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Words by Kate Lockyer

The key to Holy Holy’s unmistakeable sound and success seems to be their willingness to make “music that scares us a bit”, as vocalist / guitarist Timothy Carroll says.

Holy Holy have been pushing the envelope with their uplifting yet real records for years, and their latest album ‘Cellophane’, which was released last September, has just been nominated for the Album of the Year at the Queensland Music Awards.

Good Call Live had the pleasure of chatting with one half of the duo Tim Carroll just before he jumped on a plane to Adelaide to prepare for their ‘Cellophane’ Australian tour alongside Oscar Dawson and the band.

Despite a slight setback in that their collaborator and friend Tasman Keith broke his leg in two places and can no longer join them on the tour, Holy Holy have managed to get some other bangin’ guests onboard that will have you clamouring for a front row seat.

None other than Eliza and the Delusionals have joined them in Adelaide and Perth and will be along for the Melbourne, Sydney, Launceston and Torquay shows, and Chloe Wilson from Tassie duo Sumner will be joining them for the Hobart, Brisbane and Kingscliff shows.

Given the ‘Cellophane’ album has such a collaborative feel to it, it will be thrilling to have a show that also reflects that in a small way, with some features from Sumner planned throughout the show.

But it sounds like Holy Holy will also be playing the classics that we love so well – and Carroll says they feel the same.

“We do enjoy playing as Holy Holy, the band, and though this is the tour for ‘Cellophane’ the album and we will be playing a bunch of songs off that record, there’s also four other albums there that we love playing…” Carroll said.

Those who love Holy Holy for their experimentation and musicianship (and who doesn’t?!) will be intrigued to learn they have some exclusive additions to their songs as well.

“We went through this period of writing songs and codas – these instrumental extensions of the songs,” Carroll said. “The truth of them is that when we’re writing songs, we just have all these ideas and then we’re trying to fit them on the album, so we have to make the songs shorter, but there’s all this material that we can’t bear to see go away completely. So we’ve found this workaround of making these codas that can sit with the songs. There’s a bunch of codas that we’re going to play… so it means there will be some instrumental sections and sections where you get to hear the band and parts of songs that you might not have heard before, and really just revel in what’s possible in a live setting.”

Carroll said prep for the tour with the whole band together takes about two days in a studio – one day for them to “get the songs under our fingers again”, and one for tech rehearsal.

“It’s always a bit scary, that first show, to be honest, it’s terrifying. And then you get up and running, and by the end of the tour you finally feel like you’ve got the hang of it” he says.

For those who have followed Holy Holy since the beginning, you’ll know their sound has shifted over the years, becoming enriched with experimentation and a newer, electronic sound.

It’s an organic process, Carroll tells us, of making a record and then “trying to feel the edges of what this project is”.

“We’re always driven by what excites us and what makes us feel something, and it is true that this band is a hard one to pin down because sometimes we do almost folky, singer-songwriter ballads, and sometimes we are collabing with various artists doing electronic and dance works and so on. But I guess Oscar and I both have different songwriting backgrounds and I guess we’ve enjoyed making music that excites us, and maybe even music that scares us a bit, rather than making the same record five times in a row.”

“Even when we change so much about our sound… I do think that you can always still tell that it’s us, and that comes down to the core of what Oscar and I write… my voice and my lyrics and Oscar’s melody choices and songwriting choices. And that’s exciting that even with completely different costumes on, the character at the core is still there” Carroll says.

This tour gives Holy Holy the opportunity to try on all these different costumes. “Maybe that’s the beauty of a live concert; while an album is a moment in time, with a live concert you can cherry pick, and play three or four songs off the first album where it is a live guitar band, and then as the night progresses, we can move through time and play songs from the whole ten years that we’ve been making records,” Carroll said.

In response to the question of his favourite songs to play live, he said there are two elements. “There is a funny phenomenon that some songs are hard to perform and some are easy; some songs play themselves, and once the song starts I feel like a puppet almost, and the songs just happen through me, and some songs I’ve really got to focus…” he said.

“The other element is songs that mean something to an audience, and that’s very palpable when you’re standing onstage, when the first chords of the song ring out, or we announce the song and you can hear this murmur go through the crowd…Maybe You Know is this song of ours that has a really recognisable beginning, where there’s this string stab, and whenever that rings out, I always feel this wash of energy off the crowd. You get goosebumps and that’s always special to play.”

After this writer’s confession that Maybe You Know and Cellophane are some of her favourite songs, Carroll told us a bit about what these songs mean to him.

“Maybe You Know is probably the song of ours that I’m most proud of; I think it does the thing that Holy Holy is always trying to do, where it marries a beautiful melody, some lyrics that mean something, and something memorable and unique all into one.”

“Cellophane is a beautiful song too, and we are going to play that on the tour, and it will be the first time it’s ever been performed live.”

Asking Carroll about the decision to include Swedish lyrics from Many Voices Speak, he said he had just been living in Sweden and the song was actually about leaving Sweden.

“It just felt so natural, I’ve always loved songs that dip into another language, and Swedish is such a beautiful and poetic language. People can feel so much in an album without listening to a single lyric.”

Add in the lyrics, and we’ll all be awash with emotion at this month’s Holy Holy gigs – don’t miss it!

w/ Eliza & The Delusionals* and Sumner^

Friday 5 April – Hindley Street Music Hall, Adelaide*
Saturday 6 April – Astor Theatre, Perth*

Thursday 11 April – Du Cane, Launceston*
Friday 12 April – Odeon Theatre, Hobart^
Saturday 13 April – Enmore Theatre, Sydney*
Friday 19 April – The Tivoli, Brisbane^
Saturday 20 April – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff^
Friday 26 April – Forum, Melbourne*
Saturday 27 April – Torquay Hotel, Torquay*

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With thanks to Positive Feedback

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