HOLYGRAM may hail from Cologne, Germany, but they have just released their outstanding debut Modern Cults LP on November 9 through Cleopatra Records in North America and SPV/Oblivion in Europe. We were so thrilled to premiere that album for you here in the Noise Journal and we honestly cannot stop listening to this, not unlike thousands of other people elsewhere on the planet. HOLYGRAM have just wrapped up an extensive tour with VNV Nation through Europe and now they are touring the USA and Canada (their North American Tour also includes The Rain Within). On December 4, they will be playing Denver’s Oriental Theater! This is not a show you can miss out on, especially because this involves a legendary band (VNV Nation), a band with offered one of the records of the year (HOLYGRAM), and Charlottesville’s very promising synthwave duo The Rain Within. Here at the Noise Journal headquarters, we knew we must interview this band, but thought perhaps that HOLYGRAM wouldn’t have time on such a massive tour. But we took a chance. Our Captain Jonathan Rose picked up the phone “Shameless Promotion PR, please…yes good morning to you too…about HOLYGRAM, we’d like an interview if possible with, yes…yes…ok perfect, thank you very much”…Like all good captains, he took action and made his decision faster than his crew. “Start writing Mike, start writing, you are going to interview one of the HOLYGRAM crew”… Here we present you a candid interview with HOLYGRAM bassist Bennett Reimann!
So far the tour is going great. It’s our first time in North America and also the first time in front of its audience. It’s just great to get to know the cities and people here and with VNV Nation and The Rain Within we get along great. We always play about 35 minutes before VNV Nation starts and people always welcome us with open arms and hearts.
On December 4 you are playing Denver’s Oriental Theater. What can we expect from HOLYGRAM that night? You recently published your debut LP and we can’t wait to see you perform it live but we trust you will be giving us some thrills from the first EP too?
We always see our performances as an extension of our recordings. We are curious what you will think of it. And yes, we will definitely play songs from the EP but what exactly remains a secret.
The Modern Cults LP is simply an outstanding record and we were excited to host the North American premiere in The Noise Journal. An album of 10 glorious post-punk bullets with 3 from the previous release. Why did you choose these specific songs?
Because we thought that they represent us very well and especially at our live gigs these songs are a lot of fun to play.
At the same time, the lyrics of these songs represent the whole theme of the album.
From “Daria” and “Acceleration” to “A Faction” and “Signals”, you sound like an unlimited brainwave team. What musical routes did you go through between the first self-titled EP and the Modern Cults LP?
After the release of our EP, we didn’t expect to get so much positive feedback and were totally surprised. All of a sudden there were a lot of live concerts, for example, the tour with OMD and that we wanted to make an album. So after all the concerts we locked ourselves in our studio and rehearsal room and tried out new ideas and sounds. It was hard at times because on one side there was the expectation and on the other side, there was the deadline. But in the end, everything went well and we are happy and proud that we made it.
Related to the previous question, I am enraptured by your comfort in creating some pretty striking riffs, which you’ve transformed into very accessible songs. My first encounter with HOLYGRAM was with “Daria”, a post-punk splendor in all, while the last song of Modern Cults LP is “Distant Light”, where you show your shoegaze roots too. In between these two songs and all in HOLYGRAM’s music, we clearly hear a band who is not tied solely to the strict lines of post-punk but likes to put in some shoegaze elements occasionally, as well as darkwave, new wave, etc. Please tell us about the way you create music. Does a riff point in the right direction for you or do you use it as a springboard to somewhere else?
It always depends on the song. But in most cases, we take an idea, a riff or a sound and try to find out where it takes us. That means that we can’t know if it will be a post-punk, new wave or shoegaze song. As an example, I can mention the birth of the song “Signals”. I was in the rehearsal room experimenting with sounds (what you hear at the beginning of the song) and recorded the bass-riff and a drum computer. Then I showed it to the others and everyone wrote something about it. Vocals, guitars, synths, drums, etc. But it always depends on the song…
What are the musings that inspire you as a band? I am also asking about the streams that HOLYGRAM feel they belong to. Are there any limitations in your art?
I don’t think you can find us in carnival costumes in the old town of Cologne so there are limits. But fun aside, we feel just as much at home in garage music as in new wave, techno, and punk music. So our focus is not only on post-punk, new wave and krautrock of the seventies and eighties but also on new releases of music we like.
We’d like to know about your lyrics too. What do you generally sing about? What drives you to write lyrics like i.e “Hideaway”, “A Faction”, “Signals” or “Odd Neighbourhood”, for instance?
So that’s a question for Patrick, but I’m trying to answer it as well as I can. The lyrics are mostly about alienation and the fear of being swallowed by a big city. Communication problems with the partner or good friends that seem unsolvable in certain situations. But it is also about the beauty of anonymity in the city to be able to get lost in it can be both a curse and a blessing. We like to live in Cologne and Patrick tries to capture life here in his lyrics. There are enough bands singing about the desert, but I don’t see any here.
The last show of the North American tour is in Las Vegas on December 15. What are you planning next? Any more live gigs on the calendar in Europe? Will you be playing any festivals there in 2019?
After the US tour, we will do a tour through Germany and present our album there live. And we will be at the Amphi-Festival in Germany and W-Fest in Belgium.
Last, I’d like to ask you about some of your fave records in 2018. Can you tell us which albums you’ve been enjoying the most in your free time?
One of the best albums of the year for me was Die besten Jahre of International Music. It’s funny, serious and colorful.
Thank you very much for your time, we’ll see you at The Oriental Theater on December 4! Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Have fun with all kinds of music and let’s celebrate modern cults together!
Nov 16 Austin (TX), Barracuda
Nov 17 Houston (TX), White Oak Music Hall
Nov 19 Atlanta (GA), Masquerade
Nov 20 Ft. Lauderdale (FL), Culture Room
Nov 21 St.Petersburg (FL), Jannus Live
Nov 23 Philadelphia (PA), Union Transfer
Nov 24 New York (NY), Irving Plaza
Nov 25 Boston (MA), Royale
Nov 27 Montreal (QC), Corona Theater
Nov 28 Toronto (ON), Danforth Music Hall
Nov 30 Detroit (MI), St. Andrews
Dec 01 Chicago (IL), The Metro
Dec 02 Minneapolis (MN), Skyway Theatre
Dec 04 Denver (CO), The Oriental Theater
Dec 05 Salt Lake City (UT), Metro Music Hall
Dec 07 Seattle (WA), Neptune
Dec 08 Portland (OR), Roseland Theater
Dec 09 Vancouver (BC), Imperial Theatre
Dec 12 San Francisco (CA), Regency Ballroom
Dec 13 Los Angeles (CA), The Wiltern
Dec 14 Tempe (AZ), Marquee
Dec 15 Las Vegas (NV), Backstage Bar
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Written by Mike D.