A Chat with The Holdout (07.01.22)

Hailing from Portland, Oregon, US-based trio The Holdout bring the masses their hard-hitting, high voltage sound. We speak with Aaron Blanchard, Andi Camp and Paul Johnson about their album Won’t Be Leaving Here Today, annoying habits, musical inspiration and future plans.

OSR: How did The Holdout come together?

Aaron: It would be easier to draw a picture – my best friend and fellow bandmate, Jake Depolitte, played in a killer band here in Portland (Temper & Hold) with Andi and Paul. I came to know Andi and Paul through him. When Jake decided to move out of the city to find peace in the woods of Tennessee I was without a right-hand mand and Andi and Paul were without a guitar player. After grieving for an acceptable amount of time, we came together to form The Holdout.

Andi: I would add one little it’s a small world tidbit: the connection between Jacob of Temper & Hold and myself originated back in 1996 when he lived in Salt Lake and I lived in San Francisco, and our bands played a bunch of shows together. We hadn’t seen or spoken to each other in almost 20 years when we reconnected through a Craigslist ad that Paul and I had placed looking for a guitarist. Such a happy coincidence.

Paul: I had taken a break from playing music and was being a full-time contractor. Andi had hired me to do some projects on her house and during that time coaxed me back into playing music. The rest is history.

OSR: What inspires you to make music?

Aaron: I subscribe to the theory that we all have our note or are made up of notes and I’m just trying to find and continue to play the notes.

Andi: I think that everyone has some kind of language or form of expression that just comes to them naturally. Music is that for me. It’s second nature.

Paul: The fact that music is there is what keeps me going. How cool to be tapped into something as amazing and visceral as music.

OSR: What can you tell us about your album Won’t Be Leaving Here Today?

Andi: This record, more than any other record I’ve been involved with, feels complete. It feels alive and it feels relevant.

Aaron: I’m thrilled with how it turned out. It inhabits that little area between confusion and confidence. It feels good when I hear it; it feels good when I play it. Did I play that?

Paul: We all had a similar excitement and amazement at the depth, fullness and cohesion of the album once we had recorded it. We were excited and knew it was going to be a good album to begin with, but I think we were all surprised with how much we liked it when we finished recording.

OSR: Did you face any challenges when writing and recording the album?

Andi: Our recording sessions were delayed twice, both extreme weather-related (worst fires in Oregon history and worst ice storm in Oregon history). I guess it’s only fitting for the times.

OSR: Do any of you have a musical background?

Aaron: Mostly self-taught, picked up things from folks along the way. Started playing bands as soon as I could and 20 some odd years later, here we are.

Andi: From age 6 to 16 all of the music playing in my life was formal lessons and performance groups. – classical piano, french horn in a concert band, bass in middle school jazz band When I joined my first punk band at age 17, it wasn’t difficult to learn the songs but it took me time to get comfortable writing music from scratch. It was hard to be okay with making mistakes while writing music, but once I went that way I never looked back. Haven’t read a piece of sheet music since.

Paul: I also started learning to play with friends in punk bands when I was 15 or so. When I got to college, I thought I was going to study Spanish literature but ended up taking a music class and fell in love with classical music and the idea of music theory, of which I knew nothing. I ended up getting a Bachelor’s degree in music, but I can’t say it ever helped me further my musical output. The biggest benefit for me was having to take a couple of years of piano lessons as part of my studies as it really helped me visualise how notes, scales and chords lay out.

OSR: If you could change anything about Won’t Be Leaving Here Today, what would it be and why?

Andi: Recording the album was a pretty magical experience. I wouldn’t change a thing. Music isn’t about perfection anyway, it’s about expression.

OSR: Do you have any advice for emerging musicians?

Andi: Don’t try to sound like anything. Give yourself room to grow and then just play what sounds good to you.

Aaron: I’m pretty sure Dave Grohl said the same thing but, basically, just get in a garage or basement or anywhere you can, write some songs, let them suck, don’t take it too seriously, be loud, and don’t forget to enjoy it while it’s happening.

Paul: Just have fun. Don’t give a rat’s ass about what other people think about it.

OSR: What is your most annoying habit?

Aaron: In this band, I used to try to control the song rather than let it be shaped by the moment, by the three of us in the space. I try not to do that anymore.

Andi: I am often too direct when I say things. Is that a habit?

Paul: I play drums.

OSR: What is your favourite type or genre of music?

Aaron: Currently I’m listening to mostly black metal and noise/death metal.

Andi: I don’t have a favourite genre, but in the last couple of years I have significantly expanded my rap record collection and it’s been wonderful.

Paul: Changes on a daily basis. Today was a thrash metal day.

OSR: What future plans do you have for The Holdout?

Aaron: Shows, albums, shows, albums.

OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?

Aaron: I just don’t have enough adorable emojis to express how I feel.

Andi: Happiness is directly proportional to the number of cats you adopt.

Paul: You can do it.

Thanks to Aaron, Andi and Paul for speaking with us. For more from The Holdout check out their Facebook, Instagram and Spotify.

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