Following a lineup change during recording of their 2019 self-titled debut album, Holding Absence return to kick start the gestation period of their upcoming album through the release of two emotionally charged singles, ‘Birdcage’ and ‘Gravity‘.
It seems the quartet from Cardiff, Wales are unapologetic in uttering the miseries of unrequited love while reopening fresh and old wounds for their listeners, spearing agony through the hearts of the vulnerable, depressed and the melancholy, and finally shredding them into pieces by the voracious vocal viscosity of the narrator.
…reopening fresh and old wounds for their listeners, spearing agony through the hearts of the vulnerable, depressed and the melancholy…HOLDING ABSENCE
The singles go beyond the rock ballad of a broken heart; ‘Birdcage’ and ‘Gravity’ delve deep into the darkest regions, as if the agony of heartbreak and rejection are forms of mental illness, akin to a character who’d put on a clown mask to escape from the reality of an emotional black hole.
Perhaps that’s an extreme example but the emotional propagation weaves through the sheer desperation of a lost soul on a well-balanced cacophony of post-hardcore that ranks alongside the likes of 30 Seconds to Mars and Radiohead in the category of storytelling in its sincerest form.
Sheldon Ang spoke with Holding Absence lead vocalist, Lucas Woodlands, about the emotional brutality of unrequited love. Perhaps there’s some light at the end of a heartbreak?
Sheldon: Given that the band’s successful self-titled debut album was only released in 2019, followed by two new singles, there would’ve been a lot of shows cancelled thanks to Covid19?
Lucas: Yeah dude, we had to cancel three tours because of Corona, and two tours due to completely unrelated reasons…it hasn’t been a good time. I suppose it’s different not to be doing something for a change (chuckles)
Sheldon: The fact Holding Absence were supposed to headline in some of the biggest festivals across Europe – eighty of them in fact – is a testimony of how great the debut album is. In your opinion, what is it about the album that made it to be a critical and commercial success?
Lucas: Oh wow, thank you, dude. When we first started, we had a clear vision of what we want to do. And we want the album to be at its purest essence. We are grateful that the album was well-received. I feel that a lot of people were ready for a new Holding Absence album (chuckles).
Sheldon: The making of the self-titled debut album had a change in lineups, not just mid-album but mid-recording (Lucas: haha yeah). Do you get the feeling that the sounds of the upcoming album will be different now that everything is running smoothly?
Lucas: Yes, that’s a great question! We feel that this upcoming album will be solidly made. We know what Holding Absence is about now, and we know what Holding Absence does. We have the whole people to do it (people with the mindset, following the departures of several members before). I can’t give away too much as obviously, a lot are still in the pipeline. It’s like we are now cleaned (from uncertainties). We are confident right now. We just can’t wait for people to listen to our upcoming album.
Sheldon: The single Birdcage is the latest release, and according to you it’s also the most “poppy” track, therefore the catchiest one. Is this track a good indicator of the style of songs for the rest of the album?
Lucas: To be honest, I don’t think it is or it will be. And I always say this – that given Holding Absence have a wide variety of songs that we can do, we are always showing what we can do, rather than what we are going to do. With Birdcage, it’s not what our songs will be like, rather more of what our songs can be like. So our sounds and lyrics will definitively show more emotion. Even more epic choruses, with deep meaningful verses. But Birdcage is not an indication of what we will do, rather of what we can do now.
Sheldon: Birdcage is normally associated with captivity and suffering…
Lucas: Oh yeah… you raised an interesting point. I’ve never actually thought about associating with them, and the dichotomy of it…
Sheldon: Hah! I’m against the captivity of animals in general… so, there is a lot of desperation in the lyrics, expressed most dramatically. I sense hopelessness. what else can you add to the emotional equation of this track?
Sheldon: Yeah it is really about self-discovery and misery…where me or the narrator of this song talking about obsessively in love with somebody who doesn’t love you back.
And as the song goes on it grabs you with the line “I’m a sinner” – it comes from the perspective of being guilty of loving someone by the end of the song. And I feel there’s that captivity and the kind of freedom as you said that justifies the unrequited love sentiment. It’s about embracing the emotions that people do not like to embrace.
Sheldon: Fair enough! Another new release, Gravity – that’s one hell of an emotional brutal track entrenched with deep human emotions, with lyrics like “I’m begging you”- that’s pretty deep man. Tell me there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for unrequited love?
Lucas: Gravity is a very, very sad song. It’s like desperately seeking the help of somebody else. Depression is a force that weighs on you man…an element of life, it’s that kind of the song really, it is about reaching out. We don’t want to be seen as a band that sings about there is no light to the end of the tunnel – that is not a point. The point is right now it may not feel like there is light at the end of the tunnel…But you know there is (chuckles).
Sheldon: Is this something that you have experienced some time in your life? I mean, you’re good looking lad mate, so is not like you’ve experienced heartbreak many times, eh eh?
Lucas: (Chuckles) Cheers man, appreciate that dude (chuckles)… but good looking lads don’t get the end of the bargain all the time, we get a lot of bad things…(Sheldon: I know what you mean bro haha, jokes)…(chuckles) but yeah dude that’s a great question.
I feel the talent of a great songwriter is in the conveying of a story. Personally, I have sung countless of heavy emotions in my life… and channelled those emotions through this story. Holding Absence songs are not necessarily autobiographical. A lot of times, I have this feeling of grief and of loss of hope, and I channel those feelings through the song…you know what I mean (chuckles)
Sheldon: I guess it may not necessarily be about love, as it could reflect other facets of your life.
Lucas: Exactly, for me, I draw the line that I will not be singing about something where people don’t feel or can’t relate to. But love is an overdone topic and is the most felt emotion in the human catalogue. And of course, everyone can relate to love in the hardships during the loss of it. So for me, it is about singing a song where people can latch onto.
Sheldon: Hey you guys remind me of 30 Seconds To Mars hey
Lucas: Ah wicked, man! 30 Seconds To Mars are brilliant, and at the personal level I like songs where I can connect onto and channel into, and hearing what come out from different people, you know… so I love song that makes me feel things. I love hearing to Radiohead, Deftones, 1975… and I feel that those bands make me feel.
Sheldon: So where to now, and when can we expect the next album to be released?
Lucas: Well, we are sure that our shows and everything we got planned for this year will be cancelled. With the album, I can’t really say much but all I can tell you is that this album will be banging (chuckles).