As I often say, there’s nothing finer than discovering new groups and that’s definitely the case with the six lads– Justin Aaronson (drums, percussion, vocals), Jeffrey Kurtze (bass), Daniel Kwiatkowski (vocals, banjo, electric guitar), Rob Morrison (vocals, mandolin, slide, electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica), David Paarlberg (vocals, keys, harmonica, trumpet, acoustic guitar), and Erik Saxvik (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, keys) — who make up The Hollows. The group will perform at 8PM Friday, February 14th at the Waterville Opera House. To learn more about the band, I called Daniel Kwiatkowski recently and asked the usual opening question:
Q: Have you guys ever performed up in Maine before?
Kwiatkowski: We haven’t, no… the most north we’ve played actually is up in Boston. We’ve done a couple shows up there.
Q: Now, where is area code 718?
Kwiatkowski: That’s a Brooklyn number; we rehearse in Brooklyn– I actually live in Queens– two guys live in Manhattan, two guys live in Brooklyn, and two guys live in Queens, but we call ourselves a Brooklyn-based band.
Q: What I enjoyed the most about your first album — the 2011 release Belong to the Land — was the fact no two songs sounded alike.
Kwiatkowski: Yeah– well, we’re going into the studio again this spring/summer and we’re sort of hoping for a more cohesive experience for the listener. With our first album — because there’s no front man and there’s four different songwriters — there were 14 songs but we had to tear it down from 22 songs, a task that maybe was insurmountable. But it is also sort of indicative of our live show: you never know what you’re going to get from show to show. With four songwriters everyone’s influence fluctuate pretty greatly. Whether it’s bluegrass or country or southern rock or even tinges of psychedelia… we’ve been together for five years now and we’re still sort of figuring out how to make a more cohesive thing. It’s always a challenge, but it’s obviously a great problem to have: to have that many influences.
Q: Seeing you’ve never been to Maine before, how would you describe what The Hollows are like musically?
Kwiatkowski: We sort of jokingly talk about that all the time, but I guess when people ask us that question, I always say that we’re a roots-rock group at the heart of it… our base is Americana, perhaps, but we like to branch off into bluegrass, rock, country… you know? So it’s always like a conglomeration. Sometimes we describe ourselves as “junkyard rock” because our live shows tend to be a little more raucous depending on where we’re playing. And that’s what is sort of tricky for us — if we’re playing a venue where there’s three or four hundred people and they have a really big sound system, then we’ll bring a lot more of the heavy-hitting songs — lean more toward the rock side of the show with electric guitars. And then there are shows where there are no electric guitars at all, just acoustic instruments — then it’s more folk and more Americana. But I would say roots music infused with rock and bluegrass is probably as good a label as anything.
Q: And the bottom line?
Kwiatkowski: At the end of the day, what we’re going for is to make music that makes people feel good and also makes people listen… collaboration between the band and the audience.
Q: Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you think we should before we close this interview out?
Kwiatkowski: The only thing I’d think to say is that we have a couple of music videos that we’re really, really proud of… they are both concepts that we came up with, and we collected the talent, we built the sets and we designed the lighting. Myself and the bassist are professional carpenters, our acoustic guitarist designed the lights, so we’re a pretty self-sufficient band in the sense that we can pretty much do whatever we want because we believe in each other, and also we have an incredible support system here in New York. The last thing I would say, again, is that we’re headed to the studio soon and we are so, so excited about the material that we’ve been working on. I think it’s really going to turn some heads.
Q: Will the folks in Waterville get the chance to hear some of the new material?
Kwiatkowski: Absolutely! We’ve been workshopping something like 18 new songs for about the last six or seven months… so I would say for the show in Waterville there’ll definitely be a really nice blend of old and new material, so we’re really excited about that show.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?
Kwiatkowski: All I could probably say is they can check out our music and all that stuff on our website: www.thehollowsonline.com, and when we’re in the area, come out and see the show. As we always like to say, “together together.” Everyone’s welcome to have a good time with us.
Lucky Clark has spent four-and-a-half decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions.