Courtesy of Atom Splitter PR

Release Week Thrills – Chatting With Holding Absence

All about their new, not-so-underground, emotional metalcore moment.

You may have heard “Afterlife” on a playlist or on the radio, but only those that have done a ytue deep dive into Holding Absence know just how good they are. Their 2021 record was heavily praised by outlets like Kerrang! and Rocksound. To potential fans who have not heard it, it’s an emotional masterpiece that deserved the glowing reviews. 

Now, in August of 2023, the band is just days away from dropping their third full-length: The Noble Art of Self Destruction. The band is entering their most exciting chapter yet with this; it feels like a classic in the making. The performances given from every single band member on this release are outstanding and they come together seamlessly. 

We had the incredible chance to talk with Lucas Woodland, the vocalist for Holding Absence, to discuss the new record dropping, hitting the road, and just about everything else.

Coming out on August 25: The Noble Art of Self Destruction. What’s going through your head?

You know how it is – it’s the most scary and exciting thing ever. Spending twi years of your life creating something and then putting it in a bottle, throwing it out into the ocean, and hoping that somebody finds it on the other side… it’s really, really good. We’re home at the moment relaxing, amongst a lot of touring. I’m really trying to enjoy the little things in life before everything goes crazy.

Right now we’re in that phase where it’s all about hyping up the record. When you’re at home, you can see the fan reaction just by going through Instagram and Twitter.

You’re 100% right and we’re a very hands-on band, as well, myself specifically. I’ll constantly be checking Twitter and Instagram just making sure. I know it’s lame, but I get as much of a kick out of it as our fans do. It’s a two way street! Some days I’ll be home and I’ll just be bored out [of] my mind and like, “Alright – let’s answer a load of DMs on Instagram,” or something like that. It’s a way to keep the hype rolling and make the experience good for everyone.

Of course! With Holding Absence, you guys had… whatever the polar opposite of a sophmore slump was. The Greatest Mistake of my Life put you on the map. Following that release with this new record, I imagine that can be tough to navigate. 

Yeah, man. I think if you look at our band on a graph, it’s a constant, slow, steady rise… which is a great thing. It almost feels like this album is a sophomore slump – not that I’m assuming it will slump in any way. This almost feels like that, though, like “How are we going to live with the expectations that we’ve set for ourselves next time?” I’m feeling really optimistic and I’m really proud of the album we’ve put together, but you’re right; The Greatest Mistake definitely felt like a step up and it’s always scary taking another step on top of another step. It’s almost like pulling blocks out of a Jenga tower. When is it going to fall?

I understand that feeling of pressure being more palpable now than ever because you have all these eyes on you. You have over a million monthly listeners on Spotify. Even “Afterlife” is considered your biggest song now and that’s crazy because you guys have been a band since 2016.

It’s cool. I think the interesting thing there is that I really believe we’ve been putting out a similar level of music. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that our first songs were very well received and people tattooed the lyrics to those songs on them, as well. It almost feels funny to have a hit… like a song like “Afterlife” was probably our 30th song in our catalog or something. It’s weird to think that every song we put out felt like the biggest song ever and then we put a song like “Afterlife” out and it does 35 million streams or something crazy. The main goal there is to remember that numbers are just numbers and it’s more about the connection we get from our fans and trying to aim for that more than trying to get those extremes. 

Exactly! With The Greatest Mistake of my Life, you guys got tons of playlist love. All these different punk playlists and pop punk playlists got a lot of people to discover you as a band. That’s the beauty of it. 

For sure! […] The whole album performed well. It’s kind of a goal of ours because we’ve always loved albums. Growing up my favorite bands weren’t the ones who put out a good song – they put out a good album. I think every song on Greatest Mistake has had over a million streams, which is so cool, you know? Such a compliment. To the point you made about reaching new fans, and I guess going back to “Afterlife” doing so well on the last record, it’s funny because sometimes we’ll play a city and people will come up to us after and say, “Oh my God! I didn’t realize you guys were the ones who wrote that song that I know all the words to. It’s on one of my playlists!” That’s an interesting aspect to being in a band these days: knowing that playlist culture is important and that it almost acts like the new radio. People have these songs in the background of their lives and that’s such a compliment to us… to have our songs even make it into the ether like that. 

I’ve always said playlisting is similar to radio so it’s cool to hear you echo that. Diving back into the new record, you talk about how you want every piece you make to feel like a full length record. In my humble opinion I think this is the best Holding Absence record because it feels like that cohesive piece. How did you create that?

Thank you for that, first and foremost! We kind of work backwards. I’ve got to be honest, writing songs, it’s quite a simple concept. Writing a song is quite a simple idea. Writing an album is a whole other beast. Trying to have ebbs and flows, trying to have payoffs, and when to guess that the listener going to be patient? When are they going to need a minute to breathe? All of that becomes its own art form almost. For us, when we’re writing an album, we will structure it kind of like a playlist, really, and structure what we think will be good at what point and where the listener would be taken at what point. Then [we] start filling in the gaps.

On this album, for example ,the first three songs are proper straight rippers. The fourth song is the heaviest song on the whole record. Then the fifth song is the lightest song on the record. So it’s almost like for the first 10 minutes it’s just good music, then there’s a song that takes you to the top and a song that brings you all the way back down to the bottom. It kind of feels like a roller coaster in a way; trying to chart a journey. That is always the goal for us. 

I just want to say thank you for the kind words about the album because it’s not out yet! I really hope people love it as much as we do. It means a lot that you said that. 

Of course! I think a testament to this record, being in the music industry from the press side and getting handed a lot of records, I noticed that with The Noble Art of Self Destruction, I didn’t go on my phone. I didn’t do something else. I am always listening to a lot of music, but I just focused on this one for the entire runtime. That’s a really impressive thing to do. If every song have the intensity of “scissors,” it would get boring.

We’d be a different band! [Laughs]

Or if every track had the emotion of “Angel In The Marble,” that would be too exhausting.

Completely agree! I would love to hear an album full of songs like “Angel In The Marble,” but it would almost be emotionally bullying! I think it’d be a lot. 

Halfway through a record like that you would need to pause and take a breather! 

Go outside and have a glass of water!

Since we’re talking about that track, you talk in it about Kintsugi. That goes back to the album cover. How did that motif play into the record?

Great question, man! We’ve spoken a lot about this album being the third in the trilogy. Essentially that is us saying howwe’re not trying to reinvent the wheel with this album as far as Holding Absence goes because we still believe (and rightly so, I think) that we have a lot left to explore. Then it was a case of not repeating ourselves and trying to come up with fresh things at the same time. I was like, “How do I say something new while also trying to reference something that we’ve done before?” There were a lot of ups-and-downs on my end thinking about the concept of the album. Kintsugi like you said, which is the Japanese art form of infusing glue with gold and making something broken more valuable for it, came to me when we were working on this album. Then the idea of Michaelangelo’s David and how beautiful that work of art is. It’s what inspired the title, “The Angel In The Marble,” because it’s a quote that Michaelangelo himself said. 
It’s basically the idea that in life we must break in order to heal better. Life is about the lessons you learn in your darkest hours. I think this album is about embracing the things that you’ve been through and the person you [become] on the other side of it. Lots and lots of thought has gone into this record but “The Angel In The Marble” sums it all up, really.

On an emotional note, that’s a very beautiful sentiment that I think a lot of people need. The stuff you go through makes you stronger and more wiser, enlightened, deeper of a person.

Thank you! I think, as well, it’s interesting because this is our third record but the most personal we’ve ever been. I really tried to reach into myself, and a big part of what we do is trying two-way therapy. Growing up listening to my favorite bands, that changed my life. Now, as a musician myself, writing music changes my life every week. It’s almost about making sure that we’re on the same wavelength. With this album I wanted to take people deeper than we’ve ever gone before. 

This is a slight criticism of the punk/pop punk/emo scene, whatever you want to call it – the typical trajectory of those kinds of bands are, the first record is the most emotionally powerful and what fans view as ‘the best’. Then every record after that they get softer and lighter and a little more silly. To see a band like Holding Absence do the reverse and get more serious/emotionally intense with every record, it’s unique to see. 

First and foremost, it is normal to evolve. That is the goal of the journey of being an artist.

You’re right, I felt like in my life I had some of my favorite bands almost diverge away from what I love them for because they were trying to pursue something else. I’ve been let down by a lot of bands. That’s why, with Holding Absence, a constant goal is to remain grounded and in touch with our fanbase. 

I’ve joked about this a lot – and I know this is Album Three we’re talking about here – but for Album Four, I want it to be our progressive album and our sellout album at the same time. I don’t want to run so far away that our fanbase can’t follow us. There’s so much to be explored in the journey of music. Thank you for saying that, as well, because I kind of take pride in it a little bit. We’re always trying to do what’s right for our fans and we’re always trying to think if we were here last time, how far can we go without losing them the next time?

I agree 100%. You guys are coming to New York on September 14, and for all of our Philadelphia readers, on September 15 you have a tour date with Senses Fail. Tell me a little bit about that.

Growing up as a kid, and I’m not even from England – I’m from Whales, the smallest country in the United Kingdom – the concept of touring America was crazy. I know it’s not a thing anymore, but Warped Tour was this fairytale for us British musicians. “We get an opportunity to go out there and see North America and experience this insane place and all the insane places within it?” That being said, this will be our fourth time touring America in 24 months. I can’t believe our luck. We’re super excited as we always are. I always view North America as the land of opportunity because there are just so many people and there are so many passionate music fans out there. 

I think the cool thing for us is as well, of the four tours we’ve done there now, we’ve done a tour with The Plot In You and Dayseeker, bands who are perceived to be the future of heavy emotional music. Then we’ll have toured with Silverstein, The Amity Affliction, and now Senses Fail who are three bands that paved the way for heavy emotional music. I’m very grateful for the bands we’ve been put side by side with as we’ve toured this incredible continent and got to meet these incredible people.