Midway through their UK tour, Holy Moly and the Crackers bought their unique blend of indie-folk rock to The Bodega last Thursday. Before their show, we had an opportunity to catch up with Conrad Bird, one of the band’s founders.
First of all, and I’m sure you get this all the time, but why the name?
Yes, we do get that all the time (laughs). Basically, when I was at the University of Warwick, I had a friend who, every time they saw an attractive girl, would say “holy moly she’s a cracker”. And then we made a band and I was like fuck it, let’s call it that. To be fair at the time there were a lot of folk indie bands which were like that, you know like Noah and the Whale, so it felt right. Now, it sometimes feels like the name ties you in with the festival circuit, like you’re a good-fun bad and people will go and dance to you but not listen to your records. That can be annoying.
Are you trying to overcome that image?
Yeah, we’re trying to branch out a bit now, make it a bit more like music you would listen to in your bedroom when you’re feeling sad or happy. But at the same I don’t want to lose that fun edge. I do sometimes feel that there are a lot of over-serious shoe-gazing indie bands, and I wouldn’t want to lose our engagement with the audience. And I come from a theatre background, not a music background, so for me it’s all about performance as well as it being a music concert.
Why did you start your own record label, ‘Pink Lane’?
So last year we made this new album ‘Salem’ and shopped it around on record labels. I don’t know if it’s because of the fact that we were branded at the time as a festival band, but we didn’t have any luck. So, I was like fuck it, let’s just make a record label. So, we made it and to be honest the music industry is set up for this kind of thing at the moment- because of Spotify and stuff, record labels can’t really invest in you as much as they used to be able to. And then this year we got some crazy film sync deals; normally, half of that money goes to the label, so it was definitely a good move.
“Cold Comfort Lane” was in the credits of ‘Ocean’s 8’. How did that happen?
So, about a year and a half ago we signed with this publisher in Newcastle, and he got “Cold Comfort Lane” onto a credit card advert in America. Then, I think because it was in the system in America, it somehow managed to get onto the desk of Warner Bros. I think they took it on for two main reasons. First, because Ocean’s 8 is an all-women’s line-up and it’s enabling, and Ruth’s voice fits that and the fact that she’s disabled as well adds to it. Secondly, the whole plot point of the heist being the blind spot- well the first line of the song is “in the back bar there’s a blind spot”. It just fits.
What’s next for you guys?
So first we’ll finish this tour. The first single from our new album is out in January, and then the album’s out in April. We’re doing a big European support tour in March, headline tour in April, loads of festivals, and then another headline tour in October. At the end of the day we just enjoy ourselves, there’s no pressure on it. We just want to keep going, build a good fanbase, and after that it’s all good.
As they launched into their first song “Sugar”, it became immediately apparent why the band was so renowned for its energetic, lively performances. Pausing between songs to sip on his gin and tonic and playfully interact with the crowd, Conrad Bird cheerfully bounced between a growl and a flourish. Ruth Patterson’s vocals were soulful, pitch-perfect and the absolute antithesis to Conrad’s deeper, more gravelly tones. As they progressed through a vast array of songs, it became increasingly difficult to describe their genre: while “Cold Comfort Lane” took on a contemporary rock tone, “Comfort in Lies” was undoubtedly more of an indie-folk hybrid.
Aside from the variations in style, the band used a diverse range of instruments which added to the overall electric, unique feel of their music; aside from the bass, the guitar and the drums, Rosie Bristow made excellent use of the accordion, whilst Conrad skilfully played the trumpet. While their overall performing strength undoubtedly lay in their sheer energy, the highlight of their set was, perhaps surprisingly, their acoustic rendition of “Ain’t That Enough?”. As Ruth and Conrad sang the song, the (slightly sweaty) audience stood in almost complete silence, enchanted by the discordant harmony between the two singers’ voices. Finishing up with the livelier, rock-centric “Mary”, the band left the stage to a roar of applause, and with a solemn promise to return soon.