Recently, I had the chance to chat to some good friends of mine in Newcastle-based pop punk band Holding Out. Having released their debut EP, ‘Fed Up’, in late 2018, the band have established a strong following in their hometown of Newcastle, and have managed to play at-capacity headline shows in large venues such as Think Tank? and Head of Steam.
I was able to talk to lead singer and guitarist Ellis about Holding Out and making it in their local music scene, and this is what he had to say:
Hi Ellis! Thanks for chatting with me. Could you tell me a bit about Holding Out and what the band have been up to over the past year?
It’s been a busy year! We released our debut EP at the back end of last year, so we spent a good few months promoting that. Changes to our line-up happened which shook things up a bit. We’re currently performing as a 3 piece for the first time ever which is new and scary, and we’re preparing to play our biggest ever headline in just over a month at Newcastle’s Riverside, which is terrifying.
So you and the other Holding Out guys are based in Newcastle; how have you found the Newcastle music scene? Is there a good community of bands/fans?
That’s a loaded question. Newcastle’s a funny place. For every band we meet who are chill and a pleasure to work with, we meet a band that are the polar opposite. There’s a definite ‘clique’ when it comes to Newcastle music, one which we’ve always tried to distance ourselves from. Bullying, promotion companies playing favourites and music elitism seem to be commonplace but I’m sure the same can be said for other cities and I doubt this is just a ‘Newcastle thing’. Don’t get me wrong though, we’ve met some fantastic bands and gig-goers over the past few years and everything we’ve experienced, both the good and the bad, has allowed us to grow not only as a band, but as people.
Do you organise all of your shows yourselves? How do you find taking an organic approach to building an audience?
Short answer, yes. Having promoters screwing us around and taking an obnoxious cut of whatever is earned, whilst doing nothing to actually ‘promote’ the show is not what we’re about. Before anyone is offended, I’m not saying literally every promoter/promotion company is like this, only the ones we have been unfortunate enough to work with. If you’re a promoter who does employ these practices, get your shit together. Organically building an audience is in my opinion, the most natural way you can build your brand. Success shouldn’t be measured in however many monthly streams you have, especially when you’ve spent a small fortune on getting yourselves on playlists, who are you impressing in this situation? Playing shows to awesome individuals who have come out to have a good time and experience some raw, live music, that’s the fucking ticket right there.
Do you think that less people are going out to live shows nowadays than a decade ago? Why/why not?
I don’t know, probably? It’s not as if concerts and festivals are exactly declining. Maybe on a small scale, but this is probably due to the huge over saturation of local bands we have. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but there’s only so many by the numbers ‘core and pop punk shows the average gig-goer will attend before wanting to blow their brains out. We’ve played some shows that are absolutely bouncing, and we’ve played some shows that are dead — you take the good with the bad.
If there was one thing about the Newcastle music scene that you’d like to see improve, what would it be?
More independent promoters and venues. There’s an obvious monopoly certain people hold over the Newcastle scene, causing loads of really talented artists to fly under the radar. If you aren’t with them, you’re against them, and that sucks. Hats off to the guys at The Rookery who are consistently putting on amazing shows in and around Newcastle, as well as Little Buildings, the only venue we would classify as truly accommodating and independent. You guys rock.
As a band, how do you guys get along? Are you friends outside of Holding Out as well?
This is a weird one as our line-up has changed quite a bit over the years. In regard to the three of us, myself, Tomm and Harrison, I couldn’t respect or admire these guys any more. I can gladly say they are some of my closest friends and there’s nobody I’d rather spend this crazy ride with. I mean Tomm’s a little shit but that’s just par for the course.
If you could one piece of advice to yourself and Holding Out back when you guys started out, what would you say?
This is awkward as I’m the only ‘original’ member left. I’d probably tell myself to not get too caught up over little stuff. Band members come and go, and it can be a while until you find individuals who are truly committed to playing shows and writing music. Also, if another band tries to start ‘beef’, just ignore it, otherwise you’re no better than them.
Watch the music video for Holding Out’s single ‘Headaches’ at:
Check out Holding Out at: