Since reforming at the start of the year with the addition of former Brisbanite Luke Smith (ex-Marathon, Ryu vs. Ken), Melbourne three-piece Have/Hold have been on a steady rise – about to release their debut 7" through Midnight Funeral Records before heading out on an East Coast tour in support. Killyourstereo.com chats with Smithy to get the lowdown on the born again trio.
For those who might be new to you guys, how would you describe your sound? What sort of acts are you influenced by?
I’ll get the cliche response straight out of the way – We all listen to a bunch of different music. My tastes and Luke’s [Vocals] might be the furthest removed, but we find an important middle ground in bands like Brand New, Something For Kate, Nirvana, Death Cab For Cutie who I consider all to be big influences on our sound and dynamics we focus on when writing songs. Though given the variation in our music tastes, there’s probably a lot of stuff Luke takes on board that I wouldn’t know and vice versa. Ryan seems to be the bridge between us in that sense so it all feels really natural when we write songs. Luke comes in with ideas and Ryan and I are part of the building it up and tearing it back down until it’s the best it can be process. We’re also the same as any band where we’ve got those songs where we joke about them sounding like other bands. I think we’ve got the "Motor Ace" song and the "Snow Patrol" song, the "Punk Radiohead" song. Shit like that always comes up.
Have/Hold were a band briefly a few years ago before going on hiatus. When they decided to start again, they asked you to join – how has that experience been, and what’s it been like compared to your previous bands such as Marathon or Ryu vs. Ken?
It has been incredible. Something I’m really happy and proud to be a part of. I met Ryan not long after I moved down to Melbourne and when he asked me I hadn’t heard anything they’d done but was instantly blown away once I had a listen. If they’d gotten the band back together with a different bassist and started playing shows, they would have ended up being one of my favourite bands in the city anyway, so I’m stoked they asked me. I took three years off being in any real active bands that had ideas for releases and touring and stuff and I think I kinda needed that. You learn from every band you’re in but I did too many bands in succession back in Brisbane and doing this with a clear head helps with focusing on intentions and methods and goals. Marathon and Ryu Vs. Ken were interesting in that they were two bands that taught me a lot about how much writing music and trying to create something honest that you’re proud of can change the dynamics of the friendships involved, so I’ve got lessons I’ve taken on board from that and it’s definitely something that’ll help with Have/Hold whilst we write songs and get ready to shove ourselves down everyone’s throat.
You’ve got a new 7” coming out October through Midnight Funeral – how was that process and how are you feeling about the new tracks?
These are songs Luke and Ryan have been sitting on for a while that I just had to learn as I came in to the band. It’s exciting for me because I instantly became a part of the process involved in getting this out to people. Luke gave me a real nice compliment one day that was something along the lines of me being the fire he had needed under his ass in regards to getting this all together. We work really well together as a unit and I respect them both so much as musicians that I’m proud to be a part of the process in that regard. It also means I can look forward to our next release where I’m involved from the get go.
Midnight Funeral are a great label, they’ve put out some excellent releases over the years.
Definitely man! Craigos rules and we were stoked that he asked us. I always wanted to work with him in my old band, and he did end up putting something out for them but it was after my time in the band. He’s such a genuine dude with a great taste in music, and he’s been around forever so it’s nice to know that despite everything he’s seen come and go, he sees something cool in us! Also it kind of technically means we’re on the same label as stuff like Blueline Medic and Mindsnare! (I don’t care if they’re reissues, let me have this).
“Song for Bill of the Trains” and “Dexamphetamine Blues” are some interesting titles. Can you talk about the background of these songs?
Luke explained the story of ‘Song for Bill of the Trains’ to me as being about a specific violent incident he saw on a train one time before going to practice. I guess it’s just a look at us as people, and the abject human failure that ties in to having us all crammed together amongst all of the things that make up larger cities.
You’ve made a point to return with a bang and been fairly proactive about playing shows in your hometown of Melbourne with a fairly diverse range of acts. How important do you think the live aspect is to Have/Hold as an entity?
Incredibly important. Whilst a recording is nice and it’s the end result and it’s what’s easiest to cast out in to the world for people to hear and see, everything ties back to that release of playing this shit you work at in a room with your friends to people who might not give a fuck in the hope of making them give a fuck. You know, some bands are fine recorded and that’s it. Like an example that might work, ’cause they’re fresh off a tour is Cheap Girls. I love that band, and I listen to Find Me A Drink Home heaps, but I’ve never been fully swayed by them live and to me they’re just something that doesn’t work super well in that sense, or at least not in a way that speaks to me. I couldn’t really be involved in something like that and I think we write songs that lend themselves to dynamics, being loud when it needs to be etc. We play songs that we want people to see live, so it all comes back to that. In regards to who we’re playing with, that’s just us. We like some bands that are straight up middle of the day JJJ bands, we like our mates punk bands, we like guitar based pop bands, we like hardcore bands. Like I mentioned, it’s that cliche thing every band says about having a diverse taste in music. It’s a fine thing to say, it’s just better when you’re saying it to people and it actually shows in your songs and who you choose to play with.
You’ll be kicking off a run of interstate dates this October – anything you’re particularly looking forward to about touring these songs?
It’s Have/Hold’s first tour man, so everything! You know, we’re going to promote it best we can. We’re older, I’ve done a bunch of bands, we’re getting smarter and we have friends helping us out so hopefully some interviews and articles and fluent promotion gets people to shows, ’cause at this stage we’re relatively unknown. We chose a bunch of good bands to play with so I’m stoked to just see all the bands, see how the shows turn out, see if anyone wants to buy a record after watching us play and all that kinda stuff. We just wanna play our hearts out and show people we mean this, and if that works for some people and they tell a friend who comes to a show next time we’re in town, then that’s cool! Plus catching up with all our interstate friends.
Aside from the 7” and some touring; any long-term plans or goals for 2014?
Some more interstate shows might be happening early next year. Release wise, maybe something to bridge between the 7" and an album? At this stage it’s all just practice room discussion. We just want to get on this tour, play some shows in the coming months and then we’ll see what’s up.
Who should we be listening to right now?
Fuck talking about any overseas bands, or even bands that aren’t in our city. Melbourne is so good right now. Stockades, Ceres, Outright, Infinite Void, The Sinking Teeth, Kissing Booth, Vicious Cycle, Jamie Hay, Old Love – For me personally, that’s some of the best stuff getting around Melbourne right now.
You can stream Have/Hold’s debut double A-side single 7" here – it’s available to pre-order now through Midnight Funeral . Dates and details for the single’s East Coast launch tour this October can be found here.