The LA Beat Interview: Hollis Brown

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Hollis Brown is a tuneful and bluesy band with an edge. This rootsy Indie Rock band hails from Queens, NY whose name is inspired by Bob Dylan, referring to “The Ballad of Hollis Brown” off of the album Freewheelin. “3 Shots”, their new record, is out today on Jullian Records. Hollis Brown had the exceptional opportunity through Bo Diddley‘s Estate to record with one of Bo Diddley’s unfinished tracks. That collaboration is a part of the new release that has given them the unusual opportunity to record with one of the founders of Rock and Roll and a legendary figure in Pop music. The band will be tour with Counting Crows from July through October of 2015. 

How did you get to do the Bo Diddley collaboration “Rain Dance,” that was written around an unfinished track found in his vaults?

We met a rep from the Bo Diddley Estate at a show and they liked what we did so it kind of organically happened over time. They were looking for a band, we jumped on it, and got the call to come to the studio. We didn’t have much time to prep so a lot of what you hear happened on the fly, just us in the moment feeling it.

What was it like playing Bo’s signature red, square guitar during the Live Nation/Yahoo! live streamed concert at House Of Blues – New Orleans?

Incredible. That guitar is like a magnet, I have never seen a reaction to a guitar like that one. It’s a masterpiece. It’s a little heavy and kind of awkward because of the shape, but it kicks you right in the ass when you play it. It’s the most powerful guitar I’ve ever played.

How did you get to work with Nikki Lane? I used to work with her at HD Buttercup in Los Angeles and we had a great time talking about music!

We met Nikki when we were recording and touring our first record. When we would come through Nashville we would always stop by her store, she even put us up one night after a show there. When we were recording the song Highway 1 it was intended on being a conversation between two people. So it lent itself well to a duet, so I reached out to her and she had some time off from touring and it just happened.

You’ve got a lot of twang in you, considering you’re a band from Queens, NY. How did this deep, rootsy influence come about?

I feel like I have a lot of New York in me. I don’t know. I think that everyone in the band is into great songwriters and the history of music and songwriting and a lot of that stems from folk music and blues and more of a roosty vibe I guess. New York is always about attitude and being a badass and it lacks a little depth sometimes. I mean I’m a New Yorker so I can say that I guess. Music is also a lot less regional than it used to be also, because of technology, so we are all exposed to so much different stuff from all over the country a lot faster. It’s probably all that stuff combined.

“Hollis Brown Gets Loaded” is a solid Velvet Underground tribute record. What would you like to say to Lou Reed if he were alive today?

Anything I would say, he probably would think I’m an asshole anyway. We were playing a place called the Mercury Lounge in New York and I saw him walk by with these sneakers on that we’re actual space shoes, fucking astronaut space giant sneakers, they were insane, and he had this grey leather trench coat on. He owned it.

Your track “John Wayne” pays respect to iconic heroes. Why is this important to you and what was the internal driver for creating this song? Excellent guitar work, by the way.

Thanks. It just seems to me that the greatness of America is gone and people are almost proud of it. Which I don’t understand. Everything is so full of distorted media driven news psycho shit and people are beaten down with whatever is behind the curtain of their next click on their computer. It’s fuckin horrendous, the song John Wayne is like a goodbye to the principles and morality that people should value but don’t anymore. It’s almost like “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio,” when Paul Simon sang.

Your band name was influenced by Bob Dylan. Have you heard from Bob’s camp yet? Any potential plans to gig with the man himself?

Ha, no we haven’t heard from his camp but would love to tour with him. We will be on tour most of the year though so who knows.

In “3 Shots” you allude to bullying. Have you ever been bullied?

I never personally was bullied. I saw a shitload of it growing up though. Like everyone else did. I saw a documentary called Bully and it really moved me. There’s this weird thing in this country where people feel the need to shoot up a movie theatre or a school as like a revenge on society for their personal shit. A lot of that comes from being either abused or bullied. It’s a weird phenomenon man and I can’t relate to it. I just felt like last year every few weeks there was a new incident like that. That’s where the song comes from.

What can we expect from your Counting Crows tour set? You play the LA in October at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre.

We are going to bring in the heat. We have a new album out called “3 Shots” that we are really excited about and we are going to be touring it non-stop the next year. Will be hearing a lot of those tunes as well as one or two from the record.

Complete this sentence: Hollis Brown is_____.

…in love with LA girls.

Hollis Brown will be opening for Counting Crows on October 2nd at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre. You can follow Hollis Brown at @HollisBrown.

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Billy Bennight

About Billy Bennight

Billy Bennight is a writer, photographer and wardrobe stylist with expertise and years of experience in these disciplines. His musical youth started as a Punk Rocker and has expanded into exploring many genres of music, with an keen interest in art, fashion, photography and writing. He shoots celebrity events and red carpets for PR Photos, Photoshot and The Photo Access/Corbis. His images have been published in Vanity Fair, People Magazine and The Los Angeles Times. He's very engaged in life. You can follow him on his Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/billybennightartist
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