By NEIL WALKER
Before lauding Holy Holy’s debut album When the Storms Would Come it’s important to get one thing straight. Holy Holy’s influences include Dire Straits and Mint fears an unstoppable disaster may be gaining momentum: a dire Dire Straits revival.
Bands such as The War on Drugs are also currently citing the 80s rock plodders as inspiration for their sound.
In his defence, Holy Holy singer Tim Carroll says he and songwriting partner Oscar Dawson are “kind of the product of our parents’ record collection.
“We grew up listening to Dire Straits, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and Emmylou Harris, that kind of suite of songs.”
Thankfully, When the Storms Would Come leads more towards those other influences including modern bands such as Midlake and Band of Horses.
“I like that The War on Drugs album [Lost in the Dream],” Carroll says.
To be fair, Dire Straits and main man Mark Knopfler had some more interesting material in their extensive back catalogue than the mammoth selling Brothers In Arms album that was played to death on every street in the late 1980s thanks to its popularity among CD buyers in the early days of that format.
But a Dire Straits revival must still never happen. Let’s be clear about that.
With that tricky point negotiated, Carroll is happy to open up about the Australian band’s formation and album.
Singer-songwriter Carroll and guitarist composer Dawson have taken the long way around to get together as a duo and put together When the Storms Would Come released earlier this year.
The two actually met soon after Carroll left high school and the pair taught English in Thailand. This led to early collaborations that are now bearing psych rock fruit in Holy Holy.
“We formed a friendship and I always enjoyed playing with him because he’s a phenomenal guitar player and fits in really well with what I play,” Carroll said.
Carroll, from Brisbane, and Dawson, a Melbourne resident, went their own musical ways – Carroll as a singer-songwriter with “some degree of success” and Dawson as guitarist with electronic rockers Dukes of Windsor.
“I was watching him from afar and was really proud that he’d done well,” Carroll says.
The Holy Holy singer was thinking about putting together another solo album in 2011 when “I realised I didn’t want to do another folky solo project. I wanted to move into a different kind of sound – more electric and drivey – the kind of stuff I was listening to.”
Dawson visited Stockholm and stayed at Carroll’s home and the two picked up where they had left off all those years ago in Thailand. Although Carroll declares his songwriting has improved since his high school days when he first picked up a guitar.
“I always enjoyed writing songs as soon as I learned how to play chords. They were pretty shit songs back then.”
That’s not an accusation that can be levelled at the harmonic anthems featured on Holy Holy’s debut.
Songs such as History, Sentimental and Monday and A Heroine soar in all the right places while earworming their way into listeners’ minds.
The album was recorded in Berlin but Carroll says it’s just “a happy coincidence” that the band’s name is the same as a David Bowie track. The starman recorded a trio of albums – Low, Heroes and Lodger – in the German capital in the late 70s.
It took four years to develop the ten songs on When the Storms Would Come and it’s easy to hear why Holy Holy are now making waves overseas.
A recent gig in London saw former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher singing the band’s praises (they’re “the best band I’ve seen in years”, he’s reported as saying). Gallagher junior asked to meet Holy Holy after the London concert to express his appreciation of their music.
“We had a bit of a chat. I was nervous but it was really nice because I listened to his records a lot when I was really young and I consider Oasis to be significant in the history of music,” Carroll says.
An award win for Carroll’s songwriting from the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) shows the Brisbanite may soon mix it with the big boys and girls on the composing front.
In the meantime Holy Holy are heading out on the road again in January next year and will play The Corner Hotel in Richmond on Friday 29 January.
“We’ve got some pretty cool bands playing with us on this tour,” Carroll said.
Holy Holy will be supported by Canadian alt-folk outfit The Franklin Electric and synth-pop purveyor Olympia on the tour.
“I think they’re going to blow people away a bit. It’s always interesting when the support bands are really good since it means you have to make sure you bring it.”
See cornerhotel.com for full details.