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SXSW ’07 PREVIEW: BLOODY HOLLIES

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Moving to California has not mellowed the Bloody Hollies at all, and that is a good thing. The group’s new album, Who to Trust, Who to Kill, Who to Love, is its third and second for Alive Records, which is part of the Bomp! empire.

The Bloody Hollies relocated from Buffalo, N.Y., to San Diego after recording their second album, 2005’s If Footmen Tire You, and continue to perfect their hybrid of punk rock and hard blues. Band mastermind Wesley Doyle‘s songwriting continues to improve, providing an increasingly complex setting for his primal wails, which can still resemble Jack White.
The Bloody Hollies will be appearing in Austin, Texas, during SXSW week at the Altercation Magazine party March 16 at Headhunters, but have decided not to play on an official SXSW showcase this time.

Medleyville: Appearing at SXSW has generated a lot of buzz for the Bloody Hollies in the past. How has appearing at the festival helped the band?
Wesley Doyle: “We played SXSW in ’04 and ’05. The first year was great because I had never really toured before. I had no idea that people knew who we were, and we show up and people are singing along to some of
our songs. To show up at a place you’d never been to and people know the words to your songs, wow. We did it again the next year and it was fun again. It’s a fun experience, I didn’t really look into it the ramifications too deeply.

“This year isn’t an actual SXSW showcase. Altercation asked us to play. So we are heading that way anyway, it’s on our way home from this tour. The tour is going great. We’ve had our ups and downs, but there’s been more
ups than downs.”

Have you ever heard from anyone or had any legal trouble because of your band name?
Doyle: “The Bloody Hollies have never heard from the Buddy Holly estate or anything, or Buddy Holly’s wife. The only thing I found on the Web was Graham Nash used it in the ’80s. I wasn’t sure what for — a band or a song or what.

“Early only, the only trouble we actually ran into was there was a band in Detroit that started calling themselves the Bloody Hollies soon after we started. But they spelled it Holly’s with an apostrophe s. They became the Cyril Lords, and the funny thing is now we’re labelmates with Marty [Morris, the Lords’ guitarist], who is now in SSM. We played with the Cyril Lords a few times. There were no problems. It was in Detroit. We thought maybe it’d be hostile because of the name change, playing in front of all their friends, but they loved us there.

“[Legendary Sire executive] Seymour Stein called it the greatest name in the history of rock ‘n’ roll. We ended up playing two showcases for him. He liked us a lot, but there was never any talk of a record deal or money or anything. Nothing ever really came of it.”

What prompted the band to relocate from Buffalo to San Diego a few years ago?
Doyle: “It was me, not the whole band. The name moved. I just wasn’t satisfied with Buffalo as a whole, especially economically. I wanted to live comfprtably. I didn’t wanna work 10-dollar-an-hour jobs for the rest of my life. It’s a tough city to make a decent living in. I was getting bored of waiting to tour once I got out here, so I looked on craigslist fo the new lineup. I had no idea what we were gonna do with the (second) record. Then I hooked up with Alive, and they’ve been great.”

How has the band’s sound evolved over the three albums?
Doyle: “Before Fire At Will [in 2003], we did a record for Garage Pop, a local label in Rochester, N.Y., under the Bloody Hollies moniker. But it was a lot different from what we’re playing today. I guess you can say it was a little more Cramps-ish, kind of psychobilly. I really don’t know, I was never in a band before, and never had aspirations to be in one. The original stuff was more good-time charlie kind of music. We were getting a lot of attention in Buffalo. So at that point, I started taking it a bit more seriously and writing material I thought was good and not material to whoop up the crowd at the local bar.

“I can’t really explain it. I guess maturity is the way to describe it. It’s almost like two different bands in a way. Actually, it is. I think I just put more stock into writing songs — they’re more intricate, a little more interesting now. I’m feeling for first time that we have our own kind of sound.”

So how would you describe that sound to someone who doesn’t know you?
Doyle: “I don’t know how to describe the sound of the band, but I know the feeling of the band is really high confidence. We know what we do now and we know we do it well. We attack it more confidently as opposed to in the past when we were trying to figure out what we were doing. Especially when it comes to songwriting. We knew exactly how we wanted it to sound. It came off with a little more of an air of confidence. Now, confidence — that doesn’t mean we are satisfied where we are and don’t wanna grow. But we feel we are in a good spot right now.”

— By Joe Belock