Get a hold of The Holds

The Montreal indie-rock band is soon to release an LP album

Montreal band The Holds may have only been together for a year and half, but their unique sound cannot be missed. Their swampy, soulful, indie-rock vibe has garnered a lot of reaction from people across both Quebec and Ontario following a two-week tour for their self-titled EP last year. The EP was released in January 2016, and the band is now excited to have new music on the horizon. The lead singer of the band, Ryan Setton, said their soon-to-be released full-length album is very different from anything they’ve done before.

“[Our sound] has changed a lot actually,” Setton said. “Obviously the instrumentation is somewhat the same, but there’s definitely more keys on the new stuff, and the songs are more dynamic, in that there’s more of a story in the music. There are things that are constantly changing and shifting throughout the tracks, whereas before, our songs were a bit more cut and dry.” Setton first started performing cover songs at bars around Montreal with Justin Wiley, the drummer of The Holds, five years ago. After years of covering other bands’ material, they both wanted to start creating their own original music. That’s when bassist Andre Galamba, keyboard player Alex Lebel and guitarist Eric Hein came in. These three musicians had the talent, personality and chemistry Setton and Wiley were looking for.

Setton said their album is currently in pre-production, but the goal is to release it by this summer. The band also hopes to tour Canada for the upcoming album. Their new release signifies something much more profound for Setton. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about something, out of all the things I’ve done, than this record that’s coming out now. Sometimes when I listen to it, I can’t even believe that it’s happening,” he said.

Setton is not new to the music industry—he has been performing on stage for over 14 years. He has been playing piano and guitar for most of his life, and began singing in his 20s. “Music’s always been like air to breathe, you know what I mean? Like a higher consciousness or something,” he said. “It makes you feel good, motivates you, connects you to something, to other people.” But having a career in music has come with its challenges over the years, including criticism. “For a long time, I was not sure of myself,” he said. “At one point I almost threw in the towel.”

Portrait shot of Montreal band, The Holds. Photo courtesy of The Holds.

While creating music over the past year for the new album, something just clicked for Setton. “After playing shows for so long and being in many situations where I was frustrated, I think I got to the breaking point where I let go, and I really don’t care what anyone [says],” he said. “I’m not going to put myself down for any reason. I’m just going to do what I do, and to the best of my ability.” Setton said the songs he’s created over the past year are more in tune with who he is, both as a person and artist, than ever before. “[The new album] is so in line with [what] I’ve always wanted to do, but I guess I’ve never been able to achieve,” he said. “Just the sound that we have and the songs that we have right now on this upcoming record, it just makes so much sense to me when I hear them.”

The members of The Holds also inspire Setton to tap into his full musical potential. “With the right group of people and the right circumstances, now there’s all this creative energy flowing,” he said. “Alex Lebel—he’s definitely, in my personal, biased opinion, one of the best key players in Montreal,” Setton said. “It’s just such a natural, raw talent that he has. He just adds such a spark and a finesse to everything he plays.” According to Setton, Galamba, who is originally from Brazil, is an intelligent and intuitive player who adds an air of confidence to the music. “[He] is very well-versed in world music. He plays jazz, he plays Latin music, all kinds of different styles,” Setton said. Hein has a lot in common with Setton in terms of musical interests. “Eric and I, we both grew up playing blues and rock and roll, playing by ear. He plays most of the lead guitar in the band, so that gives it it’s bluesy, kind of juke joint, classic 60s vibe,” he said.

Setton said Wiley motivates him in many ways. “Justin is a very disciplined drummer and person in general. He’s very motivated, and his energy in music, in the jam room and outside in life is very positive and energetic. It’s just an amazing thing to have someone like that in a band, who constantly keeps everyone on their toes, but is also a great drummer, and adds a lot of unique style.” Setton said he strives to bring romance back to rock and roll. “Even though a lot of our songs are pretty rocking, I’m heavily influenced by classic soul and R&B.”

Setton said they try to make their music relatable to everyone. “We’re definitely influenced by the blues, and talking a lot about travelling, feeling good, feeling bad. Very simple, everyday things that everyone feels.” he said. “We’re talking about human relationships, we’re talking about love, loss and things like that. Which in itself is profound, I think.”

Whether the band’s music is heard at a bar in downtown Montreal, or on their albums, the band’s goal is to inspire others to be genuine. “Remember to be yourself, because that’s when the true art comes out,” Setton said. “That is the most important thing to say: in anything that you do, just uncompromisingly be yourself.”

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