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Holy Holy low res colourLocal indie rockers HOLY HOLY have just presented us with a second taste of their much-anticipated debut record, an exquisite new single, You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog. The band will be incredibly busy for the remainder of the year with appearances at Splendour In The Grass and Primavera Festival, with UK/EU tour dates set for May, hitting London, Brighton, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Liverpool, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.  

Recorded in Brisbane with Matt Redlich (Emma Louise, Ball Park Music, The Trouble With Templeton) at the helm, You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog unveils the band displaying a darker sound with atmospheric swells ebbing under sharp glassy guitar breaks, soaring vocal harmonies and driving bass. (See the clip below) Amid planning and rehearsing for their upcoming gigs, Holy Holy’s guitarist Oscar Dawson found time to do a quick Q&A with us.

What was your first guitar?
My first guitar was a tiny nylon string acoustic. My parents bought it for me when I was 10. It took about two years to come to grips with the thing, and then I was hooked. First electric guitar was some sort of Samick Strat-copy. It actually was stolen shortly later and I moved on to an Epiphone Les Paul-type thing. I still have that guitar lying around somewhere.

What’s your main guitar now?
I tend to oscillate between a Mex Tele and a Maton BB1200 (electric). I have grown to really dig the Maton, in fact – quite versatile in it’s range of tones, and easy to play. I don’t tend to go in for really expensive or vintage instruments, because I have to take them out on the road and bash them around a little. I prefer to try to make whatever I have sound good.

Through what amp and why?
I have an old Vox AC30 back at home which sounds great. A cousin living in the UK had it sitting in his bedroom. He isn’t a guitarist, and would play his disc man through it. The story goes that one day it just fizzled; some smoke emanated from the thing and that was it. The amp lay fallow for some period of years until I went over to visit and was confused by the presence of the thing. Why would he have such a machine, and why doesn’t it work? Several years later, the house was being emptied and the amp was almost thrown into a skip. I said, you can’t do this, and in the nick of time had the amp freighted out to Australia. Got it fixed up and it sounds wonderful. Generally fairly challenging to get enough tone out of it in ordinary gig or rehearsal situations, as it’s so loud. But when it’s running hot, it’s hard to beat.
Lately, however, it’s been superseded by a Dr Z Route 66 amp. Producer Matt Redlich owns one up at his studio in Brisbane. It’s probably the finest amp I’ve played through. Simple design, no bullshit. Clean when you want it, and naturally crunchy when you need it.

Which pedals are your standards?
Nothing really remains a standard for too long but I have just upgraded a bunch of gear. Now using a Klon KTR for my overdrive needs, it’s the best overdrive pedal I’ve tried. Also using a Fulltone Soulbender for more driven lead sounds. Has a slight fuzziness. Inevitably I’m drawn toward the Strymon pedals too now. Trying to get my head around the BigSky and the Timeline, at this stage I have barely touched the surface but they are powerful tools. Also trying out a One Control MIDI foot controller – setting up loops to pedals, and then programming them as patches. At this stage it’s slowing me down, but eventually it’ll mean I don’t have to tap-dance on my pedal board anymore.

What’s your latest recording and when will you be back in the studio?
Currently in the studio with Holy Holy, finishing an upcoming album. Also been working with Ali Barter, an artist down in Melbourne. Playing some guitar and producing that work. These days it’s fairly constant being in and out of the studio – I don’t tend to disappear into the studio for a month and then have several months off. Recording budgets and technological change seem to be responsible for that. Projects seem to slowly drip feed recording time.

What gigs have you been playing lately?
Played a Holy Holy gig recently down in Melbourne. First one for a short while and good to play. We’re heading out on the road soon – going over to the UK and Europe, before hitting Splendour and then some of our own dates in Aus later in the year. Also been playing some gigs with Ali, doing some festivals in Victoria – a couple of EP launches, Boogie Fest, a boutique festival in the Otways called By The Meadow, and a few others. I generally enjoy collaboration with a lot of different artists, otherwise inevitable madness descends.

Most memorable gig?
To watch? I keep remembering seeing Lou Reed as a 13 year old at the Palais in Melbourne. My Dad took me along. At first I was horrified by the sheer volume and I thought the guitar playing was kinda rough. But then they started going on tangents and playing dynamically, it was the gig that kept giving. A couple of hours later I was entranced and it forever since it has been my go-to point for how to structure a live show.

Worst stage nightmare?
I fell off a stage once. It was a fall of about a metre and a half. Took a bit of a run up at the holdback monitors, and underestimated my own momentum. Aside from damage to my knee and guitar, I think I also damaged a couple of people in the front row. The band thought I’d died. For a split second, I wished I did.

Album that changed your life?
OK Computer, Radiohead. Came along at a time in my late teens where I needed to drag myself out of my shameless shred cave. This is an all time guitar record for me. For perspective, in chronological order, my teens go roughly like this.
1/. Queen, Greatest Hits (all time);
2/. Led Zeppelin, IV (fave);
3/. Van Halen, I and/or II (into the shred pit);
4/. Steve Vai, not sure which record (shameless);
5/. Jeff Buckley, Grace (coming out of the pit, thank the lord);
6/. Radiohead, OK Computer (and we’re back in the real world again).

What gigs are coming up in the next few months?
Heading to the UK and Europe with Holy Holy to play a bunch of dates in May. Then we have Splendour in late July and our own run of dates coming up in Australia after that.

A guitar tip for the kids?
Get your head around the fretboard. Don’t stick to the same positions. Link them up. Find different places on the fretboard to play the same things. It’ll open your playing, and also you will find different tone qualities at different fret-positions on different strings. Play high up on the lower strings, for example.

And here’s the brand new clip for You Cannot Call For Love Like A Dog

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