We were recently able to catch up with Dan Kwiatkowski of The Hollows, a six-piece NYC-based band that’s got a really catchy indie-folk vibe. (The guys’ influences are super varied, though, so it’s difficult to pin them down in any one genre / sub-genre scenario.) Dan and I talked about their SXSW experience, the band’s live album (which drops TODAY!), and about their goals for 2013. Read up on all that here, and be sure to head over to Brooklyn Bowl tonight for the album release show! Here we go:
Photo by Sarah Gainer
So you were just at SXSW, right?
Yeah, we were just down there a couple of weeks ago and played four or five shows. It couldn’t have been better! The weather was perfect, the vibe was awesome…it was really excellent.
Was that your first time down there to perform?
It was. Actually, it was our first time down in the south. On the way there we played Louisville, Nashville, Fort Worth, and then spent four days in Austin.
That’s awesome! And so this was your first extended stint outside of New York performance-wise, right?
Yeah, we’ve done a couple of one-offs; we did one in Washington DC, we’ve been up to Boston, but for the most part we’ve been fairly landlocked in Brooklyn and in Manhattan.
Right. And was it hard to transport all the people and the stuff around? Or have you gotten the hang of it by now?
No, we’re actually really fortunate; we have a friend who has a Subaru Outback that we get to use for every gig, and we have a rehearsal studio in South Williamsburg, so our location is pretty decent. Playing places like the Knitting Factory, Brooklyn Bowl, Littlefield…we’re actually in a really great location. So yeah, at this point we’re pretty used to it.
Great. And so even without factoring all that equipment into the equation, there are six of you; does it ever feel like there’s too many cooks in the kitchen?
You know, it’s been an interesting journey; we just turned four years old, and we’ve only just in the last year and a half been playing with a drummer. But in terms of artistic differences, everyone’s pretty much a songwriter; there’s four predominant songwriters in the group, there’s no front-person, so if we do a ten song set, we’ll kind of divide up the responsibilities. Because of that, there’s a lot of common ground, but at the same time, Rob really likes grunge music, I’m really into Sufjan Stevens and I love Bjork, Jeff (our bass player) really loves hip hop, and as a result, it’s always really interesting being in a room and seeing where people are approaching things at any given moment. And because almost all of us have a background in theater, we’re sort of used to working in an ensemble environment, and it’s a lot of give and take. Feelings get hurt and things get pretty heated sometimes, but I think every time we rehearse (which is a couple of times a week) it’s also an experiment in patience and in listening. If you’re a good listener, you’ll get your chance to speak up, so we try to work by that motto.
That’s good! Now, tell me a little bit about the live album; how’d you guys choose which tracks to use? There’s what, sixteen on there? So you at least had a little flexibility in the selection process, I’d guess…
Yeah, sixteen tracks on the live album, and we’ve done a full-length and an EP (which we’re super proud of), but we’ve found that a lot of times your album sound doesn’t really capture what people are going to see live. So we decided it was really important that we release a live album so people get a sense of what they’re going to experience, and I think the live album does an incredible job of capturing our live performances, and just the way we interact with our crowd, which is really important to us. Picking the tracks was pretty easy; we had between twenty and thirty tracks from three different venues over the course of a year, and so we had a couple of really great intimate tracks from Rockwood Music Hall, a couple of tracks from Southpaw (which just closed, unfortunately), and the rest of the tracks are from Brooklyn Bowl, which is just an incredible place to play with incredible sound. So we’re really happy with all the tracks, and I think the mix will allow people to gravitate toward whatever they’re going to gravitate toward.
Awesome. And how did you come to start playing the banjo? Are you self-taught?
Yeah, all of us (except for our drummer) are pretty much self-taught. There’s a lot of instrument swapping, too; I think all of us approach music from the general sense of, you know, if you’re curious about it, then learn about it. If you fall on your face it’s not a big deal, because it’s just music, and you just get better and better.
Right. Now, you guys are working on another full-length, yeah?
Yeah, we are. I’d say probably within the next year we’ll have fifteen to twenty songs, and then we’ll probably have to cut that in half, and then we’re going to hit the studio. It’s all super exciting, and it’s happening very fast!
Amazing! And any other goals for 2013?
Yeah, I think the biggest goal of 2013 is we want to go on a larger tour for longer than two or three weeks, we want to keep playing music, become better musicians, and I think what we’re looking for is to expand our family, which is our fan base. We’re looking to spread our live show and get people on board with what we’re doing, get more people to hear our music.
So come to the show tonight at Brooklyn Bowl and get your hearing on! And if you CAN’T make it out, definitely grab the live album, which also drops today. In the meantime, follow the band on Twitter and Facebook for all the latest updates.
(This article originally appeared here.)