This feature was originally posted on Highlight Magazine in April 2019.
As one of the most promising acts to come out of alt-rock in recent years, Cardiff-based band Holding Absence has been on a wild ride this past month. Since releasing their debut S/T album in March has already racked up over a million streams on Spotify, all while they have been tearing up stages around Europe and the UK with no sign of slowing down.
What some may deem as an overnight success, the rapid growth in popularity Holding Absence has experienced in the months leading up to the album release has been anything but overnight. Dissecting the inspiration and thought that went into S/T , vocalist Lucas Woodland candidly opened up about how the self-titled album came to be, what the past month has been like for the band and what the future has in store.
All it takes is a quick scroll through Holding Absence’s social media to understand the close relationship they have with their fanbase. From exchanging memes that poke fun at the band members to simple replies thanking all who come out to their shows, the interactions may sometimes be brief, but still show the powerful connection between Holding Absence and their fans. So it was no surprise that when their debut self-titled album dropped last month, the members of Holding Absence were overwhelmed by the outpour of support.
“We were blessed from a very early stage in our career to have a supportive fanbase, so releasing this album was scary for us because we wanted it to propel us to greater things whilst also keeping everybody who already cared about us happy,” Woodland said. “It was a bit of a juggling act, but we’re really happy with how it’s all gone.”
With the pressure of creating a collection of songs that would elevate them to the next level in their career, Holding Absence pushed themselves while in the studio, the process ultimately taking them almost two years to complete. Showing cohesiveness and confidence in their sound with S/T , the eleven songs on the album all compliment one another while narrating the personal story of the highs and lows that come with juggling love and real-life woes.
“We wanted this album to bleed emotion, first and foremost,” Woodland explained. “We wanted it to reach inside us and everyone who listened to it, too. Musically, we wanted the album to span as much genre as it did emotion, but without compromising fluidity.”
Taking inspiration from artists like My Chemical Romance, Bring Me The Horizon, My Bloody Valentine and even Bon Iver, Holding Absence managed to weave variously different concepts throughout the album, creating a complex soundscape that is easily translatable to anyone who takes a listen. With brutally honest lyrics that are all too applicable to our own lives, there is one particular track that has captivated the attention of many listeners. Simply recorded with a piano and the powerfully raw vocals of Woodland, piano ballad “Marigold” offers a refreshingly different moment on S/T , standing out from the batch of heavy atmospheric rock tracks. Seemingly effortlessly put together with poetic lyrics and vulnerable undertones, “Marigold” was one of the biggest challenges Holding Absence faced while in the studio.
“We’ve always wanted to push this band as much as possible, the easy option has never been good enough for us,” Woodland said. “We felt like putting this track on the album was a confident way of opening the door for future progression, it also helped divide the album up a little, too. It was a risk, but we feel like it paid off.”
Hailing from Cardiff, Holding Absence is just one of many alt-rock acts to emerge out of the UK underground music scene, paving the way for a new generation of music listeners who are just discovering the genre for the first time. While the Welsh music scene may often be overshadowed by its friend to the east – England – Wales has a rich history with alternative music, Bullet For My Valentine, Funeral For a Friend and Kids in Glass Houses being just a few acts to emerge from Wales in recent years. Holding Absence attributes being part of this thriving local music scene for influencing the music they make today.
“Growing up, we got into music during the ‘golden years’ of the Welsh scene so we were totally surrounded by great music,” Woodland said. “As we became musicians ourselves, the Cardiff scene was constantly thriving and, as musicians, we got the chance to play shows weekly. Being Welsh musicians and coming from the Cardiff scene has hardened us as musicians for sure.”
Surfacing during a time where the UK music industry is becoming increasingly competitive, Holding Absence has managed to make a name for themselves through their reputation for putting on captivating, and sometimes chaotic, live performances and producing music distinctly their own. While some believe the scene is alive and thriving more than ever before, Woodland believes Holding Absence is able to fill a gap in alt-rock that has been missing.
“I know that Holding Absence can provide epic rock music for the masses with an inclusive live show and a passionate, personal message,” Woodland explained. “I think there’s a huge gap in the market for music that makes you feel, on a wide scale and I believe we can be that band.”
Proving that art can never be rushed, Holding Absence has been able to slowly build their career since forming in 2016, the release of their self-titled album being a massive step towards solidifying their name in alt-rock music worldwide. As they continue to wreak havoc in venues around the world, the future and where it will take them is constantly in the back of their minds.
“We’re just excited to keep seeing this album grow and speak to people,” Woodland said. “As a band, we’re hoping to travel the world with this music, but on a personal level, we’re just itching to get started on album number two.”