Portsmouth singer-songwriter Tim Holehouse is known for his wild and entertaining stories. On Tuesday, November 20th, he will play at Dorett Bar in Mainz at 19:30. Make sure you stop by to listen to his collection of tales from the road accompanied by down to earth and straight from the heart folk and blues tunes. Hit up our interview to learn about his humanity, wit and experiences from his life on tour.
Hey man, how’s 2018 been for you so far? Give us some insights into your life, would you?
-Tim Holehouse: 2018 has been amazing for me this year. It has seen me cross the pond, as we say in my country, a few times. I’ve toured the United States of America twice and in January, I also played in Canada and Mexico. I also did some touring in mainland Europe and a tiny bit in the UK. It has been a lot of road again this year like most years… not so many releases on split cd and a flexi disc 7” I think came out this year.
You released quite a lot of splits in the last couple of years. What’s the idea behind that?
-Tim Holehouse: Yes I have done a fair few splits I guess. I tend to do them with tour mates, it’s great for tours together as people have a cd to take away with that includes both acts from the show. It’s great for introducing each other’s audiences to their friend’s music. I’ve done a fair few now so I am going to be concentrating the next couple of years on my own releases. I have a new album due next year which is already to go. I will probably do some more collaborating with other artists as I’ve done so for the last few years with The Tourette Boys from Dresden/Berlin. I have recorded for a 7” with an amazing band from Vigo in Spain called The Family Folks. There are some plans with some other friends and artist in the works too … so maybe less splits and more collabortion in the future.
How’s your newest split „Tim Holehouse vs. Malcolm Tent“ (2018) coming along – what have you learned about yourself during the production process?
-Tim Holehouse: The split with Malcom Tent who is one of my favourite people in this world came to be because we had been touring the UK and U.S. together this year. It was made for the tours and released by the label I’m on aaahh!!! Real records from Cambridge and TPOS from the states, Malcom’s label. My side of the split was a live recording from the bridge city sessions in Portland, Oregon in January. It’s a nice overview of my writing and the session was a joy to record. Nice people and fast, I like to record fast. The other track is a DEVO cover I chose as a B side and the sleeve is basically a DEVO tribute, as Malcom Tent is a massive DEVO fan. In fact, he beat me: he got the drummer to play on his track while mine was done at home. It’s been selling well both here in Europe and in the states, I think. Only a few copies left now of that and the flexi disc 7”.
In one song, „Gainesville Limits“, you sing: „So I turn and face the strange right now“. What exactly are you refering to?
-Tim Holehouse: Yeah so this song is about facing unknown or unfamiliar or unknown circumstances. I was pretty ill at a festival in Gainesville. I had made a mistake of not getting a hotel. Until I got there, I kinda thought I try my luck and somebody would put me up. I spent the first night in a Krispy Kreme donut factory with the workers giving me free coffee and letting me try the new donuts. But when the festival opened, I crashed on a sun lounger in the shade (well that’s what it was when I went to sleep) forgetting that Florida, even in the end of October gets hot as hell. I woke up with sun stroke and some friends helped to find me a hotel on the city limits of Gainesville for $20 for two nights – which was an amazing bargin I thought. It got better and I played my two sets but I wasn’t myself and had lots of friends help me out. I wrote this song really about how great people can be and how daunting it was to play while being so ill. But the twist to the story is that as I checked out, I asked why the room was so cheap. Because it was so last minute? The woman said no and told me that somebody got shot in my room the day before … at least they cleaned the blood up. Typically, I do songs about friendship though, which is a very important subject to me.
You are constantly on the go. Since you wrote a song called „Immigrant Song“, in which you sing about your Great, Great Grandad, moving to the UK in 1852, what are your thoughts on the current situation of refugees in the U.K. and Europe?
-Tim Holehouse: Ah yes, he came from the Congo in Africa in 1852. So yeah, without immigrantion I wouldn’t exist. Personally I think that borders should not exist – freedom of movement should be a right. I love how the EU has opened up borders and we can travel freely around the continent for the most part anyway. It has made my life super easy traveling through Europe that last 12 years where I’ve been pretty much constantly on tour. I am aware I’m from the country which is about to do the B-word (I can’t even say it) and I hate this…
As to refugees, I say: “refugees welcome”. These people are being forced to leave their country because of war or famine so we should help our fellow humans and take them in. Personally I believe no made up line on a map should be there. People should be able to move freely around the world. We are all human beings and this is our world – why cant we explore it freely?
A few songs of yours, including „Immigrant Song“, draw from almost meditative repetition and stomping. I think you even introduce one song as „real blues stomper“. From what inspiration does that stomping culture in your music come from?
-Tim Holehouse: Well the stomping thing is because a lot of the old delta blues where I have drawn a lot of my inspiration from has a very rhythmic stomping feel to it and they use a bit of repetition. That and having a beat on a more tribal humanistic level so that people are drawn to the beat. It’s partly to engage the audience. The reason I use a stomp box and not a drummer while touring is because I can’t fit a drummer in my rucksack … ha ha!
Also, I’m a big fan of the band Swans and they use repetition a lot too so that was an influence as well.
You have been some kind of Jack Kerouac, traveling the USA by greyhound bus (rock on!). If bands from Mainz would go on tour in the USA, where should they go?
-Tim Holehouse: Yes the greyhounds where a hella experience. All walks of life on them. Well, Portland, I mentioned before, was amazing. I love that city. Layafette Indiana on the latest tour was incredible… so many great cities … I think some of the smaller towns like Southbend Indiana were great – San Diego of the bigger cities. But to be honest, the US is massive and I would say: explore it and find your own path. You will have a hella ride! It’s geniunely more of a culture shock going to the states than to any country in Europe (minus maybe Russia which I haven’t done but would love to). It’s certainly an experience in the US, that is for sure, and for the most part, I found people pretty nice. I got treated well.
It’s a win win situation for my question that you mentioned you planned on doing a film soundtrack, maybe (diyconspiracy.net). What kind of film would suit your music … and why?
-Tim Holehouse: Well, I write all sorts of music so whatever the film needs I’m happy to write that way or at least give it a go. I think one you are talking about was for a documentary on Iceland and I gave the guy an instrumental piece I made kinda like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The piece has an atmospheric quality to it and builds into a layered crescendo of sounds. I personally love documentaries myself. But I’m open to trying anything really. Recently I’ve been making electronica on my Ipad just for fun but my publisher is saying that maybe we could use some of those for computer games. I basically love a challenge and I think this is what it comes down to.
Last but not least, what drink we will find you ordering at Dorett Bar?
-Tim Holehouse: Bourbon Whisky probably of some kind… I have had my birthday on this tour in Berlin and drank far too much Makers Mark at the Franken Bar in Kreuzberg ha ha! I’m not so into Irish or Scottish whiskys but will drink them like most booze. I like a good local beer too so if you have a good local brew I’m down with that too. I’ll drink most things except tequila as I’m allergic to it. Kind regards and see you at Dorett Bar!