It is easy to find the Devil in The Star and The Devil, the searing solo debut from Portland rock staple Gabby Holt. Holt explores her past connections in six bristling parts, each of which she wrote while immersed in connections that were, at times, driven by addiction, fear, or insecurity. These emotions come to light in the heavy, yet deliciously catchy sound that Holt has crafted, brimming with her guitar prowess and melodic finesse. As for the Star, Holt’s symbol of healing and rejuvenation, it carries a more nuanced presence on the record, emerging not within the content of the songs but in the process of creation and reflection that the record itself has allowed.
Gabby Holt was inexplicably drawn to the guitar from a very young age, finding in the instrument a home that she carried with her throughout her childhood and adolescence. She began sneaking into Portland Open Mic nights in high school, and soon immersed herself in the Portland music scene. She played in various bands before meeting Daniel Riddle and joining King Black Acid in 2012, a project which she began co-fronting in 2017. The Star and the Devil was produced by Gabby Holt and Jeff Stuart Saltzman (Typhoon, Deertick) and features Joe Mengis (Eels) and Charley McGowan on drums, Sean Tichenor on bass, and Bryan Owens on additional guitar. Before 2020, Gabby Holt and her band played regularly, selling out their most recent Portland show and opening for Oregon indie veterans Floater. The band is already working on their follow-up to The Star and the Devil.
Today Glide is excited to premiere the new single “The Devil In My Head,” which explores the vulnerability of Holt’s former self with a sweetly unfolding love song that tortures itself into an unabashed 90’s rock hit. The song finds Holt laying down bluesy yet poppy guitar and swooning vocals. There is a slow build to the song that brings to mind alt-rock and indie with a beautifully soaring chorus. With vocals that are at once angelic yet punk, Holt tackles relationships and quick flings with the kind of swagger and abandon that we need more of in rock and roll. Blasting off with big guitar riffs and huge drums, the song is sexy and catchy in the kind of style that feels suited for arenas. As we all get back to normal, Holt is clearly ready to bring fun times and rowdy nights with her heartfelt rock and roll.
Gabby describes the inspiration behind the song:
The Devil In My Head is the first tune I wrote when really diving into my abandonment wound. At the time, I was writing the song in utter confusion as to what happened and trying my best to piece the puzzle together. I slept with an incredible woman, the chemistry was fire, so many awesome emotions came outta me and – I thought – us. I was so confused as to why we stopped seeing each other, why she wouldn’t consistently show interest, and then at times show lots and connect emotionally over awesome communication. Very wild. The song itself is a nod to that first night together, sex on the first night.. what an intense way to connect. She stopped talking to me. I went to my music. Jammed the initial idea out with my buddy Evan Prochaska and then later formed the song on my own, wrote the drum parts, demoed it out and later hired Joe Mengis (Eels) to play my drum parts. It’s amazing what happens when my heart is sloshed and shattered – I’m-a go crazy and focus on the tunes. I paired up with Jeff Stuart Saltzman to put finishing producing touches and his awesome engineering and mixing skills and we made it what it is now. We got a 90’s rock hit banger. I’m stoked.
Photo credit: Kristin Hiatt