Interview: The Download Tapes – Holding Absence “For us when we were growing up Download was almost an indicator that you had made it.”

Holding Absence are post harcore rockers from Cardiff who join a long list of successful bands originating from Wales. Having been friends and jamming together from their early teens these lads have come together and made their dreams reality. Bassist Ben Elliott stopped to chat with Aggy Gillon ahead of their set on the Avalanche stage. They talk about their latest album, pre show rituals and growing up with a litany of Welsh rock icons to look up to.

You guys are set to play the Avalanche stage later, Is this your first Download?

For me personally, including Download pilot and also including Download back in 2013 when my little band won a competition this will be my fourth Download. Including the pilot this will be my third time performing with Holding Absence. I joined the guys during 2021. I think for the rest of the guys they are coming on to Download number four or five. They are a couple more Downloads deeper than I am.

It’s really cool you played the Download Pilot. What was that like?

The Pilot was my first gig with Holding Absence. It was way bigger than I expected it to be but it was also a lot of fun.  It was really exhilarating. It was a great start for me to jump in at the deep end.

What does it mean to you to play Download?

For us when we were growing up Download was almost an indicator that you had made it. So to be asked to be a part of this line up is a real pinch yourself moment. It was one of the benchmarks and we grew up thinking if we can get our band to play Download then that’s all we would want. It’s not just being on the bill at Download but to be asked back year on year is insane. If you zoom out it gets quite weird to get used to.

Your last album ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’ was last year, can you tell me about that?

Yeah, that’s right it came out last summer. It was essentially us trying to do what we do best. We found that a lot of bands we grew up listening to would have a bit of success like we did with the album previous and immediately deviate into new sounds. We wanted to double down on our post hardcore and melodic hardcore roots. So that’s where the music comes from. Lyrically its quite a strong theme on the album to do with Kintsugi the art of repairing stuff from melted gold. That was a great visualisation for the lyrical content which is about wearing your scars proudly and being proud of the journeys that you have come through and reached the other side of.

That’s really beautiful, We love that. Can you tell me a little about the two albums previous to that?

The debut self-titled album was quite interesting for me as I’ve always been friends with the boys and wasn’t in the band at the time. I was close to them when that album was coming out and I actually think Holding Absence managed to, whether it was intentional or not, create completely new sounds. It was such an atmospheric and ambient album with such heavy emotion and rock in it. I think the guys made a lot of waves with that album. For me as a listener the second album ‘The Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ with the help of Dan Weller they just refined that ambient chaos and made it into something that’s got really wide appeal.

Are we right in saying you guys are a Cardiff based band?

Yeah, that’s right! We are from Cardiff in South Wales where we are surrounded by so many other great bands.

It’s amazing how many great and successful bands have come out of Wales

We have grown up looking up to Bullet For My Valentine and Funeral For A Friend. It’s great to look up to them as well because they are local. We store our equipment in the same sort of lockup as they use and practice in the same facilities that they use. That’s been the case since we were in little local bands. We have always grown up with eyes on these huge Welsh artists and it has given us a lot to be inspired by.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far? Something that sticks in your mind and you think ah that was awesome!

That’s a great question. I think we have been blessed with so many milestone moments. On our recent tour supporting Pierce The Veil we played Cardiff arena, which is an arena that we have all grown up going to gigs at. It’s not the most frequently visited arena on the UK touring circuit especially for our scene.  So to be a part of that tour and for it to be routed through Cardiff and we could finally play our home town arena and see what it looks like from the stage. That was a huge milestone moment for me.

What would you say inspires you and the boys, what’s the driving force behind what you guys do?

Before Holding Absence we were in bands and we were jamming together from around the age of fifteen. It’s coming up to nearly a decade and a half for us. We have been so invested in it for so long I doubt there’s very little else we can do now at this point. So it’s a driving force in itself as it’s literally all we know. What inspires us…Despite being a close unit we all have different interests. Lucas is inspired by anime and pop culture, I’m inspired by a lot of ambient music, Scott is just a genius at all the post hardcore bands he grew up listening to. It’s quite eclectic to be honest, lots of different places.

We think you can create something really special when you are pulling your inspiration from lots of different places.

Absolutely. We pull in all different angles and a lot of the song writing process for us is trying to collate our ideas and see which ones fit together.

What would you say is the future of Holding Absence?

We have another couple milestone moments coming up. We are headlining a castle in Wales, we have another American tour coming up supporting Sleeping With Sirens. There’s always something else to look up to, there’s always another barrier to break. We’re just gonna keep trying to get bigger and bigger and enjoy it as it goes on. We are already writing to new music. There is no timeline or dates on it, we are just doing it for the love of it right now. It’s nice to write like this without any pressure. You can get a lot more creative and worry a little less about it.

Do you guys have any pre show rituals or anything you do ahead of your shows?

I’ll be honest, at festivals our usual rituals go out the window as it’s all so frantic and it’s always stressful. You have to arrive on stage and get off quickly. When we are on our own headliner, our own shows we like to blast Tom Jones in the dressing room before going on *laughs*

We love that! Any particular favourites?

‘It’s Not Unusual’

What shows do you have coming up after this?

We have Radar festival and that will be fun for us as it’s quite a new scene. They book many different genres but there’s quite a good contingent of technical bands. We are not very technical at all so I’m hoping we will be a little bit of relief from the crazy experimental music *laughs*

Have you been able to catch any bands so far while you have been here?

I am super biased but I can honestly say that Lucas singing for Funeral For A Friend was the absolute highlight of the day. I want to give a special mention to Polyphia who sounded insane. I love their music and I was a bit worried it would get lost on a big open outdoor stage but their sound guy was incredible and you could hear all the intricacies of what they were playing.

What message do you have for your fans?

I would like to say to our existing fans thanks so much for everything you have helped this band achieve over the years. We can’t wait to see you again. We are going to keep touring and try to get everywhere we haven’t been before.

Holding Absence – Facebook

Interview and photos by Aggy Gillon