This year’s Boston Calling Music Festival featured a stacked lineup of bands from Boston and beyond. Many of the local bands in attendance at the festival are a part of the budding New England altrock scene. A majority of these groups got their start playing basement shows in Alston before graduating to packed venues across the world. Playing alongside local legends like Buffalo Tom, Piebald and Converge were the hardcore hometown heros, The Hotelier. I got the chance to catch up with lead singer, Christian Holden, after the band’s first performance at the festival.
BD: Hey Christian, thanks for joining me, you played a great set! You guys met back in high school not too far from here, how does it feel to be playing at a massive music festival back in Boston?
CH: We’ve played a bunch of festivals at this point, we just got back from playing one in Washington and another one north of Phoenix in the desert. Festivals are always weird, but they’re always pretty fun too.
Any significance playing back in your home state?
I mean, we’ve been a band longer than Boston Calling has been a festival, so it’s not like this is a big historic thing for us. But it is pretty cool to be participating in this thing in our home city.
What was it like growing up in Worcester and forming your band?
I went to shows at the Palladium all the time as a kid. I used to go and see bands, and there are certain bands that I can listen to that take me back to those moments and I imagine myself watching that band and remembering how good it felt and how cool it was.
Any of those bands specifically that may have helped form your sound a bit?
Oh yeah, all the bands that formed are sound are local mostly. Most of those bands came from the Myspace days of music. That’s where I got my chops listening to and writing music. But there’s a lot of bands, like Converge is a good example, of bands that sort of set the tone for Massachusetts bands and what they needed to do and how good they needed to be in order to be serious.
Last Lights, another hardcore band from Worcester, is a band that actually helped form how we make our music. They were so great at what they did, and again, there were just lots of people that just really showed excellence at their craft. Making the same stuff is just not good enough, you have to be very good at what you’re doing and you have to set yourself apart, and that’s sort of what I got listening to music in Massachusetts.
This year you guys toured around Europe behind Goodness, I saw that you’re headed back later this year.
Yeah we did a Euro tour at the start of the year, and I’m actually headed back there next month as a solo tour. Me, Emperor X, which is Chad Matheny who’s an ex-pat that lives in Berlin, and my friend Olivia W.B who’s also from Worcester.
It must be pretty crazy being able to travel across the world playing your music. When did you realize that your music had made it past Massachusetts?
We did a full U.S tour right before Home, Like No Place is There was coming out. We played Suburbia in New York City, and it was a good show but not a really wild show or anything like that. And then we did the entire rest of the U.S, and came back Suburbia like a week after we got back and it was nuts. Just like overnight people got so obsessed with our music and were screaming the words at us in a way that they didn’t do like a month and a half prior. That was definitely the moment where I was just like, fuck this is so sick what the hell is going on this makes no sense.
Yeah, the emotions of that first record really seemed to resonate with a ton of people. What was it like writing such a raw and personal album and performing it for thousands of people?
The process of turning those thoughts into songs is the more cathartic part, and then at this point I just has turned into a thing that I perform. It doesn’t feel incredibly personal in the same way that it did when I turned it into a song. It’s pretty easy now.
On your most recent album, Goodness, it seems like you’ve broadened the scope of your songwriting a lot and really amped up the production. Where did you record the album and who did you work with on it?
We worked with Seth Manchester who is a new producer we’ve never worked with before, he’d probably call himself an engineer. He works with Machines with Magnets in Pawtucket, RI, he’s worked on records with Daughters and The Body and a bunch of other cool shit. He’s a really cool guy and a great engineer and made everything sound great. We had a lot of ideas that we got to bounce off him, and he knew what he was doing in a way that he could do them better than we ever could.
There are all kinds of effects that were totally absent from your other two records… glitchy cuts, spacey vocal effects… what kind of atmosphere were you trying to create on this record?
We had this idea that we kind of wanted to create a more natural sound, that’s something that we always talk about. But it’s a really silly thing to want any way because we’re playing through electrical instruments through electrical boxes that go into other electrical boxes that get turned into data. So it is really silly to try to aim for a natural sound, but that really is what we were hoping for along with a clearer sound.
Are you guys in the studio right now working on anything new?
We’re working on writing stuff a little bit, not too much but we’re making our way there.
It must be nice to be back in Massachusetts to get some downtime. Are there any bands at Boston Calling that you are looking forward to seeing?
Yeah I really want to go see Piebald, they’re starting in like 10 minutes.
Oh shit that’s right, let’s get over there. Thank you!
Make sure to catch Christian on his upcoming European sprint, and the full Hotelier band touring around North America this fall.