Amongst the textural and atmospheric pastoral rock of Holy Holy's debut album, When the Storms Would Come, is a song called "The Crowd". Though musically it doesn't stray far from the duo's lush sonic blueprint, lyrically it takes a few steps into uncharted territory. "It's about having dreams and feeling horrified by what your own mind can manufacture," explains vocalist Tim Carroll from Sweden, where he and his wife are visiting her family. "My girlfriend at the time was having dreams of strangling and stabbing people to death, and everybody has dreams about fucking various people they shouldn't be. I had this vivid dream about a zombie apocalypse, and so I just pushed those different concepts together into the song."
It's a surprisingly visceral lyric for an album that, elsewhere, deals in more tried and true themes of emotional turmoil. But then nothing about Holy Holy is overly typical. Take their formation: Carroll first met guitarist Oscar Dawson in 2003 when they were teaching English in Thailand. At that point music wasn't really a concern for the singer, though he had a guitar, and he and Dawson would sit and play when the work day was over.
Fast forward to 2011 and Carroll was living in Stockholm and Dawson had relocated to Berlin with his then-band, Dukes of Windsor. After Dawson took a trip to visit Carroll they started trading song ideas; over the next few months they swapped more and nutted them out during short stays with each other. By 2013, with the duo back in Australia (Carroll in Brisbane; Dawson in Melbourne), they'd become Holy Holy and released their first single, "Impossible Like You". With management in place and a song on the airwaves came tours with acts such as Boy & Bear, Ball Park Music and, earlier this year, festivals such as Primavera in Barcelona, accompanied by glowing notices from overseas magazines such as NME. All of which makes a very nice launch pad for their debut album, which was recorded intermittently over a three-year period with producer Matt Redlich.
"When we played at Primavera it was about 8pm, the sun was going down and there was a crowd watching, and the Mediterranean was literally right there," recalls Dawson. "Knowing that playing in a band's taken you there... that was pretty cool. And weird."
From issue #766 (September, 2015), available now.
Topics: Holy Holy