Holding Absence: “There’s so much more hope and belief in the music that we make now”

Holding Absence embraces their sonic evolution and charts a course for the future in their triumphant album ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’.

Words: Steven Loftin.

Epic trilogies play a major part in pop culture. From Lord of The Rings to the trilogy of Star Wars trilogies, these stories are all told to expound the humanity of it all. Naturally, Welsh rockers Holding Absence had to have a go.

However, this was not the initial idea when they released their self-titled debut in 2019. As they’ve progressed, Lucas Woodland and co. realised that entering album three, they’d best plot a course for the future. “The trilogy concept came about at the foot of this album,” he explains, “because we had the conversation [about how] we aren’t going to be a band that does the same thing forever – but we love what we do.” Knowing theirs is a place deep inside their fans’ hearts, ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’ is the closing of a circuit, ensuring the foundations of Holding Absence remain lit up. 

The original lineup formed back in 2015. Lucas officially joined the sole-remaining early member Ashley Green (drums) in 2016. They’re now completed by Scott Carey (guitar), who joined in 2018, and Ben Elliott (bass), who replaced founding bassist James Joseph in 2021. Throughout these roster shifts, one thing has always remained true – their tireless work ethic and dedication.

“We know that our fans love what we do,” he continues. “We’ve still got a few more years of doing what we’re doing before we need to change. So for us, it was very much a case of let’s embrace the fact that this album is going to be a quintessential Holding Absence album as we know and love the band now. Perhaps in the future, it’ll change.”

Indeed, this is a time to celebrate. The album marks a keen point for the band: “I feel like there’s so much more hope and belief in the music that we make now than we had before.” Lucas attributes this to the Holding Absence journey. He recognises that delving deep into the humanity of grief and depression throughout the band’s first two records has allowed him to learn “a lot of positive emotion”. He also acknowledges that the “heavy, sad” music they make has resulted in this growth and contains a beauty: “When I look at who I was and who I am now, I’ve come an insane way, and I think the cool thing is you can hear that too.”

“Holding Absence can sound like anything; the soul of this band is very rich and very honest”

Lucas Woodland

This is the key part of Holding Absence’s ascension from the Valleys to stages over the world – they speak to the deepest, universal truths. Lucas recognises this as a key aspect of his job. “I take on a lot more responsibility than most musicians do in that regard,” he says. “I’m very aware of how many people will be upset if we released a bad album or an album that had nothing in common with our old stuff. But, for me, I just want to make sure that I’m doing right by our fans, and I hope that our fans trust us enough to do different things as well.” 

Holding Absence will always give 110%. As a unit, Lucas recognises they’re “a group of people learning and changing.” This is where the band’s sonic evolution comes into play. “One thing that I’m very aware of is lots of people don’t know how to classify our genre,” he admits. “We’re either a metalcore band, or a pop-punk band, or a melodic hardcore band, or an alt-rock band – and there’s so much to it, but it doesn’t matter. To me, Holding Absence can sound like anything. Underneath, the soul of this band is very rich and very honest.” 

Lucas knows that the soul that lies beneath Holding Absence is organic. Explaining he sees it as an in-motion entity, “by the time I feel like I’ve found it, it’s moved again.” The symbiotic nature of this means that every step forward unfurls new territory for him and the rest of the band to explore. Importantly to this, he mentions, “That means that this experience will never end the same way. My experience will never end in the same way. Us, as people, our experiences should never stop; we should never be willing to stop learning or to stop caring.”

This is an idea Lucas enthuses. “It’s easy to stop caring. It’s easy to keep doing the same thing over and over and to not pursue new hobbies or to not learn new skills, or to not try new television programmes; in the same way, it would be easy for me to not dig deeper into this band.”

Digging deep is Lucas’ bread and butter. While evident across ‘The Noble Art’’s runtime,  there’s no moment more evident of this than when Holding Absence are on stage. While ordinarily, Lucas is a genial person who relishes in the quiet of his Welsh retreat, on stage, he admits, “there’s very little I have in common with the man you see because it takes confidence and it takes arrogance.” This means that once the tour bus rolls to a halt, he can exhale and leave his Hyde-ian presence behind till the next time. “There is a beauty to that because it means that I don’t have to experience any of that stuff when I’m home,” he smiles. “I can just enjoy my happy little life. It’s almost like I’ve stored up all that energy by being a whole different person on the days in between.”

It’s for this reason Holding Absence are still at home in their beloved Welsh Valleys. “I always say I’m grateful that I don’t live in London or a big city,” Lucas reckons. “I think I would actually get quite fatigued by socialising and trying to be popular or seeming publicly perceived in any way, you know what I mean? I come from months of touring in front of people in the public eye, and then I go back to my home in the Welsh Valleys, and I don’t see anyone for weeks, and I think that really helps me keep the duality healthy.”

It would be disingenuous of Holding Absence to play party to the biz side of being a band. That’s not why the four-piece first gathered in 2016. Theirs has been a journey to help and understand, and with this chapter closing, so comes an unapologetically earnest defiance. 

“Every musician wants to be the biggest musician in the world; when you step into this big role, the sky really is the limit, and over time, you understand where you fit into all of this,” Lucas explains, symbolic arms gesturing around him. “But I think we’re really at peace with where the band is and the trajectory of the band as well.” 

Acknowledging that theirs is a journey of ups and downs – though no flops, mind you – “We have been slowly, steadily, patiently climbing,” says Lucas. “I’m just grateful to be in a position where me and my best friends don’t have to save up Christmas money from our parents to record music anymore, and I get to see cities that I never ever thought I’d go to because of the band.” 

Sealing off this chapter, ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’ sees Holding Absence in good stead, “We play shows, and I see the influence we have on people’s lives. More than anything, this band is in a beautiful place.” ■

Taken from the September 2023 edition of Upset. Holding Absence’s album ‘The Noble Art Of Self Destruction’ is out 25th August.