Bringing confetti, mayhem, and humour to their live act are just a few of the elements that make Hollerado one of the most fun Canadian bands around. We talked to them about their new record, DIY music releases, and ostrich-racing.
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Hollerado are no strangers to NXNE. Though they have settled this year on performing one headlining gig at Yonge-Dundas Square, fans may recall that they actually played an astounding seven gigs at their last NXNE outing. After being Juno-nominated and hand-picked by Jack White to open for The Dead Weather, it was a relief then to find all four of them (Menno Versteeg, Dean Baxter, Jake Boyd, and Nixon Boyd) sitting casually in The Pump this week, amidst the Portugal vs. Denmark match, joking about ostriches and discussing their plans for the festival.
Torontoist: How did you choose the name for the band?
Dean Baxter: We wanted something that didn’t mean anything. This guy in a band that we play with sometimes told us that the next time we get asked that question, just tell everyone that it’s the first letter of all our names. And then they’ll probably say, “No it’s not, because there’s only four of you.” And then you go, “Exactly.”
What was it like growing up in Manotick, Ottawa?
Menno Versteeg: It’s sort of become a surburb now. When I was growing up there it wasn’t attached by a bus or anything so it was quite isolated. It was huge news when we got a Subway in town (a restaurant, not a train). So you used to spend your summers as a kid with not a lot to do; you had to make your own fun, which is really great. Lots of jumping off bridges and swimming, mischief and firecrackers. [...] We’re all really small town people. And the town’s really behind Hollerado.
Do you go back and play home-town gigs?
MV: Totally. And we’ll go to the bank and stuff and they’ll say “local boys made good.” When we were up for Junos, they had little press clippings and were like “Hey guys, we’re routing for ya!” You never get that in a big city. It’s really cool to have a town behind you.
Speaking of getting noticed, Jack White picked you out to open for the Dead Weather. How did that come about?
Jake Boyd: We don’t know at all. He was coming here to play that Dead Weather show. He said he needed an opener and they weren’t touring with anyone. I’m sure what happens is someone in town, that he knows, gives him a list that says “check out these 20 bands; what do you like?” And apparently he liked us.
Your first EP, you basically put in zip-locked bags and handed them out to random people. Do you guys ever consider unique ways of distributing music like that for future releases?
MV: I was actually just talking to our manager last night—for Record in a Bag we had full packaging but now that it’s so old we thought, why not just go back to tossing it into a zip-lock, having no packaging, and selling it for less money? Just to get it out there more. So that’s where that idea came from; it was just practicality. It would cost us 50 cents or less to make a CD.
Are you working on the second record now?
JB: It’s finished.
How does it compare to the previous record?
MV: Definitely different, but definitely the same. It’s longer, the content’s a little darker—it definitely draws on more experiences. My grandfather, who I was quite close with, died during the recording of it and inspired a bunch of songs. Some of the songs are about the Second World War.
Will “Good Day at the Races” be on that record?
MV: It was originally, but I don’t think it’s going to be on anymore.
JB: It’s just kind of its own little thing now.
Were those real ostriches that you were riding?
MV: Yeah. Ostrich-racing isn’t wide-spread. All the YouTube videos that you see of ostrich racing are either our video or other guys doing it at the place we went to. The same track.
Did they train you at all for that?
JB: They should’ve. But they didn’t. The night before we met up with the rancher guy. The training basically consisted of “Ya’ll are going to fall a lot.” They plowed the ground before so it was a little bit fluffy. And thank god because by the end of the day we were covered in blood. Our blood. We’ll leave it at that.