It seems that each re-emergence of The Holidays brings about a band with an entirely new sound. On the group’s earlier EPs in 2008 there were jangly guitars and strong melodies, but their signature tropical rhythms and dense production didn’t come about until their 2010 debut, Post Paradise.
With the release of their sophomore effort, Real Feel, in February this year, the band is now showcasing some slightly darker edges that, as frontman Simon Jones explains, were a long time coming.
“We were getting to the point where it was taking a really long time, so we said ‘screw it, it’s taking a long time; this is going to be an album that takes a long time, let’s just get it right.’”
The drawn-out writing and recording process was the unfortunate result of the band choosing to self-produce; a double-edged sword worth holding in Jones’ opinion.
“Around the time of [2008 EP, When This Ship Goes Down] … I was kind of watching what all these producers did and I was really trying to learn by watching. The time came around to make our first record; we went into a studio and did a couple of demos and it just wasn’t sounding very good. It came to a point where I was like ‘well, I know how to do this now, I think I’m kind of confident that we can do it ourselves and do it at our own speed’. We found that we absolutely loved it because it was like getting the keys to the toy shop, you know? Whatever instrument we wanted to put on, we could do it and we could dick around with it for hours until we got the sound we wanted, and there was no clock running on the studio time.”
If the result of a four-year break between albums means a work as beautifully arranged as Real Feel, then maybe it should happen more often.
The 10 tracks flow together with encapsulating synth swirls and ethereal vocals overlaying an ever-changing and dynamic rhythm section. The peaks and troughs create the feel of an aural narrative that lasts from beginning to end, which was the intention of Jones and the troupe.
“We had quite a few different tracks, so we chose the ones to finish it and sync it and make it flow the way it does. It starts off in a real dramatic way, and then goes into … a kind of upbeat phase, and then it kind of detours into a bit of a dreamier, kind of hazier bit, and then finishes off in more of an energetic feel. I think it’s very easy to find a sound and lock into that and just keep reproducing that. I think what’s more interesting is to make an album that has a few different phases and a few different feels.”
The visual aspect of The Holidays’ output also feeds into Real Feel’s overall vibe. The clip for the album’s first single, Voices Drifting, features Jones singing along underwater (in a single take) while backed by bright lights and smoke. It makes for tense viewing but is ultimately very pretty.
“Sometimes it’s really difficult because [the director] will have a pre-conceived video treatment that they’ll want to do… [they] go and make it and your name’s put on it but it’s really not your work at all. Voices Drifting worked really well because we came up with that with our friend who is also a visual artist (Will Mansfield), so we were able to really describe to him what the song’s feel is.”
“Our current video we’re working on … [was] the same kind of thing as Voices Drifting [where] we sat down and workshopped it and really explained the idea of the song and the feel of the song and how we could get that across visually.”
It seems The Holidays have quickly developed into a band with a vision and a growing impatience for compromise, which is an exciting thing to behold considering they’re only two albums into their career.
Currently touring their new album across the country, you can catch The Holidays at any of the following dates:
Saturday 22 March – Waratah Hotel, Hobart (tickets)
Friday 28 March – Pirie Street Social Club, Adelaide (tickets)
Saturday 29 March – The Rosemount, Perth (tickets)
Sunday 30 March – The Newport, Fremantle (tickets)