When Cambridgeshire rockers Hollowstar describe their sound to us as “a modern take on classic rock,” our interest is immediately peaked.
The quartet of brothers Joe (vocals and bass) and Jack Bonson (drums), Phil Haines and Tom Collett (guitarists) have been playing music together for years, forging a special sound that they’re finally ready to treat the world to with debut EP launch later this year. Having already established themselves as one of the finest rock bands in the east of England, with a particular claim to fame as one of the area’s best live bands, it’s now time for them to conquer the rest of the country and beyond.
Now based in the town of St Ives, the band’s fate was forged when the families of Phil, who is originally from near Liverpool, and Joe and Jack both moved down to Cornwall within a few weeks of each other. Joe and Phil, then 11, and 8-year-old Jack “decided to pick up instruments,” with the former two choosing guitars and the younger going for drums and, 17 years later, the rest is history. The trio played music together until around the age 21, then went off and did our own thing before reforming a few years later.
And on how the band was completed, Joe told us: “Phil had been working with Tom for a while, and that led to me putting the guitar down because I couldn’t do what Tom does. We had a few bassists come along and at the end of the practice when they left, Phil and Tom would start jamming and I’d just pick the bass up. They said ‘why are we looking for a bass player when as soon as they leave you’re picking the bass up?’ – it did take some arguing but I eventually gave in.”
It’s been somewhat of a slow burn, but Hollowstar have been carefully planning the right songs to put out on their debut EP this year. However, the years of playing music together has helped the band form their own sound.
Joe explained: “Big bouncy riffs, and punchy – I think that pretty much sums us up. We’re a bit of a modern take on classic rock, as a lot of our influence comes from our dads being into rock – Phil’s dad was also a guitarist and my dad is the typical long hair and cowboy boots, so got us into the likes of AC/DC and so on.”
And that influence absolutely comes across in the couple of tracks the band has already released. There’s elements of bands like Alter Bridge and that classic rock sound, with big rocky vocals, big punchy riffs and singalong choruses all moulded together.
Feel The Burn opens up with a delicious, reverby laboured guitar riff which is joined by equally laid-back vocals, before bass edges in with some background light cymbals as the atmosphere builds. A big crash of drums and a huge riff kick the song into life, before dropping back down into the original laid-back sound. It builds up earlier this time, with a heavier guitar riff coming in through the verse, then kicking into a big chorus with impressive, powerful vocals – which is followed by a cool guitar solo that brings the song to an end. Check it out in a live video below:
Latest track New Age Lullaby, which was released two days before Christmas Day, is quicker from the off and has an almost gritty addictiveness about it. There’s much more of the Alter Bridge influence, especially in the sound of Joe’s impressive vocals, alongside huge riffs aplenty and big singalong choruses – plus not one, but two awesome guitar solos for good measure.
Future City follows in the same ilk as New Age Lullaby, with more awesome vocals supported by lingering palm-muted guitar chords before bursting into a huge singalong chorus with funky little riffs thrown in, before a blistering guitar solo. Check it out in the link below:
On the music, Joe tells us: “We use it as an outlet for frustration. The first track is very much about people who maybe should respect themselves a little more, but a lot of it is about frustration with where we are in our lives.
“We’ve been making music together for a while but we ended up having a few years out, me and Jack went travelling – and a lot of what we’re doing now just came out of the pure frustration of not playing music anymore. Things like the corporate life, paying your rent and being trapped in that bubble – this is about doing something we love again.”
But to get the true Hollowstar experience you need to see them live. Joe tells us: “From the very beginning we’ve said if you’re going up there to do a half an hour set, then it’s a half hour show not just to play seven songs. We like to think we put on a show for people, and make them turn round and pay attention to us.”
The good news is that there will be plenty of opportunities to see this for yourself. Earlier this week they announced they will be performing at Fort Fest, the cool new rock festival in Bedfordshire, and they’ll also be the main support for Stone Broken at Subterranean, a one-day festival in Cambridge in September. They also have a tour being planned out around the launch of the EP, and are playing the Bike4Life Festival at RAF Cosford on April 30th to raise money for Air Ambulance, which is a cause particularly close to their hearts given guitarist Tom – a former Motocross rider – being an avid biker.
Joe told us: “We’re going to be raising thousands of pounds for Midlands Air Ambulance. These guys are going up in the air and saving the lives of countless people that have been walking in the hills and so on. Tom’s an avid biker and there’s times where, had he come off, it would have been those guys saving his life – he likes to fall off motorbikes.”
We think there are big things to come from Hollowstar this year. They could easily become your new favourite band with their big rocky anthems and ability to transition from delicious laid-back atmospheric ‘lullabies’ into full-on rock mode. The huge guitar solos are sure to bring out your inner air guitar demon while you sing along to Joe’s superb vocals. So keep an eye out for these guys, check out the upcoming EP and go see them live.