Certain bands are so perfectly suited to their name that you couldn’t imagine them wearing any other title. The Clash, Spiritualized and The Velvet Underground are a few that jump to mind, but summer-soaked Sydney pop group The Holidays might take the cake. Back in 2010, the band released the AMP-nominated debut record Post Paradise,and now we finally get to hear its follow-up, Real Feel. The extended interval between albums suggests the trio’s work ethic is as breezy as its tunes, but vocalist and main songwriter Simon Jones reports the last few years haven’t been entirely relaxing.
“We finished touring the last album and we said, ‘Look, we could do another album that sounds like this relatively quickly, or we could spend a bit more time trying to find something new again,’” he says. “That takes time and takes experimenting, so we set about doing lots of experimenting.”
Real Feel might be the result of deconstructive experimentation, but the record doesn’t actually sound too dissimilar to its predecessor. Fans of Post Paradise have already gleefully embraced the optimistic pre-album singles ‘Voices Drifting’ and ‘All Time High’. So does this mean their quest to break into new ground failed?
“A big part of why the album took so long [is] you think, ‘I don’t want it to sound like that, I want it to be dark and I want it to be this and this,’” Jones explains. “You end up listening to it and think, ‘It’s fine, but it’s not The Holidays.’ That’s a big part of it: trying for a while to be something else and then realising that’s not actually what you want.”
This recognition supports the notion that bands don’t choose their sound, it chooses them. Indeed, a band called The Holidays seems pre-determined to favour relaxed arrangements and warm tones. Jones muses on what might explain their defining characteristics.
“Our default setting for sound is somehow this breezy, happy sound, which is kind of weird. I don’t know why that happens. I think once you’re an adult, you’ve got your things that you like. You know, I like slow percussion, I like buzzed-out guitar, I like weird synth pads and stuff like that. If I put all the things I like together, it makes our sound.”
It wasn’t just Jones’ musical preferences influencing the songs on Real Feel. Taking time off from the frazzle of touring let the band become acquainted with everyday living, subsequently allowing Jones et al. to gather some crucial life experience.
“When you’re in a full-time band and what you do is tour and then you make a record and then you tour and then you make a record, you get in this sort of suspended animation. You don’t grow up or anything like that. So, taking a long time on this album, what incidentally happened was I bought a house, I got in a serious relationship – got a bit more mature, really.”
Thankfully, taking on adult responsibilities hasn’t sucked the youthful spark out of The Holidays. However, Real Feel does possess a contemplative shimmer that distinguishes it from the band’s earlier work. “I wouldn’t say [it] sounds like a different band, but knowing the ideas behind it, I think it’s a more mature album.”
Furthermore, Jones looks into the future with a relaxed confidence that’s surely informed by experience. “I’m not really worried about what people think. We like it and I think after being pretty tough on ourselves, if nobody else likes it then that would be a bit weird.”
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