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INTERVIEW: Greg Holden Talks About His Musical Progression, Inner Battles, & Upcoming Phoenix Show

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Greg Holden is a British singer-songwriter based in the United States. He is best known for his hit charity single “The Lost Boy”, and for co-writing “Home” — the 2012 debut single for American Idol-winner Phillip Phillips.


Genre: Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Hometown: Born in Aberdeen, Scotland and raised in England
Record Label: BMG
Twitter  | Facebook | Instagram

New Song “On The Run” Out Now

“With a fresh Mumford and Sons style, this New York based British singer-songwriter sings it straight from the heart.” – AXS


Q & A with Greg Holden, Singer-Songwriter

Flier for Butch Walker featuring Greg Holden at Crescent Ballroom on September 7, 2018
Get Tickets

During the small break from his fall tour, between his August 2 performance in London and the following tour date in Phoenix on September 7, Holden took the time to share his thoughts with journalist Emily Rudolph of Burning Hot Events:

Thank you for talking with us! According to your interview with People, you’ve had no intention of leaving New York. I’m curious… Are you currently living in LA after all? If so, can you tell us a bit about how you came to call Los Angeles home? 

Yes, it’s all very ironic I know. I came to LA two years ago with my tail between my legs. My reasoning was that 99% of the people I know and work with were already in Los Angeles, and I really was cutting off my nose to spite my face by not relocating. So I did. I don’t regret it, but I sure do miss New York. I’m not sure that Los Angeles is the right place for me, but I’ve been told by other ex-New Yorkers that it takes 3 years… So I’ll give it another year and then see what happens…

 

What inspired you to relocate from England to Brooklyn, NY?

Music essentially. All the artists that inspired me had all lived in New York in their 20’s, so I wanted to as well. Strangely it didn’t even feel like a crazy thing, quitting my job in London, selling all my shit, and moving to a different continent during a recession. I was just going with my gut, and I’m glad I did. Nearly ten years later I don’t regret a thing.

 

I’ve heard that it all started when you first picked up a guitar at age 18. I’d love for you to tell me more about that journey. What was your musical experience like growing up? What compelled you to begin writing your own music?

I wrote from the moment I started playing guitar. In the beginning I just wanted to write songs so I could get my repressed feelings out in the open. Naturally I started playing in punk and metal bands in my home town, which I did for a few years, before realising that I actually had a half decent voice, and a talent for lyrics too. I was wasting my time in bands. This was at the time when Damien Rice, John Mayer and Ray Lamontagne were the chart toppers, and so the logical next step was to become a solo singer-songwriter.  So I decided to move to Brighton, one of the big cities in the UK that was known for its music scene. After a couple of years I moved to London to really focus on getting “discovered,” and once I wasn’t discovered, I thought fuck it, I’m going to New York, I’ll get discovered there…

 

Could you share with our readers the events that led up to the forming of “Home”? What was the inspiration behind the concept?

The short version is, I had a friend that was going through a very difficult time and was chronically depressed. I was thrown into a co-writing session in Los Angeles on one of my first times there with a guy named Drew Pearson. We decided to write a song about my friend, and that song was “Home”. We wrote it in a couple our hours, easy peasy, and I walked out of the session completely unaware that I’d just written a song that would change my life, and for 6 months I didn’t really even think about it. Then, I got the call from American Idol and the rest is history I guess.

 

Do you feel your experiences with sophomore album, I Don’t Believe You (2011), influenced your later work on massive success, “Home”?

Not really, no. I mean I guess you could say that “Home” is just a more commercially accessible version of songs I’d written in the past, but I Don’t Believe You was quite a dark record, with very little hope. Whereas “Home” is quite the opposite.

 

Your sound has been described as “folk”, “rock”, and even “a fresh Mumford and Sons style”.’ How would you describe your sound to our readers?

I really have no idea to be honest. What even is a genre anymore?

 

What do you feel is the best track that you have produced so far? What does it mean to you?

Probably “The Lost Boy”, just because I recorded in my bedroom in Brooklyn, with one mic, and had no intention of anyone other than my manager hearing it. Somehow that version took on a life of its own and has now been heard by millions of people, a song that I poured my guts into. Since its release it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity, has been in the Billboard Charts, been a #1 single in Europe and been featured on major TV shows in the U.S. Still the same, shitty original version, mixed on Apple Headphones at my kitchen counter back in 2011. Despite its simplicity, I’m still more proud of that than anything else I’ve done.

 

Are there any parts of your story that you’d like to share on low points you’ve experienced and how you overcame them? 

I am always experiencing low points. Constantly. Somehow I always find a way out of the hole, but it never stops. That’s the problem when something you love so much, and something that is so reliant on your raw emotions becomes your day job. When I was younger, if I hated my day job, I just got a new one. I can’t do that now, I can’t just apply for new emotions, or new creative skills. The only way to overcome the negative sides of this journey, is to constantly remind myself of the positives, because there are a lot.

 

What do you do to handle doubts or frustrations when they come up?

I drink wine. Or, I look through my Instagram feed to remind myself that my life is absolutely unreal and I am incredibly fortunate. That doesn’t really handle the doubts, or frustrations, but it certainly puts things into perspective, which helps.

 

What advice would you give to someone in the industry who is struggling to move forward?

Don’t give up. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you do, you won’t make it. But, if you stay in the fight, there’s always a chance, even if it’s only a small one.

 

<strong>Greg Holden</strong>
Greg Holden

What have you been working on in 2018? What are you most looking forward to? 

I’ve been working on my mental state mostly, because without that I’m fucked. Musically though, I’ve been trying to refocus my attention on making something I love, and not on what I think other people want. That’s a difficult balance these days, but it’s important to give yourself what you need first, otherwise you can’t offer anything helpful or inspiring to anyone. I’m most looking forward to the last quarter of this year as I’m headed out on tour in the US in September with Butch Walker, then I’m headed down to South America in December to play some shows with my buddy Joshua Radin. Can’t complain about any of that.

 

If you had to summarize your journey to produce your latest single, ‘The Power Shift’ how would you describe it?

An existential crisis.

 

Beyond 2018, what is on the radar for Greg Holden? 

Staying happy, and staying inspired. The rest will come naturally.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to mention about your upcoming performance in Phoenix?

I’m going to be stripping it all back to just me and my guitar, the way it began. Get your voices warmed up, as you’re going to be singing.

 

What can our readers do to support your music?

Listen, hopefully enjoy, and share.

Greg Holden is coming to Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix with Butch Walker on Friday, September 7, 2018: Get Tickets

 

REVIEW: OTEP Brings the Kult 45 Resistance to Mesa 8-6-18

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Mesa, AZ Award-winning performer, artist, and activist Otep Shamaya rallied fans at Club Red Tuesday night in an impassioned, politically-charged performance. Heavy metal veterans OTEP (the band) [an anagrammatic name derivative of the word “poet”] recently dropped their eighth full-length album entitled Kult 45 via Napalm Records. According to an exclusive interview with Blabbermouth.net, “This is OTEP like you’ve never heard them before.

Fatal Malady - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Clinton Rackley (Vocalist), Fatal Malady
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Along with Kult 45’s highly anticipated release, OTEP announced a headline tour, to tease their newest work of art; beginning at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 5th, and ending in Ventura, California on August, 18th 2018. Tour-mates include Dropout Kings, an AZ-based nu-metal band on the rise (who just released a burning hot new album called “AudioDope” this past Friday), and European progressive rock band Ragdoll Sunday. First to take the stage was anime-themed punk rock band Usagi (formerly Unagi Usagi), followed by progressive metal group CharonIncentive a band heavily influenced by iconic black and death metal styles, and groove metal band Fatal Malady, whose skull-faced aesthetic captivated the now overflowing trickle of bodies entering through the back of the venue.

View Photo Albums: 
Fatal Malady & Ragdoll Sunday

Dropout Kings - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Dropout Kings |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Following a supercharged performance by Dropout Kings, audience members began to chant in unison, “OTEP! OTEP! OTEP!” Drummer Justin Kier could be seen jetting on and off the stage, while crew members worked diligently to set the scene. Illuminated only by sporadic flares of light, Kier stepped forward to address the crowd, breaking the ice with a little marijuana-related humor before being joined by bandmates Ari “The Spartan” Mihalopoulos on guitar, and bassist Andrew Barnes. With time to spare, Kier went on to talk about a new, lesser known project in collaboration with Phoenix’s own hard rock female-fronted foursome Doll Skin, which they’ve aptly named “PETO”, once again utilizing OTEP’s iconic anagram, only this time – backwards. The trio commenced with an ear-splitting rendition of Slayer’s “Raining Blood”, immediately provoking a mosh pit nearly the size of the entire room.

OTEP

Creepy baby doll holding a sign reading "Where are the children?" - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

After the music faded and fans had settled into standing-room-only once again, Shamaya exploded onto the platform between two vertically-balanced rifles, adorned with severed baby heads, faux weapons, LGBT symbolism, the U.S. flag, and a variety of other props yet to be revealed. Hanging delicately beneath the deceased infant’s haunting yellow eyes was a crooked sign that read, “Where are the children?” It’s no coincidence Shamaya’s performances have been dubbed “a two-decade invasion of the senses” and it’s clear she has no intention of dulling that edge now.

“We want to empower people,” Shamaya says of Kult 45. “This album wasn’t written to only wake people up, it’s meant to carbonate people with the hope and confidence that they can make a difference.”

Are you ready to riot?!”, Shamaya asked the crowd, growling into the mic with intensity while being met with a reverberating wave of hoots, screams, and howls.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Beneath a beer-soaked haze of golden strobe lights, attendees raged along to political anthems “To The Gallows” (during which Shamaya fiercely spun a hangman’s noose from the end of her mic), “Battle Ready”, and “Lords of War”, succeeded by what is arguably one of OTEP’s most iconic tracks to date, “Crooked Spoons”. Shamaya playfully pulled from her rifling of props for each new track, punching her fist in the air as a bloody, severed pig head was tossed out from behind the stage.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

Fans roared along to every word of “Blood Pigs” and “Apex Predator”, off OTEP’s earlier albums Sevas Tra (2012) and Hydra (2013), erupting with raw emotion and appreciation for the purpose embedded in each verse. OTEP is a band that’s known for it’s ultra-loyal fanbase, but the reasoning behind that is something so much deeper than fame or catchy music. Shamaya’s ability to continually utilize OTEP’s music as a vessel for societal change through a variety of synchronized creative mediums is seriously impactful and evidently similar to that of legendary musical influencers like Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan or Zach de la Rocha of Rage Against The Machine.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Ari “The Spartan” Mihalopoulos (Guitarist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

OTEP went on to make their stance on mass shootings known with newly released track “Shelter In Place”, during which Shamaya aimed a presumably plastic, silver pistol at one of the severed doll heads while chanting with the room, “enough is enough!” Shamaya did go on to clarify her stance however, noting that “guns don’t kill people; people kill people,” before moving into “Zero” off the group’s 2016 album Generation Doom, which was followed-up by a couple of surprise tracks from the group’s self-titled poetry EP Wurd Becomes Flesh  originally released in 2005, one year prior to OTEP’s infamous addition to Ozzfest (2004).

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

The audience rippled with excitement as Shamaya waved her rainbow flag high. OTEP moved to close the night with staple track “Equal Rights, Equal Lefts”, prior to transitioning into an anger-charged protest, which peaked to the opening notes of “Wake Up” by Rage Against The Machine; a cover included as the second-to-last track on Kult 45.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

In one final call to action, OTEP ignited fans with an ear-splitting performance “Confrontation” from The Ascension (2007). The props did not end there though; Shamaya had one final trick up her sleeve – a fake severed Trump head. Almost in a single motion, Shamaya plunged the barrel of one of the rifles into the base of Trump’s rubbery neck, twirling him around until the two were facing eye-to-eye, spitting in the mock President’s face before a final punch which sent Trump’s spitclad face soaring out of view.

OTEP - Photography: Katherine Amy Vega
Otep Shamaya (Vocalist), OTEP |
Photography:
Katherine Amy Vega
© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved

It was a night of disruption, a night of rage, empowerment, catharsis, emotion and unity. It’s obvious that Kult 45 was intended as more of a social catalyst – a statement piece that simultaneously disrupts and unifies. This is an album that gets people to look; each track furiously spotlights a variety of recurring social issues in the forefront of the United States’ current political landscape. Regardless of whether or not you agree with their stance, OTEP is making one thing exceptionally clear: “Art is resistance. Art aloows us to fight back without violence.”

“This is why we rally, this is why we march, and this is why I write. Because when I look back someday I want to know that I did everything in my power as an artist, activist and citizen.”Otep Shamaya

PHOTO ALBUM

by Katherine Amy Vega
(View separate Fatal Malady, Ragdoll Sunday, & OTEP photo albums)

OTEP, Dropout Kings, Ragdoll Sunday, Fatal Malady, CharonIncentive, & Usagi – Club Red 8-7-18

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: WP Frank

© Kataklizmic Design. All Rights Reserved.