Greg Holden is heading to Denver to play at Bluebird Theatre with Butch Walker on September 9th. We caught up with Greg for a quick Q & A.
What are memories do you have of growing up with music?
Memories include, well, when I was kid, my parents were always listening to Brit Rock & Roll like Led Zeppelin, Queen, all that sort of stuff, but it was never really an interest of mine, and never really something they were trying to get me in to; It was just around the house. It was only when I was eighteen, when I picked up the guitar when I really started listening to music and really soaking it in. And to me, those memories are just life-changing. They changed my direction in life. They gave me sort of like an ability to speak my mind, get things off my chest, listen to people who were going through the same thing. And I was able to really resonate with a lot of people who I was listening to, so that was my biggest moment when I realized how important music was to me.
Who is your biggest musical influence?
My biggest influence back in the day was Bob Dylan, because he was the first artist that I’d listened to really that was really saying powerful things in songs; just him and his guitar. I remember just being completely blown away by the honesty and the power of his lyrics. That was definitely the starting point for me. When I realized that was what I wanted to do too. Everything he was doing was true.
Can you speak about The Power Shift and how that developed?
Yeah, The Power Shift, I wrote, I didn’t really write it for any other reason other than I was just trying to vent my frustration with looking at the world, and looking at the internet and looking at how much bullshit was going on in everyday existence, and I just got frustrated, and I wanted to write something that was just… It wasn’t meant to be a political song or anything like that. Even though it came out like that, it was me venting really. The lies just kept pouring out from the people in college’s mouths. Not just in America, but all around the world. The Power Shift kind of came out when I spent way too much time on Twitter, and going rabbit hole with the idiot tweets and replies and just watching people yell at each other and seeing people lie, you know, seeing our President lie, just got a little bit overwhelming, so I was like, instead of tweeting something out into an echo chamber right now, I’m going to try to write a song. That’s just what came out. I didn’t really have a point. I didn’t know it would absolutely affect anybody. I just wanted to get something off my chest and, yeah, that’s how that song came about. I wrote it by myself and recorded by myself here in my home studio in L.A., and now it’s out in the world.
How did you end up in New York and then L.A.?
When I was growing up listening to Bob Dylan and all these artists I was in love with, they all talked about New York. They all lived in New York. Everything that I was exalting was New York-based. I think at an early age around 23 or 24, I was like, I’m going to move there. At some point I have to live in a city. At that time I was living in London, in England. One day I was sick of my job and just quit. It was the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever done in my life. I got a little bit drunk one night at home by myself and booked a flight to New York, and quit my job the next day and just went. Looking back, it was an absolutely insane thing to do, but it paid off. I was in New York for seven years. And then I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, mostly because all my friends in New York had moved here. I’m finally joining the party.
How did The Lost Boy song become a song for charity?
I wrote that song eight years ago now, a long time ago. I wrote that song about a book by David Eggers, What is the What?. It was a true story about Sudanese refugees. Through the song, it became a pop charity campaign in Holland for the Red Cross. And that’s how it ended up bringing in money as the pop charity campaign on the radio. It raised about $80,000 through that, which is a very cool thing, because I was broke. I had no idea what I could do for charity or for this character, this real life person. Through that song, actually I was able to raise a lot of money. That was a cool moment in my life. It made me realize the power for music.
How did you get to first meet tour-mate Butch Walker?
Butch and I were supposed to make a record together when I was with Warner Brother Records. The president of Warner, my A & R guy at the time, set me up with Butch for lunch. We just hit it off. We were very similar people. We connected, so we went to the studio and recorded a few songs with the intention of making a record. But, unfortunately, my deal with Warner Bros. ended and I had no money to make a record. We’ve always stayed in touch and will make music together again I’m sure. And now we’re going on tour together, so I’m glad that we’re still working together in some capacity.
How would you describe your music?
I don’t know, Authentic Folk Rock. I am so bad at describing my own music.
Do you think shows like American Idol are still relevant?
I think they’re relevant for making money, and for making judges more famous. I don’t watch those shows, and it’s quite ironic that the biggest success in my life is through a show that I’ve spent my entire career rebelling against. The irony is hilarious. I think it’s a good opportunity for people to get their names out there. I don’t know how relevant shows like that are in terms of producing authentic, decent music anymore. Maybe I’m wrong. Like I said, I haven’t watched them in a long time. I think the problem is, nobody… It seems a lot of people, aren’t willing to put the work in to learn their craft, get good at it, go through the motions, build a foundation and core, get good at their instruments. I think people expect that to happen fast and immediately. It’s not how it works, how you build a career.
What are you most looking forward to getting out to Denver, CO?
I love Denver. Actually the radio stations in Denver have been really kind to me over the years. I haven’t been back there for a show for a long, long time. I’m just excited to see if anybody’s there who knows me. I would be really cool to see some fans there, and of course, Denver is one of the most beautiful places in America, so I’m always happy to be there. The Bluebird is legendary and have always heard about it.
Look for a new Greg Holden EP to be released by the end of the year.
See you in Denver!