Here is an interview I recently did with James and fucking happy to finally be posting this shit. In the interview we discuss their upcoming release, feature touring plans and give out some info about the band.
Thanks to James of Hold Tight! for taking the time out to answer some questions. Enjoy!
Hey James! How are you? How's Richmond?
Hi Vanya! I'm doing pretty well. Richmond is actually pretty beautiful right now. Fall is my favorite time of year and it's always really pretty in Richmond once the leaves start to change.
Right then, first things first, please introduce yourselves and members of the band:
I'm James, I play bass and sing in Hold Tight!. Jake plays guitar and sings, Eric plays lead guitar super precisely, and Alex play drums really loudly.
So, tell me how Hold Tight originally came together? And how did the name come about and what does it mean?
We started at the very very end of 2008. I think our first practice might have actually been on New Years Eve. Jake, Eric, and myself have been playing bands with each other since we were in high school, after a few of our old bands broke up we all kind of went and did other things but Jake and I ended up together again and just wanted to play pretty straight forward pop punk. We got Alex to play drums and our friend Harris played guitar with us. Then Harris went on to start his band Sundials, and we immediately thought to get Eric to join and it's been the four of us ever since.
The name was just on a list of random names I made while we were desperately trying think of a band name. I remember showing the list to everyone and all the names got vetoed and then a week or two later Hold Tight! came up again and this time it clicked. I guess it doesn't really mean anything specifically if I'm gonna be honest...
What does Hold Tight mean to you?
Hold Tight! means a whole lot to me. It means I get to have fun playing music and writing songs which is pretty much my favorite thing to do. It's sort of something that always seems hopeful and exciting when other things in life don't. Plus it's a good excuse to hang out with some of my best friends.
Can you briefly summarise what the band has been up to since the release of your latest (BEST) synth-dance-pop ep 12345666?
Oh jeez, I didn't realize those couple of songs were such a hit! A few weeks ago we finished recording a whole bunch of new songs for some splits that are hopefully coming out pretty soon. A split 12" with Direct Hit!, a split 7" with Sundials, and a four way split 12" with Criminal Culture, The Elsinores, and Rubrics. Other than that we have just been playing a few shows here and there and writing more songs.
Basically both those songs just came from boredom. Every time I write a song a make a demo on garageband first using fake drums. So this summer we were on tour and on some long drive I got really bored and decided to take all the guitars out of the demo for Power Converter and just put some crazy synths and dance beats on it instead. It got a few laughs so when I had some down time in the studio while we were recording those splits I made another "remix" for $122.50. Alex got really stoked on them and threw them up on our bandcamp. We pretty much just did it as a joke so it was pretty cool that a few people actually enjoyed them.
Have you guys started working on any new material? What can we expect?
Well I have about nine songs totally written and demoed out for a new full length and a few more in the works. I'm sure Jake and Eric have some songs they are working on too. We haven't started learning them all together as a band yet and putting everyones little touches on things but I'm sure we will start real soon. I think the plan is to have a new full length recorded and hopefully coming out by the summer. We also have a four way split with Timeshares, The Great Explainer, and Go Rydell in the works too.
How do you feel the record differs from your previous efforts?
Well so far they are definitely still pretty straight forward pop punk, but I think we really want to try and branch out from just playing as fast as we can all the time. The new songs are definitely slower but still pretty short and still very energetic. I can only speak for myself but so far I've only written one song for the full length that breaks the two minute mark so we definitely aren't starting to write these crazy experimental epics or anything. The biggest difference from our previous stuff is definitely the tempo being slowed down, that and the new songs are better!
Your lyrics are so. Awesome. What is your process of writing them? What would you say your biggest influences are?
Wow, thank you! I don't know how much of process there really is. I write a lot of ideas down in a notebook throughout the day and then later I sit down and try to hammer something out that's catchy but still makes sense. That's kind of where things get tricky; sometimes its hard to get a message or idea across and still make a decent sounding melody.
As far as influences go I always liked when bands can take any subject, whether its personal or political or whatever, and make seem down to earth and relatable in some way. I think that's kind of what we go for, and we sort of make an effort to lean a little more towards the positive side of things. We want to write music that brings people together in some way. I know when I write its very cathartic and it's a good way to get negative things off my chest, but I always like to have a least a little hope in there.
Well the split we are doing with Direct Hit! is sort of a different project. I think it's going to be released as Hold Tight!/Direct Hit! but both our bands are playing straight up hardcore on it. We still aren't really sure why it's happening, but why not? We ended up with 11 hardcore songs in about 10 minutes. We're going to play a few shows where we just play the hardcore songs under the name Tight Hold!, so it's sort of our hardcore alter ego. Maybe if people like it a whole lot we'll do something else with it.
What's your favorite and least favorite part about touring? How do you handle the rigors of the road?
My favorite part of touring outside of the general awesomeness of playing music in a different city every day with my best friends, would probably be meeting so many new people. I've met so many awesome people and had so many great times with them just from being in this band. We are so lucky to have had that opportunity.
My least favorite part would probably be missing people back home.
I guess the way I try to handle the rigors or tour is to just take it one day at a time and enjoy it as much as possible instead of getting too worked up about any little thing. I can be pretty susceptible to a case of the tour grumps so I just make sure I remember how lucky I am to get to do something so fun and just do my best to let anything else roll off my back. That, and I try not to over do it on the gas station snacks... That part is pretty tough...
Which of your shows was the most memorable for you?
The most memorable show for me is definitely when we played Fest this year. So many of our friends were there and a ton of new faces were singing along and going wild. It was insane. Easily one of the best moments of my life. I think we were all really really blown away by a whole room of people being excited about our dumb band.
How do you guys stay busy when you’re not touring or in the studio?
We mostly stay busy by working stupid jobs or being in school. Eric and Jake are both in school. Alex delivers pizza and Eric and I work at a grocery store together. In fact we spend so much time at our dumb jobs or in school that it's pretty tough for us to find time to practice sometimes...
Both have been fantastic. Death To False Hope were some of the first people to ever really have any interest in our band whatsoever and they have been so great about making our music available to people. Matt at Animal Style is pretty much the guy who makes our dreams come true. Can't Take This Away coming out on Animal Style was the first time any of us have had our music put on vinyl by a label and it has been really exciting and everything we could have hoped for. We actually met Matt in person for the first time at Fest and he is just as great in the flesh as he is over the phone. We definitely would have been able to do half the fun stuff we've done without DTFH and Animal Style.
Could you please talk about your involvement with the DIY punk community, how you got involved in it and how it affects your lives (putting out your music, going on tours and playing shows, etc)
Without getting too involved and writing you an essay, I guess I got into diy punk when I was 15 or 16 and started going to shows where I lived in Northern Virginia. I don't think any of us really knew that we were all part of a little diy punk scene because we were still just getting into setting up our own shows and starting our own bands and putting out our own crappy demos out all as part of a little community and we didn't really know that term to us to describe it. Then after I moved to Richmond its basically the same kind of thing just on a bigger scale. All of us have been involved with booking shows, having shows at our houses, and obviously being in bands and putting out music, so it's a pretty huge part of our lives. In fact since most of us just work shitty jobs and don't have any kind of career, punk is probably a bigger part of our lives than anything else. It's definitely a really special thing to know there is a big group of people that share your interests and way of life, at least more than in the regular 'non-punk' world.
I definitely think independent musicians having some kind of ethics is important. I think that part of the reason people get into punk and independent music as a whole is because its hopefully some kind sort rejection of social norms and I think that should include rejecting the status quo's version of ethics. I think if you are getting into punk you probably already are thinking outside of those limitations and have some desire for change and thats part of what makes punk seem so attractive in the first place. I'm not saying that every punk band needs to be singing about sexism or homophobia or whatever kind of oppression, but that shit really has no place within punk rock.
What's the scene like in Richmond and more generally throughout the U.S.? Any cool bands you think people should check out?
Well Richmond sort of has it's ups and downs and right now its in kind of a down. There are usually a lot of house shows or warehouse shows and things like that but there is a city government initiative that basically seeks out spots like that and shuts them down for stupid tax and zoning reasons. That has kind of slowed things down. Richmond has a pretty strong pop punk scene and a pretty strong hardcore scene and a pretty strong weird indie scene but none of those scenes really mingle as much as they could, or should, but all those different scenes have been effected by all these show spots being shut down. So it's a little bit less active right now but I'm sure that won't last.
As far as the U.S. in general, I suppose it just depends where you are. We've played shows in cities that are supposed to have these great punk scenes and the show was sort of weak and then there have been times we've played in some small middle of nowhere town and the kids were all super stoked and it was a really great show. So really it just depends on where you are.
Timeshares, NONA, Spraynard, Criminal Culture, Go Rydell, and Sundials are some bands I think people should check out. I'm probably forgetting some amazing band...
What have you been listening lately? What are your favorite recent releases?
Well I've definitely been listening to those bands I just mentioned a lot lately, and a lot of Jimmy Eat World. My favorite recent releases would probably be Bearable by Timeshares, Cycles by Code Orange Kids, and Funtitled by Spraynard.
If you could do a split with any band that's currently together, what band would it be?
Oh man, that's a hard question. I guess in the realistic category I would have to say Spraynard. We talk about doing a split sometimes so maybe if I say something about it in this interview they will have no choice but to do it. As far as if I'm just dreaming I'd probably have to go with Green Day.
What's your biggest gripe with the punk/hardcore scene?
I guess just a lack of inclusiveness. Sometimes it seems like there is a big set of rules for how you have to be before you can be a part of this little world and I think thats pretty fucked up. Seems like sometimes we forget that we weren't all born punk rockers or anything like that and just because someone doesn't go to a billion shows a week or wear the right band shirts or whatever doesn't mean they don't deserve a chance. Also the way we sometimes start to think that just because punk exists outside of the mainstream that that means it's this perfect little world and we don't have any of the problems of the 'real world'. Because we do, they are just buried a little deeper. I think that can make it harder to address fucked up things when they happen, because no one really wants to think these bad things still exist within punk/hardcore. But overall I think we're doing alright!
What are the upcoming plans of the band?
We've got the split with Direct Hit!, the split with Sundials, the four way split with Rubrics, Criminal Culture, and the Elsinores all coming out sometime in early 2012 probably. Hopefully Call The Zoo will come out on 7" sometime next year too. Then we'll just be writing songs for the split with Go Rydell, Timeshares, and Great Explainer, and songs for the next full length. Probably some touring in there too.
Thanks for the interview James!!!; I hope it wasn't too painful! Any last words/wishes?