An Interview With UK Songwriter GREG HOLDEN On His Brand New Album, ‘World War Me’
Posted On 18 Apr 2019
Meet the talented and clever UK songwriter named Greg Holden! On March 29th, he released World War Me, his 4th studio album.
This record was born of what Greg likes to call his great existential crisis of 2016…and 2017 and 18. The songs manifested themselves at a time when Greg was literally at war with himself. He had moved his entire life from New York to Los Angeles for his label/career and was welcomed into the city of angels by being dropped by his label partner. After this, he realized his biggest successes were not from music written with the intention to get people to buy or stream, but songs that were written with a purpose and for causes.
“The Lost Boy” (9 Million + streams on Spotify) raised $80,000 for The Red Cross and helped build schools in Africa. “Boys in the Street” (18 + million streams on Spotify) was written for an organization supporting the LGBTQ youth community, and “Home,” made famous by American Idol’s Phillip Phillips, has been used by countless organizations.
His brand new record is a stunningly honest and self-reflective body of work, but each song is also still extremely relevant and relatable. His work in the past has also gotten him recognition from Time Magazine, American Songwriter, Parade Magazine and more.
He also adopted a very DIY approach this time around as he created the artwork for it, took some of his own press shots and even wrote his own hilarious, self-deprecating bio.
4.25 The Red Room at Cafe 939 – Boston, MA
4.26 Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 – New York, NY
5.1 Ortlieb’s Lounge – Philadelphia, PA
5.2 Jammin Java – Vienna, VA
5.5 The Basement – Nashville, TN
5.10 Freilichtbühne am Kalkberg – Bad Segeberg, Germany
5.12 Paradiso – Amsterdam, Netherlands
5.14 Ponyhof – Frankfurt, Germany
5.15 Zehner – München, Germany
5.16 Hangar 49 – Berlin, Germany
5.17 Altes Pfandhaus – Cologne, Germany
5.19 Nochtspeicher – Hamburg, Germany
5.23 St Pancras Old Church – London, United Kingdom
5.24 The Eagle Inn – Manchester, United Kingdom
6.1 Lost Lake Lounge – Denver, CO
6.3 Sunset – Seattle, WA
6.4 McMenamins White Eagle Saloon & Hotel – Portland, OR
6.6 The Hotel Utah – San Francisco, CA
6.7 Moroccan Lounge – Los Angeles, CA
Connect With Greg Holden Here:
Website | https://www.gregholdenonline.com/
Twitter | https://twitter.com/gregholden
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/gregholden/
Facebook | https://www.facebook.com/gregholden
Learn more about Greg Holden in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you?
I’m currently at home in Los Angeles preparing all the gory details for my upcoming tours. I wish I was doing something more exciting!
Now that we are into the 4th month of the new year, how has 2019 been treating you so far? What are some goals that you have for yourself this year? How are those New Years Resolutions going?
This year has actually been pretty brutal so far, personally anyway. Lots of difficult changes have been made and I’m preparing for a year of self-discovery actually. The new years resolutions are long gone, but I’m doing my best to look forward to positive change.
Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be a musician? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?
Actually the first time I realized I wanted to be a musician wasn’t until I was 18. I was working in a bar in my hometown in the north of England, and late one night one of the other bar tenders pulled out a guitar and started playing some songs he’d written. I was transfixed. I didn’t even know people who worked in bars could do that. I saw all the girls swooning over him and demanded he immediately teach me how to play guitar, and he did. Deciding that it would be what I did for the rest of my life was not difficult, I needed a goal like that at that time. 8 years later I was living in New York City as a working musician and songwriter. Pretty wild when I say it out loud like that.
Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life?
I have aspirations to be an author one day, and I used to work as a photographer before music was my job. I really can’t imagine myself doing something that doesn’t involve me expressing myself creatively. I think about doing something else every day though—I think that’s natural for creative people—, but I’ve dedicated a large chunk of my life to music, and I can’t imagine not doing it in some capacity.
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
Last year I bought a house in Los Angeles. All from income from songs I’ve written. I think that was a very hard truth to get my head around. I actually had a hard time accepting it. I kept thinking someone was going to show up and say, “just kidding! we’ll take the house back now thanks!”. That and meeting idols of mine in settings I never thought possible.
How do you think you and your music have been influenced by your hometown and where you live now?
Well, I’m not sure my hometown ever influenced my music all that much, unless I was writing about escaping. But I lived in New York City for 8 years and that heavily influenced my writing. I’m actually more influenced by the external; things I read in books, or see on the news. These days, living in Los Angeles, I’m more influenced by all the creative people I’m surrounded by, and all the cool shit they’re doing.
Let’s talk about your newest 4th studio album, “World War Me” that was just released. What was it like putting this collection together? How did you approach the making of it compared your previous albums? How did moving to LA from New York truly influence these songs?
Well, this time around instead of working with a producer, I produced it myself. So that was the first, and main difference. The record is a lot more introspective than my others have been, and a lot of that came from the experience of moving across the country, and the things I learned about myself during that time.
What has changed about your style of music? How has your creative process grown over the years?
Well, I don’t sit and write on acoustic guitar anymore. I tend to pull up soundscapes, and experiment with instruments I’ve never used before. That way, things remain interesting for me. I ran out of chords on the acoustic guitar years ago.
I would love to know more about your songs “The Lost Boy” and “Boys in the Street” and how they have raised money for two important organizations. Where did the idea to do this come from? Why are these two organizations so special to you personally?
“The Lost Boy” wasn’t written intentionally to be part of a charity, it just sort of happened organically. I actually wrote that song about the Dave Eggers book What is the what?, and through the power of the universe, it found its way into the right hands and the song just sort of took on a life of its own. “Boy’s in the Street” was written intentionally, for some friends of mine who run and organisation called Everyone Is Gay. They’d asked me to be a part of a compilation record they were making, and I gratefully obliged.. I didn’t really know what kind of song I was going to write for them—the brief was “the gayest song ever”—which, being straight, I couldn’t totally relate to, obviously. So I tried to look for something I could grab hold of personally, so that the song sounded authentic and sincere. I chose my relationship with my step-father. The rest sort of just happened, I can’t really explain why.
What has it been like keeping up with your social media accounts and all of the different platforms? Is it hard to stay up to date on it all? What would you say is your favorite way to connect with your fans now?
I really only use instagram at this point, it’s great for connecting with people quickly and creatively. Twitter is just a bunch of angry people yelling at each other, and useless click bait. Facebook is more irrelevant than MySpace, and plagued with algorithms that mean only 5% of your followers actually see what you post—even instagram is becoming that way now—. Honestly, I wish I could just send a telegram to my fans and get off social media completely. It’s an unhealthy addiction and makes me sad.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? Who would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I love Phoebe Bridgers. She’s been the most inspiring artist I’ve heard in the last 5 years. I’ve also continued to be inspired by bands like The Killers and The 1975.. and artists like Tom Petty, Jason Isbell, Springsteen, and actually I’ve been super into Rostam lately.
Where can fans see you perform next?
I’m on tour all spring in the US and Europe. Dates are on my website.
If you had an unlimited budget and your schedule was free, what would your dream music video look like?
I would rent a truck, fill it with steaks, adopt 100 dogs and drive the truck as fast as I could through the desert while the dogs chased after me. Oh and have a camera attached to the back of the truck, so all you see is dogs running after the moving truck, in slow motion. It’s been an idea of mine for years, but every time I propose it, a lot of legitimate logistical issues arise.
If you were going to be stranded on a deserted island, what musical item would you take with you and why?
Drums. Because I could hit them as hard as I like and it wouldn’t effect a single person.
If your music was going to be featured on any TV show that is currently on right now, which would you love it to be on? Or if you prefer, what is a movie that you love that you wish your music was featured in?
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
A feeling of empathy and compassion for other people.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers about your music?
Thanks for reading. See you on the road hopefully.