Formed at the back end of 2014 by multi-instrumentalist Mike Hlady, the Austin-via-Boston outfit Holiday Music has its origin in the Massachusetts indie scene of the late 2000’s. Notable amongst this scene were Magic Magic, hailed at the time as one of the 50 best new bands in America by the Boston Phoenix.
Despite receiving air play on BBC Radio 1 and having their self-titled debut distributed by legendary UK indie label Rough Trade, strangely and disappointingly a record deal didn’t follow suit. After a few more releases and the creation of Hanging Horse Studio, Magic Magic faded quietly into the background and the newly formed Holiday Music came to the fore.
Their debut album Atlantis arrived soon after their formation in 2014, and this was quickly followed a year later by Brain Waves Are Real? via Disposable America. Spending a little longer on their third album, John Wayne Syndrome was released in 2017.
After another three year gap, their latest and fourth album Certified Ailments arrived at the end of February via Super Wimpy Punch. It was certainly time well spend as it’s their best work to date. Clocking in at under 30 minutes, its eight tracks are packed with a catchy and energetic blend of lo-fi, alt-rock, garage punk and a hint of psychedelia.
GIGsoup recently caught up with Holiday Music vocalist and guitarist Mike Hlady to ask him a few questions about their latest album and how life under lockdown has been so far.
First of all, congratulations on the new album. Can tell us a little bit about the making of Certified Ailments and inspirations behind it?
The title is based on things that are bad for you. Things that make you feel good, but might not be good for you.
I started recording the year before last doing demos. Then, last year I brought a couple songs to a friend of mine and really focused on overdubbing and finalizing everything. Mixing was a collaborative effort between myself, Evan Wynn and Daniel McNeill. We got the single ‘Expire Medicine’ mastered by the legendary Greg Calbi.
It’s cool all the nice feedback we’ve gotten from everyone on the album. I do think this one finally represents ‘our sound’.
Did you get to tour the new album much before venues started locking down?
We didn’t. It seemed to come at such a poor time. I had been wanting to put this album out for a while, and finally after coordinating with Super Wimpy Punch we decided to on February.
We had an album release show on the day it came out with our friends in Spirit Ghost, and then that was that.
We had a bunch of shows set up for SXSW with lots of cool folks from out of town. It was a bummer because we haven’t seen some of the bands in a long time.
How has life under lockdown been for you so far? How have you been occupying yourself? What music have you been listening to?
Yeah, going a little crazy but trying to remain a stone statue as I usually do. Reading more, working on mixing music for friends, and video gaming.
I watched Pink Floyd live from Pompeii on YouTube and it was insane. It’s awesome having the time to do that. I’m trying to let other stuff inspire me so making music comes more naturally.
Right now, while writing this I’m listening to ‘Venus in Furs’ by Velvet Underground and ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ by Donovan.
Some bands new and old I’ve been listening to are Guided by Voices, Minutemen, Pixies, Disq, Broadcast, Bowie, Thin Lizzy, Kate Bush, Unicorns, Cocteau Twins, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, Stephen Malkmus and Roxy Music.
More artists have been opting for cassette only releases in recent years, what was your thinking behind putting Certified Ailments on tape as opposed to vinyl or CD?
I actually always think to do vinyl but it’s so expensive. Vinyl is for the real collectors. CD is fantastic too. I’m all about CD’s but CD players are harder to come by I think. Tapes are cool and as I’ve collected more myself I think they are efficient and get the job done. They are definitely a desirable medium.
I saw that you were involved in the creation of Hanging Horse Studio with some friends a few years back. Is it still operating?
It’s not. It disbanded and everyone shifted more to doing their own thing. Which is cool. There ore recording studios or home setups all over now. Also, more music coming out from everybody. I did the first two Holiday Music albums there which you can definitely hear it in them. Brainwaves Are Real? especially. Hanging Horse was initially more of a recording studio rehearsal space for Magic Magic. Those were some really amazing times.
Being a big fan of your work with Magic Magic I have to ask, what happened with the band? Are you all still in touch? Your debut was one of the best albums of the 2000’s for me personally, and among the great ‘lost’ records of my lifetime.
It slowly fizzled out with time I guess. I’ve learned that time is more crucial than you think with art or a band. John and I still will work on stuff all the time to this day. All of us do still collaborate actually, under whatever moniker. It doesn’t matter what, it’s just the creation process everyone needs in their life. John and I work really well together at creating. When we are all together with Brendan and Dylan, it all clicks again too.
Over time, we all just got pulled in different directions. We did a new Magic Magic record a couple years ago but never really finished it. Maybe it’ll see the surface at some point.
How do you think the virus will affect touring and the live music scene when things gradually start to open back up again?
I’m not sure, but I’m hoping we stay closed for a while to be safe. It’s not easy to say that because I work in live music. I want to play out in the world again dearly but I guess we’ll have to stick with livestreams for now.
I’m doing a livestream on Monday 4th May via Super Wimpy Punch which will be on their Instagram (3:30pm CST / 4:30pm EST).