American roots, blues, and overall bad-asses, Holy Moly and the Crackers have got one hell of a reputation as a firecracker of a live act. Damian Robinson caught up with frontman Conrad Bird to find out more about their new single ‘Gravel Rag’ and drinking rum.
Your new single ‘Gravel Rag’ sounds like an explosion of noise. Where did the idea for the track come from and what exactly is a gravel rag?
Last year we were in the studio with our producer Matt Terry. One day myself, Matt and stayed up late drinking rum and sharing music. I had recently discovered Jack White’s solo album Blunderbuss and the song, ‘I’m Shaking’. A few weeks late Ruth and Matt had come up with the first demo based around this one, chunky blues hook and riff provisionally called Gravel Trap. Not long before our accordion player, Rosie, had shown me an early rag-time piano piece called ‘Gravel Rag’ and I thought the name fit much better. We wanted to tip our hat to our influences and inspirations – American roots and blues. But, at the same time we worked hard to make sure that it still contemporary, alive and kicking. For us ‘Gravel Rag’ is a term for dirty dancing, hard partying.
Gravel Rag is focused around a heavy electric-guitar sound, perhaps even more so than any other Holy Moly track. What was the decision for the sound of the track and is this a new direction for the band?
I think with our last album Salem we were starting to explore the ‘rock genre’, but there was a lot of fumbling in the dark and what we ended up with something that felt a little overproduced / polished. We want to make something dirtier – bring on the electric guitar. When all’s said and done we are a folk band – but look at the early pioneers of folk music, especially in the American tradition: they were hard ass-punks. So why not turn it up?
There’s some pretty intense jiving happening in the video for Gravel Rag. Where did the concept from the video come from?
That’ll be Elise and Lerato. Elise use to run Swung-Eight at World HQ and it was the best swing dancing night club in the North East for a while. Lerato is an amazing contemporary dancer and teacher, and we’ve come across her quite a few times on the festival circuit. Again inspired by Jack White, and the video he made for ‘I’m Shakin”, we wanted to illustrate the relationship between tradition and contemporary through dance.
You’re back on tour in April, with shows in Newcastle and Stockton in May. Your live shows are always a blast, but look like hard work for the band. Do you look forward to playing live?
Absolutely. Its where the band truly expresses itself. Everything we do – rehearsing, recording, planning, scheming, dressing up, dressing down – it all leads to the same thing: the hot stage and a raucous crowd. The shows are a work-out thats for sure, and only getting more intense. If we’ve still got energy to go out after a show, then we haven’t put enough in.
What can we expect from the new tour?
In November we head out on our biggest UK Tour to date. The Riverside show (30 Nov), will be the biggest headline show we’ve ever played, so we’ve got to step up to the mark. Basically a ramped up stage-show and a whole bunch of new songs. We’ve already started writing for our new album and there’s some very juicy music being brought to the table.
Holy Moly play Newcastle and Stockton in May. Tour dates and new single ‘Gravel Rag’ can be found at https://www.holymolyandthecrackers.com/