Interview with Chris Thomas and Bryan Stacks of Hold Me Hostage
COSMICK VIEW: Hello Bryan and Chris! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it’s greatly appreciated.
CV: Hold Me Hostage has made it known that the band does not shy away from drawing from its musical influences. Do you look at this as a way to connect to a greater range of fan diversity?
BRYAN: Like many bands before us, we do wear certain stripes of other bands that have had an influence on us. I wouldn’t say that it’s intentional or calculated towards broadening a fan base. I think it’s something that just tends to happen naturally. HMH songs come from a place of passion and honesty and are not designed to fit perfectly into any particular mold. If that’s an attribute that helps us with gaining attention, great! That said, we like what we like so there are some common denominators from song to song. One can consistently expect dynamic/hard hitting vocals, synth textures, round pounding rhythm and virtuosic guitar playing.
CV: Does having such a deep array of musical influences provide the band with a limitless supply of songwriting avenues?
BRYAN: In a way, yes. We all have a general love and appreciation for music that is done right. There’s a lot of amazing music out there that’s not confined to any one genre. We recognize that and have a little fun with it, whether we’re adding a reggae flare to the tune “Time Bomb” or muting the guitars for a the darker pop flavor of “The Beauty”. And yes, the supply of ideas are seemingly endless. We literally have hard drives full of them.
CV: How would you describe the power of music? What effects has music had in your life?
BRYAN: Well it has to be powerful music to begin with because (IMO) there’s more powerless music in world these days than any other point of history. What makes powerful music you may ask? It has to be a conduit for inspiration. Sometimes it’s lightning in a bottle, sometimes it’s the artist passionately bearing their heart and soul but it has to make a connection. It has to make you feel something. Isn’t that the mystery and magic of music that a combination of melody and sounds can conjure an emotional response? The effect of this is that it has us (for better or worse) writing, recording, performing, repeating! We’re addicted!
CV: Music is definitely an emotionally charged experience regardless of style or genre. The impact it has on people's lives is as unique as the music itself. How does Hold Me Hostage invoke emotion in their fans with the music? Is it a calculated response designed within the songwriting or more of an organic growth stemming from the group's diverse influence pool?
CHRIS: We design our songs to reflect the emotions we feel when we're writing them and performing them. They're more-or-less chapters of our lives that book-mark life occurrences and/or our outlook on life at the time we conceived them. We definitely consider the results we've had with previous songs and how specific tempos and progressions work to invoke an emotional response. Calculated? …Maybe a little. But I think it's more of a natural process. It just feels good to have an outlet that effectively conveys our emotions so that others can feel them with us.
CV: Is the band's name, Hold Me Hostage, related to the artist's personal feeling of how the music takes hold and never let’s go? Or is it something completely different?
CHRIS - Hold Me Hostage is poking fun at a phrase Chris and Patrick's previous band would say when resolving creative differences; "Don't hold the band hostage" ~ It's also an acknowledgement of how easy it is to be held captive by the conditions one creates for his/herself by raising the bar and setting a precedent which increases obligations within each new standard. ie: Kicking ass creates MORE WORK!
CV: What's the one thing music has taught you?
BRYAN: I would say music has taught me the importance of living an inspired life. It seems like it’s all too easy to become desensitized and zombified these days. I want our music to rebel and resist against an uninspired, mundane existence.
CV: If music wasn't your drug of choice, what do you see yourself doing? CV: Rock, Metal, Soul...three styles the band uses to describe the Hold Me Hostage sound. Do you see one style being more predominant than another...dictating how a song comes together?
CHRIS: Good question. It's really always been music for me and it's difficult to imagine anything else that could even come close. We make an effort to ensure that each song is its own animal and that each is different from the last. Rock is a general enough category for most of our songs, but we're certainly not confined to rock, and as we continue defining our own unique sound, it's a well-rounded combination of the three (rock, metal, soul)
CV: The band's new song and video, "Bender," is releasing soon. The promotional clip is very dark and intense...it seems to be conveying that regardless how much indulgence, or even overindulgence, one does, there are some holes that can never be filled. Is this the message? Tell us a little about the song and the video.
BRYAN: I can tell you there has been some independent research conducted on the subject matter. Although the song has a pretty crystal clear meaning to me, the message may honestly vary a little bit from listener to listener. There’s a lyric that sums up the most relatable concept “When will this nightmare ever end, ‘cause I’ve never been so helpless. Wish I could do it all again, cause I would not have been so selfish. But I can’t take back the things I’ve done, a wasted life just for some fun. Now I’ve got nothing to show for all of this time”. “Bender” laments regret, poor choices and asks “what have I done with my life?” For the video we wanted something edgy, visually pleasing and just fun to watch. Kyle Lamar with Digital Myle produced a beautiful video for us that surpassed all expectations. Keep an eye out for it, it’s dropping soon!
CV: Do you see the video adaptation medium as a means to add another layer of texture to a song's depth and legacy? Are videos an extension of the songwriting process? Or are videos more of an afterthought for artists today to sell a single or promote an album? What are your thoughts?
CHRIS: I'm also a visual artist with quite a vivid imagination so it's easy for me to translate the energy of a song into a visual representation, at least in my mind. These days, successful artists seem to utilize as much video content as possible. The more of a sensory experience we can create for our fans the more we will be able to engage them, not to mention reach new potential fans.
CV: Describe for us what it’s like seeing the Hold Me Hostage live experience from a fan’s perspective. What can those who have not yet seen the group on stage expect?
CHRIS: We DO take liberties with arrangements (lengthening intros and such); we also experiment with stripping down sections to enhance dynamics; otherwise, we do a decent job playing our live set to sound like our recordings. For whatever reason, every band I've ever been in has rehearsed at stupid-loud volumes, and as a result I've developed the power required to effectively project my voice loud and clear, making sure I'm heard and understood... I'm grateful for that. There are a lot of "hack singers" out there touring the rock/metal world. Singers who can't project their voice are a sound engineer's nightmare when they demand more gain on their vocal signal, only to pick up more drum bleed through their mic, ha... For real though, I know I'm doing my job right when I have the entire room's complete attention. It's an amazing feeling when you can express yourself that powerfully! Not only that, we're a fun band who vibes off of each other. We're entertainers and the proof is in the pudding, as they say...
CV: What's next for Hold Me Hostage?
CHRIS: I'm going through my arsenal of song ideas/demos and working on the strongest ones with the band. We're striving to out-do ourselves. We're more interested in building hype and strategizing smart shows in the coming year than getting in a van and taking shows just to prove that we're on the road to a label. We're way more obsessed with high-quality songs that punch people in the heart! I've always felt like the rest will follow if the music is totally undeniable. So far, your material is very competitive, but so is the market. There's an onslaught of people who want to be rock stars but it takes something pretty special to stand out these days! It also takes hard work... So I'm tirelessly honing my production skills, I'm obsessed with GREATNESS, and I'm grateful to be working with such a solid group of bad-asses!
CV: Thank you again guys for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
CHRIS: Thank YOU! We appreciate your interest. check back in with us again soon... cheers!
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