American Hollow, a progressive rock/metal band from my beloved Eastern Kentucky, has been causing quite a stir in the Salt Lake City area. After leaving Kentucky for greener musical (but not literal) pastures, they found themselves in the Wasatch Front, looking for a new singer. They found one in Jimmy Holman, Latter-day Saint born and raised in Mississippi. A convert to the Church, Jim brought a broad swath of personal influences to American Hollow, including Michael Jackson, Boyz II Men, and Bil Bev Devoe, as well as grunge bands such as Nirvana, Alice and Chains, and Soundgarden. Jimmy is an enthusiastic front-man and lyricist, and brings his spiritual nature to a complex and experimental band.
The American Hollow website says that you’re originally from Mississippi, and that you gained a love of music at an early age. Tell us about your upbringing there.
A: I was brought up between Jackson and my birthplace Marks, a small country town in the Mississippi Delta. My summers were spent in Marks working at the family owned and operated general store. My family was very old school with their strict values and principles so you had to have a hard work ethic, respect for your elders and that sort of thing. In the evenings after the work was done, my cousins and I would listen to the radio and watch videos on MTV and BET. We were heavily into the musical movement referred to as “New Jack Swing” at the time which included artists such as New Edition, Boyz II Men, Guy, Bel Biv Devoe, and countless others. We were also HUGE Michael Jackson fans. We would spend all of our free time watching these artists’ music videos, learning the choreography, and then put on talent shows for our family showcasing our singing and dancing. This is definitely where I first fell in love with music!
Were you born into the Church there or did you join later?
A: I was brought up African Methodist Episcopal but converted to the Church during college in the summer of 2004.
Why did the band move to Salt Lake? Furthermore, why did you move there?
A: The band moved to Salt Lake at different times for different reasons. It was mostly to pursue post-undergraduate education and to seek a better life as well as a better music scene. I moved to Salt Lake for a girl… very shocking I know ;).
What was the audition process like? Were you replacing another singer, or joining as a singer for the first time?
A: The audition process was actually very professional. It was broken up into two parts with a meet and greet and then an actual audition. I was very impressed with how they handled themselves and presented their intentions regarding the band. I replaced a singer that they had back in their days in Kentucky. I am the fifth incarnation of the lead singer in this band!
American Hollow calls itself “progressive metal.” Although they seem to draw influence from progressive bands such as Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater, it really seems like they have their own sound. How would you describe it?
A: We definitely have our own unique sound and this has been a debate for quite some time. One school of thought describes it as rock in general because it can be very difficult to place specific nomenclature on our sound. We have our fingers in every jar musically. Another describes us as “thinking man’s music” because of the diverse philosophical themes we deal with within our music. The progressive label comes into play because of our rather lengthy songs in weird time and key signatures. We’ve been told we sound like “cerebral metal” which we’ve taken a fancy to so that’s our genre and we’re sticking to it!
Brick Williams from Utah progressive metal band Hourglass told us last year that it’s extremely hard to find musicians in Utah that are willing to put the work into playing prog. Do you think you all have a natural advantage since your band knew each other back in Kentucky?
A: I think our natural advantage is our mutual love and respect for progressive music as well as a passionate commitment to making GREAT music. It helps that three fourths of us are from Kentucky and practically grew up together but it isn’t the sole advantage. We have an incredible synergy and we feed off each others’ creativity and ideas to put out music we can truly be very proud of.
Tell us about your upcoming album that will be released in May.
A: We will release our highly anticipated debut album titled Whisper Campaign 14 May 2010 with an accompanying show that night. The album can be pre-ordered at our official band website. It will also be available for digital download on Amazon and iTunes.
Do you have a large fan base in Utah, or do you have to tour to play good shows?
A: We have a growing fan base in Utah but our largest fan base is in Europe. We have a summer tour lined up to support Whisper Campaign. We will be playing mostly throughout the northwestern region of the States.
Who writes the lyrics in American Hollow?
A: I write the majority of the lyrics but the guys sometimes contribute themes, lines, or phrases.
Jim, as the only member of the Church in your band, how does your faith influence what you do? What do you think you bring, spiritually, to the music as a whole?
A: My faith influences everything in my life so naturally its going to spill over into my music. I don’t sing about religion or spirituality specifically but overall our music and some of the themes we explore have an optimistic undertone to it which has universal appeal.
Any good shows coming up, if readers are interested in seeing one?
A: We will be playing at Club Abyss in downtown SLC for two nights (14 & 15 May). I highly encourage any of you in the area to come out and enjoy an evening with American Hollow as we take you on the most fantastical musical journey of your life! There will be a few special treats in store as well as swag to give away!! We will also be playing the Deer Hunter Pub in Spanish Fork 29 May.
Where can interested readers learn more about American Hollow?
A: We have websites at every major music site you can think of including but not limited to MySpace, YouTube, ReverbNation, Last FM, and Pure Volume just to name a few. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. As mentioned earlier, we also have an official band website www.americanhollowband.com. Check out that website for news, music, shows, store, bios, contact information and all things American Hollow!!