Austin Talks: Holy Spirits

March 19, 2011

Vic and Dave catch up with Brooklyn's Holy Spirits. Everyone is sleepless, caffeinated, and happy:

We spent much of Thursday at this super relaxed party presented by Kassette Klub and Head Underwater in a coffee shop far on the east side of town. Set to the backdrop of working baristas, music flowed as a shaded courtyard filled with friends. Among the assembled talents (which included Secret Mountains, tooth ache., Human Resources, and Sean Nicholas Savage) was Holy Spirits, whose delicate atmospherics seemed custom fit for the intimate occasion. Our words below are with Aaron Hodges and Michael Barron of the band:

So how did you guys get to Austin?

M: That’s a very torrential story. Our flight left at 6AM out of Newark. We stayed up all night, practiced, had a few drinks at a bar, grabbed a cab, went to the airport…Aaron got ripped off by a guy who was like “I’ll help you with your stuff” and then demanded a tip. We flew to Washington, then we sat in another small plane and it stayed on the runway for over an hour, it was uncomfortable, we got here and had about 50 minutes to get to our first show.

A: We did it. I thought we’d be late for the first show even if we had left on time. But we still made it; we’re all pretty delirious right now.

This is your first time performing here, how long have you been playing together?

M: The band started in 2009, it was just Aaron and I, and we played a lot of poetry readings. We booked ourselves on my birthday once – that was our first real music show with a couple other bands. Rob joined us for the set, he’d long been a friend of ours. We then spent time in winter 2010 writing the first EP, and wanted to play it live. For a while we didn’t know anyone so we’d book our own shows with bands we’d meet, usually through blogs.

A: It was the three of us for a while, and now we’ve got a solid five-person lineup we’re playing with.

What’s your songwriting approach?

A: The process is very recording based, a lot of stuff just happens with an inkling of an idea, and then we layer on that. I use recording as the writing process itself, and build upon them until the song develops. I send it over to Mike, and he does the same thing basically.

It’s pretty cool that there’s this handing off of the songs, it’s an interesting creative partnership…

A: Yeah sometimes I’ll get something back from Mike and it’s completely rearranged…

M: It can be a little volatile [laughter].

And you guys just finished the new EP?

M: It’s come along really well; we met our deadline right before we flew out.

A: We went on this little west coast tour with Mutual Benefit, and when we got back from San Francisco, Father / Daughter Records asked “hey you want to do this split with Mutual Benefit, just give us four songs in a month.” It was like “ahh” but, we were just talking to Jordan, and we’re both so relieved and really happy with the way it came out.

M: I definitely feel that these four songs are more confident and strongly recorded. They’re very different sounding, exploring new territories for us, it felt good to work on these, and they came along faster this time.

A: This one doesn’t have as much of a brooding vibe to it, it’s a little more open.

What kind of expectations did you feel heading into this second release?

M: I think the first thing we had to do is put ourselves in the headspace that we are going to make something – that’s a huge leap. We committed to the idea.

A: I’ve learned with this second one that time is the most important factor – sometimes it’s good to make quick decisions with snap judgments on a deadline, and then you also really need the time to think, so it’s a balance.

M: We seem to work best with pressure, some fire under us.

Okay I’ve seen it. You must describe your practice space in Brooklyn.

M: I think it’s the smallest practice space IN Brooklyn. I bet it’s the size of this table.

A: It’s a glorified janitor’s closet. There are three walls; it’s a triangular room, we fit five people in there. When we have the door open to air things out, people walk by and they’re like like “what the…

M: “Jim, Jim get over here, you gotta see this…”


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