Interview: Hold Tight!

Interview by Kristen Swanson

Hold Tight! is the packaged deal of bassist/vocalist James Goodson, guitarist/vocalist Jake Guralnik, guitarist Eric Kelly, and drummer Alex Wilhelm. With their song “Virginia Is Beautiful, Wish You Were Here,” you’ll be wishing you were in Virginia too after listening to Hold Tight! These Richmond, VA natives are proving that the DIY scene is still alive, with their constant touring and fresh pop punk tunes. Check out this interview with Alex as he reveals how the band got started, their love for Lifetime, and what’s next for Hold Tight! Then, make sure you check out the band’s Facebook, and download their songs for free here.

Let’s do a quick history lesson on Hold Tight!. When did you guys start playing together, and how did you get together as a band?

ALEX: We had our first practice in May of 2009, I think. It was really slow at first because Jake and James both lived in Northern Virginia at the time. I’m not sure what their intentions were when first starting, but I didn’t really have any plans to be in a band that tours and records. A mutual friend showed me some demos they had, and I thought it sounded cool. Then I wound up on tour with a record. [laughs]  We played our first show in October of that year.

You guys play a lot of shows in your hometown. What’s the scene like in Richmond?

ALEX: The Richmond music scene is great.  It’s the thing that drew me to the city. The kids here are really supportive and resilient to the city’s seemingly never-ending quest to end DIY music in its borders (most recently, people who ran house venues were charged with not paying entertainment taxes on donations). We get a lot of really great touring bands coming through, which gives local bands a lot of decent opportunities to play. Any success we have, I attribute it to living here!

Hold Tight! songs are so damn catchy. Does one person write the songs or are they a collaborated group effort?

ALEX: Jake and James demo out songs on Garage Band and send them to everyone else. Once we know the skeletons, we get together and work on the little things.  So, a little bit of both I guess? I think most of it is just trying to have fun and play the kind of music we all grew up on. Free drinks on tour, too.

Lifetime is listed as a huge influence for the band. We all know Lifetime rules, but what personally makes them so inspiring for Hold Tight!?

ALEX: I just love them for doing something different at the time. They played hardcore, but they chose a more personal and positive lyrical approach than what was going on with the area’s hardcore at the time. They played pop punk, but they didn’t sing about skateboarding. They found a good medium between the two genres and executed it perfectly. And plus, they released a new record after a decade and it’s awesome. I think that rules.

Who are some newly formed bands that have been inspiring you lately?

ALEX: We all listen to a bunch of different stuff, and obviously everything we like inspires us.  So, the best “new” bands I’ve been listening to lately are Joyce ManorMixtapesDirect Hit!Go Rydell, and Spraynard.

Obviously, catchy songs are a huge part of pop punk bands. What else do you think makes a pop punk band successful?

ALEX: Honestly, with how many bands are around and touring these days, I think a lot of what helps is being involved with the scene in your hometown. Obviously, having good songs is the most important thing, but I’ve found that setting up shows, running a house venue, letting bands stay at your house, etc. ends up helping you a lot, especially early on. It’s a lot easier to get shows out of town — and consequently, your name out there — when you are into helping out other
people and bands as well. Then, if your songs are good, it just starts to fall in line.

It’s definitely a technological age with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Do you think these medias are contributing to the success of DIY bands?

ALEX: Definitely. It’s pretty damn easy to be in a band.  As weird as it is sometimes to keep up with all these social networking sites, keeping an online presence rarely doesn’t work in the band’s favor, at least in my experiences. I can complain about Facebook all day, but it’s half the reason I know when a band I like is coming to my town or recording.

In what direction do you see the band going, whether it’s touring more, staying in the DIY scene, or just trying to keep the band alive?

ALEX: We’re just going to keep touring and writing songs. As long as we’re still having fun, we’ll be on the road. We’ve encountered our fair share of tour hardships, but there’s never been a time that we would rather be at home delivering pizza and bagging groceries.

If you had to choose just one song for a new listener to hear, what would it be and why?

ALEX: I’ll say “Can’t Take This Away”, just because that’s my favorite song of ours. [laughs]  I also think that it’s a pretty good representation of what we do, both musically and lyrically.  It’s short, fast, and positive.

What’s one thing the world doesn’t know about Hold Tight!, but that it should?

ALEX: Half of us are straight edge, and half of us get completely drunk all the time. It’s an interesting dynamic, and somehow it works.

What else can we expect from Hold Tight!?

ALEX: We’ve got a pretty fair amount of touring planned in the spring/summer. I’m from the Midwest, so even though I feel like a lot of people look over it, my favorite shows are out there. Especially in Nebraska/Missouri. We are recording an EP next month of a bunch of shorter songs that we didn’t put on the record for flow purposes (seven songs in less than six minutes, no joke). “Can’t Take This Away” is coming out on Animal Style Records in the spring, and we are recording a new full length this fall.

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