It’s safe to say that Essex-based duo Holloway Road are one of the best-loved and most popular acts on the UK country scene.
Well-known for their high-energy stage performances and upbeat country-pop songs, they’ve performed at festivals across the UK and Europe, were voted UK Country Duo Of The Year in 2016 and recently completed their first UK headline tour. Now they’re back to perform at this month’s C2C: Country to Country – making them the first act to have appeared at the festival every year since 2015.
I caught up with Jack and Rob recently to find out why C2C is so special to them, their plans for new music and what they’ve learnt from being on the road. Find out more below…
You’re back at C2C for the fourth year running – what can people expect from those shows?
Rob: Well we thought we’d keep it fairly Holloway Road – so it’ll be energetic, upbeat, feelgood, all of those really happy-go-lucky kind of type words, really. We’ve got three shows over the weekend. We wanted to mix it up a little bit so we are going to do a stripped-back set as well, so a bit of both sides.
What keeps you coming back to the festival?
Jack: I guess we’re just lucky to get asked every year. I don’t know – when every year comes round again we’re not the ones to really say if we’re gonna play it or not, so it’s really nice that they keep asking us back.
Have there been any particular highlights from previous years?
J: I think overall last year – the Big Entrance stage set that we did was one of those performances that I think we’re gonna remember for a long time. It was just so overwhelming that so many people turned out, and I think the position of the stage means you get a lot of passing trade which is the one thing that we love about C2C – the sheer curiosity of a lot of people that are there. But I think definitely speaking on behalf of both of us I’d have to say that.
I remember catching that and then comparing it to the year before when you played first thing on the Saturday morning…
J: Oh yeah, that was really tough because the pair of us had had flu all week leading up to it, and that Saturday morning was the first time the pair of us had got out of bed that week. So it was one of those flus where you just can’t do anything – rolling over in bed was a chore. We were made to get up really early and come along to C2C really early, which is bad enough when you’re healthy to get out of bed and sing at 10 o’clock in the morning. So that was tough. But this is a massive step on from that and we hope we can do it again this year.
You’ve just finished your first UK headline tour – how did you find that?
R: That was a lot of fun. It was really cool seeing some familiar faces that have come back to see us again and the sort of hardcore Holloway Road fans, as well as some faces that we didn’t know or hadn’t seen before – people that had come out to see us for the first time. It’s a lot different going out when you’re headlining and looking out on stage and seeing people, so that was kind of cool. They’ve come to our show. And I’m really glad people turned up.
J: Yeah, it’s always weird travelling from Essex to Glasgow – a whole different country and there’s people there [laughs]. It’s hardly international but to be so far from home and to have people coming out to see us play was great.
Were there any particular places that you’ve played – either on this tour or as part of other tours or festivals?
J: Glasgow’s always a good one for me – I like the people in Glasgow, they’ve got a great sense of humour.
R: I always like going to Manchester. I really like the people and I like the city. It’s always a really fun date in Manchester. But London and Southend are fun for us because it’s close to home. So as much as we like playing in various different parts of the country there’s nothing quite like coming home to a home crowd and playing. You haven’t got as far to travel home afterwards as well! [laughs]
Do you write a lot when you’re on tour? Or do you keep touring and writing quite separate?
J: It’s quite difficult to write on tour – there’s a lot to do so we don’t ever really get the time to. At this stage we’re not really getting days off to be able to do that and if we do we kind of like to check out the city or wherever we are. But we kind of get all of our writing done at the beginning of the year where there’s not much going on and then we fit it around touring and stuff.
What’s the one lesson you’ve learnt from touring and being on the road?
R: Don’t hit it hard on the first night! [laughs] We learnt that lesson early on. We’ve been out with other bands and watched them crumble after that so that’s what we’ve learned.
Are there any plans for new music this year?
R: There are absolutely plans for new music. We are just finishing off and finalising our next release, which is gonna be two singles that we’re gonna release together on the same day. So that’s the next one and that’ll be in the next month or so but we haven’t actually got a confirmed date for that yet. And then we’re probably gonna have a new EP by the beginning of the summer.
Can you tell us any more about those two new songs?
R: One of the songs is quite different for us because it’s a bit of a personal song about what we do. A lot of songs are about your generic love songs and stuff but we wanted to do something a little bit different and it’s our sort of journey, so we’re looking forward to putting something out that speaks a bit differently to the rest. But you can expect lots of new music in the C2C set as well, even stuff that hasn’t been released yet.
What’s the one song you wish you’d written?
R: Shape of You by Ed Sheeran, because that’s sold so many copies. And Hello by Adele [Jack laughs]. I quite like the idea of having a number one in every country there is! But they’re really good songs as well. There’s so many songs that we both listen to and think ‘damn that’s cool, I wish i’d written that’.
J: Most of Spinal Tap’s collection! [laughs]
Is there anyone you’re listening to at the moment that you think more people should know about?
J: Russell Dickerson, for sure. We’ve been listening to his stuff a lot lately and it’s awesome.
What’s next for you?
R: We’re heading over to the States in April to do a couple of shows and hopefully some writing and meet with some people which should be great. But yeah, loads more touring, loads more shows – we’ve got some festivals coming up in the summer as well.
C2C: Country to Country 2018 takes place at The O2 in London between 9th to 11th March 2018. Holloway Road will be performing on the following dates:
Friday 9th March – Big Entrance Stage, 3.20 PM
Saturday 10th March – Water Margin, 1.40 PM
Sunday 11th March – Water Margin, 12.50 PM