PLAYING ATLANTA: Holy Beach Turn Up The Volume with Debut Record

When Atlanta’s heavy experimental metal-rock sextet, Holy Beach, hits you, you know it.

Beyond the sheer wall of sound that attacks with a visceral physicality, Holy Beach display an uncanny ability to harness lightning in a bottle. Far from a timid debut, the sextet – formed in early 2019 by lead vocalist and guitarist John Lally and friends/warring guitarists Jon Hilton, Mike Gibbs, and Jason Petty, bassist Kevin Faivre, and percussionist Jordan Hershaft – crashed into the Southern music scene with an unparalleled rage.

A searing cacophony of sounds, their debut record, All That Matters Is This Matter is the kind of heavy, fuzzy grunge that catapults a band to the forefront of the rock scene. Lally sat down with Audiofemme to share the details of starting a brand new band after years in the industry, recording a debut record with five of your closest friends, and realizing the one truth of life: animals are the best.

AF: You guys had a rather interesting beginning; can you take me back? How did you get together, and when did you realize that Holy Beach was more than just some friends playing music together?

JL: The other band I played in for years (Sleep Therapy) was working on new material and everything I was writing was not translating well with the band. After months of trying to force the songs, I decided to curb them and record them as a separate project.  At first, I thought it would just be a recording/side project, but the more we worked through the songs, the more intense they got, and we knew we had something more than a side/recording project.  

 AF: How did you guys get into music in the first place? Was there a certain song or record that made you say, “Oh, yeah, music is for me”? 

JL: For me, it was Disintegration by The Cure. For Kevin, it was Motörhead by Motörhead. For Mike, it was anything Jane’s Addiction. For Jason, it was Slayer’s “Raining Blood.” For Jordan, Fugazi’s 13 Songs. For Jon, Celebration’s Celebration. 

AF: Who do you consider your greatest inspirations? 

JL: Slowdive, Daughters, Dinosaur JR, The Birthday Party, Talk Talk, and Honest People.

AF: You guys just released your debut record, All That Matters Is This Matter. What was the writing and recording process like? Is it fairly collaborative, or does one of you come up with an idea and bring it to the rest of the group? 

JL: Our writing process usually consists of me writing a song and bringing it to the band. When we are all in a room, we take the song and its structure and explore it as a group. The main idea that is brought into the collective space starts to become a part of all of our ideas and pushes the intensity behind each song. 

As for recording, our engineer/co-producer Jeff Leonard comes in from North Carolina and we start by tracking drums at Tree Sound Studios in Atlanta. After drums are complete, we track everything else at Cassida Studios, which is at one of our close friend’s house. We love recording there because its super comfortable, friends swing by, and we are surrounded by dogs. Having the animals around takes the edge off of everyone and we have a blast. Animals are the best.

AF: How did the writing and recording process differ from writing and recording with bands you’ve played with in the past? 

JL: My writing process doesn’t differ much in the bands I play in. Usually for any band I play in, I come up with a concept or a story for the record first; I love writing records like this because it inspires the tones of the songs and gives the record a personality. It’s also cool to hear what people take away from the record. It always blows my mind how people interpret lyrics and music so differently. As for the recording process, Holy Beach is a much more relaxed recording experience because we spend time over months piecing the album together. We don’t rush anything like other bands in my past have while recording.  

AF: What’s it been like to finally share your first record as a band with the rest of the world? 

JL: Humbling, rewarding, hope-filled, and exciting.

AF: What inspired the record? Is there a particular song that jumps out to you as your favorite? 

JL: This record was mostly inspired by the state the world as a whole is in now, and the passing of a lot of people close to us over the past year. The song that sticks to me the most is “Skull Faced On A Horse.” A friend of mine was slowly passing away in the hospital and after he passed, the song just dumped out of me. The song is mostly about sitting in the hospital with him and listening to him going through the process of accepting the inevitable outcome of his situation. It was brutal, but something I will never forget.  

AF: Atlanta’s music scene has blown up in the last few years; what has it been like to start out as a band in the music epicenter of the southeast? 

JL: Atlanta’s music scene has exploded and fizzled for many years. The city is a huge island of hope surrounded by a sea of fear. No matter what you do artistically in Atlanta, there is usually a swamp of shit you have to weed through to truly find your way. I love where I live, I love where I make music, and I love the people that surround me, for better or worse.

AF: What’s your favorite place in Atlanta for a great show and a good time?

JL: It’s at tie between The Earl and 529. Both places have the best shows, the hardest working people, and the most respectful environment, as long as you leave you bullshit at the door.

AF: What’s next for Holy Beach? 

JL: We are writing/recording new material now. We should be driving up and down the east coast in October playing music, so look out for us.

Keep up with Holy Beach on Facebook, and stream their new record, All That Matters Is This Matter, on Spotify now.