“I feel like there is a certain spark in this scene right now that is really fresh”
Holding Absence and Alpha Wolf have just released a new collaborative split EP called ‘The Lost & The Longing’.
As much a celebration of each band’s music as it is a celebration of the strength and state of the scene at the moment, both bands coming out swinging with some of the most bruising, vital, ethereal and huge material to date, as well as allowing the other to encourage further exploration and innovation along the way.
It’s a benchmark in its own right for not just the bands involved but for all of their peers, and shows just how exciting the future is set to be.
To find out a bit more about how it all came to be, we caught up with Holding Absence’s Lucas Woodland and Alpha Wolf’s Sabian Lynch…
How does it feel to have been able to bring an idea and collaboration like this to life in the way that you have?
Lucas: “It feels amazing, but it has also been so easy. Collaborating with another band you love and respect and putting out music together shouldn’t be hard . We’ve had a good trip with this and have been very blessed to go through it with a band like Alpha Wolf. I think I see a lot of Alpha Wolf in us, and vice versa. I think it’s the intention. We sound nothing like each other, but the work ethic is there, and the respect and connection to our fanbases are there. That was the first thing that made me feel like this would work. The fact that we wouldn’t be sending over emails and having lazy responses. It’s been such a mutual collaboration, and it’s not just been a case of putting our thumbs up to everything either. There were times that we hadn’t been keen on something from each of our sides, and we found a compromise. That’s the joy of art, finding something with good intentions and taking on board what others think.”
Sabian: “We both had the same drive to want to do this thing, and there was never one band carrying the other at any point. We had our songs and were ready to go, so we all recorded at the same time. We’ve been non-stop touring ever since as well, and I think that just shows what it’s all about. We’re two steam trains going hard at it, and we just hit the same track at the same time to allow us to ride alongside each other.”
Were these songs that you both made especially for the release, or were there ideas that had been floating around for a while that you brought forwards?
Sabian: “I think we are both in the same position where we are always writing. So we are currently writing for our next full-length, but we had to make the difficult decision on which two songs we could pull away from that project to be involved in this. It was a case of ensuring we weren’t tarnishing what that future album could be while also ensuring that what we had here would be super kick-arse singles on their own and on this record. I think that we have both come out with great songs and are still going to be able to have killer albums in the future as well.”
Lucas: “What we had to do for this required a niche song. There are some songs that you couldn’t take out of an album’s context and place here. I think we somehow managed to pull out songs that were relevant to what we were doing, and featuring on each other’s songs also made us think about how we could each exist in the other’s universe. It was a juggling act, but I think we both came out the other end with the right decisions.”
In terms of the collaborative tracks, did your work on each other’s affect how you initially saw the track? Did anything change because of the other parties inclusion and parts that they sent over?
Sabian: “We like to try and dabble in the more melodic side of music, but it isn’t one of our strengths. We are a heavy band, and we love heavy music. So we had this lingering melodic song, which was’ 60cm of Steel’, and being able to pull it out and have Lucas sing on it made it 10x better than what it could have been if we had attempted to go at it alone. That wouldn’t have been possible without this.”
Lucas: “I feel like it was a good chance for us to have a free breakdown card and for Alpha Wolf to have a free chorus card. I do feel like we were able to unlock something that probably wouldn’t have happened without each other’s help. Now that we have Scott [Carey, Guitarist] screaming, like he does on here, maybe that means we will get into other heavier stuff in the future.”
Now that this is out in the world and served as a palette cleanser to both of your recent records, how has that changed how you look towards those next full-lengths?
Sabian: “For ourselves, we love to please the fans. It’s always fun being able to release new music. We like writing albums and building them up and releasing them as a whole thing, but with us being in such weird times that have defined the past two years, getting to release a couple of songs on their own is a real reward. It’s going to be a bit longer between albums because of that gap in time, but just getting to give people something to remind them what we do and to keep on enjoying it is helpful. We’re still here and doing our thing, so don’t worry.”
Lucas: “We both love to please our fans, so being able to keep on putting new music out is a nice way of doing that. But the crux of it is that ‘a quiet place to die’ and ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ are both albums that deserved better than what the pandemic gave them. This is a cool way of stopping our bands from rushing on to the next album too quickly whilst respecting the last records and our fans. The main reason this works so well is that we are in such a similar position in that regard.”
Though the tracks also serve as a reminder for yourselves of why you put yourselves through such things in the name of your art. Why you want to keep on going when the world has tried to slow you down so much…
Lucas: “The thing is that the band was the thing that helped me the most through COVID. It gave me something to work on and look towards when we reached the other side of things. I feel the same way about Alpha Wolf. It hardened the hell out of us. I’m so impressed and happy with Alpha Wolf now. Just looking at their touring schedule, the insane things that they are now able to do. I think about how the bands who went into the pandemic would struggle more out there than the bands who have come out of the pandemic. Although all we could do was mentally prepare for that stuff, it has still made such a difference. We are both ravenous right now, and we are getting given a lot of food, and we are eating all that we can.”
Sabian: “For us both to stay so continuously driven throughout a period where there wasn’t anything, that’s why we are going full speed ahead right now. We’re enjoying the fruits of our hard work.”
More than anything, this has been a moment to show how easy it is to spread your wings into other places. It shows that no matter your blueprint at the start of your journey, there are always lessons waiting to be learned along the way. You just don’t know what you’re going to learn them…
Sabian: “I think my favourite part of all of this has the fan response of, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know I needed this’. These bands I love have collaborated, and I love it more than anything else. That’s a really special thing to be able to trigger in someone.”
Lucas: “And the thing is that it’s such an obvious thing for us to do as well. We have had such a good connection over the past few years as friends on the Internet that it felt like a no-brainer. That’s why when it was announced and people were going, ‘What the hell is going to happen’, it felt so huge. I also love that nobody has had a problem with any of it. Everybody has been stoked.”
What do you think is exciting to you both about Alpha Wolf and Holding Absence as we do look to the future and beyond? What are the things that are making you feel those tingles about what is possible?
Sabian: “This split proves that absolutely anything is possible in our alternative scene. We’re a super heavy band collaborating with a melodic rock band. Then you have bands like Spiritbox and Bring Me The Horizon are collaborating with some crazy artists that you would never have thought would happen, but it’s happening. We can do anything with art. We don’t just have to be the band everybody thinks we are. We can be anything.”
Lucas: “I’m really grateful to be a part of the Alpha Wolf experience, much in the same way as being a part of the Loathe experience when we did the ‘This Is As One’ split in 2018. You can see how far both of our bands have come in that time. I can’t wait to see how far the two of us go in the next four years. I love watching the scene lift and art be created, and boundaries be pushed, and I’m so grateful to be in the middle of it all. I just can’t wait to look back on this split in the future and see just what it did for us.”
It feels like that scene and community aspect are more vital than ever. The passion, talent, and joy that we have always known was there is now resonating with people who wouldn’t usually be in contact with it. And that’s something to celebrate…
Lucas: “Right now is a real artistic and evolutionary time for heavy music. I feel like there is a certain spark in this scene right now that is really fresh, and maybe in the last ten years that might have felt like more of a lull. But I feel like things are swooping back up now, and I like to think this EP is just one part of that.”