Luke Holland: Year One with The Word Alive
The same weekend The Word Alive made it out to the House Of Blues on the Sunset Strip to perform in direct support of Parkway Drive, an Anniversary was taking place for their drummer Luke Holland. One year ago from the date, Luke Holland played his first show with The Word Alive at Extreme Thing in Vegas. And while this year’s edition of the famed Sin City festival was in full swing once again, Holland was celebrating year one as the now permanent drummer of The Word Alive. Already well known due to his YouTube presence and touring with bands such as Texas In July when he joined up, Luke Holland and his tremendous drumming skills has meshed perfectly with The Word Alive’s technical and wondrously impassioned live shows. We caught up with Mr. Holland on the front porch at the House Of Blues a few hours prior to show time. It was a gorgeous day in West Hollywood, and Luke turned up with a cookie in hand and ready to talk. So kick back as Highwire Daze presents an exclusive interview with Luke Holland, drummer extraordinaire…
Today actually marks the first anniversary of your first show with The Word Alive performing at Extreme Thing in Vegas last year. Extreme Thing is actually going on this weekend now…
Yeah, I remember that. That was a really, really fun experience actually.
What was going through your mind when you walked onstage for the first time with The Word Alive?
Uh, Panic! I’m kidding. It was – man, I don’t really know how to explain it. I just remember tons of bands that I listened to growing up, being side stage watching me perform for the first time with a band that my friends listened to. It was just a really surreal experience – and one that I’ll never forget honestly.
Now you are one year in. How do you feel about being a permanent member of The Word Alive and did you think you’d get this far?
To be honest, when I first joined, we had the intention of “Let’s see if we’re good enough for each other” – if both parties are “Yeah we like Luke”and “Yeah I enjoy being in the band.” And I’m so glad I picked the band I did. Every member of this band is a great person – an awesome person to be around and it’s just been great time since I joined. A whole year, and hopefully more years to come.
How does this experience compare to Texas In July?
That’s pretty interesting. I was a fill-in for a band called Texas In July for a show or two. It was a completely different experience honestly – just because it wasn’t like a permanent gig – it was more so like a fill in kind of thing. I was in a group before this that was the complete opposite genre. It was called The Green Children – it was electronic pop with a girl singer. I’ve just had tons of different experiences – all across the board you know. It’s been good. It’s helped me round my character a little bit.
Have you recorded anything with The Word Alive yet and how close are you guys to recording new material?
We did one track for Punk Goes Pop or Pop Goes Punk – I never remember which one it is. Kayne West – Mercy – we did a cover. That was the only song that I did drums on. We literally recorded that in a matter of hours. We are actually going to be writing this summer rather than doing a lot of touring. This time, we’re obviously going to be spending a lot more time writing a full length rather than just one cover song – and we’re all very, very excited. I’m excited to write with very talented musicians and they’re excited to have me as a drummer, so there’s a whole lot of anxiousness on both sides.
Although you did not record on the previous album, what does the title Life Cycles mean to you?
Just to throw it out there, good old Matt Horn did drums on Life Cycles. I get asked that a lot. Life Cycles to me is about – me I’m 19 right now. In 3 years from now, I could look back on this interview and be like, “Damn, I was such a different person back then than I am now.” And I could say that about myself when I was 16 – three years from now. It’s just about what you go through as a person and just how crazy life really is. Just all the different scenarios we go through pretty much.
What’s the strangest thing that has ever happened to you on the road? I know most of these you probably can’t share…
There’s a couple I can’t share. Is it bad that there’s one thing that doesn’t come to mind immediately?
…that you could share…
Yeah, that I could share! I think that’s the problem is – all the stuff that’s coming to my head is not Rated PG.
We’ll go on to the next question then. How old were you when you started playing drums and how pleased were your parents about it?
(Laughs) Oh man! Well, when I was about ten years old, I started working around my neighborhood mowing lawns and doing silly stuff like that for about a year. And I raised money for my first kit – and I was about 11 when I started playing drums. Naturally drums are not a quiet instrument – and definitely your mom would much rather you play piano than drums – like any mom would prefer that. But they were very supportive and they’re really like thankful and kind of impressed honestly that I’ve blossomed into who I am today. If you look back when I was 11 compared to now, it’s a massive change. Hopefully it’s a big change anyways.
Do you play anything else besides drums?
Actually yeah, I play a little bit of piano (much laughter). But nothing too serious. I enjoy singing and I enjoy playing piano, but it’s nothing I do obviously in public.
There are drummers and guitarists who do their own solo material and its all progressive and everything. Would that be something that would interest you?
Definitely! I have quite a few artists that I’ve been discussing collaborating with. Actually quite a few – like double digits maybe. I love music as a whole – just like every musician that I tour with. We do what we do because we love music. And to be able to collaborate with somebody else who has a completely different take on music is definitely desirable – and I’m looking forward to it. We’ll see what happens. I definitely am going to put out even more material in the future.
You just put out a video cover of a Conor Maynard song called Turn Around. What made you do that song to remix and how do you make time to do these videos?
So Conor Maynard – actually about a year and a month ago, right before I joined The Word Alive, I went out and played for a rapper friend of mine who kind of rapped for Disney. Like I said, I’ve been all over the place when it comes to genres. I played for him, and he happens to be best friends with Conor Maynard, who is a very, very big British pop star. Every single day, Anthony (the rapper) and Conor would Skype because Conor was in Britain. So I kind of got to talk to Conor a couple of times. I’m just a personal fan of his music and his voice – just like Justin Timberlake’s new album and stuff like that. I enjoy all genres of music, and I kind of preach that. No closed-mindedness when it comes to music, because music is such a beautiful thing. So yeah, I get that questions frequently – how do you chose what song to cover. I just chose a song that I feel emotionally – usually a song that I can really feel and get into and enjoy. And usually my hands and my feet will do the rest. It’s not very much thinking – it just comes naturally. So that’s that – and how do I find time to make videos? In between tours, I’ll schedule times with Jeremy Tremp, who is my cinematographer. He’ll film and edit all the visual aspects. Right now I’m filming at a very interesting studio called Pyramix – it’s literally in a pyramid underground. It’s the craziest thing ever! But that’s where I’m filming my videos at right now. I get their schedules and I get a date that works for all three of us – we go in, we do it. I learn the songs –if it’s a cover or a remix – while I’m on tour. By the time I get home, I’m ready to schedule it and make it all happen.
If you could have The Word Alive open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Ellie Goulding so I could just stare at her all night. Yep. That would be it. But on a serious note, probably kind of more towards my genre, which would be realistic – maybe Slipknot. As funny as that is, Slipknot was kind of like one of my first influences when it came to drumming, so I think that would be really cool to play a show with Slipknot.
When you look at your numbers on YouTube – it’s staggering! What goes through your mind when you see those huge numbers?
Honestly, what goes through my mind is “How the hell did this happen? When did this happen?” When I first started doing YouTube, I did not expect to get even to get 100 views. I didn’t expect any of this honestly. Now when I see almost – I think I’m at like at 21 million views or something – it’s just like wow, I did not expect any of this ever – and it’s just a crazy, crazy thing. I don’t really know what else to say. It’s kind of humbling in a sense and I just hope that people continue to watch my stuff and don’t get bored.
How have your drum classes been going?
They’ve been going great. The last tour that we did was For Today and Memphis May Fire – me and Memphis May Fire’s drummer Jake – we did group lessons every single day. I’ve got a friend who plays for a band called Periphery – his name is Matt Halpern – incredible drummer! He always tells me that I need to do lessons, so I was like alright, I’ll give it a shot. So lately I’ve been doing lessons out of my house or on tour – and they’ve been going really well. It’s a great way to communicate with my fans and meet them in person face to face rather than seeing me play from 50 feet away and barricades in the way. We can do it all intimate and in person. It’s a lot of fun.
Do you ever have a fan who shows up without a drum kit and they just want to meet you?
Oh yeah! Actually a pretty insane percentage – maybe 20 percent of the people who end up taking lessons – they don’t have any drum experience. It’s almost more fun that way, because then I could mold them and sculpt their minds to the way I would envision them playing drums. It’s interesting.
Do you have any messages for your fans out here in the Los Angeles / Orange County area?
Yeah! I’m jealous of your weather – it rules! I’m from Arizona, so it’s a little hot. But on a serious note, just thank you. Like tonight, here at the House Of Blues in L.A. it’s sold out. That’s so awesome! Thank you guys so much for supporting not only me as an individual, but my band and music as a whole. It makes all of us – not only us as a band to have fun doing what we love to do – but you guys could come together and enjoy an experience as a whole. So thank you, and hopefully you continue to support music and continue to support me and I’ll just be trying to hold up my end and keep pushing the bar and keep you guys entertained.
Seeing where you are now at 19, imagine like 10 years from now.
I hope it maintains a rapid progression. I hope it never plateaus – and we’ll see where it goes.
10 years from now you’ll be playing in Rush.
(Laughs) Yeah, we’ll see. Good old Neil Peart man. He kills it!
(Interview and Luke Holland Photos by Kenneth Morton)