ALBUM PREMIERE/INTERVIEW: The Hollows Return in Fine Rock Form on Eclectic EP ‘Lonesome Ghost’

The Hollows formed in the backwoods of Brooklyn in early 2009, where they quickly became known for their diverse range of material, tight four-part harmonies, and rollicking live shows. The band’s breed of ensemble-driven roots rock (influenced by such acts as The Band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Tom Waits, among others) inspired its members to swap instruments on stage as often as they traded lead vocals. Jeffrey Kurtze (bass), Daniel Kwiatkowski (banjo, guitar), Rob Morrison (mandolin, guitar, slide guitar), David Paarlberg (keyboards, guitar, trumpet, accordion), and Erik Saxvik (guitar, keyboards) comprised this original lineup. In 2011, they released their first LP, Belong to the Land, which critics hailed as an “outstanding offering” (Kingston Daily Freeman) made by “master craftsmen” (Dingus on Music), and simply “an incredible debut… a monster” (From Under the Basement). 

In 2012, The Hollows continued their “massive momentum” (Pure Volume) with the addition of Justin Aaronson (drums) and the release of a self-titled EP, praised as a “zap of energy” (BaebleMusic) and “a smorgasbord of musical talent” (Huffington Post). By now, word had continued to spread about the band’s “ecstatic live shows” (Jingle Punks), which in 2013 prompted the release of a live album, Neverending Show, to capture “everything that makes seeing The Hollows live in concert so much fun” (Charged FM). 2016 saw the release of a second studio full-length, Between the Water and the Wonder Wheel, produced by industry veteran John Siket (Sonic Youth, Phish, Dave Matthews Band). This “heart-throbbing and exhilarating” record (Popdust) furthered explored the band’s electric, heavy Americana side: “a lovechild of twangy desert rock” (Glide Magazine) with “spastic vocals, pounding bass, and full-sounding keyboards” (Pancakes and Whiskey). 

This November, The Hollows will release Lonesome Ghost, a six-song EP and their first studio output in five years: an older, wiser, more introspective record made in collaboration with producer James Frazee (Patti Smith, Sharon Van Etten, My Morning Jacket) and the addition of new member Ian Bakerman (bass).

Today Glide is excited to offer an exclusive premiere of Lonesome Ghost. This collection of songs finds the band dwelling on loftier subject matters as they pen lyrics about loss and memory, confrontation and absence, and finding a clandestine sense of play. The band also doesn’t hold back from exploring new sonic territory, skillfully steering from bluegrass and folk-influenced rock to contemplative soundscapes, psych rock, soul, and triumphant jams. Tying it all together is a sense of craftmanship that manifests in the lyrics and the eclectic musicianship. Perhaps most importantly, all of these songs unfold in the kind of way that makes them ripe for being jammed out in the live setting. 

Listen to the album and read out interview with a few of the band members below…

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you encountered something you couldn’t explain? What are some other ways a place could be haunted?

DAVE: I think there’s a lot about the universe we can’t comprehend. I don’t know if that means ghosts, but I don’t know if it doesn’t, either.

ROB: The science lover and skeptic in me doesn’t believe in ghosts, but the artist in me is continually drawn to phenomena that we can’t explain. I think an element of mystery is crucial to art that has staying power. It doesn’t have to be a supernatural breed of mystery, but I do think that’s a ripe tradition to pull from when it comes to music, especially folk music.

ERIK: I also think that memories themselves can also be ghosts. I have ghosts all over New York City, which I’m reminded of sometimes when I walk past a certain building, or park. Some are good memories, some are bad, some can even be haunting, so I think that ghosts can exist in a variety of ways, depending on how you’re defining that.

There’s no shortage of media these days. And the way the world’s been going there’s been plenty of time to explore new content. The difficulty becomes finding the gems. What’s the last song, book, movie, etc that really inspired you creatively?

DAVE: The Body Keeps the Score — Bessel van der Kolk.

ERIK: I thought that Bo Burnham’s Inside was one of the most creative and engaging pieces that I’d seen in a long time. It had a sense of beauty, a sense of self, a strong social-political commentary, and a sense of the whole. An exceptionally creative and relevant “Everyman” journey through the pandemic.

ROB: An album I discovered during the pandemic, Viva Terlingua by Jerry Jeff Walker, is just about the best darn country rock record ever released. Every track and performance is an 11:00 number. It’s the kind of album that perfectly encapsulates the magic of good country music; simple but honest lyrics set to music that feels like it’s pumping right out of somebody’s veins. There’s just no beating the warm sound of an early ‘70s album.

“The Poor and the Stranger” feels at once very old timey and very relevant. It relies heavily on biblical allegory, but bubbling just beneath the surface there’s this very topical frustration with current hypocrisy in the political landscape. Would you mind sharing the headspace you were in while composing this one?

ROB: As someone who grew up religious, and was raised on the Golden Rule, I can’t help but be nauseated by the Religious Right’s embrace of outright racism, otherism and fearmongering. There’s this extreme sense of cognitive dissonance that I experience every time I try to figure it out. It feels like my brain is literally scrambling itself trying to figure out how my family (and so much of the country) could support such hateful policies and leaders. It also breaks my heart. “The Poor and the Stranger” was written in the throes of that frustration. There’s a sense of being torn between trying to get someone to understand their own hypocrisy, and this overwhelming feeling of sadness for the “least of these” who are oppressed under the banner of selfish conservatism. It’s part protest song, part hymn.

DAVE: Can’t recall the attribution, but to paraphrase something I read recently: People don’t leave Christianity because they stop believing in its philosophy. They leave because they can’t stomach belonging to an institution that still claims to be about those teachings, but so clearly isn’t.

Musicians and the people who live with us know that there’s usually a number of instruments close by at any given time. Mathematicians probably have an equation for how the number of instruments grows exponentially for every musician in a household. What’s the instrument that you currently can’t walk past without jamming at least a little?

ERIK: I spent much of the early pandemic locked in my home studio to the wee hours soloing to backing tracks on electric guitar, and just a few months ago I got a new Nord keyboard, which has brought great joy… but the vast majority of the time I still grab one of the acoustic guitars and keep it analog. There’s something about feeling the box of wood vibrate against your ribs that never disappoints.

DAVE: I picked up a Yamaha Reface CP during quarantine. It’s tiny, which is good because otherwise I wouldn’t have room for a new keyboard in addition to the dozen or so already in the house. It’s also got a battery option, which makes it easy to just pick up and play. A lot of fun Rhodes / Clavinet sounds. But — similar to what Erik said — a lot of the time I’ll just sit at my old upright piano.

ROB: I find myself playing electric guitar most of the time — my favorite is a Fender Baja Telecaster running through a ‘70s Vibro Champ. It just always sounds good. Electric guitar is such a transportive instrument for me, because of all the directions you can go with it. Give me a fuzz pedal, delay, and looper, and that’s hours of ideas (that are probably only enjoyable to me).

What’s your very favorite hollow thing? Note: if you say yourselves you are legally obligated to include “emo” in your band description.

ROB: The name of the band actually came from the “hollows” or gaps between intervals in a melody. (I think the inspiration was an early R.E.M. song.) But we liked that the name also conjured up other interpretations. So yeah…I guess I’d have to say “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” by R.E.M.?

ERIK: My favorite hollow thing is the type of wooded grove that you find nestled into the mountains. My grandparents used to talk about “goin’ up into the hollow [or maybe hollah]” when they were kids growing up on the Ohio / West Virginia border. I’m realizing now that this new EP cover could very accurately be described as being photographed in a hollow itself!

You’ve been around for over a decade. Now that you’re an older wiser band, is there any advice you could give to folks who are just starting out?

DAVE: Show up. Both for yourself and for each other. It can be easy sometimes to let other life responsibilities get in the way of scheduling commitments, especially in a group. Make it a priority.

ERIK: You have to stay inside the music and not pander to what you think other people want you to be doing. I’ll invoke a favorite Shakespeare quote here “Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

ROB: Follow your instincts and your tastes — there’s no sense in trying to mold and bend what you’re into just to crack the recipe for success.

Photo credit: Nelson Bakerman

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