Features Interviews NXNE 2010 Interview: Hollerado Is A Lean, Not Mean, Rooftop Playing Machine

NXNE 2010 Interview: Hollerado Is A Lean, Not Mean, Rooftop Playing Machine

Hollerado at Nacho House
The Nacho House, Toronto, Ontario
Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview by: Natalia Buia
Photos by: Pete Nema

It was the perfect way to spend a hot summer afternoon; rooftop party with free nachos, cheap beer, confetti, spray paint, and good Canadian music courtesy of the fine folks at Audio Blood. The crowded location may have been perfumed by beer, sweat, and cigarettes but to hear the awesome tunes of The Balconies et al while you're chatting with old friends you haven't seen in months, it was beyond what I imagined.

The Balconies played a stellar performance. When do they not?! Jacquie Neville (vocals, guitar) is sensational when singing and playing her guitar. She is a spirited performer, smiling from ear when singing "Serious Bedtime" and "300 Pages". When Dinosaur Bones came on, everyone was tapping their feet, sipping on Steamwhistle, and wishing the set list would never end. Even with minor fender benders, they still prevailed with fresh, catchy tunes.

Hollerado at Nacho House Hollerado's performance was the most memorable of the day. Not only are they the most energetic band to watch out for, they also are the most generous band in regards to sharing the stage. Members of The Balconies and Dinosaur Bones joined them for peppy performances of "Fake Drugs" and "Juliette". Amidst "Do The Doot Da Doot Do", Menno Versteeg (guitar, vocals) managed to get swept off his feet – literally – and continued performing on the shoulders of a very tall, muscular man. Hilarity ensued throughout the hot day. Even Jake Boyd (drums) stripped down to play the whole set ferociously in his little knickers. I wonder where the band gets all that stamina from.

Prior to Hollerado’s unforgettable rooftop showdown, I chatted with Menno in the new van the band named Spageddy Lee, to know more about this band from Manotick, Ontario.

Sticky: You’re playing 7 shows this year at NXNE. Where do you get all the energy and motivation to do this many shows?

Menno: The actual show always plays itself. The loading in and loading out and showing up on time is really hard for us. That's what drains our energy but the seven shows are amazing. I'd do 40 shows if I didn't have to do all the other stuff.

Sticky: I remember a while ago you guys played for a month straight. You'd go every Tuesday in Hamilton and every Wednesday in Toronto, and so on. What inspires you to keep the momentum going?

Menno: It's really the most fun thing in the world. If we're not out there playing then we have to have other jobs. The residency tour was kind of a plan to teach ourselves not to suck live.

Sticky: What makes for a good Hollerado show? Do you ever think "man, this just wasn't our night?"

Menno: Yeah, we get that a lot. We get that about half the time. We know it because people are like "what the fuck" and start throwing stuff.

Sticky: Is it the sound?

Menno: It's just us being idiots. Sometimes even though we try, we just fall flat on our face. We like to try new things at every show. We'll try a show we don't know or just take requests. It changes every day. I don't even know what’s going to happen at this show. Sometimes the experiments fail, but sometimes they work.

Sticky: I follow you guys on twitter and you guys were giving away your old van for free. Who did you end up giving it to?

Menno: We were giving it away for free to Milles Monarques a band from Montreal. They’re a really cool band playing at NXNE.

Sticky: Cool, because you guys have ties to Montreal.

Menno: We lived there for a while. We spend a lot of time in Montreal. It's awesome. It's the best place in the world to be broke.

Sticky: Really? Good, because I'm broke and dying to plan a trip somewhere. What are some hot spots to check out there?

Menno: Well, the Tam-Tam Park on Sunday. I just like walking around. The mountains are really fun. People who fight in the park, they do this medieval fighting and take it super seriously. They beat the crap out of each other, just like out of Braveheart.

Sticky: Yeah, I saw something like that in the movie Role Models.

Menno: I actually did it for the first time. I participated a while ago. Total dork.

Sticky: I read in an interview that Jake's favourite song to play live is "Got To Lose". It’s one of my favourite songs off Record In A Bag, it's a really solid song.

Menno: I’m glad. It’s one of my favourites too.

Sticky: Do you want to give me a rundown of how that song came to be?

Menno: We wanted to do something gospel-y.

Sticky: Yeah, in the beginning, it's got a great build up.

Menno: It kind of came together in the jam space and we didn't have any lyrics to it. I actually kept trying all these lyrics and nothing was right. One night I was in New York and I stayed up on this roof and wrote everything in one night. It was awesome.

Sticky: Well, I think the chorus is really profound with lyrics like "you've got to lose love if you want to find love". Did anything significant happen to you to have that revelation?

Menno: I think at the time someone was just going through a break up and I was thinking about them. It was for someone.

Sticky: You're such a huge part of NXNE this year. Growing up, how important were these music festivals? Any fond memories?

Menno: My first big concert was The Tragically Hip with Midnight Oil and April Wine in Ottawa. I actually took Jake and Nick because they were younger than me and lived on my street to their first concert. I was maybe 17 and they were 12 and their parents didn't want them to go. I brought them to see Foo Fighters and Green Day at this big outdoor festival. I think it was one of those "I totally have to do this" moments for them.

Sticky: Is that why you do a lot of festivals yourselves, you want to inspire younger people?

Menno: Inspiring people is one of the biggest highlights of this job. When we were in China we busked in Tiananmen Square. The police came to break it up but there was this little kid who was watching us with the widest eyes. When we finally stopped playing, I gave him the guitar to keep and he couldn't figure it out. The whole crowd was telling him I was giving it to him. When he realized it, he held it and didn't know what to do with it, except he had this look on his face that said "yes, rock and roll! I have the power!" It was so cool to pass that one.

Sticky: Amazing story! One guys one played a show with great friends of mine, Hue, and they were telling me prior to this interview that Hollerado is the nicest band they've ever met. Actually, a lot of bands have said that about you. Why is it so important for you to remain nice at all times?

Menno: That's a hard question to answer. We're from a small town and we grew up with those values. It doesn't matter what you do. It doesn't matter what you do, everyone has their job, and you have to respect everyone in the community. That's kind of just how it is. But they didn't see us last night! We had a water fight in someone’s house. Sometimes we get out of control.

Sticky: You're human though.

Menno: We get grumpy sometimes.

Sticky: Record In A Bag is in such high rotation. I see your music videos played on MuchMusic, when they actually do play videos. Do you feel pressure to put out another great album quickly to keep the momentum going?

Menno: We try not to think about that. We're just going to do what we do. I don't really know what we do, but whatever that is...

Sticky: You guys live spontaneously as a band, then?

Menno: Yeah, you gotta make your plans day to day and go on tour. We constantly record. Obviously we're going to try to make the next record as best as we can. We've already started writing a lot of it. I'm super excited for the new songs. We're coming out with a 7" sometime.

Sticky: Any final words to say to the Sticky readers?

Menno: Eat nachos!

Sticky: Where’s the best place to eat nachos?

Menno: The best place is Amigos in Saskatoon. We actually want to start a nacho stand.

Sticky: Hopefully your show goes well today and thanks so much for chatting with me.

Menno: Cool, no problem.

Hollerado at Nacho House   Hollerado at Nacho House