The changes of the digital age result in plenty of positive and negative side-effects. We are surrounded by music 24/7 and have access to pretty much every song we want to listen to anytime. The media wants to tell us what to listen to and almost forces us to emotional attachment while we tend to lose a general overview. ‘This digital age finds us surrounded by a constant flow of new music but not necessarily moving in any positive direction,’ explains Pat Hynes the basic problem. It feels as if the leading man of HOLY ESQUE got it all figured out when he sums up the conflict in the following words: ‘This avalanche of music coupled with the everyday distractions of today make it harder than ever for a new band to be picked up by the masses.’
The question arises: How do you make a difference these days? What makes you fall for an album? In the case of Glaswegian four-piece HOLY ESQUE the answer obviously lies within the music itself. Their sound is powerful, furious, packed with emotions and frantic outburst while it contains a certain raw and honest spirit that is carried by the distinctive voice of Hynes. Ever since the band formed in 2011 they continuously worked on the shape of their sound, released a few singles and EP’s and are now finally happy to unleash At Hope’s Ravine, their first full-length, on February 26. ‘It has taken a considerable time to reach this moment,’ explains Pat Hynes the long way towards the release of the group’s debut, ‘but it was never something we could have anticipated as a band. There are so many intricacies involved in the process of creating an album and not only that, a debut.’
The timing had to be right, the tracks had to be perfect. We thought we were finished, then four new tracks would appear and to be quite truthful we have been unlucky in a lot areas in the lead up to ‘At Hope’s Ravine’ that held us back.
Although HOLY ESQUE might have hit a few obstacles on the way to their debut album, the result is a highly satisfying piece of powerful independent rock. The early 80s wave spirit of bands like ECHO & THE BUNNYMEN meets the sense for enigmatic anthems of the early U2 and the sinister spirit of INTERPOL and their fellow countrymen THE TWILIGHT SAD. It’s a rough beauty that carries the songs on At Hope’s Ravine; a perfect example of how noise and melody can walk along hand in hand. It became an album by underdogs that are confident enough to share their vision with the world. Their origins at the small Scottish city East Kilbride have helped to gain that confidence. ‘The place you come from is totally essential to the make-up of your overall creative output,’ explains Hynes the influence.
Coming from a place that isn’t rife with opportunity and is generally grey it offers you this energy and want to escape. Without that feeling, a lot of what’s been possible today with the band might not have happened. In terms of our sound, it’s always difficult to transfer ideas through sound into words, however, there is no doubt in my mind that the struggles of this place are echoed in our music.
The raw and ugly side of hope
The band relocated in Glasgow many years ago, benefiting from the vital music scene that is based on a certain DIY-mentality. Pop superstars CHVRCHES recently confirmed that to us in an interview and the HOLY ESQUE frontman also states, that Glaswegian musicians share a special spirit when it comes to music. ‘People here are so creative,’ he explains us, ‘they have a lot to say and feel the need to express themselves.’ For Hynes the local scene is a thriving one that allows bands to grow and support each other, something that is more important than ever, also for his band. Still, he’s not quite sure if there’s something typical Scottish in the wave rock of HOLY ESQUE.
It really depends on how you define ‘Scottish’ in music. I’m sure a lot of the themes explored on the album are in line with what may have come before us. Scotland has always produced amazing music so let’s hope so.
Hope is a key element in the sound of this band and the powerful songs on their debut LP allow themselves an optimistic note despite all the melancholic desperation they mainly spread. ‘Hope being one of the key themes explored on the album and it means a lot to me,’ confesses the singer which makes a lot of sense when you look at the album’s title. Same goes for the element of passion which is also a crucial part in the HOLY ESQUE equation as Hynes explains: ‘In order to really thrive at something you have to believe in it and yourself.’
Although the release of their debut marks a long overdue milestone in the history of the band, they are planning ahead as Hynes confirms that they are already writing on a potential follow-up. Still, the group remains dedicated to the album format, even in a time when it becomes more and more about streaming and single-tracks. For the singer the traditional album will always be relevant as the main concept and package to offer your songs. ‘People love music’ – that’s his simple solution and it might also explain what makes the sound of HOLY ESQUE so attractive. There’s something raw, unpolished and edgy in these songs, something that isn’t based on a marketing strategy or clever brand partnership. And that, as ironic as it may sound, also marks the band’s very own ‘strategy’ as Pat Hynes knows.
The music industry has been starved of its resources over the past ten years and new bands are the people that suffer. In a industry that is making a fraction of what it used to, the investment and support simply isn’t there. New bands need something more. Something people can really connect with. Something extra. You need the ideas, commitment and patience. If you want it bad enough then you will get there.
It’s been a longtime coming for HOLY ESQUE. Stubborn perseverance is the key, mixed with high quality and honest music that aims directly for your heart. The Glaswegian four-piece offers a certain uniqueness that is harder and harder to find these days. At Hope’s Ravine is already one of 2016’s best debut albums and it is safe to say that this band can only be stopped by itself. They make their own luck and NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION happily invites you to follow them.