Hollerado: A Guaranteed Good Time!

Gilles Leblanc, a longtime CoS reader and author of the ROCKthusiast, has plenty to say about Canada’s latest export…

There aren’t many certainties in this day and age, but I know one for sure as it relates to rock music: If you get a chance to see Hollerado in concert, there is absolutely no way you can’t have fun. I’m talking fun with a capital F-U…oh yeah, can’t forget the N!

Whether it’s their irresistibly catchy lyrics, their playful power chords, their relentless confetti shooting, or just the fact that they’re four funny, down-to-earth dudes from Manotick, Ontario, it’s pretty much impossible not to fall in love with Hollerado once you’re exposed to them.

What’s more, they are easily one of the hardest-working bands in Canada (or anywhere else for that matter), having toured almost nonstop since self-releasing their Ziploc-sealed debut album, Record in a Bag, in 2009. (How many other bands can say they’ve played in China multiple times?)

2011 is going to be another busy year for Hollerado, and they were in great spirits prior to a warm-up show at a bar in Barrie, Ontario, called Kenzington. I started by asking the guys to comment on the news from the day before, which was still on music fans’ lips:  the breakup of The White Stripes. “Smart move, Jack White,” vocalist/guitarist Menno Versteeg said candidly. “You can’t get any bigger as The White Stripes until you break up. They’re as big as they can get with being a band, so it’s time to break up; he’s still going to do other awesome stuff, then 6-7-8 years from now, they can get bigger than they’ve ever been. He’s a genius.” (My personal over/under is five years for a classic Coachella Festival reunion, as bassist Dean Baxter put it.)

Hollerado got a pretty big break in June of 2009 when Jack White handpicked them to open for The Dead Weather at a last-minute show in Toronto. Despite this, they haven’t had any contact with him since. “None whatsoever, not even in the back after that show…although there is that one restraining order,” they joked. If anyone reading this ever goes down to Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee, to buy a few hundred dollars worth of Jack White vinyl, Hollerado would like you to pass a message on to him: “If he’s not super busy, I guess we could use a third guitarist.”

I learned about Jack and Meg White parting ways on Twitter, so I thought I’d inquire about @hollerado. Drummer Jake Boyd admitted to “tweeting” the most on behalf of the band, “depending on our sobriety levels.” But social networking isn’t at the core of Hollerado’s plans for world domination. “Our strategy is to have the most fun at whatever we do.” And what you see whenever Hollerado is onstage, four lifelong friends having the time of their lives, is pretty much what you get whether they’re online, being interviewed at the back of an empty bar in Barrie, or if they get to be the first band in space. “No one’s got the kind of leads I do!” Dean bragged.

I wanted to find out more about their newest release, Margaritaville 2: The Reckoning, available here from Arts & Crafts on vinyl or as a digital download. “Three of the songs were recorded during the Record in a Bag session,” Menno clarified. “So that they’re like B-sides, I guess, from that…didn’t make the record.” One track they all agreed was extremely fun, “Canadianarama”, “was a live recording; we didn’t do that one in the studio. We did it outside the studio in a hallway just like a jam session, and it came across really cool.”

One song newbie Hollerado concertgoers are likely to hear is Queen-like tribute “Good Day at the Races”, but the bulk of their setlist still features tried and true favorites such as “Americanarama”, “Juliette”, “Got to Lose”, and “Fake Drugs”, all from Record in a Bag. “We just like to play the songs,” they responded when I pried if there was a particular reason for going on tour again. “Not really promoting anything; it would be great if people buy some music, but just trying to put on like the best show we can.” Dean concurred, adding, “Yeah, it’s not about the record, it’s just about travelling.” Jake joined the conversation with, “I mean it’s promoting the band, but it’s not even promoting the band, it’s just…having fun.”

At this point, even if we were right at the back of the bar, we were overwhelmed by opening band Indian Handcrafts’ incredibly loud soundcheck. I can’t get mad at them, because they were really good in a Wolfmother-ish type way. (Check out their MySpace page , as I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from this duo soon, maybe even by me!) In between song previews, I was able to make out that Hollerado will be going to Amsterdam sometime this summer…for their sake, I sure hope that they serve nachos there!

Yes, you heard me right, nachos. The boys in Hollerado are so obsessed with them that they included a close-up of tortilla chips buried under a mountain of salsa, guacamole, and melted cheese on the cover of their new LP. When asked what would happen if the band found out somewhere they were playing didn’t have nachos, Menno coolly explained, “We have a policy for this…we don’t make a big deal…we politely leave, we walk out the front door, and when we’re about 40 feet away one of us runs up and throws a Molotov cocktail through the window.” Nixon jestingly cautioned, “We don’t take it too seriously, but we like to send a message.”

Let this be a warning to concert promoters looking to book Hollerado in the near future! These four hungry young men are on the cusp of a musical breakout, especially now that they’ve been nominated for a Juno Award for New Canadian Group of the Year. “We’re so excited,” Nixon gushed. “Maybe Neil Young is going to be there, and that would be amazing.” Not as amazing as Hollerado’s cover of “Rockin’ in the Free World”, the best version I’ve heard by a band not named Pearl Jam.

Menno, on the other hand, said he’d “be satisfied with Stompin’ Tom Connors.” I told them they may be in tough against My Darkest Days, who I don’t know all that much about other than they were discovered by Chad Kroeger of Nickelback and that their big song is called “Porn Star Dancing”. “People like porn these days,” Jake remarked. “It sells.” Menno then proceeded to do a spot-on impression of Kroeger’s “disgusting, creepy” tongue-flickering from My Darkest Days’ video, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera handy to capture the moment. You’ll just have to imagine.

Heading to Austin, TX for SXSW? Be sure to see Hollerado when they perform at Axis of Audio’s fiesta on Saturday, March 19th at The Rumbler Lounge. RSVP here!


Follow Consequence