HOLLIS from LOVE ZOMBIES
Interviewed by Michael Meade 2/19/14
Posted 2/26/14 12:23 PM ET
Tastes Like Rock editor, Michael Meade, recently caught up with longtime friend and musician Hollis J (formerly of HOLLIS in the United States with incarnations of the band in Pennsylvania, New York City, and Los Angeles) about her new band, Love Zombies, and her move to the United Kingdom.
TLR!: It has been a few years since our last chat, Hollis, you've since moved from Los Angeles overseas to London and formed a new band called the Love Zombies. Before we dive in music and your new band, what sparked the drastic change of scenery? And how has the move, hopefully, improved your life?
HOLLIS: Hey Mike! Well to be honest the whole move was unexpected. I was going to work with a few producers in London and was planning on staying 2 or 3 weeks but as fate would have it I actually met a band in Brixton , and while the music with the other producers worked out okay, it was the band that actually made me decide to want to stay in London and give it a try! London is definitely a different experience for me coming from the states. It was quite a culture shock and the winter has been tough here. I really love Los Angeles and miss it a lot, but I have been more productive here then anywhere else and for me that is the most important thing. I will get back to LA when the time is right.
TLR!: I know I asked this question, almost identically in fact, in our last interview but considering you're in a different country now I think it bears asking again; you've gone from East Coast music scene to West Coast music scene and now to the London scene, how is the London scene compared to what you've come from in the States? In terms of musicians, venues, crowds and their willingness to engage and support musicians.
HOLLIS: Yeah, I have lived in both New York and Los Angeles and now London. I guess what I have noticed here, in my personal opinion, is that musicians just want to play more. Especially compare to Los Angeles where I always felt a lot of people I met were looking to get paid first and foremost. People always wanted to be "hired". Venues always trying to rip you off in LA and getting you to "pay to play". I was sick of that scene. It takes the magic and soul out of it and always left me feeling sad and shitty. In London I have come across a lot of great musicians who literally just want to play. Friday night house parties filled with people playing music and having sing alongs. We love playing the Beatles here. It's just very real I feel. Also a lot of my influences growing up came from British bands and the guys here are British so it just clicked.
TLR!: Now, let's talk your new band, the Love Zombies. How did the band come together? Also, if you would, share a bit of info about the other members.
HOLLIS: Yeah, it was through a mutual friend of the band's named Rob Bradley. I had met one night outside the O2 Academy in London. I didn't know many people in London and he was cool so we became friendly and started to hang out. One night he asked me if I wanted to go see his friends punk rock band in Brixton called "The Sharks " play. I went along and watched the band and ended up at a house party with them that night. Me and 2 of the guys, Davey and Paul, from the Sharks ended up writing a song that night called "you do me good" . I came over Monday and we recorded it. We realized then that me, Davey, and Paul had a magical little songwriting unit, and from there we just started writing some more songs. We were just having so much fun and there was no pressure. The vibe was so relaxed and chilled and like magic, one song after another, just kept popping out. My manager had told me that this was the best stuff he had heard me do to date and that it was worth pursuing. Soon after, Butch the bass player, jumped on board and we then auditioned drummers because the sharks drummer was going back to Australia or something and wasn't really around to join. So we found Josh who is now our drummer and started to rehearse and play shows. I sometimes joke and say how I came around and hijacked the Sharks and stole all their members for Love Zombies… but it actually wasn't like that at all. They were looking to branch out from what they were doing and write with some new people. I needed to find my musical soul mates to write with. We needed each other and it really was a case of fate and divine timing.
Photo Credit: Lawrence Watson - Courtesy: Love Zombies
TLR!: Hollis, you're known for not only your singing but also playing keys or a keytar as well harmonica and guitar at times; with the Love Zombies will fans still get a dose of your multi-instrumentality?
HOLLIS: Yes! what is so awesome about this band is that I feel I can totally be myself and incorporate everything I do into it and it works. We are actually buying a keytar this week for some of the songs that we just added Synth to. I also play the harmonica on a few songs , including you do me good, the first song we wrote together. I also love playing electric guitar now and would love to do a song on it . I think eventually when we do full concerts and not just quick 25-30 minute sets, I will be able to have time to DO IT ALL!!
TLR!: And how did you arrive at the name "Love Zombies"?
HOLLIS: Just like how the band just happened the name just happened too . I remember how it exactly went down . It was only the second or third time I hung out with the guys. I came over after a weekend and was sitting on their bedroom floor telling Davey and Paul about what I did over the weekend; and I mentioned I had gone to the movies to see the new zombie Movie World War Z, with Brad Pitt, because I love zombie movies. At the same time Paul was kinda off on his own rant, as he tends to do, talking about how we are gonna change the world with music and how all we need is love etc. etc… and that's when Davey piped in and said " Love Zombies " connecting the two things we were talking about. Love Zombies. We are Love Zombies! I said yea! I loved it right off the bat and still do. It just stuck! That was that.
TLR!: You've already got some gigs under your belt with the rest of the Love Zombies, including the European leg of the Vans Warped Tour and, if I'm not mistaken, one coming up with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes at Shepherd's Bush Empire; how were those experiences? Are you and your bandmates gelling as a unit in the ways you hoped?
HOLLIS: Yeah, I mean it all just happened so quick. In a span of 5 months we have written dozens of songs , put a band together, have some label interest and started playing shows like the Warp Tour. Now we are getting ready to play our biggest show yet as a band at Shepherd's Bush Empire . The rate at which things are progressing is just another sign that it's all meant to be. We just have an undeniable chemistry and that is something I've spent so many years as a musician looking for. You can't really put your finger on exactly what it is that makes it work so well but it's something that's not contrived or fabricated . Something that can't be bought . We all share the same intense passion of playing music and writing good songs. Individually we have all had put in many years of practice and have all shed blood sweat and tears in the process . Now, collectively we are reading to fucking fly and rock the world in a way that the world hasn't seen in a long time. We believe it's our time now.
Love Zombies performing at the European leg of the Vans Warped Tour
Courtesy: Love Zombies
TLR!: What's the plan from now through to at least mid-Summer?
HOLLIS: We have our most exciting news so far but I can't reveal too much at the moment. What I will say is that we are set to record with a very well known English producer to record our first single in April. We hope to have our first EP out this summer and will be supporting it with a summer of Festivals throughout Europe.
TLR!: Are there any plans for the Love Zombies to launch any gigs or perhaps a tour or mini-tour Stateside?
HOLLIS: Our calendar is filling up now for April and the summer months. I am hoping to get a supporting slot on a big tour. That would be awesome. We will see what happens. A lot of what happens in the next few months has to do with which record label we go with and what kind of support they offer. I cannot wait to play some shows in the U.S. and get the guys over there to see where I came from. Most of the guys in the band haven't been to the U.S. yet and I think they will love it.
L-R: Paul Harvey, Hollis J, Davey Fitzsimon, and Robbie "Butch" Butcher
Photo Credit: Lawrence Watson - Courtesy: Love Zombies
TLR!: Going back to my first two questions a little, what would you say are the biggest things you've learned in general from moving overseas and what you've learned as musician with completely changing your performance surroundings?
HOLLIS: Well I learned how to drink a lot of tea! About 3 or 4 cups a day! [Laughs] but besides that I've gotten a crash course in different people. I've learned to decipher certain accents. I now know if someone is from Liverpool, Southeast or Northeast London. These are small things I didn't even know about before coming over here. I've also been lucky enough to take some trips and experience neighboring countries like Ireland, Holland ,Paris and Portugal. The one thingI realized about music though is that no matter where you go or what country you end up in, whatever genre of music you are playing, at the end of the day it is about writing a good song.
TLR!: In closing, what do you hope your biggest adventure, musically speaking, will be over the remaining months of 2014?
HOLLIS: I want to be on a big ass tour around Europe and then be on a big ass tour bus in America and tour the states. I hate staying in one place for long periods of time. I have been though lately and I'm starting to go crazy. We have done the work for so long… now I'm ready to go and play.
Hollis J - Photo Credit: Lance Sheperd Photography - Courtesy: Love Zombies
TLR!: As always, thanks for taking the time to catch up and chat Hollis. Looking forward to more music from you and the Love Zombies, and of course that yet to be announced project you'll be working on here at Tastes Like Rock with a few other up and coming musicians in another month or so...
For more from Hollis J and her band Love Zombies, check out www.lovezombies.co.uk and Like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-Zombies/232460773576910.