Holloway run-through the stylings and themes that defined each of their musical eras, and share an alternative music video exclusively for Happy Mag.
Few bands are skilled at the art of reimagination quite like Holloway.
With their recent single date all my friends as evidence, it’s clear that the New Zealand punk trio can flit between sounds and aesthetics with finesse, with each successive release outlining a fresh direction in both style and substance.
Holloway’s commitment to changing tacts and carving out new lanes has been ever-present since their 2018 inception, having undergone several aesthetic eras and tackled as many topics from society to politics.
In honour of these eras, each defined by a colour and theme, Holloway stopped by Happy to elaborate on the stylings that define each of their releases, from the “psycho-sensitive” era that was their debut EP to the “crush” era that encompasses date all my friends and the namesake 2023 single, crush.
Get the full run-through of Holloway’s eras below, and scroll down to listen to their new single date all my friends. Elsewhere, Holloway have provided an alternative version of the date all my friends music video exclusively for Happy Mag, which you can find towards the bottom of this page.
The Psycho-Sensitive Era (2018-2019)
Colours: Blue and red.
Psycho-Sensitive was the first Holloway era, beginning with the release of a self-produced 6 song EP of the same name, released in 2018.
Lou Valentine was the only member in the band at that time, and the EP was entirely written and produced by Lou. The record explores themes of formative self discovery.
The song The Freak Show deals with first drug experiences, coming out as a bisexual non-binary person, sexual exploration and casual bigotry against women/queer people, all framed in the context of a party and the people there.
The title track Psycho-Sensitive explores the experience of heartbreak, being cheated on and the messy nature of young breakups, dealing with loneliness and distancing oneself from toxic people and situations.
“The Psycho era was a musical outlet during a really low time in my life,” Lou says. “I was pretty depressed, lonely and self-medicated. I didn’t know what kind of music I wanted to make, I just wanted to make it.”
“You can kind of hear that on the record. Songs like Psycho-Sensitive and The Freak Show hint at what the band would eventually become, whereas tracks like Small Town Celebrity and The Ballad of Holden Caulfield are pretty far removed from what we do now”.
The Glitterboy Era (2019-2021)
Colours: Pink and Purple.
Lou met Taylor Criscuola in 2018 at a Killers concert. Taylor joined the band on drums shortly after. As a two-piece, Holloway self-released 5 singles over 2 years, which would eventually become the compilation EP Prescription Cosmetics.
The flagship single Here Comes Glitterboy deals with themes of mental health in the internet age, with the music video exploring toxic masculinity and the restrictions of gender conformity.
On the track Please Hold, The Operator is introduced – a character that would become a sort of ‘main antagonist’ in the band’s canon from then on.
The Operator was derived from Taylor’s experience with sleep paralysis, during which he would sometimes see a dark figure in his room.
The character represents self-hate, bigotry and intrusive thoughts in the band’s music. Toward the end of the era, Lou’s childhood friend Max Long joined the band on guitar, just in time to appear in the Here Comes Glitterboy video.
The band embarked on ‘The Glitterboy is Dead Tour’ in 2021, starting to gain traction in the NZ scene as more people learned about the band. This was the band’s way of closing out the era and beginning to move on to future projects.
“With Glitterboy, we were suddenly really sure what kind of band we wanted to be,” Lou says. “We leaned into the pop aesthetics with the bright colours and feminine look.”
“We wanted to stand out, shock people and piss off homophobes. Meeting Taylor was the turning point – he’s a freak, and I was instantly in love”
Taylor adds: “Our Glitterboy era was full of ‘firsts’ for Holloway. This was the first thing I’d ever recorded drums for. This era saw our first tour, our first time having crowds sing our lyrics back to us, our first sold out show.”
“When I think of Prescription Cosmetics and that time period, my mind goes to painstakingly folding lyric sheets and album inserts for our CD’s.”
“The band and Lou’s family all sat around the dinner table sorting out those damn CD’s. That’s what life’s all about”.
The Sprawl Era (2021-2022)
Colours: Green and Black.
The band headed in a new sonic and aesthetic direction with the release of the 2021 single Violet, and a follow-up track Last Dance For Losers later that year. These two tracks would later become known as the band’s ‘Sprawl Era’.
During the Sprawl era, the band wanted to lean into a concept and create a whole fictional world around the music. The concept exists in an Orwellian post-democracy city called The Sprawl, ruled by The Operator.
The setting is focused around a group of irradiated bohemian vampires who rebel by feeding on the radioactive blood of the robot cops.
The concept was explored in the video for Violet, featuring the voice of a pirate radio host from the Sprawl setting. Max Long started contributing creatively to the recordings, becoming a full time member of the band.
“In hindsight, I think Violet & Last Dance are snapshots of a real transitional time for the band,” Taylor explains. “The last EP was all about feelings.”
“These songs tapped into a bigger concept. We were playing roles. We were changing. The Sprawl squeezed the best out of us and told us to just run with it”.
“Max has been my friend since before I could walk, and him joining the band just made sense at that time,” Lou adds. “I’m shit at playing guitar, especially lead guitar.
Max’s contribution on the Sprawl songs is really apparent – both in the guitar parts and in the production. His bar for quality is really high, and he pushed those home recordings to sound the best they could with the gear we had.”
The Crush Era (2023-Present)
Colours: Blue and Black.
This is Holloway in the band’s current form. The Crush era sees Holloway exploring romantic themes for the first time, trying to capture the nuance of queer love and unconventional relationships.
This comes alongside the trio’s confrontation of topics like jealousy, anxiety and emotional extremes that are seldom talked about in a romantic context.
The Era began in April with the release of crush, the band’s studio debut. crush is a reflection on the euphoric and sometimes dark experience of superficial romance – falling in love with the idea of a person, not the person themselves.
crush marked a huge step up in production quality, and was the band’s first time working with a producer, Jake Stokes. In August, the band released their newest single date all my friends, Holloway’s treatise on modern love, unconventional relationships and the uniqueness of every person’s romantic experience.
Both crush and date all my friends went to #2 in the New Zealand Singles chart. Holloway have shared an alternate music video for date all my friends exclusively for Happy Mag. Watch that below.
“When I showed these new songs to the band, I was like, we’ve done some political songs – now I wanna write something that fucks,” Lou says. These tracks have teeth, and they show off some of our best writing.
“‘I wanna date all my friends’ is a line I initially thought to be too blunt. I tried to metaphor-ize the idea, then I just thought fuck it – everyone’s thinking it, I might as well say it out loud.”
“After it dropped, people connected hard with the song, and it’s no wonder – It’s probably the most relatable thing I’ve ever written’.”