Today we talk to Kate Long from the Bloomington based band The Hollows.
Kate Long: yo!
Postcard Editor: bam!
Kate: p.s. that’s not how i want to start this interview
PE: Too late!
PE: Hello – how are you doing?
Kate: Doing alright. How are you?
PE: Good – ready for the weekend. Guess Foreigner were right. At least about me.
Kate: Yea, you’re probably the only one I’m guessing.
PE: I know you’re a busy lady, so let’s jump into it. Lots of exciting things happening in the world of the Hollows lately. Let’s touch base quickly on two high profile shows that you just played.
You recently opened for S. Carey from Bon Iver, and the week before that for Wanda Jackson. How were those shows for you?
Kate: Great. We felt good about our performances as a band, and it was really exciting to open for them both. Maybe a little too much excitement in one week for me, but I didn’t want to pass on either opportunity.
PE: It may not be the case with these shows, but I know often the best thing a performer can get from opening for a more seasoned act, especially someone like Wanda Jackson, isn’t necessarily the chance to play in front of a new audience, which is nice, but the sort of tricks and tips and revelations they can pick up from watching that headliner, in a more connected sense than just being in the audience. Did you come away from either show with any new insights on working a crowd, or pacing, or presenting yourself? Or am I completely alone on this, like the Foreigner thing?
Kate: Wanda Jackson had such an incredible way with the audience, and who knows how much of that comes from so many years on stage vs. her personality, but I was definitely taking notes. It’s completely unrelated in most ways; she’s a living legend with some incredible stories to tell, and so there’s only so much I can apply to my own situation. But that’s something I’ve always struggled with–the silences between songs, what to say, how much to engage people…For the Wanda show I made notes on my set list to avoid too much awkwardness. I think it worked?
PE: Well that might have been an unfair question, given her stature and longevity as a performer, and you want to balance the things you admire and recognize in others with your own personality, don’t want to not be yourself up there. I find it interesting that you struggle with those between song sections, because while you may not say a lot in the way of banter, you’ve always seemed comfortable and are almost always really funny.
But I can only assume that you did decide to copy Wanda’s big hair, as that is clearly the secret to her powers.
Kate: I actually saw her right before she went on stage, and she had one of those round brushes and was putting on the final touches. Everything she does works! She’s got it down.
PE: Oh man, if Wanda’s not selling a home hair care kit at the merch table of her shows she’s really missing out.
So in addition to these two shows, you also have some road dates coming up, which if I’m not mistaken is kind of a first for the Hollows right?
Kate: We actually don’t have any road dates booked at the moment, but we have PLANS to book them. We went on a little mini tour last winter with Elephant Micah, which consisted of a Louisville show opening for Catherine Irwin, followed by our homecoming show at the Bishop. Life on the road was tough, but we made it.
PE: You put the mini in mini-tour.
Kate: Well said.
PE: I’m assuming the tour was done entirely in Mini Coopers and resembled the Italian Job, only with a better soundtrack.
Kate: We actually borrowed The Coke Dares’ van, so there was plenty of entertainment covering every square inch.
PE: So it had that sweet, musky Jason Groth smell eh? Nice. Ok, so you have plans to do some touring, and this is of course will be in conjunction with the release of your new album Sweetie.
Kate: Yes, we are planning on releasing the Sweetie EP on June 11, with some out-of-town shows to follow.
PE: Ok, I don’t want to get too into the details of the album as we’re still a few months away, but I did want to touch base on a couple of things from it.
Where as in the past the Hollows could very safely be described as alt. country, on Sweetie there seems to be a decidedly more classic country vibe to a majority of the album. Was this a deliberate choice or just something that happened during the recording of the album?
And if I’m splitting hairs over “alt” and “classic” I can elaborate what I mean.
Kate: Maybe elaborate a bit..
PE: My assumption is that it’s a production aspect, where as Darlings of Naught had the sort of darker tones and a kind of hushed quality to it that made it feel as much a part of the indie folk scene and more introspective indie rock as it did a country album. Sweetie is bright and full in a way that calls to mind a more classic country sound and production.
Was that a deliberate choice, or just something that you felt was a better fit for these songs? And it’s not the entire thing, “Pictures” still breaks that mold and goes into more of an indie rock sort of mode. Although that is a bit more due to the song’s structure around a minimal guitar line.
Kate: It wasn’t a deliberate choice, I think we just tried to do what worked with the new songs. Mike Dixon played pedal steel on some songs which I think really takes the country feel up a notch. Or ten. And there was the difference of being at Russian Recording as opposed to Dan Burton’s basement, which may have had something to do with the dark quality of Darlings of Naught.
PE: Well that shatters my fantasy of you all recording while wearing sequins, but I’ll live.
Kate: That’s a good idea for the next album..
PE: “You can really hear the sequins on this track…” So one other question about the album itself, you’ve reworked one of your older songs, one that has always been a personal favorite, “Cottage Grove.” My question is, how much of that song is true? (I’ve always wondered this) Did you actually move to Cottage Grove, OR at some point? Is it really the home of the world’s tiniest rodeo?
Kate: I did in fact live in Cottage Grove, Oregon. For a short time. I was doing an internship at a place that was a little outside of town, and one day we drove through town and I really think I saw a banner that said something about a rodeo, and maybe that it was small..or maybe I just assumed it would be small. It’s a fuzzy truth. I do, however, have a dear friend named Emily out there, and I certainly hope she has a spot for me on her porch swing.
PE: I’m sure she does. So this is kind of an odd question, but here on my work computer’s iTunes, I have just a random sampling of things. And directly following The Hollows is a speech from Hunter S. Thompson and a song by Ice Cube. Which of those do you think makes a better companion piece, or follow up to Sweetie and why?
Kate: Wow. I have no idea.
PE: If it helps, that particular part of Hunter’s speech is about cuff-links and Jesus.
Kate: This seems like a question you may already have an answer to.
PE: This is not a leading question. I am no Fox News young lady! I also prefaced by saying it was an odd question. Let’s move on.
On the new record you have songs that are sung to your daughter. How much of an influence is she on your writing?
Kate: Oh, she has a huge influence on my writing, specifically the lack of it.
Kate: Being a mother has definitely broadened my perspective and pushed me to write about more meaningful things. Whether or not that is ultimately accomplished. And it’s changed the creative process too. Whereas I used to go about my day and have bits of songs come to me and sit in a quiet room and try to put them together, now I have to set aside time to “work” on songs, and most of the time creativity does not coincide with these times. It’s tricky.
PE: Well the end result is fantastic, there’s some really beautiful songs on the new album. So, well worth the trickiness. To me. The listener. Who didn’t have to struggle with it.
Kate: Well, I suppose the frustration comes mostly from a lack of material as opposed to a dissatisfaction with what we already have. I love playing the new songs. I want to have more.
PE: Ok, I don’t want to talk too much more about the album, because I know I could for a long time, and just eat up the rest of your day, so we’ll save that for later when it comes out.
Let’s go ahead and wrap this up in our usual fashion here – name three things that are currently rocking your world. Can be anything at all.
Kate: 1) Coco Louise Duneman….um, give me a second, trying to connect with my feelings..
PE: No need to do that. This isn’t Collins dormitory. (editor’s note – for the non-Bloomington readers, Collins is the “artsy” dormitory at Indiana University)
Kate: Is “rocking your world” meant to be positive or negative? Speaking of Collins.
PE: Generally people interpret it in the positive sense. I was assuming that was how you meant your first answer.
Kate: Oh, yes, of course! 2) laundry 3) groceries. Sorry that’s what i need to do.
Loving my band. Loving things turning green. There.
PE: That’ll work! Thanks for talking with me. Anything else you want to say before we turn off the internet?
Kate: You are great. Thanks for asking me to do this.
PE: My pleasure – see you soon. Also, I’m totally going to start the interview with you saying “Yo!”