With the release of Goodness last year, The Hotelier made the leap from cult sensation to universal acclaim. The album – drawing on everything from nature to nursery rhymes – showcased the band at a new height of their prowess.
The world the record embodies is one that sounds as fresh and enchanting today as it did on first listen. Live, these songs take on a whole new lease of life. Beginning a tour of the UK and Europe today, frontman Christian Holden took some time to talk about life in one of Massachusetts’ most beloved bands.
It’s been over six months since Goodness was released. Looking back, how would you describe the record?
I would tend to describe it in a pretty literal sense as a record we put out last year and put a lot of work into. But we’ve summed it up before as an album about natural, unnatural, and supernatural love.
It was quite the departure from your last release, Home, Like No Place Is There. What drew you to taking this direction?
Well, to me it feels like the same direction. It’s a response record. It is responding to all of the trauma and dark spots on Home… with the same essence of deep care. We sort of all felt of this as a progression or growth. There are certainly a lot of ways we might have toyed with the expectations of listeners which might make it feel like a deviation, but it’s all the same ‘Us’.
What’s the response to that release been like from your perspective?
It’s been very nice. Folks have been very kind in their appreciation of it. Lots of people have been able to hold space for that new record alongside our old records in their following for our band. It’s been pretty great.
Has the way you interact with these songs changed since at all you first started working on them?
Yeah for sure. Home… was a record that was sort of full speed the whole time. Very little space. As we mess around with songs on Goodness we are always sort of developing and getting better at having that space on the record feel tangible live. That’s been pretty fun.
How’d you first get into playing music?
My friends wanted me to play guitar in their cover of “Brain Stew” at our sixth grade talent show. So I got guitar for my birthday and played one string and sang and probably had my hair spiked.
How has being in this band changed since you first started playing together?
We started in 2009 so its been about seven or eight years now. We were a band when MySpace was a thing and being in a band was much different then. Not even for us but just in general. There was a whole different vibe and Bandcamp sort of changed the game on everything. Mostly everyone is a bit more relaxed. For us, it’s also wildly different being a band where we are now in life than when we were all teenagers. Less starry eyed but a bit more wise. Still the same amount of scepticism and a little less pride probably.
You start a tour of the UK/Europe today. What are you most looking forwards to about being over here?
First time we went to the UK Chris [Hoffman] ate beans on toast every morning and was raving about it. Everyone was confused. But I’ll put that as Chris’s answer. People in the UK and EU are very kind and hospitable and we have a couple friends around that we will be excited to see. But mostly doing the same touristy things.
Crying are supporting on these dates – are you looking forwards to being on the road with them?
Yeah! We just did a bunch of shows with them in the US and I hope Chris gets them stoked on beans on toast.
What’s it like being able to keep visiting different countries and meet all these different people off the strength of your music?
It’s wild and I’m very grateful for it. We get to witness people doing cool work in communities all over the world. We get to meet lots of very talented artists. We get to visit really beautiful spaces that people care a whole lot for. It’s very busy but also very cool.
What excites and scares you most about the year ahead?
Ooooooh. Good question. I’m excited about playing outside more and spring. I’m scared about the the increasing validation that fascist groups in the US will receive from the incoming administration allowing them more power/traction/protection.
If money/everything were no object, what would you most like to do or achieve as a band?
Buy a house for all my friends.
What else does the future hold for The Hotelier?
Not so, so much. Kind of a little bit here and there. But generally shifting down a gear.
If you were to give some advice to musicians just starting out, what advice would you give?
Develop your craft. Dig deep into others’ work. Surround yourself with talented and caring people.