Wales. A small country tacked onto the end of western England, a mysterious nation, known for sheep, leeks, rugby and, more recently, its ever-growing alternative music scene.
“We’re the same music-hungry children we all were 5 years ago.”
The Blackout, Neck Deep, Attack! Attack! , Astroid Boys, Kids In Glass Houses, Funeral For a Friend, Bullet For My Valentine, all incredible acts who call the valleys and rolling hills their home. “We all met at local shows growing up” Says, frontman of Cardiff outfit Holding Absence, Lucas Woodland, running his hand through a mop of shocking blonde hair, “so the local scene was instrumental in us becoming the musicians we are today”. He’s not wrong. Welsh bands like The Blackout and Kids In Glass Houses were always notorious for touring alongside each other – flying the Welsh flag as brothers in arms. Holding Absence featured at this year’s Download festival with Casey, bringing their own hard-rock sound to Britain’s biggest metal event, alongside a band they’ve known for over five years. “It was really special to me, that we all kinda made it in the end” continues Lucas, smiling as he thinks back to the bands time on the Dogtooth stage. “It was glorious, we’ve toured the UK extensively considering we’ve been a band less than a year, so playing a festival like Download was just a huge pay-off for us.”
Download wasn’t the bands only achievement of 2017. The quartet recently signed to, major label, Sharptone Records, home of huge acts like We Came As Romans and Attila, although it is fair to say that the Welsh minnows already hold more talent and creativity then both of these artists combined. With a massive backing, festival experience and touring stops with Young Guns and We Are The Ocean, to name but a few, the boys are certainly on an upward trajectory. “We’re the same music-hungry children we all were 5 years ago” Woodland claims, eager to dispel the notion that these down-to-earth Welsh lads are liable to lose themselves in major label stardom, “we’re just on a higher platform with more at our disposal. The naivety and innocence to ignore everything other than making music, I think that’s what’s going to keep us from getting lost in it all.”
But it hasn’t been all festival slots, record label deals and comfy interviews with Discovered magazine. Holding Absence are toddlers of the scene, only playing as the band, in its current form, for a year, coming together from the remnants of other dead projects. “To be honest we make music for ourselves” the frontman states confidently, “When my last band split up, it wasn’t a question of ‘Am I going to keep pursuing music?’, it was a case of waiting for the right project to come along.” Fortunately for us, Lucas had friends in high places. “I’ve known all the members of Holding Absence respectively for years…When they decided to part ways with their old singer Zac, it just made sense to us all really. Feisal used to show me Holding Absence demos” at this point Woodland flashes us a cheeky grin “I used to be so jealous I couldn’t sing over them! It really did just feel right for everybody.”
We can’t deny that this last statement is absolutely right. Drawing on influences from bands such as My Bloody Valentine and The 1975 across breadth of the musical spectrum, the thundering sound of Holding Absence is certainly a force to be reckoned with. However it would be nothing without the eerie, anathematic voice of Lucas. As the man himself so eloquently puts it: “we definitely see ourselves taking the ‘atmospheric’ side of our music to a level not many bands have reached before” and it is his voice that brings such an atmosphere, although he is certainly too honest to say so. Woodland has a singing style that equally enhances the ferocity of Holding Absence whilst, at times, helping to counteract it, playing the mellow break in amongst the heavy. It is the musical pendulum of the band and one can only sit back and admire it.
“We definitely see ourselves taking the ‘atmospheric’ side of our music to a level not many bands have reached before.”
There is nowhere where this can be seen with more clarity then in new single ‘Permanent’. Smashing into life with crackling riffs and drums like the hooves of charging horses, it is a song that blossoms and then stills, Lucas Woodlands’ beautifully iridescent vocals combining with a calm period before it explodes once again into a triumphant chorus. It is the sound of band with youthful confidence and passion but, most importantly, overwhelming skill. With such ball breaking music (technical term) already being thrown onto the table, fans of Holding Absence must be emboldened by the news that a debut album is imminent. “We’re coming up with some real interesting sounds” Lucas says, his eyes suddenly alight, boundless energy coursing through him as he jumps at the first opportunity to talk about new material. “We want this album to scratch every itch… for that to happen, we can’t do the same thing twice” if that sentence doesn’t spell ‘really fucking exciting’ then I don’t know what does.
So, with such hope and expectation around this up-and-coming band, what is next for the Cardiff four-piece? “We want to be the busiest band in the world for 2018. We want to write the album of the year, we want to play every continent on this planet and we want to meet everybody who cares about our music”. Something in his voice tells me that they just might just do that.
WORDS: DOMINIC MOFFITT
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