On the heels of what can only be described as a memorable year, the Montreal-based indie-pop group Hollerado are currently finishing up their tour with Gang Of Four before heading over to Toronto for Canadian Music Week and the Juno Awards. Two performances, one of which will be at the 11th annual Independent Music Awards, will keep them in Toronto until the end of March. After attending the Juno Awards – having recently snagged a nomination in the “Best New Group” category – they will be headed back out on another tour, this time with Tokyo Police Club. On top of this, they are in the process of writing songs for a new album and recording a new music video. The Concordian caught up with lead singer and guitarist Menno Versteeg while he was on the tour bus between gigs.
The Concordian: Hey Menno, I hope I didn’t wake you up.
Menno Versteeg: Half and half. We’re in the van driving. We played Chicago last night and it was fantastic – really cool city. We’re heading to Minneapolis now.
You were nominated for a Juno? That’s fantastic.
Yeah, it’s crazy. We’re pretty stoked about it. We didn’t see it coming. Just to be nominated is really cool.
You were nominated for “Best New Group” yet you have been playing together for five years.
We were told that to be eligible you have to have never been nominated for a Juno before. You could be playing together for 20 years and still be nominated for “Best New Group.”
How does the rest of the band feel about it?
Everyone is excited. We are excited to go. Neil Young is going to be there. I doubt we will get the chance to meet him, but you never know. [We’re looking forward to] the actual performances as well. There are a lot of really good people that will be playing at the show. Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene are playing so it should be a really cool night.
Was there anyone in the band that was overly excited about the Juno nomination?
I think our parents were the most excited. I mean, it’s just a mainstream legitimization of all our hard work, which is not something that we were seeking, but it’s kinda cool when it does happen. It’s just a cool experience. We are so lucky. We get to do a lot of really cool things, [like] travelling and playing with bands that we grew up listening to. This is just another interesting experience that we are really lucky to be able to have: going to the Junos and just celebrating Canadian music.
And you are working on a new music video as well?
Yeah we are making a new one with the same guy that [directed] “Americanarama” [Greg Jardin]. We should start filming this month. It’s going to be for the song “Got To Lose.” The idea is really cool too. It’s still along the same lines as “Americanarama” in that it will be shot in one take, but this time it will have a lot of umbrellas.
Is Hollerado still running on that $250,000 you won at Ottawa’s Live 85 Big Money Shot Contest in 2009?
Nope [laughs], putting out a record costs a lot of money. Then also we spent a lot of it, I want to say frivolously. We really just wanted to spread the wealth around. We threw a lot of parties where we gave away free beer. We would buy like 10 kegs and just have all of our friends there. We would also fly bands across the country to come play with us and stuff like that. Just because no indie band deserves a quarter of a million bucks [laughs]. We figured we had to spread it around a little bit.
You also used some of the money to tour China for a second time, right?
Yeah, we did a second tour of China, which is definitely not a money-making venture. After the first tour we thought there was a chance we could make some money, but no. I mean, it was cool and we were packing the venues, but when you translate the ticket price into our money, it’s like people are paying $1.50 to go to our show. So there’s no way you are ever going to make money. People don’t buy CDs either and if you want to sell a T-shirt, even if we sold it at our cost, it would be the equivalent of them paying $100 per T-shirt. We ended up just giving away CDs or selling them at Â¥10, which is about $1.75 in our money. [Even] that was pricey for them. China is still so great and I really want to go back.
This interview has been condensed.
Look for the Concordian’s coverage of Canadian Music Week on March 15.