
The concept of taking that further, and we’re still on a rather small scale at the moment, we can see people singing along, messaging us in the middle of the night to say how important we are to them, I feel like we owe it to people, as well as ourselves, to keep on going for as long as possible.
I don’t know if that’s really a conclusive answer, but those are our goals now.
HOLDING ABSENCE WILL BE SUPPORTING YOUNG GUNS ON THEIR UK TOUR LATER THIS MONTH. FURTHER DETAILS BELOW:
CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING SITES FOR MORE INFO ON HOLDING ABSENCE:
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.holdingabsence.com