Every week we like to spotlight rising bands from outside of New England. Today, we get to know New York City’s The Hollows. You can catch the band in Boston when they perform at TT the Bear’s Place on Saturday, February 15. Learn more about the band, below.
Band Name: The Hollows
Justin Aaronson: Drums, Vocals (New York, NY)
Jeffrey Kurtze: Bass (Elkhart, IN)
Rob Morrison: Mandolin, Guitar, Vocals (Hendersonville, NC)
Daniel Kwiatkowski: Banjo, Guitar, Vocals (Cheboygan, MI)
David Paarlberg: Keys, Trumpet, Harmonica, Guitar, Vocals (Glen Rock, NJ)
Erik Saxvik: Guitar, Keys, Vocals (Libertyville, IL)
Neverending Show (2013)
The Hollows (2012)
Belong to the Land (2011)
How did you form/start?
Four of us studied acting in college, so we met there. DK met Rob doing a theatre production in Connecticut. He shared a lot of our influences so we all started jamming and it just grew naturally from there. Once it was clear we needed a full-time drummer, we auditioned Justin via a Craigslist ad.
Finish the sentence, someone would like your band if they like…
… whiskey. Dancing. Crying out on mountaintops. Crying in general. More stringed instruments than you can shake a stick at. Morse code. Life. Death. Burlap. God. No God.
What song of yours should people listen to first and why?
We’re an ensemble, so everyone’s got songs. “Sticks and Stones” off our 2011 debut will give you a pretty good idea of what we’re about. “August” is a spooky little single we released a music video for for in 2012 that we’re quite fond of, and the live version of “Whiskey and Wine” on last April’s live compilation paints a picture of what kind of party we throw in concert. Our sound is always evolving, so “Canyon Rose” and “Dead Rabbits” off that same live album might indicate where the next batch of songs is headed.
Walk us through your songwriting process.
The ensemble thing again: we all write, we all arrange. Usually one person comes in with a sketch or a loose structure or an unfinished song, and where it goes from there is anyone’s guess. We all share our ideas and say yes to everything at first, trying it all at least once, usually multiple times, before voting on what works and what doesn’t. Instruments are swapped in and out, harmonies are experimented with, bridges and choruses come and go. It’s a process, and it would definitely take less time if there was one “front man,” but that blended sound is who we are, and we’d like to think we reap the benefits of that democracy.
Tell us a little bit about your latest album.
It’s called Neverending Show and it’s a monster. Sixteen live tracks compiled from over a year of performances (2011-2012). We’re proud of our studio stuff, but playing live is such a different beast, and a huge part of who we are as a band. So we wanted to share that, especially with people who maybe haven’t been able to see us live because we haven’t been through their city yet.
What has your most memorable moment as a band been?
This one time, four of us were sitting on a bench in the cargo hold of a truck, in the middle of the biggest snowstorm of the season, headed up to play an opera house in Maine, and answering interview questions from Boston Music Spotlight on our piano player’s iPhone. Manifest Destiny waits for no one!
What has been the hardest part of building your name onto the national level?
We’re living in an age where it’s a lot easier to record an album on your own and get your stuff out there, which is great. But it can also mean that the market gets oversaturated and it can be hard to differentiate yourself and get noticed among so many other acts. Take the folk-rock scene, for example: 9 times out of 10, if someone hasn’t heard our stuff but knows we’re a roots-influenced band with a banjo player, it’s, “Oh, you guys are like Mumford & Sons.” Because they’re huge, and therefore the first accessible comparison that comes to mind, which is not their “fault” and nothing against Mumford & Sons, but we really don’t sound much like them at all. It’s a vastly diverse genre of music, but in order to stand out from the crowd, not only is it about working hard to be a great band, but often it’s about getting seen by the right people with the right audience and the right connections. Which usually means a combination of luck, talent, and how much money you can afford to spend on PR.
Who are the best bands from your hometown that we might not know about?
Phil Pickens, Alfonso Velez, Lily & The Parlour Tricks, The Bottom Dollars, Andrew Cedermark, Isaac Gillespie, Lily Maase, Nikhil P. Yerawadekar & Low Mentality, M Shanghai, Slavic Soul Party, Dirty Mac & The Bumper Crop Boys, Rocket & The Ghost.
What band would you most like to open for?
Who is your all-time favorite Boston band?
The Pixies, Mark Mulcahy, Galaxie 500, Morphine, The Modern Lovers… New Kids on the Block? And Man Alive! and Mount Peru, of course.
What are your thoughts on playing Boston?
We’re stoked to play a hotspot with such rich musical history. It’s a big college town with lots of young people, so that’s nice too (Rob, our mandolin player, actually went to Emerson). We played Johnny D’s in Somerville last year and had a ball.
What can people expect from your live show and why should our readers catch your next stop in Boston?
Joy! Boogeying! Rock off its hinges! Our live show is a celebration, pure and raw. Given the reputation Bostonians have for loving to party, we’re looking forward to feeding off that energy and becoming best friends with everyone in the room.
The Hollows will perform at TT the Bear’s Place on Saturday, February 15. Tickets for the show, which starts at 6 p.m., are available at the door for $8.
(This article originally appeared here.)