Holy Holy’s beguiling mix of jubilance and melancholy and frontman Tim Carroll’s affecting lyrics have made them one of Australia’s most popular acts. Whether tackling issues such as homophobia, the way in which mortality imbues life with urgency and clarity; refugee settlement, or the tragic consequences of toxic masculinity and the manner in which gender stereotypes are perpetuated in daily life, even down to the books we read our children, on My Own Pool of Light, Carroll has used his personal experiences to extend his gaze outward more than ever before.
To date the duo have over 50 million streams to their name. This success propelled HOLY HOLY to festival appearances both local (Groovin The Moo 2019, Bluesfest 2018, Secret Garden 2018, Festival Of The Sun 2018 among many others) and international (Primavera, The Great Escape, Reeperbahn, Dot To Dot), as well as countless sold out headline shows around Australia. Tim Carroll drops by to answer some questions for Hi Fi Way about the album and tour.
How did you celebrate finishing My Own Pool Of Light?
It’s always hard to say when it’s finished. On the last day of tracking? On the last day of mixing? When we get the masters back? When it’s released? When it was released I hid away from the world out on my farm in Tasmania and tried not to read any online comments. I had a sauna and swam in the lake and tried not to think about it. That said it’s been good. I feel like fans are enjoying the album and finding the moments that mean something to them.
Was this the most challenging albums you have made so far?
Yes and no. We’re very lucky now to have a label (Wonderlick and Sony) who we love and they give us so much support and freedom that in some ways things are easier now. If we want studio time or flights booked or a writing weekend organised we can make that all happen. Making our first album we didn’t have that and I had to pay for everything myself and ask for a lot of favours. Creatively this record was challenging but I’ve always found songwriting challenging and weirdly that’s why I was drawn to it.
What is your strategy when you hit the wall during the writing process?
If we hit the wall there’s a couple of moves. One is to jump onto another song and leave the stuck point for another time. Sometimes we have bits and pieces we know need doing that aren’t “hard” – like we need to re-record that bass part or we need to put harmonies on that second chorus, so we can sometimes jump into some easy job that isn’t as hard as writing and composing. Sometimes we stop. Go and eat some food or have a swim or something. Clear the head. Sometimes you just have to sit in that hard place and try things and feel around in the dark until you find a solution.
Did you intend on some of the lyrical content and ideas to be so heavy and deep?
For some reason describing my lyrics as heavy doesn’t feel right to me, but I know what you mean. Did I intend that? No. But we did want all the songs to mean something and have something at their core.
What do you hope listeners take away from the album?
Well, my greatest hope is that people love the album. They love how it makes them feel and they put it on again and again and it becomes a part of the soundtrack to their lives. I love music and I listen to music all the time, so I know what that is like. We’ve been touring a lot lately. (I’m just in the airport now as I write this) and we have been meeting people all over the country and it feels like, for some people, these records mean a lot.
How does this album compare to your previous two?
It’s a very different writing and recording approach. Our first album was recorded live to tape. Band in the room. So very analogue and old school. This record was composed using computers and software. Loops, samples and a lot more freedom to experiment. This is also the first record we self-produced.
How much are you looking forward to this tour?
We’re seven gigs deep as I write this and it’s going well. It can be pretty intense and hard work but the good shows are so exciting and satisfying. There are four of us on stage and we all live in different cities so touring is a good time to hang out and be together. We have a great crew and supports bands on the road too so we’re having a good time.
Are you likely to play My Own Pool Of Light in full?
No. I think that would be a bit much for crowds and for us. We’re playing a good chunk of the record I think six tracks? But we’ll play some of the previous two albums too. People would kill us if didn’t play True Lovers and it’s such a fun song live so we would want to play it ourselves. It always gets people dancing.
What’s next for Holy Holy?
Oh my god. I don’t know. At the moment it’s just survive this tour and try and remember to enjoy it. It’s a really special time and I’m aware it won’t last forever so, for now, that’s my focus.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch Holy Holy on the following dates…